What was I thinking?

I found myself back in my hometown again, dreaming of the house my father’s second wife lived in before she married him, a duplex, and the other half housing her sister’s family.  There are many times that I end up at that house, rarely inside, but more often than not doing something with the yard.  Last night it involved cutting the lawn while the house was being repainted maroon with white trim. 

I usually find myself dreaming of my hometown, my home or the high school whenever I am stressed, or at a time of decision making.  Why my mind settles there, I do not know.  I am sure that Freud would have an opinion as to why I am never inside the house.

Two gentlemen were watching from the adjoining yard voicing lots of opinions on the grass cutter, me, and the painter.  I remember magically see the house change to blue and white, immediately brightening the house and all around it.  Color, or the lack of it, plays an important part of our lives.

I had spent part of the day trimming away the dead parts of plants in the garden.  Perennials that will sprout again next spring and summer.  When I look out the front window it is a different view now, not brown, but filled with ever green plants and shrubs which compete with all the vibrant colors of the spring and summer, always present but sometimes hidden.

Men voicing opinions are always around me.  Lots of opinions, most of them I ignore, but some of them know me well, and those I keep with me.  I am more inclined to listen to women, women who understand what is at the heart of a subject, if the soul might be wounded, if courage is needed.

So who or want is waiting for me to decide, to notice?  How long will I gaze waiting for another sign?  How might the universe choose to communicate?

Possibly by needing to replace a hard drive which temporarily forces me off the internet and back to quiet and the time needed to ponder.


Movies to have your soul smiling and laughing

 I have not been writing much lately, and I like to blame it on the fact that my keyboard hates my fingers.  I can be typing along and the keyboard will make random keys stick or place the shift key where the enter should be.  It is infuriating.  So much so, I hate to use the damn thing.

However, there are times when I really want to share, to give in to the temptation and somehow manage to confuse the keyboard as to whose fingers are pounding away.

Before Christmas I came down with a cold that transformed itself into bronchitis.  Sent home from work, twice, I finally went to the doctor, received "drugs" and was told to rest, sleep, drink fluids and get well.  Oh, and to have a Merry Christmas. :)

What is one to do when confined to bed, alone?

Netflix and On Demand Movies, life savers they truly were.  And my taste is all over the map.  Just think 24 hours a day of not sleeping due to coughing and hacking.

It seems like I watched hundreds these past ten days.  And considering the plethora of holiday and Christmas movies, etc.  it was amazing that I could find anything else.  Some movies I have watched twice: Stage Beauty, Bran Nue Dae, Legion, The Mechanic, Lars and the Real Girl, Cedar Rapids, Hereafter, The Young Victoria, What Doesn't Kill You, and the Dr. Who Christmas Special - The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe.

Some it pained to watch once due to the raw emotions on the screen  ; The Road, Edge of Darkness.

My two favorite during this period had to do with transformational love in two different settings.  Check out  Joshua  and Nativity!

Finally, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.


Season of Creation

Each Fall the Episcopal Church ofSts. Andrew and Matthew (SsAM) in Wilmington, DE celebrates with services entitled Season of Creation.  The Season of Creation liturgies focus on biodiversity, land, water, climate change, need not greed, and caring for God's creation.  Join with us in praying that this resource may deepen our comprehension of God as Creator and broaden our understanding of our calling to be faithful stewards of creation.

Refashion our mind, O God, to a new way of thinking, that seeing the peril of our failure to halt the desecration of the planet and its creatures, we commit to the promise of life for all that lives.

Reconcile our hearts to one another across all boundaries, that human diversity may be experienced as enrichment, and differences honored as leading to wiser action.

Sensitize the governments of the world to the folly of violent conquest, that has led all of history's adventures in empire to ultimate decadence and demise.  And teach all who aspire to leadership of nations the enduring wisdom of collaboration and servanthood.

Strenghten the movement for nonviolence that has emerged in our time, that human ingenuity may be turned to the preservation of the earth, and that our economies be reordered to the urgent needs of the human family.

Kindle in each of us a resolve to dismantle our own private arsenals of violence: our greed and thanklessness, our rage and grievances, our hatreds and all of our shifting of blame.

Enliven the faith communities of the world with a rebirth of welcome for all sorts and conditions of humanity, moving us to reorder our lives and our loves to such simplicity and goodwill as to preserve the each and make for peace.


Paul, Martin and Peace

This is what Bishop Wayne P Wright has written in our weekly eblast newsletter this week.

This coming Sunday is September 11th– the tenth anniversary of a day that none of us will ever forget.  For weeks, even months, we have been preparing.  I am impressed by the many observances taking place in our churches and schools.  They are obviously the fruit of much reflection, study, and prayer.  Each carries the potential to invite healing, deepen faith, and strengthen love.  Our hope is always that the future may learn from the past. Thank you.

I have been reading about the events happening this weekend at Trinity Church and St. Paul’s Chapel in lower Manhattan.  Trinity is only a few hundred yards away from Ground Zero. St. Paul’s, just across the street from the World Trade Center, became a place of rest and respite for rescue and recovery workers in the days following the attacks.  Our Presiding Bishop will preach at St. Paul’s on Sunday morning.  New York’s Bishop Mark Sisk will be the celebrant for the principal service. Many other events at Trinity and St. Paul’s will add to a week of commemoration and observance.  You can read more on the website: www.trinitywallstreet.org

I was especially struck by the theme the parish has chosen to guide its anniversary observance: “Remember to Love.” 

