If I spent enough time with the tiniest creature, even a caterpiller, I would never have to prepare a sermon. So full of God is every creature. Meister Eckhart

Saturday, April 28, 2007


Found another variation for the foccacia dough. It makes a pretty good pita bread.

We're a little roundness challenged here. It's been ages since I've tried pocket bread so this isn't bad for the first go round. At least this batch didn't split at the bottom like my original experiments. I think I need to invest in another peel and use corn meal next time so they slide a little easier onto the hot stone and air pan I had in the hot oven. Part of me has the "good enough" attitude. The other part has the feeling the the Creator/Creatoress was generous enough to make the good ingreadiants available. The least I can do is make the best use of them I can.


baked a variation of this bread last Sunday. I did a double batch finished some for us and parbaked the rest. Lisa knows all about parbaking. Heaven knows we did enough of it at the Little Bakery in the Mall. ;-).

2 ½ to 3 ¼ cups all purpose flour plus additional for kneading
½ cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons dry yeast
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
¾ salt preferably kosher or sea salt
½ teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
1 cup very warm water (110 to 120 degrees)
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
Vegetable oil spray
1 tablespoon yellow corn meal

Focaccia topping
1 teaspoon rosemary
¼ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil.

Dissolve the yeast in a couple of tablespoons of the warm water and put aside. In a large mixing bowl whisk together the flours, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Make well in the center and pour in the water, dissolved yeast and olive oil. Mix together with a wooden spoon or the dough hook of an electric mixer until a dough forms, about five minutes. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead by had for 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Coat a mixing bowl lightly with cooking oil, place the dough in the bowl, cover and set aside to rise until doubled. Punch down the dough and form into a rough rectangle. Lightly oil a 9x13 rectangular baking pan and sprinkle the bottom with the corn meal. Pat and stretch the dough until it fits the pan. Cover and put it aside until the dough is doubled.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Use your fingers to make light indentations in the dough. Brush the surface with about 1 ½ tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with the remaining rosemary, salt and pepper. Bake until the focaccia is golden brown and well risen, about 25 to 30 minutes. Turn the bread onto a rack to cool slightly and cut into squares. Can be frozen for up to a month. To reheat wrap in foil and bake at 350 for 5 minutes, unwrap and heat another 5 minutes to crisp)


Substiture dried sage, marjoram, or basil for the rosemary

Knead in ¼ cup chopped black olives such as kalamata, gaeta, or nicoise into the dough.

Knead ¼ cup finely chopped sun dried tomatoes into the dough

Add two tablespoons grated parmesan cheese to the dough and sprinkle another two tablespoons on top before baking.

Add garlic to taste to the olive oil used for the dough and the topping.

Top with a half cup of thinly sliced sautéed in a little olive oil.

From The Family Health Cookbook put out by the AMA back in the nineties.

To parbake you prep the bread and bake it to the point where it just starts to brown. I baked some of the foccacia all the way with extra garlicy olive oil and parmesan cheese for us Sunday and froze the rest until tonight whenI finished the rest to take to work tomorrow.The house smells so good right now.

You can have those flowery air fresheners, I'll take garlic anyday. So far it's going over very well. It's fun to take a recipe and figure out how to make it better or different.

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Golden Rule according to the followers of

Lay not on any soul a load that you would not wish to be laid upon you, and desire not for anyone the things you would not desire for yourself.

Not one of you truly believes until you wish for others what you wish for yourself.

What is hateful to you, do not do your neighbour. This is the whole Torah; all the rest is commentary

One should treat all creatures in the world as one would like to be treated.

Do not do unto others whatever is injurious to yourself.

Native Spirituality
We are as much alive as we keep the earth alive.

In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you; for thisis the law and the prophets.

I am a stranger to no one; and no one is a stranger to me. Indeed, I am a friend to all.

The Tao
Regard you neighbour’s gain as your own gain, and our neighbour’s loss as your own loss.

One word which sums up the basis of all good conduct…loving kindness. Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself.

Treat not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.

This is the sum of duty: do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you.

From a handout from mom's Methodist Women's group. The Wiccan Rede is very similar: An it harm none, do what thou will.

