Saturday, January 22, 2022

COVID ALL AROUND US. SO WHAT CAN WE DO to avoid it while carrying on semi-normal life?

      This morning, we awoke to an email from a neighbor, stating that a resident of the neighborhood had caught COVID. An aid car took treated a different neighbor for COVID last night. COVID everywhere, it seems, and probably it seems that way to most people on earth.   

     A few things we can do to protect ourselves.

    Mask up when around people. Ideally you want a mask labeled N-95. N-95s fit the fact tightly and filter through cloth your incoming air for breathing. I found my N-95 mask at a hardware store (turns out that electricians and others use them for work purposes. The label warned, not for medical use. My use is not for providing for medical use; it's for protection--for scouring the air for water droplets carrying COVID. What you want in a mask is filtering for small water droplets carried by incoming air. Many use masks when shopping, riding public transit, or attending class.

    Practice self-isolation when possible.  Example:  three younger people are here to celebrate a birthday. They and we have been inoculated by injection. Still, we'll all wear masks and not remove the masks to eat birthday cake together. We're having a great time but not risking COVID.  Avoid people when possible. Yes, you can still say, "Happy Birthday cousin," or whomever. 

Another example: use hand sanitizer when you've left a public place (e.g., grocery store.)


Use hand sanitizer, as glimmering in his left hand


    Self-isolation might apply to school attendance (learn at home via video), work (work at home), public meeting attendance (examples: church or concerts). 

    There's no guarantee that you can avoid the disease, but plenty of opportunity for you to carry on your life while practicing self-protection when possible, as cleverly as possible.

Any ideas from you? Share with you fellow readers by making a comment.   Thanks for reading and for contributing your ideas. Together we can control COVID. 



  












 

 


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Friday, January 14, 2022

THREE VALUES OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. FOR OUR CHALLENGING TIMES

Where do find we answers to the great questions of our time: COVID, global warming, inequality, out-of-control pursuit of political power.  Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (January 17, 2022) offers us a chance to reflect on the values and strategies of a great American/global citizen.

Non-violence. King believed in resistance to evil, but not through violence. That didn't stop him from non-violent action to bring about social improvement. King organized and led nonviolent citizen action to protest against racial segregation throughout the U.S. The orderly parades of citizens, marching together to overturn discriminatory laws and practices, triggered improvements for the lives of millions.      

The value of the human person:  King affirmed this value early in his life; his affirmation was honed by doctoral study with personalist philosophers/theologians at Boston University. Human life is sacred; all people have equal personal value.



MARTIN LUTHER KING, Jr.

(Source: Wikipedia. Photo in public domain, U.S.A. and Sweden.)

"Social gospel." Don't focus faith on an individual's salvation only. Religious belief and action leads to social improvement. In his understanding of Christianity, the Kingdom of God is a prophetic summons to justice and equality. And to a future-oriented social goal. 

In the political struggles of our day, King, were he alive, would undoubtedly be favoring expansion of voting rights and resisting the removal of voting rights.

King was killed by an assassin using a gun. His influence lives on in and joins with that throng of people who believe in human equality and compassion. Fortunately, we can turn to King's writings to find answers for today's problems. 

January 17, 2022: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in the United States and around the world--and let's make it a day not only of remembering the past but of planning for a future of greater justice and equality for all.


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Saturday, January 8, 2022

SIGNS OF STRENGTH IN THE GOOD OLD U.S.A.

 The news commentaries on the status of the United States have been discouraging at the end of 2021 and beginning of 2022.





One headline in the British Broadcasting Company (B.B.C.)  suggested that people in many countries believe that the U.S.A. is a nation in decline. This headlined occurred around the one-year anniversary of the capital riot on January 6, 2021.

Many Americans concur, or at least they judge that democracy is at risk. After the capitol riot of year ago, that's a very accurate conclusion.

It's good to balance American strengths against current weaknesses. I'll cite a couple of strengths I'm aware of. On the national level, persons ranging from President Biden to civic leaders and ordinary citizens are doing their part. Two days ago Biden denounced Trump's "web of lies."

Among religious leaders, Adam Russell Taylor on the Sojourners Website (sojo.net) on January 6, 2022, provided great guidance for American believers in ways of seeking to lead the country out of crisis.

On television, search for Rick Steves' episode, "Germany's Fascist Story." Do you see parallels between Germany in the 1930s and current events in the U.S.?   To me, they are unmistakable.

At the national level in the U.S., leaders like President Joe Biden are trying to steer the nation out of the storm.

At the local level, leaders are springing into action.  That's wise, because the attack on democracy has trickled down to urban and small community life across the country. You've probably seen signs of it in your own community. I have, myself. In every state and community, local citizens must fight for freedom.