This phrase brings to mind Paul’s sturdy and deeply challenging admonition about Christian love:  “Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ No, ‘if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:17-21)

Before September 11, 2001 I am sure that I always took this passage too lightly.  Seeing burning fragments from buildings and airplanes literally falling from the sky, I came to realize how seriously I had underestimated the need for what Martin Luther King, Jr. called “the strength to love.”  By choosing the theme “Remember to Love,” the members of Trinity Church and St. Paul’s Chapel have placed this challenge and an opportunity directly before us.  It is important to remember the past.  But, it is not enough simply to remember.  My daily prayer will be for the Spirit of Christ to reconcile and heal us and for the love of Christ to make us instruments of his much needed peace.


Wayne Wright,
Bishop of Delaware


The other day I re-watched a movie called Leap Year staring Amy Adams and Matthew Goode.  I am a sucker for anything filmed in Ireland and has relationships similar to Tracy and Hepburn or Clark Gable Claudette Colbert in In Happened One Night

The plot of Leap Year is that "when Anna’s (Amy Adams) four-year anniversary to her boyfriend passes without an engagement ring, she decides to take matters into her own hands. Inspired by an Irish tradition that allows women to propose to men on Leap Day, Anna follows Jeremy (Adam Scott) to Dublin to propose to him. But after landing on the wrong side of Ireland, she must enlist the help of the handsome and carefree local Declan (Matthew Goode) to get her across the country. Along the way, they discover that the road to love can take you to very unexpected places."

Now besides the great accents and the scenery the happy endings always present in Hollywood films, what stuck with me was the scene when Jeremy in an attempt to find some common ground, asks Anna what one thing would she grab if her house was on fire.

Of course, remember Anna is American and to think that that someone would know the one thing they would grab is ludicrous.  As she scoffs and taunts Jeremy, he calmly tells her it would be his grandmothers clatter ring.  That is the only thing he would take.

What came to me as I watched this movie for the umpteenth time, late at night in my bed. is that I had finally made the great leap over things.

I realize that what I wanted to make sure made it out of the house were the three cats.  Everything else did not enter my mind.  Things had lost their value.

Of course, remember that I have insurance.  What I would need to have in my new abode I would be purchasing.

I realized that the furniture that had been handed down to me, were no longer important.  My daughter has no interest.  She had her own style.

So, what I have put in my " fire bag" is a dvd of when my aunt told the history of the Gregory family from Scotland and the dvd's my daughters father made as she was growing up.

What else?

Not much.


So Who's in Charge Here

For the past month or so, I have been trying to discern whether I was really meant to return to Sudan in September.  I had made the connections with Five Talents, Inc.  I had met the people, attended meetings and started to prepare for going.  I had spoken with David Copley and spoke to him about stopping in Juba.  I was excited that I might be going through Nairobi, Kenya and ending up in Wau, The Republic of South Sudan.  I was excited to be revisiting and old friend in a new country.  

I remembered the time leading up to my trip in 2008.  Every problem that I put before saying no, was taken care of.  A house and cat sitter, a sabbatical granted, funds raised.

This time, not so easy to recognize who was in control.

However, little by little who was in control became very apparent.  In order to make sure that I was really listening a messenger I could not ignore came calling.  The Rev. Canon Lloyd Casson. 

The result, an adventure in a different direction, one that does not require leaving Delaware.  But it does mean much time will be spent working toward the continued education of young women utilizing the same skills needed in Sudan.

Then is my continued involvement in the organization the American Friends of the Episcopal Church of Sudan.  The work on their annual conference and the up coming expense of attending General Convention in Indianapolis in 2012, both seem to be asking for funds that might go toward funding another trip. 

Then my 24 year-old heat pump decided to leak in the basement.  Imagine being told I needed $8,000-$10,000 to replace it entirely.  Or $2,000 towards replacing the pan. 

Jeez Lueez.

Ok, I might not have been paying attention, but did you have to shout?


South Sudan becomes an independent Nation. Celebrate!

South Sudan becomes an independent nation

The BBC's Will Ross says the party has begun in the capital Juba
South Sudan has become the world's newest nation, the climax of a process made possible by the 2005 peace deal that ended a long and bloody civil war.
Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon are among international dignitaries attending celebrations in the capital, Juba.
Sudan earlier became the first state to officially recognise its new neighbour.
The south's independence follows decades of conflict with the north in which some 1.5 million people died.
Celebrations in Juba began at midnight (2100 GMT). A countdown clock in the city centre reached zero and the new national anthem was played on television.
South Sudan became the 193rd country recognised by the UN and the 54th UN member state in Africa.

