Blog: Seeds of Love with Vindana Shiva

 

Vindana Shiva is one of my heroines. Courageous, intelligent, an “environmental feminist,” activist and defender, a female warrior against the propaganda machine of Agri farming run by corporations, is also tough and resilient like the seeds she is saving in her country and even around the world. Organic seeds can handle the storms and trials of farming, conserve water resources and build soil. She has had to be tough against ridicule and accusations. In standing up and creating solutions to devastating problems in her country she has made positive healthy changes. She has decreased farmer suicides in India by creating seed banks, saying no to patented seed products and putting real seeds back in farmer’s hands.

She reminds me again that this planet is built on biodiversity. The more diverse our landscapes the healthier is the soil, the plants and ultimately the food we consume. In general, diversity creates harmony in ecosystems with natural checks and balances.

Seed freedom is related to food freedom. The right to know and chose is a part of a democracy. Uniformity and separation are the qualities of a dictatorship. She suggests that maybe the food/seed/pharmacy industries have created an “intellectual dictatorship” and are creating monopolies that hinder, obstruct our basic rights to grow and produce healthy food.

We’re catching on, we are mobilizing to have our food labeled, and we are signing petitions to stop the insane use of applying more and more pesticides as an answer to a problem created by pesticides in the first place. We are waking up to the connectedness of each other and all species and kingdoms that exist on this planet. We are diverse. We are connected.

So many of us believe that patenting seeds, designing food without seed so we cannot save that seed is wrong on so many levels.

Farmers noticed at the beginning of the introduction of Bt corn done in the early 1990’s, that livestock and wild animals refused to eat that type of feed. Cancers, deformities, miscarriages increased and have been reported. I have reported in previous posts the work of current scientists who are proving that pesticide injected seed and application in fields is contributing to the increases in serious diseases on our planet.
Patenting our seeds creates uniformity, creates scarcity, and limits diversity and eventually freedom while meeting the needs of the corporate bottom line in the form of royalties.

In India, Vindana and her organizations have created farming diversity which has improved health and decreased the alarming rate of farmer suicides. Incomes have improved. She calls this “health per acre”.

I invite you to check out her programs, especially navdanya.org, vital and necessary not only for helping the nourishment of a country that admits to poverty but they are also guiding lights for the rest of us deeply concerned that Big Agra is allowed to get away with patenting our food, controlling our seed bank, increasing pesticide use all which contaminates our food supply and eventually deteriorates our health. I include all life in that statement; our livestock, insects, water, and air etc.

Please join me in signing petitions that let our lawmakers know we’ve had enough and we have the right to know. There is a lot of fear out there about our ability to feed ourselves. Sometimes the stats are daunting. We live on a planet that can hold 2 billion of us but we are now a planet of 7 billion.

I think her reminder to shift our focus from “lack of” to “abundance” is worthy and necessary now:
Full Earth, an abundant earth and a generous earth”, Vindana Shiva, environmental feminist, in GMO-Summit.

Vindana Shiva inspires me to keep writing and getting the word out in any way I can. I sign petitions, contact my lawmakers, support organics too. She is an author of several books on this important issue. Inspiring women are changing the world. Did you enjoy the video? I hope so. Share your thoughts. All comments are appreciated.

Enjoy. Judith

 

 

Blog: Prayer, Silence Contemplation, Mindfulness

 

Silence. Prayer. Contemplation. Mindfulness. These practices seem to rise when we are faced with a crisis. And that’s a good thing. To reconnect with our inner selves, our inner truths. Crises tend to push us into something more.

Today we are faced with a pandemic that has rocked not only our country but the world. We face fears of our mortality and wonder why?   how this could happen? A virus that began in one country affects all of us. Whether we get sick or not I would bet that we all know someone on the front lines in some capacity whether city workers, lawmakers or first responders on any level maybe a restaurant worker, meal deliverer. Maybe you have lost a loved one. Regardless, we are all affected because more than at any other time in our history we are coming to realize we are connected.