Now if we could all just follow the blessed things no matter what tradition we follow.

It may be no coincidence that all the sayings are so similar. All the traditions lie withiin the complex of the ancient network of caravan routes called the Silk Road. From Rome and Egypt and the west to the cities of China in the east goods and ideas traveled back and forth at donkey and camel pace for centuries.


Well, congress went and did it. The detainee bill has been passed and to my shame the Republican senator from Oregon voted for it. Not only foreign suspects can be seized and potentially disappeared with no right to a trial or hearing or even to know what the charges are against them. American citezens are subject to the same treatment.

To anyone who believes that it will stop here this poem is attributed to Martin Niemoller, a German, a Lutheran pastor, an man who narrowly missed execution for treason at the end of WWII. A war he spent in the concentration camps of Sachsenhausen and Dachau. There are many versions, this is one of them.

First They Came for the Jews

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the social democrats
and I did not speak out
because I was not a social democrat.

Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

Pastor Martin Niemöller

Since I did the original post Senator Smith has come out against the war in Iraq. His opposition now doesn't change this unspeakable vote.


Enough in the papers and on the news this weekend to depress a terminaly optimistic hyena so I went looking for something more hopeful.
Paint a picture of tomorrow
With gentleness, in your mind,
Tinting it all with feelings,
Every creation of humankind.

Be willing to feel every heart,
And the desires it contains,
Including every nuance,
The joy, as well as the pain.

Don’t forget to use all colors,
The pastels, tints, and hues,
That represent the wholeness
That Great Mystery can imbue.

Then sculpt the shapes of destiny,
The patterns great and small,
Weaving dark and light in unity,
Yet unfolding within the All.

But what is the difference
In this world and Yesterdays?
Is it the final ingredient
That changes our former ways?

Jamie Sams in Earth Medicine


The promise of tomorrow
Depends upon the way
We honor all the blessings
That are ours today.

Can we hear the voices
Of the children yet unborn?
Do they call to us with gratitude,
Or do we hear their scorn?

Are we so wrapped up with taking
That we forget to give?
Wasting every resource
That allows the future to live.

Have we killed the promise
Of tomorrows yet to be?
Or will we stop the plunder
Of our greed's insanity?

The children of the future
Sing out in the night.
Their song asks for mercy,
A release from their plight.

We can make a difference,
We can show we care,
By honoring all the blessings
Of fire, water, earth, and air.

Jamie Sams in Earth Medicine


Like I said in the last entry. Amateur philosopher thinking in public. Beware of the fallout.

I splurged on a couple of new books , titles later after I’ve gotten beyond the first chapter. I’m not sure I agree with everything the authors claim but it has stirred things up and that’s good.

One author I’ll be exploring claims that Jesus didn’t exist. That it was a name given to stories about Gods born of virgins that was centuries old two thousand years ago. Well, somebody put new wood on the fire under the spiritual pot in Palestine and it boiled over about two thousand years ago. It may have been a teacher named Jesus. It may not.

If it was, I’m not sure Jesus talked about anything new or really radical. If it had been too new no one would have been listening. The old stories had been bouncing around for centuries. Some how the old teachings came alive in a way never seen before. It was a new way of seeing each other. It was a new way of treating each other.

That he claimed to be God made physically manifest doesn’t really matter to me. This does. He claimed that when the Creator sets the table and gives a party, everyone is welcome whether they believe they’re worthy of the invitation or not. And that it will be a hell of a party.

So of course we’ve been trying to limit the guest list ever since.


Keep being an irritant and who knows how big the final pearl will be.

I was rereading the entry this sentence was part of. And I got to thinking. Warning amateur philosopher at play.

Jesus told the story of the merchant in search of pearls. How the man found one that was the very best of all and sold everything he had to posses it. And I got to thinking about how pearls are made. What begins as a tender oyster’s attempt to protect itself from something that hurts becomes a jewel that is precious to us. So, try this out on the next person who says that we all need to be neat, orderly, follow our leaders without question and color within the lines.

“I am a pearl beyond price. I’m just not finished yet.”