At the scene

Officials had planned for people to hold quiet celebrations at home, with the formal declaration of independence due later on Saturday.
But the people clearly couldn't wait. Two hours before midnight and lines of cars zoomed around town packed with people waving flags and waiting to celebrate.
When the final countdown arrived, the atmosphere was wild. Groups ran down roads, dancing to drum beats. Soldiers and policemen joined in too, waving paper flags and laughing.
A sign read: "Congratulations, free at last, South Sudan." But the people didn't need to read the message - they were already dancing and leaping with happiness.
"It is a shout of freedom," said Alfred Tut, lifting his head back and screaming.
The BBC's Will Ross in Juba says the new country's problems are being put aside for the night, and there is an air of great jubilation.
People are in the streets, cheering, waving South Sudan flags, banging drums and chanting the name of President Salva Kiir Mayardit, he adds.
A formal independence ceremony is due to be held later on Saturday.
The Speaker of the South Sudan Legislative Assembly, James Wani Igga, is expected to read out the Proclamation of the Independence of South Sudan at 1145 (0845 GMT). Minutes later Sudan's national flag will be lowered and the new flag of South Sudan will be raised.
In addition to Mr Bashir and Mr Ban, attendees will include former US Secretary of State Colin Powell, the US permanent representative to the UN, Susan Rice, and the head of the US military's Africa Command, Gen Carter Ham.
Under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, a referendum was held on independence, which was favoured by more than 99% of voters.
The new country is rich in oil, but one of the least developed countries in the world, where one in seven children dies before the age of five.
Unresolved disputes between the north and south, particularly over the new border, have also raised the possibility of renewed conflict.
On Friday, Sudan's Minister of Presidential Affairs, Bakri Hassan Saleh, announced that it recognised "the Republic of South Sudan as an independent state, according to the borders existing on 1 January 1956", when Sudan gained independence from Britain.

South Sudan

Facts and figures:
  • Population: 7.5-9.7 million
  • Size: 619,745 sq km (239,285 sq miles), larger than Spain and Portugal combined
  • Major languages: English, Arabic (both official), Juba Arabic, Dinka
  • Religion: Traditional and a Christian minority
  • Main export: Oil
Challenges ahead:
  • One of world's least developed countries: Worst maternal mortality rate; most children below 13 not in school; 84% of women are illiterate
  • Relations with Sudan: Dividing debts and oil; border disputes; citizenship
  • Security: At least seven active rebel groups
'Southern brothers'
President Bashir, who agreed the 2005 peace deal with the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), stressed his country's "readiness to work with our southern brothers and help them set up their state so that, God willing, this state will be stable and develop".
"The co-operation between us will be excellent, particularly when it comes to marking and preserving the border so there is a movement of citizens and goods via this border," he told journalists in Khartoum.
Fears of fresh conflict resurfaced after recent fighting in two border areas, Abyei and South Kordofan, which forced some 170,000 people from their homes.
But separate deals - and the withdrawal of rival forces from the border - have calmed tensions.
The UN Security Council has passed a resolution approving a new 7,000-strong peacekeeping force for South Sudan - but this is basically a rebranding of the force which was already in Sudan, mostly in the south.
Khartoum has said its mandate would not be renewed, leading the US to argue that the 1,000 UN troops should be allowed to remain in South Kordofan. The 1,000 troops in the disputed town of Abyei are to be replaced by 4,200 Ethiopian soldiers.
Our correspondent says keeping both the north and the south stable long after the celebratory parties have ended will be a mighty challenge.
All you need to know about South Sudan's independence
The two sides must still decide on issues such as drawing up the new border and how to divide Sudan's debts and oil wealth.
Analysts say the priority for Khartoum will be to negotiate a favourable deal on oil revenue, as most oilfields lie in the south. At present, the revenues are being shared equally.
Khartoum has some leverage, as most of the oil pipelines flow north to Port Sudan on the Red Sea.
Citizenship is also a key issue which has not yet been decided.
A new law passed by the National Assembly in Khartoum has withdrawn Sudanese citizenship from all southerners.
The UN refugee agency (UNCHR), has urged both governments to prevent statelessness.
Sudan: A country divided
Satellite image showing geography of Sudan, source: Nasa
The great divide across Sudan is visible even from space, as this Nasa satellite image shows. The northern states are a blanket of desert, broken only by the fertile Nile corridor. South Sudan is covered by green swathes of grassland, swamps and tropical forest.


BBC Coverage of South Sudan Independence

South Sudan counts down to independence

A South Sudanese soldier plays the trumpet during a parade rehearsal in Juba on 7 July 2011 There are dress rehearsals in Juba for the independence day ceremony
South Sudan is counting down the hours until it becomes the world's newest nation on Saturday 9 July.
Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir and dignitaries from around the world will be attending the celebrations in the southern capital, Juba.
Sudan has announced its official recognition of its new neighbour - the first country to do so.
South Sudan's independence follows decades of conflict with the north, in which some 1.5 million people died.
Under the 2005 peace deal, a referendum was held on independence, which was favoured by more than 99% of voters.
The new country will be rich in oil, but it will be one of the least developed countries in the world following the long conflict.
'No quarrel'
All you need to know about South Sudan's independence
The celebrations will begin after midnight local time (2100 GMT) around the countdown clock in the centre of Juba.
The BBC's Will Ross in the town says in the lead-up to the historic event, radio stations have been blaring out South Sudan's new anthem.
"The Republic of Sudan announces that it recognises the Republic of South Sudan as an independent state, according to the borders existing on 1 January 1 1956," Minister of Presidential Affairs Bakri Hassan Saleh said in a statement broadcast on state television.
Earlier this week, President Bashir pledged his support to South Sudan and said he wanted the new country to be "secure and stable".

