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Archive for the ‘Spirituality’ Category

Has the human ‘pack’ moved on!

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Believers and non-believers alike owe Pope Francis a giant ‘thank you’.

As regular followers of this place will have heard before, one of the roles of the ‘alpha’ dog, or more accurately referred to these days as the Mentor dog, in other words the female dog that in the days before domestication was the leader of her pack, was to move her pack if she intuited that the pack’s home range was not sustaining them. (Her other role was pick of the male dogs!)

Thus the title of today’s post came to me as just possibly the metaphorical equivalent. That the global human ‘pack’ has been sharply reminded by one of the world’s key religious leaders that ‘more of the same’ isn’t going to work for much longer.

Quite rightly, there has been a huge amount of reporting and analysis of last week’s Papal Encyclical. But one of the most beautiful and profoundly eloquent came from the writer Jennifer Browdy. If you haven’t come across her before then do drop across to her website; you will love what she presents!  I have been a subscriber to her blog posts for some time and that was how I came across her post called: And the Walls Came Tumbling Down: Pope Francis Shows Us the Way. Jennifer very kindly gave me permission to republish her post today.


And the Walls Came Tumbling Down: Pope Francis Shows Us the Way

By Jennifer Browdy

The Encyclical on climate change and the environment released by Pope Francis this week has all the magic of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1991. Back then, the antagonism between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. seemed implacable and unresolvable, a fight to the death. And then suddenly the wall came down and the world walked through, marveling, into a new era.

Now we have another abrupt shift, this time of a religious order. The leaders of the Catholic Church can hardly be accused of being “radical tree-huggers.” And yet here is Pope Francis, solemnly exhorting his flock of a billion Catholics worldwide to be respectful to Mother Earth and all the living beings she supports. In the blink of an eye, the language of Native American spirituality has been taken up by the same Catholic Church that once tortured and executed indigenous peoples precisely because of their different religious beliefs.

I urge you to read the entire Encyclical for yourself. It is a truly remarkable document, worth serious study. Of many passages I’d like to underline, here are two:

228 Care for nature is part of a lifestyle which includes the capacity for living together and communion. Jesus reminded us that we have God as our common Father and that this makes us brothers and sisters. Fraternal love can only be gratuitous; it can never be a means of repaying others for what they have done or will do for us. That is why it is possible to love our enemies. This same gratuitousness inspires us to love and accept the wind, the sun and the clouds, even though we cannot control them. In this sense, we can speak of a “universal fraternity”.

229 We must regain the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world, and that being good and decent are worth it. We have had enough of immorality and the mockery of ethics, goodness, faith and honesty. It is time to acknowledge that light-hearted superficiality has done us no good. When the foundations of social life are corroded, what ensues are battles over conflicting interests, new forms of violence and brutality, and obstacles to the growth of a genuine culture of care for the environment.

Here we find spiritual ecology enshrined as Catholic doctrine. And one thing about the Catholic Church—it is big on obedience. For believers, to ignore the Pope is to risk hellfire and damnation. In this case, though, the hellfire and damnation will be earthly, if we do not listen to the wise advice of Pope Francis and curb the insanity of industrial growth that goes beyond the limits of the planet to support.

Scientists appeal to our sense of reason, presenting compelling evidence that if we continue on our present path of wasteful consumption of the Earth’s resources, we will destroy our own future as a flourishing species. Religious leaders appeal to human beings’ moral conscience in invoking the responsibility of current parents and grandparents to leave a livable world to our descendants. It is up to the politicians, though, to translate vision into practice.

For too long, Christian conservatives in the U.S. have played the role of the ideological wing of Big Business, using money, manipulation and scare tactics to buy politicians and votes. In the face of the new Papal Encyclical, can American Christians really continue in good conscience to support the worst of the planet’s polluters and plunderers? Can they continue to elect mercenary politicians who hold our country hostage to the highest bidder?

