more thoughts on peace

Posted in Uncategorized on September 12, 2012 by cgeary

from Wendell Berry’s book “Leavings”

VII. 

Before we kill another child

for righteousness’ sake, to serve

some blissful killer’s sacred cause,

some bloody patriot’s anthem

and his flag, let us leave forever 

our ancestral lands, our holy books,

our god thoughtefied to the mean

of our smallest selves. Let us go 

to the graveyard and lie down 

forever among the speechless stones.

Posted in Uncategorized on September 12, 2012 by cgeary

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Posted in Uncategorized on September 11, 2012 by cgeary

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The Road to Peace

Posted in Uncategorized on September 3, 2012 by cgeary

I just finished reading The Road to Peace by Henri Nouwen, edited by John Dear, and my spirits have been lifted. I do not feel the despair I have been feeling the past few years over the state of politics and the increasing power of the 1 percent. My road to Henri Nouwen was somewhat circuitous…I picked up the book because in my mother’s apartment because it was edited by John Dear and was on the topic of peace. Ron and I heard John Dear speak at Wildgoose this past June about the Sermon on the Mount and were moved to begin thinking seriously of how we might focus our energy on peace activism. We have each been reading other books by John Dear trying to figure this out. This book of essays written by Nouwen over his life time trying to make sense of injustices of the world and how to address them made me realize that we can’t obtain peace by making hating those whose agendas we find wrong. I realized that I need a spiritual context for working through this — as uncomfortable as I think this will make people that I am close to and share my political beliefs. I am feeling drawn to write more about this to explain a change in the way I am thinking about this. I am sharing this in short bits because if I wait until I have it all sorted out I will probably never get anything posted. Instead, I am sharing a personal journey towards a framework of love and understanding for all to move towards peace and compassionate communities as a work in progress.

morning gift

Posted in Gratitude with tags on July 18, 2012 by cgeary

it was so quiet during my walk this morning that i could hear the university bell tower ringing in seven o’clock and then the melody of a lovely hymn that we sing at church. it is a hymn i love but did not grow up singing. i could not remember the words but the melody is expansive, portending optimism and hope for the day ahead.

Happy New Year!!! The way forward….

Posted in Celebration, Gratitude, Light on January 1, 2012 by cgeary

So, I’ve been thinking about what should go into my New Year’s resolutions, goals, intentions, etc. this year. I have to admit I am always conflicted between making a plan or letting it be and seeing where it all goes. So what about a loose plan to let things be, see where it all goes and enjoy it as it comes? What else can you do, really?

Best wishes for grace and peace and light in 2012!

2011 — My year in review

Posted in Celebration, Gratitude, Light, Travel with tags , on December 31, 2011 by cgeary

Hello World —

Usually I start the new year with a list of some sort — resolutions, goals, intentions…I decided this time to first take stock of the year that is ending. It is amazing how much of it goes by in a blur. It has been an interesting process going back over memories of this one…so here are some…not in particular order..organized thematically (ish).

Transitions…The best news of the year came in late November that Ron would be working in NC starting in January. (Emily’s job at Springs Creative was a close second.) He got a good job with a very nice organization…less overseas travel. It will be so nice for him to be home and not traveling back and forth from Baltimore. It will be an adjustment for us after six years of a commute of one sort or another, but one I am happy to make. I know that he felt some sadness and ambivalence about leaving his job in Baltimore, but I know he knows this is right. I was hoping he would be able to take more time off in between jobs but that didn’t happen the way I was hoping.

When I was growing up, my family moved a lot, mostly around the Southeast US, more when I was younger and less as I got older. It seemed that one (or more) of us always got sick after the move…we always thought because of the stress perhaps. Ron did better than that though. He got very sick before his move…complicating the logistics (his and mine) in all sorts of ways. He had an acute attack of pancreatitis the Sunday before his last week in Baltimore. I flew up there immediately after I found out and was glad to be able to. Illness is a transition of sorts and is always about more than the physical symptoms. It is a way your body records your history…this may have been coming on for a while but ignored one way or the other, but it certainly has gotten Ron’s attention now. Good timing with the new job…a time to rearrange life so he is not working 10 hours a day or traveling so much…taking the easier path of living in only one place at a time and being alone less of the time. A good time to get on that healthy diet he has been talking about and getting more exercise. While I wish these changes had happened before this health crisis, I am glad that Ron is interpreting it as an awakening to taking good care of himself and slowing down.