South Sudan

Facts and figures:
  • Population: 7.5-9.7 million
  • Size: 619,745 sq km (239,285 sq miles), larger than Spain and Portugal combined
  • Major languages: English, Arabic (both official), Juba Arabic, Dinka
  • Religion: Traditional and a Christian minority
  • Main export: Oil
Challenges ahead:
  • One of world's least developed countries: Worst maternal mortality rate; most children below 13 not in school; 84% of women are illiterate
  • Relations with Sudan: Dividing debts and oil; border disputes; citizenship
  • Security: At least seven active rebel groups
"We will bless our brothers in the south over their country and we wish them success," said Mr Bashir, who agreed the 2005 peace deal with the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA).
But he warned that "brotherly relations" depended on secure borders and non-interference in each others' affairs.
There had been fears that war could resume after recent fighting in two border areas, Abyei and South Kordofan, which has forced some 170,000 people from their homes.
But separate deals in recent weeks, and the withdrawal of rival forces from the border, have calmed tensions.
The UN Security Council has passed a resolution approving a new 7,000-strong peacekeeping force for South Sudan - but this is basically a rebranding of the force which was already in Sudan, mostly in the south.
The government in Khartoum has said their mandate would not be renewed, leading the US to argue that the 1,000 UN troops should be allowed to remain in South Kordofan.
The 1,000 troops in the disputed town of Abyei are to be replaced by 4,200 Ethiopian soldiers.
Challenges ahead Rebecca Garang, the wife of the late John Garang who led the southern rebels in the civil war, told the BBC her people had no quarrel with the people of the north, only with their government.
"There are many colleagues and comrades who perished during the war but we are here for their blood," she said.
"So we are very happy and grateful for their contribution for this nation."
Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir gestures to supporters during a visit to Diwayaem town in White Nile State in Khartoum, 7 July 2011 President Omar al-Bashir warned 'brotherly relations' depend on non-interference in each others' affairs
Our correspondent says keeping both the predominately Muslim north and the south stable long after the celebratory parties have ended will be a mighty challenge.
The two sides must still decide on issues such as drawing up the new border and how to divide Sudan's debts and oil wealth.
Analysts say the priority for Khartoum will be to negotiate a favourable deal on oil revenue, as most oilfields lie in the south.
At present, the revenues are being shared equally.
Khartoum has some leverage, as most of the oil pipelines flow north to Port Sudan on the Red Sea.
Citizenship is also a key issue which has not yet been decided.
According to the state-run Sudan Radio, the citizenship of South Sudanese living in the north has now been revoked.
Earlier this week, thousands of southern Sudanese civil servants working in the north had to leave their jobs ahead of the split.
Sudan: A country divided
Satellite image showing geography of Sudan, source: Nasa
The great divide across Sudan is visible even from space, as this Nasa satellite image shows. The northern states are a blanket of desert, broken only by the fertile Nile corridor. South Sudan is covered by green swathes of grassland, swamps and tropical forest.

Can A Ringtone Help Unite a Nation

Can A Ringtone Help Unite A Nation?

Fresh off Fourth of July weekend, I'm now ready to celebrate the independence of another country: that of the new South Sudan. On July 9, the nation will formally declare its independence. As soon as a week later, South Sudan will become the 193rd member of the United Nations.
Our project manger in Sudan, Harun Matuma, e-mailed to tell us people are so excited there that many have made the new national anthem their cellphone ringtone! This made me think, can a ringtone help unite a country?
On days like July 4, we here in America unite around patriotic songs, the Flag and the Pledge of Allegiance. As July 9 approaches, it seems that people in South Sudan are uniting around their own flag and their own national anthem.
In the US, touchstones like the Flag, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the National Anthem bind us together. That's not always easy to do, as we're a diverse bunch. For example, my neighbors from El Salvador, Bolivia, and India – they all participated in last weekend's July 4 festivities. They were lighting off fireworks, going to the parade and celebrating their adopted country's freedom.
unitySouth Sudan is also a diverse nation in need of touchstones that can help people come together as one. Since 2005, Five Talents has been a part of this "coming together," engaging clans and tribes at the grassroots level. Our 69 savings and loan associations are comprised of more than 1,000 men and women spread across about 50 communities in Renk, Lainya, Juba, Wau and Malakal. These areas include many different ethnic clans -- some of which have been fighting for years.
One of the most difficult areas to work is Malakal. Our director of program, Suzanne Schultz, met with members of the Malakal associations in the capital of Juba earlier this year. These people had reached out to strangers and invited them to participate in our literacy and financial education training sessions.
"[These group members] met people in rural communities where they hadn't mixed with a different clan or different tribe before," Suzanne told me when she got back. "They met people who were hurt and killed [in the recent violence], and it changed everything [about their relationships]."
Suzanne's story is an example of the unification that needs to happen on a large scale if South Sudan is to flourish as a nation. Groups of people who at one time were fighting or avoiding each other must now grab-hold of the hand of their neighbor and work together to build a new nation.
The success of this unification will, of course, require more than a ringtone, more than organizations like Five Talents. It will take God's blessing.
Fortunately, the people of this brand new nation seem to recognize this truth. Here are the words to the tune that is played every time a proud new citizen's phone rings in South Sudan:
Oh God,
We praise and glorify you
For your grace on South Sudan
Land of great abundance
Uphold us united in peace and harmony.
Oh motherland
Arise! Raise your flag with the guiding star
And sing songs of freedom with joy,
For justice, liberty and prosperity
Shall forever more reign.
Oh great patriots!
Let us stand up in silence and respect
Saluting our martyrs whose blood
Cemented our national foundation,
We vow to protect our nation.
God bless South Sudan.


