You may have heard that Planned Parenthood recently made the choice to refuse Title X funding.  This is a huge blow to the 4 million people served by this program, many of whom are low income.  Title X monies were used to provide low- or no-cost contraception, disease, and cancer screenings.  Federal funds from this program have never been used to fund abortion, in accordance with the Hyde Amendment.

Why would Planned Parenthood withdraw from such an important program?  Because the Trump administration has forced them into a corner.  The organization- which has steadfastly advocated for people’s rights to make their own reproductive choices since the days when birth control was illegal and spousal rape wasn’t- had to choose between accepting the funds and honoring their commitment to provide safe and legal abortions.

The data is clear.  Restricting access to abortion is not an effective strategy in reducing the overall number of women making this choice.  Quite the contrary– the best way to reduce the number of people seeking to terminate pregnancies is to improve access to affordable birth control.  Prevention works.  Prohibition doesn’t.   This move by the Trump administration, which specifically targets Planned Parenthood and decreases the availability of birth control will almost certainly result in the abortion rate climbing.

We need to face the truth:  this strategy is not about saving unborn children.  It’s about controlling people’s bodies.  It’s about imposing a patriarchal morality on the American people.    This is completely unacceptable.

Planned Parenthood and other providers of comprehensive reproductive health services deserve our support.  We can write our legislators.  We can find a little money to donate to Planned Parenthood.  Above all, we can support the right and the responsibility of all people to manage their own reproductive health.

Greece: Part One

April 20, 2019

I am back in California after three weeks in Greece. What an amazing trip!

I spent the first week on Crete with my friend Lisa. Highlights included:

Minoan palaces (this is Knossos)

Caves (this is supposedly the birthplace of Zeus, on the Lasithi plain)

A hike through the Zakros Gorge/Valley of the Dead, and

The Roman settlement of Lato.

Insights:

  • Pre-palatial religion was mostly about fertility.
  • The shift toward Patriarchal structures coincided roughly with the development of metal weapons
  • One of the things that makes dating specific ruins difficult is that people reuse building sites and materials.
  • The tourism based economy means locals have a love/hate relationship with visitors. This looked like generous hospitality and tremendous kindness interspersed with occasional cranky outbursts.

This winter was especially long, cold and rainy, and there was significant flooding. At one point, the main road was closed, and I had to navigate a steep, narrow rocky goat path to get where we were going. Our gorge hike required fording a stream multiple times. And late March is still ‘off season,’ which meant we couldn’t count on places being open.

All that said, Crete was magical. I got to walk on cobbles that were laid several thousand years ago. The Minoans had indoor plumbing, incredible jewelry and artwork. They blew glass and made beautiful pots and jars out of both clay and carved stone.  It was fun to imagine how this sophisticated civilization lived.

I learned to distinguish between Minoan, Dorian, Roman, Venetian and Ottoman building styles. And I started to get a sense of just how many times the area was invaded and occupied. Also, Cretan food is amazing!

Into the Desert

March 19, 2019

I headed into the Southwest on Ash Wednesday, spent the night in Death Valley, and then continued on to Winslow, AZ (spent a lovely night with Maree) and then Albuquerque, to see my friends Carolyn, Will and Martha. I stayed for a week, well cared for. We went to Ojo Caliente, got my bike fixed, cooked good food, and walked along the Rio Grande. I also went to a lavender farm my sister recommended. Gorgeous, even though the lavender wasn’t blooming.

Then yesterday I headed out again, to Phoenix via El Malpais and El Morrow parks and the Cocino and Tonto National Forests. What a beautiful earth we live on!

At El Malpais, I went for what was supposed to be a 3-mile hike. I took a wrong turn, though, and it turned into an 8.5 mile adventure. I was never in danger, had enough water, and only have a small sunburn to show for it. And pictures!

That sky! (Also lava tubes, caves and trenches, cinder cone, etc.) I also saw a wild mustang and what looked like a tiny antelope. Baby goat, maybe?