My own health has been good this year..around May sometime I finally was able to get my head around taking action to lose weight…diet and exercise…really that is it. I have lost 20 pounds since then…more slowly than initially I had hoped but it is ok too. The keys to my success? A good digital scale, weighing every day, finding a diet based on portion control and healthy eating (only natural food, no sugar, no alcohol (not completely compliant on that one, but have cut way back). I added a short weight routine and am more regular in my running and yoga. I feel so much better and am very motivated to lose the next 10 to 20 pounds during the next year.

Travel — I would say this has been a light travel year, though when I start listing where I’ve been I guess it was light only in comparison to my husband and my work colleagues. I was very happy to return to Asia — Bangkok and Hanoi — if only for a week this past May. Ron and I went to England and to Ireland in June for vacation. Ron actually had a board meeting in London so I got to wander during the days in London on my own — and then we both went to Ireland and got to see Emily and Aonghus and Aonghus’ parents Lena and Harry. They took us on a lovely tour of Donegal and included us in family gatherings. In the US I visited Baltimore and DC a few times, Boston, Phoenix (to see Ron’s brother and sister-in-law, Tom and Karen), NY (to see Max in Henry V), Charlotte (where Emily now lives) and Atlanta. My friend Louanne gave me a travel journal for my birthday, so I kept a journal of my travels, with photographs. I don’t always write as I travel…though sometimes I do…I have finished most of the writing for the year but have some more photos to add.

Revolution — It has been an amazing year on the planet. Sometimes I feel so hopeless about human beings when I listen to the Republican rhetoric that is so mean and hateful and see others around the world hurting each other (and am also disappointed in the Democrats to ‘man up’ against all of this — where are you all??)…But…I am also buoyed by those who are out there facing down the corruption and the evil. I was so amazed to see the Egyptians in the street…I know the hardest part may still be to come but the Arab spring was so inspiring…And Occupy Wallstreet (and Chapel Hill and everywhere else) gives me hope that something is afoot. It is not clear where it will go or to what effect, but something is happening and I don’t think there is a turning back now. This something that is making people nervous as evidenced by the over-reaction in some places, but it will get bigger. Where am I in this? I am totally supportive and feel some regret at not being in the middle of it…I am raising my voice when I can and want to do more, but have not figured out how to do that and meet my other responsibilities as well. I am thankful that there are those who can be out there in the way that they can.

Wild Goose Festival — This happened the end of June at Shakori Hills in Saxapahaw…I almost missed even knowing about it. A gathering of Christians in the US similar to the Greenbelt festival in England. We went for a day and in the middle of the afternoon I felt the most amazing sense of peace and rightness about the world. It is definitely a gathering of the religious left…politics was there but not the main thing…strains of Christianity that I had not been around…looking towards the Great Turning…lots of discussion of living in intentional communities… music…art…diversity…sustainability..I heard Shane Claiborne and was very inspired and then read his book The Irresistible Revolution over the summer. Not a way that I live, but good to think about.

Books I loved this year and/or made me think differently…Art of the Commonplace…by Wendell Berry (plus his novels like Jayber Crow)…Spontaneous Happiness  by Andrew Weill…Kafka by the Sea and  After Dark by Haruki Murakami (check out his website: http://www.randomhouse.com/features/murakami/site.php)…Crazy Like Us (The Globalization of the American Psyche) by Ethan Watters (in case you don’t yet think that pharmaceutical companies are corporations that care more about money than human beings)…Coming Back to Life by Joanna Macy..several by Alexander McCall Smith that I listened to on CD…a beautifully photographed book…Harvesting Color by Rebecca Burgessalso Andrea Reusing’s new cookbook, Cooking in the Moment, which I gave to several people for Christmas this year…A Year with Hafiz includes a Hafiz poem for every day of the year, so I started reading that as a daily meditation..You are Here by Thich Naht Hanh…The Sun is still my favorite magazine, though I also found Yes! this year and just subscribed to it in my pursuit of hopefulness.

Social media – I joined Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. Facebook is great, I’ve reconnected with several people and been able to keep up with others I might not have otherwise, plus it gives me a place for sharing thoughts and images that I wouldn’t have otherwise. (Also, it is a way to connect to this blog!)  Twitter is too overwhelming for me. Instagram I love though because it is photographs. I am an occaisional user so I don’t have a lot of followers or ‘likes’ (which makes me sad) but it is fun. (I’m ‘cwaszak’ on Instagram.)