Here in Newberg, Oregon, where I live, The two members of the public school board question have led the five-member board into suppressing freedom of speech in the classroom. They fired the incumbent superintendent of public education.  Citizens have reacted by planning, funding, and winning the right to hold a recall election. The election is in process and results are scheduled for January 18th.

At a personal level, I'm concerned for the younger people in my extended family. What will their lives be like in an American in which democracy has been scuttled, if that should happen? 

I hope that stability will result and the global appraisal will shift toward judging American strength to have endured. For endless decades into the future.  

Everyone has a role. In elections, vote for pro-democracy candidates. In local community affairs, join with others seeking to conserve justice for all. Seek an abundance of signs of strength in the Good Old U.S.A.    Pray that God will continue to bless America.




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Friday, December 31, 2021

KEY LESSONS TO BE LEARNED FROM BISHOP DESMOND TUTU (1931-2021)

DESMOND TUTU--LESSONS for 2022 and beyond

 

Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1931 to 2021)--a memorable, admirable human.

Amazingly, I was able to connect with him, along with many others in my town (Tacoma, Washington) in the 1980’s. At the invitation of Annie Wright School, an Episcopalian institution in Tacoma, Tutu came to town for two or three days of speaking and mingling with students. Annie Wright agreed to offer Bishop Tutu to the neighboring University of Puget Sound for an evening banquet and address. Somehow, the administration allowed me, then a faculty member at U.P.S., to drive the bishop in my small Volvo from Annie Wright to the university campus and back to his room at Annie Wright . This gave me the unbelievable opportunity of speaking in person with Bishop Tutu.


Desmond Tutu

Announcement of his death prompted me to remember being in the presence of Fr.  Tutu.  He was easy to converse with.   “Joke with” might be a better term. He displayed a great, relaxed sense of humor and a hearty laugh.

 Looking at 2022, what lessons might we learn from Desmond Tutu’s example? Remain jolly, and keep the value of justice foremost. Work for realization of justice in human society and for earth-care in the human-environmental relationship. Be realistic but optimistic. Be faithful.  

 I’m inspired by his life and his testimony--and am so fortunate to have met him in person.





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Thursday, December 23, 2021

CHRISTMAS ALL YEAR

Years ago, an elder gave me advice: "Be generous all year."

 

Now it's December 23, 2021. My wife and I are at home, preparing for Christmas day with decorating, cooking and  enjoying Christmas lighting in the neighborhood.


All of a sudden a passenger van arrives at our house door. Three small children (pre-school to first grade) and their mother pop into the entryway when we respond to the doorbell.  "Oh, how great to see you!" we proclaim. This is a mom and her three kids we've seen on the sidewalk many times over the past three years. They live in a nearby neighborhood and have passed by our house on their walks. Over several months, we said "hi" to them many times.


On one of their walks months ago, they were caught in a drenching downpour of rain. To get some shelter, they stopped under a tree just outside of our property. My wife saw them standing there; they seemed miserable. She invited them to come to our garage for shelter from the rain. As the rain continued, we three adults (their mom, my wife and I) chatted and the kids played. Then, as suddenly as it had arrived, the rain stopped and they were on their way home.


Today, at 11:00 a.m., Dec. 23, 2021, a family van pulled onto our driveway and the three kids and mom gathered at our porch. Lucy went to the door.  "Oh, hi!" "So great to see you!" They entered, all enthused and happy.


Lucy was ready. She gave them cookies. In exchange, the mom gave Lucy a small white bag containing cookies. Fine, fine reunion of friends. We'd favored them once long ago. Ever since that rainstorm event, they've visited us. But this Christmas meet-up and exchange of gifts of cookies was special. The three kids walked to the far side of the living room to explore our Christmas tree ornaments. When they saw an angel or a star that attracted them, they poked it and watched it wing on its string. Laughter and happiness prevailed.




Simply in visiting us, they further cemented the family friendship and truly rewarded us for giving them something--shelter--in a springtime rain storm years ago.


If you're generous, you'll be rewarded.  Be generous. At Christmas. And all year.

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Saturday, December 11, 2021

YOUR STAR OF HOPE--THREE OR FOUR IDEAS FOR YOU

                                           WAYS TO OVERCOME SEASON SADNESS

 

Are you sad? The joy of the season is celebrated on the internet with gift ideas and attractive merchandise. You’re supposed to feel great. And yet maybe you just don’t share that mood?

If you’re a bit blue, I share that feeling. Just now, where I live, the strong wind is blowing against the window and dark clouds are dumping rain on the roof.  Diseases, higher temperatures globally, political threats like Roman emperors in the time of Jesus. Homelessness everywhere. Darkness seems to prevail. Sad.