Then I went on to El Morro, also known as inscription rock. 1200 years of vandalism! It’s the only source of reliable year-round water for 30 miles, so everyone stopped there, and carved their names into the gorgeous sandstone wall. Petroglyphs sit next to the names of Spanish explorers from the 1600s, at least three Spanish governors, and then Americans crossing the country in wagon trains in the 1800s.

Now I’m at a Franciscan Retreat Center outside Phoenix for the UUMA Board meeting. I love sabbatical!!

Ahhhhh

March 3, 2019

After a lovely night with some friends in Eugene, I spent the day driving South. Blue skies and dry pavement. Finally!

I elected to head West in Grant’s pass to come down 101 through Redwoods National Park. It was beyond beautiful. Before I even got to the park, I had to pull over to visit the most beautiful turquoise river I’ve ever seen.

Then I headed into the park. First stop was a grove of old growth Coastal Redwoods. The pictures don’t really do them justice.

{WOO WOO ALERT…Skip the next paragraph if communing with trees seems too weird.}

As I was hiking along, I felt drawn to touch the trees next to the trail. The first tree seemed to whisper, ‘I’ve been here forever, and there’s nothing I haven’t seen. I can hold your hard stories.’ I started to weep. I told it a story, it absorbed it, and then breathed out a blessing that rippled through my body like an electric current. The next tree got a different story. And the next. Each absorbed my pain, and gave me a blessing in return. By the end of my hike, I felt about fifty pounds lighter.

Next stop was the first overlook with an unobstructed view of the Pacific Ocean. Water stretching to touch the sky. Sigh.

I also went for a walk along a beach just before sunset.

And I ate my dinner at yet another park, watching the sun slide down into the Pacific.

I am beyond blessed. This was the best travel day ever.

The Meaning of a Mussel

February 26, 2019

Today I watched a seagull

Drop a mussel onto the rocks.

Life does this sometimes

Picks us up and

Cracks us open

Suddenly and with

Great force.

To be fair, usually,

We don’t get eaten,

Just pile our mushy bits into a wheelbarrow

And trundle on

As best we can.

Still, I wonder if the mussel

Had time to enjoy being weightless

Felt relieved to no longer be so self-contained

Found a sense of satisfaction

In being subsumed

Into a bigger life,

One that flies.

Update

February 12, 2019

Best laid plans.

I had expected to spend this week exploring my old stomping grounds on the Olympic Peninsula; Snowmageddon had other ideas.  Instead, I’ve spent a lovely few days with my friend Kate and her husband, going for walks in snowy forests, playing games, reading, and knitting.  Oh, and shoveling, of course!

What is going according to plan is that I am relaxing.  I’m sleeping well.  I’m breathing more deeply.  I’m letting the beauty that surrounds me here seep in to all the dry and raspy places in my heart.

I’m honoring my commitments to myself:  I do yoga every day, although to be honest, my practice has been more restorative than active, and I think that’s okay.  And I’m writing a poem every day, as well.   I might feel a spark at some point while I’m out and about, but the poem itself comes to me each evening, after a time of meditation and reflection.  Most of them are really not very good, I expect, but that’s not the point.  I’m a little amazed, actually.  The channel is there, and I have faith that I’ll find my voice with practice.

I also heard back from the director of my doctoral program.  My dissertation has been approved, pending some minor refinements!  I’ll work on those over the next couple of weeks, and will return from sabbatical as the Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Stevens.

Tomorrow, I’ll head to Bellingham, where I’ll be house sitting for a little over a week.  I’ll be seeing friends and, of course, Daniel, my younger son.  I’ll also be getting ready for the first big adventure; between Feb. 21 and March 18, I’ll travel through the Southwest, visiting state and national parks, and camping by myself, which I’m a little nervous about.

I’ve read lots of blogs on solo camping for women, and it seems like best practice is to find places with other people nearby.  Of course, I don’t know if there are other people crazy enough to be camping at this time of year, even in the desert!  If it feels unsafe or if it’s too cold, I will find a hotel or stay with friends.  I know I have a landing spot in Albuquerque if I wind up needing it.