Work-I returned the end of 2010 to a place I had worked many years and have been happy to be back with so many people I care about and I find so smart and caring. I have gone through somewhat of a transition in my own conceptualization of the research I want to do…a paradigm shift of sorts..though it is mostly a subtle change in articulation. This is great in that it has given me renewed inspiration for my technical work. The not so great thing this year was that we acquired a large new organization which has made life much more complicated and been an unwelcomed distraction from the work that I think we are meant to do. The merger is still a work in progress and all the pieces have not fallen into place with regards to a new structure…so I am trying to be helpful and stay positive…but in the next year it should be evident if this is going to work for me in the long run or not.

Art- I don’t know where I am going as an artist…the last part of the year..especially this past few weeeks I have not had time to focus on this part of my life…one that I think is essential but is distracted by work for money…I still am figuring it out. I am working on many different things simultaneously but finishing almost nothing. I am planning on submitting some work to some shows and galleries…I have the photos…we’ll see. I feel confused …unfocused about this. I did pick up my Pentax 1000 again and that has made me happy. I also have enjoyed talking to my daughter about her own work as a designer and listening to her thoughts and advice about my work…nice to see her doing something she loves and getting recognition for it…I always thought she had a lot of natural talent…now that talent is maturing as she is learning so much from school and her work colleagues.

And while I am speaking of family, Max, I think had a good year — first as part of the Shakespeare Festival in NC and then the rest of the year in NYC. I saw him in Henry V performed outdoors by the Classic Theatre of NY in July. I probably wouldn’t know about the High Line park in NYC if he did not work there and I think that is one of the best things in NY now and have spent a number of hours there and taken a lot of photos I love there. It was such a great idea. Renovation and renewal always make me happy. Max seems happy in his pursuit of his acting career.

I also have spent more time with Joshua and Caleb this year than ever before and that has been good. And…this summer we took Mother up to the mountains for her to see her family and celebrate her 87th birthday. This was a chance to reconnect to family I spent a lot of time with during my first 20 years or so, but much less since then. We also got to see Greg and Jennifer this past week in Chapel Hill for the Christmas holidays which was nice.

So while there were difficult moments this year (most of which I have not written about here), there were many, many good ones and good things about the year. I will stop here…just to say I am looking forward to seeing what the next one brings. I will close with a Hafiz poem I read just this morning —

It rises,

a glorious sun, 

if one can sit quiet long enough, 

Seeing it, one feels, I now have everything,

everything I could 

ever want.

What I am thankful for…..

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on November 24, 2011 by cgeary

Hello world —

Though I try to spend some time every day thinking about what I am grateful for, Thanksgiving Day is when I actually sit down and write out a list…previously in a journal and beginning last year in my blog…now with a link to Facebook…I just reread last year’s list…many things apply but it also showed me how life has moved on…one of the things I am thankful for as well…Here is today’s list…

My family and friends (always)

The beautiful fall weather

My mother’s good health and contentment with life

Emily’s work as a textile designer

Max’s life in NY

Almost a year back at my current job and my smart, fun, committed co-workers

Yoga

Greek yogurt

Finding a diet that works and makes me feel better

A renewed interest in cooking

Using my Pentax K1000 again…digital is amazing, but I still love film

HBO 

Netflix

Books on CDs from the library

All the books I’ve read or listened to in the past year and all the writers who wrote them

The poetry of Hafiz 

Trains, planes and automobiles

Travel over the past year — Bangkok, Hanoi, London, Ireland, NY, Carolina Beach, Boston, Baltimore, Charlotte….all fun.

Maple Spring Garden CSA

The Farmers Market

Glass Half Full

The Orange Co Artist Guild Studio Tour

The Playmaker’s Rep Co

Running, tennis

Deep tissue massage

and on and on….Thanks to my family and friends for being in my world…thanks to the cosmic forces that allow me to be in this space and time to enjoy all of this and more…Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

Sarah and Elizabeth

Posted in Gratitude, Light on April 17, 2011 by cgeary

This is a photograph of my friend Elizabeth Campbell and her mother, Sarah West Campbell. Sarah died the week before last at age 91. I went to her memorial service last Sunday at the Methodist church downtown. It was a very sweet service. Elizabeth died in 2004 at age 52 of a very aggressive form of cancer diagnosed only months before her death. The last time I was in that church was for a memorial service for Elizabeth.

Elizabeth and I became friends about 1997. We met at a video workshop at Duke. We were in a session together and ended up pairing off to take photos of each other. We decided to go to lunch together and then hung out for the rest of the day through the reception that evening. I think we talked non-stop. I had started taking black and white photographs and she was the artist I wanted to be. She was a writer first, but also an astrologer, photographer, videographer. She had gone to UNC but then spent many years in the Hudson Valley in NY state working at the Omega Institute. She split her time between the NC and NY, primarily so she could be close to her mother as Sarah got older.