Countdown to Independence


Government of Southern Sudan approves Agenda of Celebrations : 

With one week to go before the independence of southern Sudan is declared on July 9th, the Government has revealed the agenda for the landmark celebrations. A host of concerts, sports events and religious prayers are taking place all week, reaching a climax on the day itself in the capital Juba and across the countryʼs ten states. 

The main planned events will centre around the 8th, 9th and 10th July. On the eve of independence, citizens across southern Sudan will be encouraged to go to churches or gather in public squares to light candles and say prayers, to herald the birth of the new nation. Dancing and festivities will take place in villages across the country. 

The Catholic Church has initiated 9 days of prayer on the theme of tolerance and harmonious inter-ethnic and inter-religious relationships. On Independence eve, neighbours from all faiths will be encouraged to share a meal together. Other faiths including Islamic groups are taking similar steps. 

At midnight, bells will be rung across the new country, and drums will be sounded, to mark the historic transition from Southern Sudan to the ʻRepublic of South Sudanʼ (RSS) – the worldʼs 193rd country. 

In Juba, on Saturday July 9th, the official program will begin at 10am at the Dr. John Garang Mausoleum and last until the early afternoon, with a parade, official acts and a series of speeches. Some 3,500 representatives will attend including kings, chiefs and elders from the 10 states, leaders from the business community, civil society, womenʼs groups and the youth movement. Foreign dignitaries will include some 30 African Heads of State, leaders of regional and multilateral organisations, as well as foreign ministers and other senior officials. Over a hundred thousand citizens will bear witness to the events at the Mausoleum, and many others will watch on large screens across the city. Events will also be broadcast live on national television (SSTV) available across three continents, and by international media. Simultaneous activities will take place across the land. Security measures are being put in place all over southern Sudan to ensure a peaceful and orderly environment for the weekʼs activities. 

The parade of 1500 people will include a March-Past of groups from different branches of the military, including the Army, Police, prison service, wildlife service and fire brigade. There will also be six groups of folklore dancers from different parts of the country, joined by womenʼs groups, civil society and young people. During the ceremony, the National Choir and hundreds of young South Sudanese will lead the singing of the new National Anthem, which was chosen through a competition of 49 entries by musicians, poets and academics. The song, which reflects the unity, identity, the landʼs resources and the liberation struggle of the country, has been taught over the last weeks to government officials, security organs, civil society and other groups across the country. 

There will be a Proclamation of Independence of the Republic of South Sudan by the Speaker of the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly (SSLA) Rt. Hon James Wani Igga. The flag of Sudan will then be lowered and the flag of the new Republic of South Sudan will be raised, to the tune of flag ceremonial trumpets. President, H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit will then sign the new Transitional Constitution into force. He will then take the oath of Office as the first President of the Republic of South Sudan. 

Main speakers will include the President of South Sudan H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit, the President of Sudan, Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, Head of the UN General Assembly and representatives from the African Union, Intergovernmental Authority on Development, Arab League, European Union, United States (representing the Americas) and China (representing Asia.) 

Information Minister Dr Barnaba Marial Benjamin said: “It will be a historic occasion for all our people who have traveled a long and difficult road to the birth of this nation. We all know we face many challenges ahead – we will face them as united, peaceful and independent and build a stable and prosperous country.” 

In the evening, there will be an open-air concert of folklore and music at the Nyakoron centre, and other concerts over the following days featuring distinctive music from the countryʼs different ethnic tribes. 

Football matches will also be held, including a match between the recently-formed national team of South Sudan versus Kenya on the 10th July, and a basketball match against Uganda on the 11th. 

As well as planning for the commemoration, other work has been underway to establish the foundations of the new Republic. Over the last few weeks, the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly has passed some key laws that are prerequisites to the establishment of the nation. These include the Nationality and Citizenship Act, and laws on the National Flag, Anthem, Coat of Arms and States Seal. On July 1st, the Council of Ministers approved crucial draft legislation relating to the financial framework of the country, to be considered by the Assembly. These include draft bills on the formation of the Central Bank, public finance management, taxation, investment promotion, company law and medals and insignia. The Transitional Constitution is currently before Parliament. 

NOTE TO EDITORS: The Republic of South Sudan (RSS) will become the 193rd country in the world and the 55th country in Africa. Its independence marks the end of the interim period under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), signed in 2005 to end decades of civil war between the North and South.


Jeopardy in the Afternoon

 Does anyone know what God is?

A great philosophical question fit for hours of discussion with friends while consuming large amounts of coffee and huge amounts of available time.

This is the question coming through my hedge this afternoon.

The hedge separating me from the neighbors that couldn't use the word God without combining it with a swear word.

This is the question I heard repeated over and over and then shouted while floating in my pool chair.

Does anyone know who God is?

Yeah.  Yep.  Shut up.

How about Elijah?

They definitely have my attention now.

Answers, I want answers.

Finally I hear.

They do not teach you religion in the public schools.

That's why you do not know what God is.

The Jeopardy answer... What are Sunday Schools?


Bishop speaks about War Waging in Nuba Mountains

Here is the link to the article in Episcopal Life Online.Episocpal Life Bishop Andudu

Bishop Andudu was with the American Friends of The Episcopal Church of Sudan (AFRECS) this past weekend in Glen Allen, VA (outside Richmond).

He is asking that we all FAST and PRAY this Sudan.  Pray for Peace in the Nuba Mountains.  Pray for Peace in Sudan.