Here are some photos:IMG_0399

Bald Eagle!

IMG_0409

Snowy vista

IMG_0407

Otis and Brinka

What We Need

February 4, 2019

For the lifers group at Coffee Creek

What We Need

The body needs food

Air

Water and exercise

Rest and pleasure.

The mind needs stimulation

Ideas

Activities and drama

Challenges and change.

The spirit (ah, spirit)

Its needs are more complex.

The opportunity to give,

A sense of purpose.

The sight of the night sky,

Humility and perspective.

Spirit craves music and beauty

Laughter and hope

Love

Above all.

We humans survived because we are adaptable.

A person can grow and thrive

Anywhere, really.

The dandelion pushing through pavement

Is as lovely as any hothouse flower…

Perhaps more admirable for its courage,

For its indomitable faithfulness,

For the choice,

Despite everything,

Finally

To bloom.

Sunset over the Columbia

February 3, 2019

Safe in Portland.

A post-election poem

November 8, 2018

Oh,my dear ones.

I know you were hoping

For a once-and-done.

For an earthquake,

A tidal wave.

Hoping that if we gave it our all,

A single push would be enough.

That after this, we could

Sink

Back into complacency,

Back into the comfort of our privilege.

I confess, in the secret corners of my heart,

I wanted to believe it could be that easy

That justice would emerge as from an egg

Fully grown

Not with wet down and weak wings…

But beloveds,

We are chipping away at a mountain,

Not a boulder.

Calcified structures

Created to oppress,

Control,

Kill.

2000 years of this stupid idea

That some are more worthy,

Some deserve power by virtue of who they are.

Erosion is slow work, sweethearts.

Celebrate the progress

The triumphs.

Celebrate also the heartbreaking almosts.

Breathe.

Rest for a time.

Then get up and turn again toward kindness,

Toward your neighbor in need,

Toward those who are still trapped in the stone.

Tell them, “I won’t give up.”

Tell them, “I am with you.”

Tell them, “For you, I will learn to eat rocks.”

“For you, I will keep chewing, keep grinding,

Until the mountain crumbles to dust.”

-Elizabeth Stevens

h/t N.K. Jemisin

Why would a person spend all day sitting on pavement trying to get arrested?  Across the country, over a thousand people have committed acts of civil disobedience in hopes of bringing attention to the Poor People’s Campaign.  Spearheaded by Rev. Dr. William Barber, II, who organized the Moral Mondays Movement in North Carolina, and building on the work of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., this campaign seeks to build a movement that refocuses people’s attention on our nation’s moral crisis.

People are dying for want of adequate healthcare.  People are dying because of environmental degradation.  People are dying at the hands of racial extremists.  Children are dying in schools in shooting after shooting.  People are dying to increase profit margins for wealthy corporations.  If we are to retain our humanity, in the face of these deaths, we must respond with courage and determination.  Gun control, environmental regulation, human rights, and voter suppression should be understood as moral issues, not political footballs.

The campaign is non-partisan; I was arrested on Monday alongside proud conservatives.  It is interfaith; Christians, Muslims, Jews, Quakers, Buddhists, and Atheists are all working together.  It is led by poor people, people of color, and other folks who are suffering.  The goal is to center the narratives of those who are directly impacted.

On Monday, we heard from a young woman whose father died of cancer at the age of 32, poisoned by toxic waste at his workplace.  We heard from a father whose son committed suicide just days after discharge from the hospital when his insurance ran out, even though all of his providers knew he was still at risk.  We heard from a family that has to choose between paying rent or buying inhalers, and from a person who is houseless because of the increase in the cost of insulin.

I put my body on the line, along with fifteen other people from all walks of life, hoping that people would notice and pay attention and hear these stories.  Please take the time to learn more about the Poor People’s Campaign:  https://www.poorpeoplescampaign.org/.