Folks I value and teachers I follow have created prayer circles, rituals, services online to keep us connected. We are so fortunate that we have lights, the internet, heat and that our structures are okay for the most part as we deal with “sheltering” as Dr. Jean Shinoda Bolen so aptly put.

I offer this prayer, Franciscan Journey_Canticle of the Creatures_Cosmic Version also known as Brother Sun, Sister Moon from St. Francis of Assisi. This version was gifted to us Rev. Br. Mark Gregory D’Alessio, this week’s podcast guest. Being grateful is holy work.

As Caroline Myss reminds us in her book, Entering the Castle: Finding the Inner Path to God and Your soul’s Purpose: “Silence, prayer, contemplation are traditional practices. . .You do these practices in the life you have now. They will enhance your life  and the life of every person around you.”

During this pandemic, we are forced to stay home, walk in a nearby woods or forest. Whether by ourselves or with family we have some time for silence, contemplation, mindfulness, and prayer. Sending blessings, love, and deep gratitude to all of you. Remember all comments are appreciated. Judith

 

Blog: Hummingbird’s Message of Hope

Wangari Maathai won the Nobel Peace prize in 2004 for her many efforts to improve the conditions in her country, Kenya. In 1977, she began the Green Belt Movement, which helped women plant trees to provide wood for cooking, fodder for livestock, material for fencing, protect watersheds and stabilize the soil improving agriculture. Wangari helped and encouraged the plantings of millions of trees. She is one of many exceptional women featured in the movie Dirt, one I highly recommend.

In the short movie above she tells the story of a Hummingbird in the midst of a raging fire, one that is inspiring and rich with the flavor of Africa that goes something like this:

A fire broke out in the forest, raging and burning.  The animals rushed to the river’s edge and watched as their forest burned, not feeling they could do anything about this devastation. A Hummingbird could not stand this and decided to do something. It went to the water’s edge and picked up a drop of water and rushed to the fire and dropped it on the fire to help put it out. She went back and forth and back and forth, much to the surprise of the others. The elephants and others questioned her: how could this possibly help? How could she make a difference? The Hummingbird replied: I am doing the best I can”.

We must not forget the passion it takes to make changes and determination. A hummingbird flew into my day and reminded me that taking action within one’s capabilities makes a difference.
Each of us has our dreams. We are facing the COVID -19 pandemic that makes us feel powerless to contain or control it. Perhaps our tiny bird friend, the Hummingbird can renew our sense of purpose here. She’ll be back here in the NE soon as spring moves through her season of life.

What does Hummingbird mean to you? How does this story inspire you?

I hope you will share your stories about Hummingbird. Enjoy. Judith

 

 

 

Podcast: Holistic Nature of Us: Meet Rev. Br. Mark D’Alessio, Franciscan, Chaplain

Description: This podcast takes a different focus as we deal with COVID – 19 that has hit our planet and our country these past few weeks. We deal with uncertainty, statistics, and isolation as we struggle to handle the implications for our society and the world. Brother Mark’s message is timely. Through the stories of St Francis of Assisi and St Clare, he engages us in a timeless message that our world is Holistic. We are a part of this world, one species interrelated to all species.  I hope you hear St Francis’ message: go do what you came here to do. The time is now.

About My Guest: The Rev. Br. Mark Gregory D’Alessio is a Franciscan friar in the new religious society of the Companions of Francis and Clare. He’s also an interspiritual Christian priest, spiritual director, chaplain, retreat leader, author, and past President and Executive Director of the Psychotherapy & Spirituality Institute, which draws together the inspiration of the church with the wisdom of psychological care.
A graduate of the Guild for Spiritual Guidance, he is now a faculty member and community leader. He’s also a faculty member at All Faiths Seminary International for the training of interfaith ministers.  A long-time seeker and practitioner of spiritual wisdom, he’s initiated into multiple spiritual lineages, both East (Buddhist) and West (Christian); does his best to affirm the Christian Wisdom tradition within a wider inter-spiritual framework; and, looks to God’s science and spiritual heroes (such as Thích Nhat Hanh and Francis and Clare of Assisi) as sources of inspiration and hope.  He’s committed, as a Franciscan,  to serving those who are sidelined and at risk.
Currently, Br. Mark lives on Long Island and serves as a crisis counselor and program coordinator at a shelter for men and women who are homeless and as a chaplain at a residential treatment center and school for children with learning and emotional disabilities. Moving to Long Island, he founded the Franciscan Circle, a progressive, interfaith gathering of clergy and lay people who seek to journey in mind and heart with the witness and wisdom of the Saints of Assisi, Francis, and Clare. The Circle is dedicated to developing leaders for thoughtful social action and spiritual care.
The Long Island Coalition for the Homeless awarded Br. Mark with their “Unsung Hero” Award last year.