If all good people who love our Earth and its creatures were to translate our love into action, as Pope Francis has just done so forcefully, I have no doubt the seemingly invincible wall of the industrial growth society we’ve been living with these past 200 years would melt away, revealing the path into a green, prosperous future.

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” the saying goes. Pope Francis has just shown us the will, and the way. It is now the task of us ordinary citizens to break the stranglehold of Big Business on politics and insist that our politicians follow his lead.

I close with an excerpt from the Pope’s “Christian Prayer in Union with Creation,” a vision of ecological interdependence if ever there was one:

“Triune Lord, wondrous community of infinite love,

teach us to contemplate you

in the beauty of the universe,

for all things speak of you.

“Awaken our praise and thankfulness

for every being that you have made.

Give us the grace to feel profoundly joined to everything that is.

God of love, show us our place in this world

as channels of your love

for all the creatures of this earth,

for not one of them is forgotten in your sight.

Enlighten those who possess power and money

that they may avoid the sin of indifference,

that they may love the common good, advance the weak,

and care for this world in which we live.”



And the meek shall inherit the Earth…. Photo by J. Browdy, 2015


I am sure that, whatever your religious or spiritual persuasion, you will agree with me with regard to the beauty of Jennifer’s essay. I know there are millions and millions of people who will want to look back in a few years time and see how Pope Francis’ legacy literally saved our lives.

Picture parade one hundred and one.

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Welcome to the Summer Solstice!

(And grateful for the technology giving me a window in which to write and post this.)

Only one way to open this week’s picture parade!

Rising sun over the Heel Stone at Stonehenge on the dawn  of the Summer Solstice.

Rising sun over the Heel Stone at Stonehenge on the dawn of the Summer Solstice.

Now to the second set of pictures under the theme of

Hiding in Plain Sight

















Yet another set of these incredible pictures in a week’s time; technology notwithstanding!

Written by Paul Handover

June 21, 2015 at 00:00

Saturday serendipity

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Facing up to our challenges often inspires new beginnings.

I subscribe to Val Boyco’s blog Find Your Middle Ground (and love it!).

Last Thursday, Val published a beautiful poem that she, in turn, had seen over on Mindfulbalance, a blog that I hadn’t come across but suspect that I am going to like.


Originally posted on Mindfulbalance:


It may be that

when we no longer know

what to do,

we have come

to our real work,

and when we

no longer know

which way to go,

we have begun

our real journey

Wendell Berry, The Real Work


Going to close today’s post by repeating something that is in a little book that I have had for years: Extracts from Peace In Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh originally published by Bantam Books.


There is a word in Buddhism that means “witlessness” or “aimlessness”. The idea is that you do not put something in front of you and run after it, because everything is already here, in yourself.

While we practice walking meditation, we do not try to arrive anywhere. We only make peaceful, happy steps.

By taking good care of the present moment, we take good care of the future.

You all have a wonderful present moment!

Written by Paul Handover

May 30, 2015 at 00:00

Easter weekend reflection

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As read over on Find Your Middle Ground.

For Christians the world over the Easter weekend is the religious moment of the year.

For all of humanity, believers and non-believers alike, the following simple but powerful words ought to be a reminder of eternal values for every day of the year.


Today’s Quote from Theresa

Beautiful words and image from Theresa at Soul Gatherings. Let it settle in.💛

Originally posted on Soul Gatherings:


In the end, only three things matter:
how much you loved,
how gently you lived,
and how gracefully you let go of things
not meant for you.

~ The Buddha ~


Thanks Val for allowing me to republish this. (Val Boyco of Find Your Middle Ground.)

Written by Paul Handover

April 4, 2015 at 00:00

Misery Is Optional

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Another guest essay from the old lamplighter.

It seems to me that it is so incredibly easy to be influenced, even engulfed, by bad news.

Back on the 20th I posted an item that had been sent to me by John Hurlburt, who is the old lamplighter, called Interstellar News.

Here’s another essay from John that is a great reminder of that old adage: We are what we think.