I met Elizabeth at a time I was going through a lot of personal transitions and her friendship was very dear to me. Though I had stepped away from religious spirituality I had known as a child, I was ready to be pulled back into a way of understanding the world that was not bound by human understanding. Elizabeth was very much a mystic and was a great guide for my new seeking.

Getting back to Elizabeth and Sarah….Elizabeth grew up in a close-knit extended family in Weldon. Her father died when she was in college and her mother moved to Chapel Hill soon after that, where Elizabeth was at UNC. Elizabeth felt extremely connected to her family. She stayed close her to aunts and cousins and saw them on a regular basis. To be Elizabeth’s friend meant that you got to be part of that as well. I spent at least one Thanksgiving dinner and New Year’s Eve dinner and many picnics and birthday parties with Elizabeth and Sarah and others..bringing along Emily or Max when I could. Elizabeth’s family rooted her. I remember when she did a reading for her book Intuitive Astrology in a local bookstore, she started out by saying,”I think half the people in this room are my blood kin.” That made her very happy.

Sarah was light and love and lots of energy. They called her “Skeet,” short for “mosquito” because she was so short…but I never thought of her as small because she seemed like such a force of nature. She was grounded, but interested in everything. She kept up with everyone’s lives and it was evident in all the discussion at her memorial service that she was a pivotal connection for all the members of her extended family.

                         Sarah and her close friend, Vera Hart.

I stayed in touch with Sarah even when Elizabeth was not in town. Sarah came to my wedding in 2002 though Elizabeth was not able to. I tried to stay connected after Elizabeth’s death — not as much as I had meant to — but periodically with Christmas cards and calls. One year I sent her a Valentine’s Day card and she called me to tell me how excited she was to get it….I felt badly that I had not done more.

After the memorial service I went through some of my photographs to find some of Sarah to share here. I selected photographs which best illuminated Sarah’s spirit shining through.

 At a July 4th party at Elizabeth’s house..Elizabeth’s sister Kacky on the left.

                                    Sarah and Elizabeth, same party.

What is the what?

Posted in Light on April 9, 2011 by cgeary

I recently listened to the audiobook of What is the What? by Dave Eggers about Valentino Achak Deng — one of the Lost Boys of Sudan. It is the amazing story of how Valentino and many other boys escaped from the death and destruction of war in southern Sudan and walked across the desert to Ethiopia and then Kenya and then after many years in Kakuma refugee camp imigrated to the United States. The story touched me in so many ways — from despair over the cruelty of war and difficulties faced by immigrants in the US to the gratitude for the numerous miracles that kept Valentino and his friends alive during their many journeys.

The personal connection I felt to this story is related to his time at Kakuma because I visited this camp once for several days in February 1997 — admittedly a much different experience than his. I was able to imagine the landscape as I listened because I had seen it, if only for a brief time. I was there with staff from the Kenya Girl Guides Association visiting Guides in the camp. As described in the book, many residents of refugee camps are living in more or less stable rather than emergency conditions. Children go to schools and girls join Girl Guide clubs where they are available. We were there to think about a possible activity with these Guide clubs. (In the end we chose to work in Uganda in another camp with many Sudanese refugees.) While I was there we saw women learning to use solar energy for cooking, we saw people weaving blankets and we met with the school-based Guide groups. As in many other camps we visited that year and later, we were welcomed with singing and dancing by so many lovely young girls.

In listening to this book I was reminded of many things I had seen and heard in Kakuma and other camps. But I also realized that I had had no idea about the real lives of refugees in the camps. I had no idea of the hunger and material deprivation that existed. It is not that I am so naive to think that refugees lived like staff, but I did not really understand the true disparities. I ate three meals a day while I was there and slept in a comfortable bed at night while now I realize that many people were eating only one meal a day and sleeping on the ground.

What can we do about the inequities in the world? I am never able to answer that question to my satisfaction. The best we can do, I’m afraid, is the best we can do. And work for peace and social justice in whatever way we are able to life us all up.

I am a photographer, and after reading this book I went and found photographs I took at Kakuma. I wanted to share them with Valentino so I scanned my negatives and am sharing them here. I hope to find a way to share this link with him and other who might have been there at this time.

Valentino — these are for you…and Dave Eggers for telling the story so well. I hope this will reach you somehow.

Peace and grace to all of us…Cindy