June 8, 1968

Do you remember what you were doing on June 8, 1968?

If you are reading this, some of you now are Googling the date and are rewarded with information about the funeral of Robert Kennedy, Bobby.

I have just watched a wonderful documentary of pictures taken from aboard the train that carried Bobby's body back to Washington, DC for burial.

One Thousand Pictures is the name of this wonderful documentary, shown on HBO, that is filled with pictures from 1968 and follow-up interviews given 43 years later.

So I do remember what I was doing, I the junior in HS that was deciding to join the Peace Corp after graduation.  

Much to the chagrin of my parents, my friends and I were gathered around the TV to watch the funeral and weeping.

Here is the ending excerpt from Edward Kennedy's eulogy.  The full eulogy can be found here.  Edward Kennedy Eulogy

The future does not belong to those who are content with today, apathetic toward common problems and their fellow man alike, timid and fearful in the face of new ideas and bold projects. Rather it will belong to those who can blend vision, reason and courage in a personal commitment to the ideals and great enterprises of American Society.

Our future may lie beyond our vision, but it is not completely beyond our control. It is the shaping impulse of America that neither fate nor nature nor the irresistible tides of history, but the work of our own hands, matched to reason and principle, that will determine our destiny. There is pride in that, even arrogance, but there is also experience and truth. In any event, it is the only way we can live."

That is the way he lived. That is what he leaves us.
My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life; to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.
Those of us who loved him and who take him to his rest today, pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will some day come to pass for all the world.

As he said many times, in many parts of this nation, to those he touched and who sought to touch him:

"Some men see things as they are and say why.
I dream things that never were and say why not."


What moves a Blessing into a Curse

Yesterday morning someone emailed me with some thoughts and then told me to Be Well.

Be Well.  Wow, someone wanted me to be well.

Well then, why has my life gone to pot since then?

What was really behind those two words that once written, the universe snapped up and turned them around?

Who was lurking in the shadows, gleefully rubbing hands together in devilish anticipation of the mischief they could now cause?

And, where was my guardian angel?  Out for a smoking break?  In line at Starbucks?  Tweeting another?

How long am I supposed whine and wail?

How long before normal returns and I never need kleenex? 


Or I want to eat again?

Okayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.... that could be a good thing.

I was raised knowing that sticks and stones  yada yada yada, but well wishes?

Words of inspiration?

Acts of kindness?
What is this world coming to?


Me and Obama

How many people can say that the President is with them every minute of the work day?

Ok, probably a lot of people inside the beltway, but outside?

And, even when he travels abroad?

When a person retires sometimes they provide you with gifts.

Last week a colleague and friend retired after working for the church for seven years.  Now friends get to sit side by side in the pews.

In her office was a life-sized cut out of President Obama that stood behind her office door.  Once a visitor shut the door the usual response was YIKES and then a smile. 

And the eyes, they follow you where ever you walk.  Great eyes. 

However, she knew I loved that cut out and she gifted it to me.

So now the President smiles at me from across the room.

Eat your heart out Michelle.


The Music Is In Me

Finally, the music is playing again.

It has been 18 months of silence.

Oh, the music has been around, but not everywhere.  A few select places.  Everywhere else silence.  Random songs, stanzas that stayed for a while and then left. 

Sometimes the music was present only once a week, eagerly gulped down as if I were afraid that if I took too long in the listening someone else would steal the sound away from me.

How does one make the choice to leave the music?  Is it a one major conscious choice or many small random unrecognizable choices.  Isn't it rather like choosing not to breathe?

That is what the past eighteen months have been like.  Holding my breath.  Forgetting to exhale.

When I finally remembered to breathe, to exhale air and inhale sound, I took massive deep gulps of air.  The music tripped over my tongue, tickling my tonsils, down into the belly moving into the blood and back into my heart, brain and sole. 

How had I ever lasted this long?

How did I manage to commute without song?

To clean house without song and dance?

Friday afternoons without Janis?  Singing with Judy?

Maybe the music started again with the sound of drums, and naked ladies and one Jonathan.

I got the music in me.



So Who is the True Heathen?

The definition of a heathen:  One who adheres to the religion of a people or nation that does not acknowledge the God of Judaism, Christianity, or Islam.

Can you be a partial heathen?

Can you be half a Christian or Jew or Muslim?

I have been reading the accounts of the retribution killing in Afghanistan in retaliation of the burning of a copy of the Quran at the Dove Outreach Center in Gainesville, FL last month.

And I am sicken.  How does a place devoted to the same God burn a Holy Book at a place called Dove Outreach?

Dove Outreach.

Today I was with a 10 year-old boy who loved to spell, so I have been thinking about spelling bees which led to thinking about the dictionary.

Dove, besides the small birds, has two additional meanings.  The first is a gentle woman or child and the second is one who takes a conciliatory attitude and advocates negotiations and compromise.  The second is used in contrast to a hawk, or someone who advocates war as a solution.

Outreach is defined as to surpass, to exceed, to go too far.  Even to get the better by trickery.  Where that last definition comes from, I do not know.

Some related words are encroach, infringe, invade, or trespass.

So maybe it is time to rename this center.

How about The Hawk Infringement Center.

Or The Center of Holy Trepass.

Or The Surpassingly Hawkish Center.

Or the Dead Dove Center.

Anyone of those would certainly have Jesus and his father smiling.