This is from the Chicken Soup for the Soul Cookbook. While this has a definite traditional Christian flavor I suspect that it is adaptable, very adaptable. All traditions try to help us pass along our beliefs to the generations that will follow us. Some are “gentler” than others.


As I write this recipe there is bread “raising” on my hearth and children “raising” in my home. Neither progeny is finished, but the ingredients have been carefully selected, measured and blended. The good recipe book promises; “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is grown he will not depart from it” (Proverbs, 22:6). Having experience in following that recipe book, I trust the author.

Measure into a home, parents who love, followed by a few children (use own discretion on number-we prefer 3).

Add, stirring constantly, the yeast of the faith in God, the wisdom from God’s word, your previous training and lots of common sense. Add the truth you need for consistent results, simple portions of patience, and large volumes of kindness. Soften gentleness before adding, along with discipline measured with fairness in a clean container. Add a full measure of love that has been shaken together, pressed down and overflowing the cup. Knead in as much laughter as possible and let permeate throughout the whole batch.

All ingredients should be measured using a container of prayer (no substitutions please). For excellent eating and preserving quality keep dough as soft and pliable as possible, not sticky-just so you, with God’s help can handle it.

Mix until smooth and elastic (about 18 years). Place in a greased bowl (symbolic of life’s struggles) and cover with a damp cloth (we learn through failures as well as victories). Let rise in warm place (the temperaturefor “raising” is very important) until double in size (about four to eight years after high school).

Dough will be ready to be divided and made into al shapes of beautiful young men and women for use as the Staff of Life in other people’s lives. Guaranteed-wonderful results!

Submitted for the Chicken Soup for the Soul Cookbook by Naomi Rhode.

I have my own story to add about these books. When the Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul came out several years ago mom and I went looking for a copy as a gift for one of my sisters. Naturally we went to the local “Christian” bookstore only to be told that they didn’t carry it. The book had “Buddhist” tendencies. Whatever the ##$%%^% he meant by that. Years later while watching the Mythos programs that Joseph Campbell I learned that Ashoka, the first Buddhist emperor of India had sent out missionary monks. Some of them made it as far as Egypt. So it’s entirely possible that there’s a “Buddhist” thread or two or three in the Middle Eastern religious tapestry. We could do a lot worse.

Being mindful of how our intentions, speech, livelihood, and other actions impact others is the only way we’re going to survive. Imagine how this world would be if we could all try to work some of this into our lives. It carries the label of one spiritual path, but it’s the foundation of all of them.

Maybe it’s time to throw the bastards out. All of them. Not only the elected “hired help” in the state and national capitals but too many of those standing behind the pulpits. Like so many politicians forget that “we” are the government (and don’t remind us when they do) too many religious spokesmen forget that the church (whatever it is and wherever it is) would exist without the buildings, stained glass and vestments. Hmmmm, as usual I’ve ended up where I didn’t expect to. Good.

I have some things to think about on this and some time to put in on the treadmill. Back later.



Wear a smile and have friends-plum.
Wear a frown and have wrinkles-prune.
Found this in that little fund raiser cookbook. I chuckled over it, like I was supposed to and then I got to thinking. I get the frown part but, big but. The prune is a much maligned fruit. And the usual comparison is to some one wrinkled, and sour. Somebody you don’t want to be around.
But, maybe prunes are kind of like life. Most of the time you have to look below the surface to see what's really there. The road you end up on may have more potholes than you expected, a lot more. A bounce that would bruise a fresh fruit will be just that for a prune. In fact it may not only bounce it'll roll under the table and you'll have to go look for it. But, it will still be sweet, very sweet, often much sweeter than its smoother sister. . Even the tougher ones can be softened up with a little extra attention. By the way, if that extra attention involves orange juice and a little heat the results are fantastic.
Plums, like most of the summer’s fresh fruits don’t last long. You have to use them, lose them or (for the right ones) turn them into prunes Years ago my dad delivered fruit to the local cannery. He was surprised when the guys on the receiving dock to him that the plums he was hauling in would be going out as Italian prunes.
Under the wrinkles the plum is still there. Grandparents, moms and dads, aunts, uncles and the old codger down the street are a lot like that. I look at my mom. She’s eighty now. She’s a little shorter than she used to be.Her face has become a road map of her life. I look at her wedding picture or pictures from the early years of my parents’ life together. The plum is still there. It’s been through a lot. But, it’s still surprisingly soft and sweet under the wrinkles.


