Photo Challenge: (Climate) Change in Progress

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This week’s photo challenge from WordPress is to “show us change in progress.” Sad to say, these cheerful photos of bumblebees sipping nectar reflect profound change . . . climate change.

Bumble Bees in Trouble

Bumblebee on Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana) in my Maryland garden

You see, scientists say that bumblebees are abandoning their southern habitats due to the warming climate, but they are not expanding their northern range. In other words, they could be squeezed out of existence.

And when bees are in trouble, the crops and wild plants that depend on them for pollination also suffer. And who is at the top of that food chain? Yeah, the species that builds coal plants and fracks for oil.

“We play with these things at our peril,” says bee ecology expert Jeremy Kerr of the University of Ottawa. “The human enterprise is the top floor in a really big scaffold. What we’re doing is reaching out and knocking out the supports.”

Kerr says that the shrinking bumblebee habitat is clearly related to climate change, and he’s amazed at how fast it’s happening. In the past forty years, some bees have retreated more than 185 miles from their southern homes. They’re also escaping to higher alpine altitudes — but all is not well in the mountains, either.

Another study shows that the deep, tubular flowers that alpine bumblebees prefer aren’t surviving the warming temps — up 3.6 degrees fahrenheit since the 1960s — so the bees now have to rely on more general foraging. Amazingly, in just forty years, the tongues of bees have shrunk 24%, which enables them to drink from different flowers. The pace of this change is “dramatic,” reports study author Professor Candace Galen in the journal Science.

“The finding of rapid adaptation is a glimmer of hope for bumblebees, whose populations worldwide are declining,” Professor Galen says.

And we can sure use the hope.

I’m hoping there is another type of change in progress, too, brought on by the straight climate talk from Pope Francis last week. It’s the old-fashioned concept of repentance, defined as “to feel such regret for past conduct as to change one’s mind regarding it.” The word is derived from the Latin “to think again” or to “re-think.” In ancient Greek, it’s translated as “to turn around.”  All of this would be appropriate for humankind when it comes to our environment.

Greed, denial, and creaturely comforts are tough to turn away from, but I think the Creator of the Bumblebees is up to the challenge, and so I pray: Great Lover of the Bumblebees, please change our hearts and minds and make us instruments of peace instead of purveyors of destruction. Amen.

Bumblebee on New Hampshire wildflower

Bumblebee on New Hampshire wildflower








Eucharist Moon: A Blackjack Poem

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Blood moon, sacrifice for us.

Slide into our shadow, and

Give up the whole of yourself.



A blackjack poem has 3 lines of 7 syllables each, for a total of 21.

Photo courtesy of NASA.


The Republican Debate


CNN guy: Mr. Trump, Jeb Bush called you a poop-head. Are you, in fact, a poop-head?

Mr. Trump: I am not a poop-head, he’s a poop-head. I’m a billionaire. I have a lot of casinos.

CNN guy: Mr Trump, Senator Rubio says that you don’t know your posterior from a hole in the ground when it comes to foreign leaders and global policy. What do you have to say to that?

Mr. Trump: Do so, do so! Anyway, I’m gonna hire people to learn all those dude’s names when I’m president.  Smart people. And I already know all the hedge fund managers. I’m rich.

CNN guy: Mr. Trump, Senator Paul says you’re irrational and he wouldn’t feel safe if your finger was on the nuclear trigger.

Mr. Trump: He’s just a scaredy cat, plus he’s fat. Oh wait, that’s the other guy. And Carly’s ugly. Nobody would ever vote for a fat guy or an ugly girl or a sissy-pants whose scared of a little nuclear trigger.

Ms. Fiorina: Can I respond to that?

CNN guy: No, only Mr. Trump is allowed to talk for the first hour and a half, while I paraphrase what everyone else has said about him and ask for his response.

Ms. Fiorina: But he called me ugly, I should be allowed to respond. Besides, I’m rich, too, and I also drove several big companies into the ground.

Mr. Trump: Not as big as the companies I drove into the ground! My casinos . . .

Ms. Fiorina: If I was president, I’d buy lots of tanks and guns and planes and then everyone would know who was the boss. Me. Me. Leadership, that’s me. Throughout my leadership career as an important and influential leadership CEO . . .

Governor Christie: Shut up, you guys. Nobody cares about your stupid companies and careers. George Bush let me be a prosecutor once, so there. September 11th. September 11th. And I have casinos in New Jersey, too. September 11th.

Mr. Trump: Shut up, Fatso.

Governor Huckabee: Wait, did somebody say something about guns? I like guns. I like guns more than all the other guys up here. Hey, how did that girl get up here? Is she a gay or what?

Senator Rubio: I can speak Spanish.

Jeb Bush: My wife is Mexican.

Senator Cruz: I’m a Cuban!

Governor Christie: September 11th.

Senator Paul: Can I say something about Iran?

CNN guy: No. Stop it everyone, we were talking about Mr. Trump. Now Mr Trump, please give us your expert opinion on autism and vaccines . . .


Photo credit: Reuters

Reading, Writing, and Stargazing

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Kim Davis and car cameras, Serena Williams and Syrian refugees, Donald’s hair and Clinton’s emails . . . and September 11th, of course. Opinions and predictions, rages and laments. Words, words, and more words. Aren’t you sick of them? I sure am.

You might have noticed that I’ve taken a little break from blogging lately, after three years of being fairly faithful about it. Why add to the noise and hub-bub, when I have nothing insightful to say at the moment? And I’m hoping that my creative energies might build up to dramatic and explosive levels if I put a cap on the well and quit releasing little blips of creativity every week through my blog.

No great bursts of brilliance yet, but I’m certain there’s one bubbling up. Or not.

During this blogging hiatus, I have started writing Morning Pages again, the thirty-minute stream-of-consciousness-just-keep-your-hand-moving practice extolled by author Julia Cameron and other writing mentors as a way to access your subconscious and release your creativity. There might be something to it: I’ve recently drafted two personal essays that have potential, assuming I can muster the discipline to slog through the editing and polishing process. Attention Deficit Disorder lends itself to blogging, but not as much to focused writing projects requiring multiple revisions. My master’s thesis nearly killed me.

Julia Cameron also recommends a whole week of abstaining from all forms of reading, but I’ve always thought that impossible, if not outright insane. Who would do that? And why would that help my creativity? Every time I get to that chapter in Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, I conveniently misplace the book. (ADD helps with that, too.)

Hence, I was surprised a few weeks ago when I got a strong inclination to quit reading fiction for a time. It’s torture, really, but it feels like the right thing. I get lost in novels, which is wonderful and relaxing and healthy, but it can be taken to the extreme. Right now I need to be more disciplined and intentional about my time and my reading. I want to focus on my new pastoral role at church, and I’ve been teaching some challenging writing workshops. So it’s strictly non-fiction for now, mostly spiritual, but also an outstanding memoir by Tobias Wolfe, This Boy’s Life.

I’ve been reading about prayer (I suppose some might call this fiction), and am learning a lot. But I can get trapped in my brain, and there’s a danger of my spending too much time studying prayer and forgetting to actually pray. So I’m also setting aside contemplative time for meditation and labyrinth walking and star gazing. Rough life, right?

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been up to. I’ve missed you guys this past month. I’ll touch base again when I have some words worth saying. Peace to you.

Whiling away the time...

Whiling away the time…

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