 What are we to do to lighten our spirits?



There’s an old example we can follow.  Wise people in Asia, 21 centuries ago, looked upward in a time of bleakness and saw a bright star. They mounted their steeds, trekked off in the direction of the the star and arrived at a what?  . . .at a stable?  Yes, just a stable. In which they found a mom, tending her newborn son, who was lying in a what? Yep, lying in a hay cradle. These wise men realized they’d found the light in the darkness. 

                                                                      ☆☀☆☀⛅

Their travelogue is recorded in the Christian Bible: Matthew, Chapter 1. Read it for yourself.

We envy these wise men. But can we follow their example? I think so.   

Some current ideas for you. First, on December 21, Jupiter and Saturn will be in alignment. This bright spot in the sky can be your star of Bethlehem. 

Or maybe your "bright star" is a new baby in a cradle--your own new child or that of a friend. Or maybe your star is a loving spouse. Or a friendship you rely upon. Maybe a cuddly pet dog. Or your mom or dad, who loves and guides you.  If you’re homeless, find a shelter you can duck into.

Bottom line: best to use the Advent period of waiting to identify your own star of hope.

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Thursday, December 2, 2021

WHAT'S A TROPICAL CHRISTMAS LIKE?


 WHAT'S A TROPICAL CHISTMAS LIKE? Here's one answer

Lucille and Darrell Reeck

12/2/2021

 

We love Sierra Leone, a culturally rich, though economically poor, country on the Atlantic coast of West Africa. Darrell had visited West Africa in 1960 with a college buddy and was intrigued by the people he met, their celebrations, their ways of life. Lucy and Darrell married in Salem and then, in 1968, returned to Sierra Leone for several months of Darrell’s doctoral dissertation research on American mission activity as it had affected African village life.

 

Starting in September, we lived In Freetown, the capitol, for several weeks while Darrell research archival records at Fourah Bay College. Late fall, we moved up-country for field work.  We spent Christmas week as guests of Esther Megill. She, an American missionary nurse, was a great friend of Honoria Bailor-Caulker, a Paramount Chief. Honoria's coastal chiefdom surrounded the Atlantic beach town, Shenge. Honoria welcomed us with open arms because we were friends of Esther. This personal connection was our key to open the door of the town.

 From Shenge-town we walked amid grass-covered dunes on the Atlantic shore. From a tall dune we spotted an off-shore island. We learned later that slave traders had developed that very island as a depot for slave trading over a century earlier.  The island gained fame one day when a cargo of slaves overpowered the armed crew of a slave-ship and forced a return to dry land. Sengbe, a slave himself, led the revolt. Once ashore near Shenge, the slaves returned by jungle path to their homes in the interior of the colony. This story reached the U.S., where Joseph Gomer, a young African-American pastor in Ohio, heard it. Sengbe became the young man’s hero. Ultimately, the United Brethren in Christ appointed Joseph and his spouse to Sierra Leone in 1890 as missionaries. The Gomers opened the Shenge station. Thus, the Shenge mission station (school and church) had its own aura and history.

(The slave revolt was featured in the 1997 film, "Amistad.") 

Our Christmas meal in 1968 was uniquely African. The menu included savory joliffe rice with chicken and goat meat plus delicious oranges. The food  was a gift of Honoria, the Paramount Chief, herself. Her fluency in English enabled her graciously to welcome us to the chiefdom. She assured us of our safety there and entertained us with stories of previous missionaries.  She also recounted with gratitude many stories of Shenge school children, educated in the mission school.

 During the meal, a crowd of school-kids gathered outside the mission house to see us, the American visitors, and to sing for us. These kids were dressed in Western-style clothing, presumably gleaned from missionary barrels: cloth shirts and and or short pants (boys) and calico dresses (girls). One tall, thin boy wore African “devil” garb.  From his collar to the top of head, his dark skin and hair was totally covered with white makeup. This devil costume even included a pair of floppy white ears. The kids enthusiastically sang  Christmas carols for us. We listened from the porch and waved our thanks at the end of the concert.  

 In a couple of days we returned to our base in the inland town of Taiama. There we continued to live among and learn much from Africans, joining in their traditional celebrations and interviewing them concerning their interactions with American missionaries. In June we returned to the U.S.  Our time in Sierra Leone made it a place we remember and love.  Eventually, back in the U.S., Darrell was awarded a doctorate by Boston University, based on his research in Sierra Leone.

 

P.S. Friends, thanks for reading at "Growing Green" blogsite. You’re invited to visit www.darrellreeck.com to read Darrell’s brief weekly as well as book-length posts. .  Happy holidays!

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