Tuesday, July 06, 2004

I've been struggling with the concept of patriotism ever since I saw that bumper sticker asking if I was still proud about a month ago.

On the 4th I deliberately arranged to go to the beach, a place where I knew I could escape. But friends and I chatted on the way back about the "real" meaning of the 4th, and with my women's circle meeting at my house the following night, I felt compelled to do something to reclaim my sense of pride around the concepts our country was built on.

So last night the five women met and shared a BBQ, but one of middle eastern dishes, J. even added feta cheese to the watermelon and blueberry fruit salad. Red white and blue, but with a twist. Chicken kabobs, marinated in yogurt, lemon juice, garlic and tahini. Pita bread and hummus.

Next, we each created world peace poles. We did miniature versions of the community project ones you can read about here. Each of us chose three countries we wanted to focus our energies towards, copying down the world peace prayer in those countries' languages (see here where they also will play a sound file of someone reading the prayer in that language.)

We had small square wooden stakes, which we decorated with symbols of the US and in our traditional red white and blue color scheme, then on each side of the stake we transcribed a prayer from the countries we'd picked, with the last side being the English version of the prayer for peace in the U.S. We talked about the countries we picked while we did this, some chosen as the birthplace of ancestors, some being places of strife and pain today, some being places of spiritual connection. Transcribing in Hindi and Arabic was challenging but for me, it also created a feeling of connection with the people of those places too.

Finally, I read aloud A Prayer for Our Country from Rep. Kucinich's work to create a department of peace for the US government, and led a meditation that went something like this (abbreviated):

Let your feet find the earth and feel yourself firmly supported to the roots, the land which sustains us
Watch your breath move in and out, filling you with light and air and ridding you of the negatives and poisons you are carrying
Watch your thoughts come and go with your breath, let them fall away without holding onto them, as you let your breath go, without thinking
Let the tension drain from your shoulders, neck, as you feel the breath fill you with calm
Feel the breath reach down into your solar plexus to meet the strength of the earth rising up through your feet and legs. Feel connected to all
Now watch your breath flood your heart, and as it enters, open your heart to the world, let it open wide to let out the light and love you carry
Let it arc out of you now, to touch the places you have been praying for peace
Imagine yourself walking there, meeting people, reaching out your hands in friendship and hope that peace will come, that things will be better for their children, their communities, their lands
Maybe you will see something that needs to be done, that you can help with. Hold onto that, to bring back from your journey, you can make a difference with that action tomorrow
Imagine the healing, the joy, the loss of fear. Imagine all people opening up to the connection and common bond, rather than retreating from our separateness
Now return to your own neighborhoods here in the US, and spread some of that same openness. Help our country to act out of love and hope rather than fear, help our leaders to do the same
And now, let that same feeling of hope and connection heal your own heart, to reclaim your love of this country. Find the things you are proud of, in the ideals and values, in the land, in your neighbors, families, friends
Bring that back with you now, as you return to the room, to the breath entering and leaving your body, to the sounds in the room, to our circle.


This morning I need to call the agency my son was adopted through, we will sponsor a family this year. I will also add some additional contributions to Mercy Corps who has been very active in medical aid in Iraq, and is also addressing the crisis in Sudan.

Is there someplace in particular your heart is called to help, and if so, how?

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