Wouldn't they>


Photo Prayer by Danny Schweers

There is no end to the things we might do
but few things we actually will do.
Inspire us to love you, good Lord,
and, since it is so much like it,
to love our neighbor.
Then may we sleep in peace.


(Blessed Be) The Ties That Bind

This past weekend, a truly inspirational woman set foot back in Delaware and joined Delaware Episcopalians at St. Anne's Episcopal School in Middletown, Delaware.  We were coming together to discuss her wonderful book The Ties That Bind: A Memoir of Race, Memory, and Redemption.   However, most of our discussion centered on...


The author's name is Dr. Bertice Berry, originally from Wilmington, DE, and here is a sample of some of the comments that I wrote down.

  • When you walk in purpose, you collide with destiny.
  • Gratitude is the parent of all virtues.
  • Measure our success/progress not by where we are not, but where we have come from.
  • Border questions important to know: Who are you, where are you from, where are you going, and what will you be doing when you get there?
Dr. Berry's book is recommended reading for Episcopalians in the Diocese of Delaware.  It first came to my attention at the 2010 Parish Life Day.  The Rev. Rod Welles had several copies of the book at a booth he was manning and after reading the jacket cover, I was hooked.

First of all this book was going to provide me a glimpse into the world of the African-American growing up in Wilmington, DE both before and after desegregation.  Wilmington is a very small city where it seems everyone knows everyone else and coming from another state it takes a while just to crack the surface of joint knowledge and experiences. 

Second, there are friends of mine and their relatives that are mentioned in the book.

Third, being part of a racially diverse congregation, I hoped that this book might help me understand a part of history that unless I had walked with slavery, I could not understand.

The title of Saturday's session was "Journey to transformation:  The way out is back through."

Part of the morning involved exposure to the following thoughts, and I promise that I probably did not write fast enough to get everything that is important.

Stage One:  Me - Life begins with the Me stage, at birth until around 2.  The stage when it really is all about me, what I want, what I need.

Stage Two:  You - Self/you becomes socialized and lasts till the teenage years.

Stage Three:  Us - Teenage years where the individual becomes lost in the "us."

Stage Four:  I am/We are - also known as Ubuntu, the theme of the last General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Anaheim.  According to Wikipedia, Ubuntu is an ethic or humanist philosophy focusing on people's allegiances and relations with each other. The word has its origin in the Bantu languages of southern Africa and is seen as a classical African concept. 

Note the emphasis on "people's allegiances and relations with each other."

This is the Stage that I am on.  However, there is a fifth and final stage.

Stage Five:  All - This is the stage that the saints operate in and that we should strive to be more "All" in our thinking.  It is said that "All" thinking affects seven, yep count em, seven future generations.

So, when you decide to switch to a refillable water bottle, the ripple effect is GREAT.

Now back to the title.

In 1772, Pastor John Fawcett was called to a large church in London leaving behind his congregation at Wainsgate.  As the present congregation gathered to say good bye, with tears in their eyes, they begged him to stay.  And, stay he did. 

However, from this experience came  the following words:

Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love.
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.

Before our Father’s throne
We pour our ardent prayers.
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one
Our comforts and our cares.

We share each other’s woes,
Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.

When we asunder part,
It gives us inward pain;
But we shall still be joined in heart
And hope to meet again.


And the Earth Shook

I was never as great a fan of techonology until I went to Sudan where I leaned on my computer to keep me connected to home.

Or when I showed my friend Tito where I lived using sattelite photos and seeing "Tweety" parked in my driveway in a mid-summer shot.


I have included a link here from a NY Times article this morning, where technology plays a part in understanding the magnitude of what occurred to Japan last week.



But I intended to

Today, I planned on doing a little writing on how the universe has to hit me on the head to do something beneficial.  Something I would benefit from.

Am I going to do that?

Not unless my writing was to have been about a very powerful movie.

It is titled Water a movie directed by Deepa Mehta a most wonderfully talented woman.  She has directed the film Fire and then Earth.  Some consider her the voice of a new India.

"The film examines the plight of a group of widows forced into poverty at a temple in the holy city of Varanasi. It focuses on a relationship between one of the widows, who wants to escape the social restrictions imposed on widows, and a man who is from the highest caste and a follower of Mahatma Gandhi."

Hindu law at the time gave widows three choices.  To follow their husband in death, to live a life of purity as an outcast or with the family's permission to marry the younger brother.  The movie takes place at the time of Ghandi and his imprisonment by the British. 

At the time of the India 2001 census there were 21 million widows.

There is a great line in the movie that answers the question "Why does God want widows to suffer, why does this have to happen?" 

The hero, if you want to call him that, tells her that the law is " disguised as religion, but it's all about the money."  One less mouth to feed, one less corner of the house taken up, four less saris to buy.

I couldn't say it any better.  Pick any topic currently in the news.

Disguised, but it's all about the money.



I wish I were....

Memory is an amazing thing.

Even in the best of times, it confounds me why sometimes I cannot remember what I was to do on the way home, but can then sing the lyrics to a song that was popular when I was in 7th grade.

It's My Party by Leslie Gore.

I loved her songs, except for her follow-up Judy's Turn to Cry.  I went from villan to super-villan in the span of months.

But, I'd give it an 8.

Then when you add perspective to memory, you end up with several people looking at the same event and recounting different stories. 

