Friday, September 21, 2012

Women of Great Heart I Greet You

“Responsible caretaking is a central value of life.” Margaret Mead

Well, here we are, women of great heart, taking up her  challenge. Here we are making friends, sharing stories; cooperating is our natural way.  We work close to home and to our children. We create alliances with those we see every day. We heal wounds. We make common cause in our daily lives and learn from each other. We are all sisters in an immense learning community of women.

Women of Great Heart I Greet You
Each morning, we meet. We greet, face to face, on the street as we walk our infants in strollers, at the market, or the well.  And now through the miracle of webs and clouds, we cross the miles, the oceans; the vast spaces evaporate like the dew in the morning sun. We are heart to heart, playing and working side by side, I in my village in the north; you in your village in the south, or west, or east. We carry in our hands our magic boxes linking our knowing in ways we might only have imagined.

I have always known you were there but you seemed so far away. I imagined that you knew not that I cared whether you had clean water, or a chicken to lay an egg, or gruel for your children. But I did care, only I never imagined that I could let you know.

We are 3.5 billion strong and we are mending our nets, we are mending the fabric of soil beneath our feet. Can we share as women have always shared, a cup of sugar, an extra blanket; through the web. Can we, like the pulses of energy coursing through our bodies heal our world as we heal our families?
We can join together with other women of great heart and join the love in every woman’s heart; this love is an ocean bathing our world.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Are you breathing? Thank a tree

MK Sandford Photographer, Kucera tree, alive and well.

 Advances  in cell biology, genomics, psychology have given us the gift of being able to experience the Natural world in such a way that it doesn’t take away the joy and the mystery of it. Science that brings us closer to understanding the inner life of all beings.
Consider this video animation of our cellproteins undertaking the task of identifying an unwelcome guest in our cells and escorting him out. The immune system is responsible for keeping our body clean and orderly. It works day and night to keep things in order. Take a breath and listen to the music and watch your body at work.

In her biography, A Feeling for the Organism, Evelyn Fox Keller quotes Barbara McClintock explaining her loving attachment to plants.

“Animals can walk around, but plants have to stay still to do the same things, with ingenious mechanisms. For instance, … if you pinch a leaf of a plant you set off electrical impulses. You can’t touch a plant without sending out an electrical pulse. There is no question that plants have all kinds of sensitivities. They do a lot of responding to their environment. They can do almost anything you can think of. … In the summertime, when you walk down the road, you’ll see that the tulip leaves, when it’s a little warm, turn themselves around so that there backs are toward the sun. You can just see where the sun hits them and where it doesn’t hit. Actually within the restrictive areas in which they live, they move around a great deal. “

Indeed when we can know that within a stately grove of alders, pines, firs, and cedars billions of cells are alive and thriving we can more simply enter into a dialogue with a tree understanding that it knows we are there. Trees tell us things. They tell us about the drought, and when rain is coming. Droopy leaves are so common that we take them for granted.  Yet those leaves Cry out "I Thirst".. Where have we heard those words before?
Does a tree have a brain, central organizing principle that guides it’s inner workings?  Plant's guidance systems are decentralized. Each cell has its own ‘brain’ called a network of cell nuclei. These nuclei are in constant communication with each other via their cell's membranes. Possibly because they are stationary trees have no need for quick responses, or to think their way out of a situation, their responses are slow and steady.  Plants respond to different levels of excitation.  I wonder if plants respond to anger or sadness or to wonder and awe. Do they know how we feel? I believe they do. Trees give us so much, they are the lungs of the planet and we depend upon them for our lives. I am so immensely grateful for the oxygen they expire, to our planet, to the shade they give us to protect us from the sun’s harmful rays. So as one local bumpersticker put it,  Are you breathing? Thank a tree.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Culture Shock and My Research Question

Every study begins with a question, often called the research question. My research question was born out of the clash between my Irish Catholic Mary worshipping culture and the dominant U.S. culture.

In my Irish Catholic World all were welcome in our home. Hobos,as they were called during the depression, who came for a handout, were brought into the kitchen for a meal.  Hospitality was the predominant value of the Immaculate Heart Community of nuns who enveloped our family in angel wings. The dominant value was " Treat all with kindness whether stranger or family."
Mary the Mother of God was the Mother of us all and I was her handmaiden, deeply concerned with the suffering of all God's people yet separated from the ways of the world.

All men and women are children of God and should not be hurt. Sex is never to be talked about. It doesn’t exist in the world of an Irish Catholic child who never questions or challenges this worldview.
I experienced traumatic culture shock when I first discovered the dominant worldview prevailing in America in the 1960s. I became part of the counterculture; I saw in it some of the qualities of my own culture. It is safe to say that I was in no way prepared to be a woman negotiating within the American Cultural Domain. As the journey continues, the clash of cultures will be made clear.