Transcript: Brother Mark D’Alessio

 

Blog: Hope in Uncertain Times: Living with Paradox.

 

 

 

I have heard it said that the Divine works in paradox. We cannot have light without darkness for example. As I mentioned in a previous post, I keep hearing about hope. One example is Deepak Chopra’s message Hope in the Face of Uncertainty” that he presented at the World Government Summit.

Caroline Myss reminds us that hope is the jewel found at the bottom of Pandora’s box. When we opened pandora’s box, anything goes including evil. But as the story goes, it’s hard to close it again. In fact, it could be impossible. Hope is a jewel found at the bottom of the box. But what does that mean?

In Buddhist teachings, hope can have a more profound meaning.

Hope is a desire of wanting various things or wanting life to be a certain way: hope for a new car, new job, and new love etc. Hope in this way creates an expectation. And if something comes in less than or not at all we can be disappointed or even fall into despair. Any form of fear, not love, moves us into suffering. What’s the gift?

In Buddhism, if we release, let go of expectation because we are and have everything then we can experience an inner state of completeness. We can experience a profound inner change that deeply affects how we move into the world. We can release our cravings. The discipline and practice of letting go can be easy in the moment or take us a lifetime. The point is these teachings give us a way to release suffering.

So how can we be free of hope and be fully present to our experiences? You tell me. I see the paradox of wanting things to be better, the wanting to feel hope in that and knowing I have no idea what the Divine plan is for us in this moment: for me personally or for us globally.

I see so many areas that I wish to change: better care of our topsoil, better care of our water, development that includes the environment in all its forms, better treatment of each other no matter our differences, better care of all species. I hope we are making a difference though it may not be readily visible.

I trust I am where I need to be in my present moment and that is all I know. To trust my inner prompting. To keep on following my heart’s direction. To be fully present to each moment of my day. The rest, as they say, will take care of itself.

Namaste. Judith

 

Podcast: Holistic Nature of Us: Doug Tallamy, Bringing Nature Home

 

Description: Gardening for Life:  “Chances are, you have never thought of our garden – indeed, of all the space on your property, as a wildlife preserve that represents the last chance we have for sustaining plants and animals that were once common throughout the U.S. But that is exactly the role our suburban landscapes are now playing and will play even more in the near future.”

Meet Doug Tallamy, who shares his research and extensive knowledge concerning the rapid decline of invaluable species due to our development practices. Can we do something today? Yes. He gives us practical tips for practical sustaining action. Join us for a timely and meaningful discussion.

About My Guest: Doug Tallamy is a professor in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, where he has authored 89 research publications and has taught Insect Taxonomy, Behavioral Ecology, Humans and Nature, Insect Ecology, and other courses for 36 years. Chief among his research goals is to better understand the many ways insects interact with plants and how such interactions determine the diversity of animal communities. His book Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens was published by Timber Press in 2007 and was awarded the 2008 Silver Medal by the Garden Writers’ Association. The Living Landscape, co-authored with Rick Darke, was published in 2014. Doug is also a regular columnist for Garden Design magazine. Doug is a Lifetime Honorary Director of Wild Ones and has won the Garden Club of America Margaret Douglas Medal for Conservation, the Tom Dodd, Jr. Award of Excellence, and the 2018 AHS 2018 B.Y. Morrison Communication Award.

Podcast Transcript: Transcript Tallamy.

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