Blanch one broken friendship
That’s been separated well in two.
Blend a real kind word
To start it anew.

Fold two hands together
And express a dash of sorrow.
Marinate it over night
And work on it tomorrow.

Chop one grudge in tiny pieces,
Add several cups of love.
Dredge with a large sized smile
Mix with the ingredients above.

Dissolve the hate within you
By doing a good deed.
Cut in and help your friend
If he should be in need.

Stir in laughter, love and kindness
From the heart it has to come.
Toss with genuine forgiveness
And give your neighbor some.

The amount of people served
Will depend upon you.
It can serve the whole wide world
If you really want it to.

Lucille Shamley.

From a cookbook put out by the Friends of the Hosanna Children’s Center Cookbook. A very small privately published cookbook that mom got about twenty odd years ago. It’s the kind of book that’s easy to tell the favorites. Just look for the pages with the most splatters and smudges.

Monday, April 23, 2007


Since Beltane begins summer in May, this is really mid-summer. Works for me since I always thought that the longest day of the year is really the middle of summer, not the beginning.

Glory of the Day-Star hail!
Lifter of the Light, Burnisher of the Sky.
Gifts of love to earth are bringing,
Summer's shimmer, dew's delight.
Dancing be the heart within us,
Open be our souls to bliss,
Courage vanquish every shadow,
Greet midsummer with a kiss.

From Caitlin Matthews Celtic Devotional.


Currents of the River
The currents of the river
Take me 'round each bend,
Over white water rapids,
Until I begin to blend
With the Water Spirits.
As we journey on our way,
Past the shores of memories
The sun dawns on today.
The flow of life engulfs me,
My passage, the river's sounds,
The currents take me safely
'Til I stand on sacred ground.
The songs of the river
Still ring within my soul,
Asking me to sing with them,
As I stand upon the shoal.
"Allow all those around you
To follow their own trails,
Finding their uniquenesses,
And telling their own tales.
Every current is different,
Every lesson will unfold,
And the flow of each river,
Brings lessons to the soul."

From Jamie Sams Earth Medicine. We're very luck to have the Willamette riiver running between Eugene and Springfield. And even luckier to have a fantastic network of bike trails and parks running along the banks. Mom and I have been doing some exploring the last couple of weekends. It'll probably take all summer just ot explore a small portion of them. Great for walks and picnics.


From the Celtic Devotional. I think we all have sleepless nights these days. This is kind of nice.I like the picture of a master weaver at a loom weaving dreams for sleepers.
My heart has been turned from home, for I am wakeful.
As the desert hours stretch out to the stars,
As an exile banned from the native land of sleep,
I offer this prayer for all who are wakeful and alone.
In torment and in danger, in fear and in despair,
In grief and watchfulness, in worry or in care,
May the Thatcher of Sleep make a roof for the wakeful soul,
May the Weaver of Dreams lend a garment to cover the wakeful,
May the Womb of Night become a cradle of rest for the restless,
May the exile be restored to the house of sleep.


This is from Caitlin Matthews Celtic Devotional. I figure I can use all the help I can get. The feeling that wherever you walk you are protected and blessed the world around you. I'm fortunate to be in an area that's closer to the natural world than many in this country.


May you go forth under the strength of heaven,
under the light of sun,
under the radiance of moon;

May you go forth under the splendor of fire,
with the speed of lightning,
with the swiftness of wind;

May you go forth supported by the depth of sea,
by the stability of earth,
by the firmness of rock;

May you be surrounded and encircled,
above, below, and about,
with the protection of the nine elements.


In Jamie Sams stories of the Clan Mothers, the one for this moon cycle is the Storyteller. She makes the point in the intro selection that we have to listen to the stories of all who share Creation with us. But, how can we become aware of the stories of all who share this little world with us when we won’t hear the stories told by our own kind?