Misery Is Optional

There’s always been a delicate balance in the struggle between growth and stagnation. The emerging universe invariably prevails. The good news is that absolutely insisting upon the denial of reality naturally backfires in the long run. Common sense has repeatedly saved our collective bacon from the fire as our species has faced former crises. The stakes have never been higher.

There’s a natural balance that runs through our relatively brief species history. Extreme cultural alternatives include plutocracy and anarchy. There’s no question that if we’re not an active supporter of an inclusive solution we contribute to our collective dissolution.

Nero fiddled while Rome burned. There’s a current global analogy. Global media communications reflect hate, divisiveness and violence. The obvious truth is essentially ignored. A result is our present state of angst, paranoia and associated stress disorders. We compensate with bread and circuses.

Indifference doesn’t have to be a local reality. We’re all naturally connected in whatever we conceive of as God. We share a common soul. If we are wise we’ll act accordingly. We’ll accept our inherent responsibilities as stewards of Creation. The fulfilment of positive actions in according with the nature of our being is a blessing that keeps on giving.

an old lamplighter


These are beautiful words and whatever one’s religious or spiritual convictions if we don’t recognise that we are all “naturally connected” then it won’t be long before we run out of bread and circuses – and deservedly so.

Going to close this post by using the following picture and quotation taken from the latest Terry Hershey newsletter.


Beyond living and dreaming
there is something more important: waking up.

Antonio Machado

Call of the wild.

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A Monday morning reminder of our beautiful planet.

American Wilderness: The John Moulton Barn on Mormon Row at the base of the Tetons. Photo: Jon Sullivan

American Wilderness: The John Moulton Barn on Mormon Row at the base of the Tetons. Photo: Jon Sullivan

Just a random picture found by doing a web search. (Actually found on what looks like a great blog: I am Wilderness.)

This morning’s post was prompted by listening to one of my favourite music groups: The Alan Parsons Band. Listening to this particular track: Call of the Wild. From his third solo album The Time Machine released in September, 1999.

Lyrics written by Ian Bairnson

Well I’ve talked to the wind and I’ve listened to rain,
I have climbed to the clouds and I’ve cried out with pain,
This life is for living so come to my side,
And open your heart to the call of the wild.

We are all of one nation, all of one creed,
We are all out of nature, all of one seed,
We are in this together, man, woman and child,
So open your heart to the call of the wild.

We talk the same language in different tongues,
We’re somebody’s daughters and somebody’s sons,
But those who believe we are head of the chain,
May wake up to find we are all that remain.

There is no need to fear what we don’t understand,
For we breathe the same air and we walk the same land,
The strong and the anxious, the meek and the mild,
All dance to the drum that’s the call of the wild.

Impossible to listen to this beautiful track and not reflect on how badly we are treating Mother Earth.

Written by Paul Handover

March 30, 2015 at 00:00

Interstellar News

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In celebration of the 2015 Spring Equinox.



The moment of the equinox is Friday, March 20, 2015 at 22:45 UTC.

I want to share something with you that was sent in the mail to Jean and me two days ago.

Interstellar News

The essence of a shadow is the energy of the leading edge of Creation.

The dominant species on a remote, possibly unique, planet called Earth has as yet to learn that life is the essence of a shadow.

As a result, the self-centred dominant species on this possibly unique planet appear to self-destruct. The shame and the pity are that a majority of life on the beautiful and evolving planet will accompany the selfish human species into the void of biological extinction.

The good news is that although extinctions have not been previously caused by dominant life forms on planet Earth, multiple mass extinctions have taken place. Life has regenerated every time. The planet will create new life and consciousness as it heals.

The Nature of Creation always wins. Stay tuned to learn if humans wake up in time.

AOL Universal Communications

Picking up on that last sentence, humans will wake up in time if we learn to care for each other and the environment as Nature’s animals have done for ever.

Just watch this short video of a mother wolf and her four one-week-old pups as evidence of the power of caring.

Written by Paul Handover

March 20, 2015 at 00:00


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