Troops from the Oregon National Guard put in their tours of duty in Iraq. The local paper made a point to tell the stories those who lost their lives in the line of duty. There were more than a few letters in the paper accusing those who publish the paper of being “Un-American” and undermining national security by telling their stories.

If you are going to support a war you have to accept some of those who serve are going to die. Acknowledging that cost isn’t telling the ones who killed them something that they don’t already know. Hell, they were the first to know. If you support a war, but don’t want to face the human costs, then hypocrite is the kindest word I can use. There are others, but this is a family blog.

I realize that Viet Nam is part of this. And I think that’s why the Viet Nam Memorial is such a powerful symbol. Those who visit it know that behind every name there is a story. No, not just one story, but the stories of everyone that was a friend, class mate, co-worker, or relative. And by looking at those names and wondering about the story behind the name, we become part of the story too.

Just because we ignore the stories doesn’t erase them. The story is still there whether we want to hear it or not. In a strange way I feel that by denying the stories of the ends of their lives, we unravel the rest of that story. The damage doesn’t stop there, it unravels the whole tapestry.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


Pope Benedict visited the remains of Auschwitz during his visit to Poland. He spoke eloquently of the horrors that happened there and asked the eternal question, “why didn’t God say anything.

I have something to share, for what it’s worth.

I have a copy of the series World at War. The set includes an extensive documentary on the Holocaust. There are several detailed stories from survivors of the camps describing what they experienced. Some of them asked the same questions. “Where was God?” “Why didn’t He say something?” “Why didn’t He do something?” “Why didn’t He stop this?”

I believe God/dess however you conceive Him/Her tried. We are the eyes, ears, hands and voice of the Creator. Many tried to stop what was happening. More than a few of them died trying or joined the people they were trying to save in the same anterooms of Hell. More spoke, shouted, screamed and cried trying to get the message out.

Those who could have stopped what was happening weren’t listening or seeing. And since they didn’t see their victims as human beings, if they had heard they would have insisted that the message didn’t apply to them.

Too often it’s impossible for God/dess to be heard of the crash of bombs and the screams of the wounded and dying. Even worse He//She can’t be heard over the justifications of ambitious politicians who are too eager to send others where they won’t go themselves. Or perhaps worse, there’s a sort of censorship from those who have the job to report the news but pull back for fear of losing advertising dollars.


I don’t know if I’ve told this particular story before, but it ties into my last posting so here goes. Back in the eighties I taught a Sunday school class of 4 and 5 year olds. I’d started out helping my sister and sort of inherited it when her life got too busy to continue. And I was very thankful to find a stack of old brown around the edges paper in the stock room. I immediately appropriated it. It takes much longer to work through a lesson from scratch than it does to just fill out the workbook. Oops. Slightly off topic.

One week I did the story of Jesus healing the blind man at Bethsaida. I was doing my schtick with the “there are still miracles, sometimes they aren’t as obvious,” when out of the mouth of a five year old came this. “Some people are blind with their eyes open.” After I picked my jaw off the floor, I very carefully asked enough questions to realize that the kid knew exactly what he was talking about.

Talk about out of the mouths of babes.


I owe a lot of this to Joseph Campbell. Joe, wherever you are, I think someone just wiped the grime off that little pane of glass over in the far corner.

Christian apologists find something special in “God entering history” at a specific time and place. Somehow, this is unique and never to be repeated. That is, on a certain date and in a specific part of the world a specific person we now identify as God entered time and space. To enter the world, the Creator would have to have been absent, and I’m not sure the Creator was ever out of the world. Was a Gone Fishing sign left over the door or something?

This discrete identity doesn’t make the Creator any more accessible. In fact I believe it cuts us off. By confining a manifestation of the Creator to a discrete time and place, you get a freeze frame. THIS IS IT. THIS IS THE END OF THE STORY. IT’S FINAL, UNALTERABLE, AND NEVER TO BE QUESTIONED. This to a species that pokes, prods, touches, sniffs, tastes, takes apart everything in its environment, and (this is the irritating part) asks why. And as soon as one why is anwered another one pops up. At least until the world of the big people convinces you that this “just isn’t done” or “we don’t have time for this right now.” Not only are we confined to a specific time and place but to one face of Creation. We are told by too many who claim to speak for this unique face of creation that we are no longer free to find the other faces of the Creator in the here and now. And I believe we’re choking on it.

By claiming that this is what God said for now and all time, too many have put blinders on themselves and limited their freedom to perceive the changing face of Creation and left no room for any other creatures at the inn. Not only do they put blinders on themselves, they insist that the rest of us have to wear them too.

Now that I think about it, this is a powerful metaphor. I got what I can only describe as a jolt when I realized this. Talk about no room at the inn. Not only no room for Mary and Joseph, but no room for the rest of Creation either.


If I could find a card to send to the mother of us all, I'd hope it would have verses like this one from Earth Medicine by Jamie Sams.

Earth Mother teach me of my kin,
Of Hawk and Dove and flower,
Of blinding sunlight, shady knoll,
Desert wind and morning showers.

Teach me every language of
The creatures that sing to me,
That I may count the cadence of
Infinite lessons in harmony.

Teach me how to honor
The Sacred Spaces of all,
Gently melding with the whole,
Answering the whippoorwill's call.

Steamy tropics to glacial ice,
To thundering ocean tides,
In every grain of desert sands
Your beauty forever abides.

Oh Mother of every kingdom,
Let me claim my family's love,
From the whales of deepest oceans,
To the Winged-ones high above.

Too bad honoring our Mother the earth gets dismissed as Nature worship. We wouldn't be here without her and this is one mother we'll never outgrow. So Happy Mother's Day to Mother Earth. Thank your for all my brothers and sisters.



“Of the Seven Deadly Sins, anger is probably the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations yet to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain your are given and the pain you are giving back – in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.”

This is from a book called Wishful Thinking-A Theological ABC. It’s a skinny little book with entries from Abraham to Zaccheus. I’d read it years ago and finally managed to track down a used copy a few years ago. This particular entry has always stuck with me.

The author's entry on bread reminds us that there is an emptiness that even the most elaborate feast won't satisfy. I think that the feast of anger that we're seeing around us is one of the results. Darned if I know what the answer is.

Blessed be



By Thursday nights during the week my brain is usually passing medium rare and well on its way to char broiled. Concentrating on anything for more than a few minutes at a time can be nearly impossible. I was leafing through the small, rotating library by my chair and found myself leafing through similar passages from three different, very different books. The authors included a Bhuddist, a Presbyterian who also has ties to a Benedictine monastary and a Native American. All of the passages had to do with silence and listening. Listening not only to other people, but to the earth and everything on it and in it.
I've been dipping into a couple of books by Jamie Sams. She claims Seneca ancestry and works within the Native American tradtions. From some of the material I've picked up on the 'net I get the impression that not all her interpretations are accepted by all Native Americans. Perhaps her 13 clan mothers are metaphors for all the teachers who came before. And maybe in a time when so many of us are talking at the same time and listening seems to be limited to finding the pause in what someone else is saying so we can jump in with our own voices maybe there should have been a real Listening Woman.
Her book Earth Medicine is organized like a day book around the lunar months. Some of the entries are prose, some are poems. This is the one for today.
Listening to the whispers
That come through time and space.
The voices of the Ancestors
Of every creed and race.
Our silent spirits are waiting;
Inspiration is our desire.
The spark of understanding
Will set our hearts on fire.
Within that fiery vision,
The whispers call our names,
Asking those who listen
To carry the Eternal Flame.
The flame is illumination
Of the love that lies within,
All creatures, Tribes and Nations
Become family once again.
Are we really listening
To the whispers all around?
The voices in the circle
Are calling for common ground.
Where peace is the message,
Where no child stands alone,
And no hearts are broken,
Because we've all come home

And the lady doesn't take herself too seriously. An earlier entry for this month reminds us to be careful what we're listening to. If you listen long and carefully you may hear the sounds of the All unfolding. Just be sure you don't mistake all those little interior gurgles we all have for the sound of the All. :-)