Take an event that elicits emotions, like movies.  Afterward, you tell the tale loving and laughing, but your friend is telling others it was boring, trite, don't waste your money.

Remember the conversations that math, history should be taught by song?  Most everyone knows the Billy Joel song We Did't Start The Fire that details events from 1949-1989.  Imagine if we had been taught history by dissecting each one of those events?

Or advertising jingles that we can remember for their catch phrases.

Where's the Beef?  I've fallen and I can't get upI can't believe I ate the whole thing?

 Or jingles.

Plop, plop fizz fizz Oh what a relief it is.

For me, sometimes jingles not only made me want to buy something, but elicited a stronger urge to participate.

Oh I wish I were an Oscar Myer Wiener.

This jingle made me want to find the Wiener car.  Where was it, how would I find it?

Every time that darn jingle played, it sparked the memory of wanting. 

Where was it, how would I find it?

Now, imagine an ordinary grocery store stop after work, turning the corner, looking for a space and ....

OMG, OMG.  Run get the camera.

See this is why I carry it with me.  OMG

So what did I do?  Went inside and met the Wiener Guys, sent a postcard, got a sticker, and a Wiener whistle.  Life is GOOD.

OH, I wish I were an Oscar Myer Wierner. 

Everyone Would Be in Love With Me.

A girl can dream,

Can't She?


Is it Time Yet?

I have discovered that I could care less if negotiations between the NFL players and owners falls through or is never resolved.  I love my Giants, but
Is it time for baseball yet?  So, here are pictures of the next best thing.

I have purchased my MLB.com subscription in order to watch my beloved Yankees play. 

However until opening day comes I will have to be satisfied from the picture from last year.

Sights of Lancaster

Sometime this past December, I was feeling the need to travel, to leave town and just drive. 

When I was younger, Kathryn's dad and I would take part in road rallies.  A contest to see who would arrive first at a location by solving riddles, traveling at the correct speeds. 

Gas was cheap, there were no cells phones, and technology did not rule our lives.

When we lived in Aston, PA these rallies would take place across the river around Swedesboro and Glassboro, NJ.  Little did I think that at a later date we would actually buy our first house there.

So that Sunday, skipping church, I headed out to find examples of humanity outside of Delaware.  Here are some pictures of what I found in on the road to and from and in Lancaster.

 I cannot begin to convey how tall this horse really was, except that when he walked towards me and the camera I began to back up.  Here I had discovered him during his downtime, not hooked behind a plow.
What the heck is Meat Bingo.  Being a vegetarian, I shudder.

What a great Nativity Scene

Why can't we all recycle like this?

This I really liked.

Yo Ho Ho

Finally I knew what I had been driven to find.

Frank, Gladdie and Hope

Some mornings I waken to discover that there is a song that is already playing in my head.  Sometimes the origin of the song has its beginnings in dreams or the Weather Channel.

Other times, I am at a loss to understand where it comes from.

Sometimes, it springs from the need to encourage a particular emotion or feeling.

Right now I am thinking of Glad Frick, as I sometimes do around Diocesan Convention times.  Glad used to volunteer as the Assistant Secretary to Convention.  And, she loves Frank Sinatra. 

Maybe it was the thinking of Glad and remembering Frank that had me humming High Hopes.

Just what makes that silly old ant thinks he can move that rubber tree plant? 

High Hopes.

So it came as a real surprise when stopped on the interstate in rush hour I happened to look up and see that silly old ant.

High above me.


That is what I think of each morning when I see that ant. 

I realize that I do live a hopeful life.  Hopeful that the best is yet to come.


I hear you Lord

Whatever we are called -
Mrs., Ms., Miss, or Mister,
Captain, Doctor, Maestro,
Ambassador, President, Professor, Dean,
Your Honor, Your Highness, Your Holiness,
Little Princess, or The Cat's Meow -
you, good Lord, call us by name.


Diocesan Convention

This Convention, being held in Dover, the capital of Delaware, will be a first for a few reasons.

The first is that it is being held in its entirety in a hotel.  Worship and everything.  We are trying out a centralized location with a couple of congregations hosting.

The second is that the Convention is being given over to Dr. Brian McLaren.  All workshops will be given over to his being there.

Finally, I will working double duty.  My normal routine of assisting the Bishop and the Treasurer along with the manning of a table.

As a Board member of AFRECS, the American Friends of the Episcopal Church of Sudan, I have brought AFRECS to the Diocese of Delaware.  Along with myself, Connie Fegley, another Board member, will be there as well. And, Maureen Lyons, from Trinity, will be helping as well.

If you are attending Convention, please stop by and say hello and join.  Before you come, please check out our website at www.afrecs.org


It's Showtime

This weekend Comcast customers get to watch Showtime for free.  I did not think this would matter much until I went to the movie section.

I thought HBO had everything, but I was wrong.  I have just watched two movies that I would recommend.

The first, Cairo Time, was a trip back to the desert city of Khartoum for me.  It accurately portrayed the feel of living in the desert, the clothes, society, women, men, food, coffee, religion, etc.Cairo Time Trailers  And, it also reminded me that that one drink from the Nile is still pulling me, beckoning me, return... return...return.  I strongly recommend renting and watching this movie.  Of course, its a great love story as well. 

The second, Crossing Over, Crossing Over Wikipedia, is much more intense.  This is not   John Edwards and his speaking to souls, rather is a multi-layered movie about all sorts of immigrants.  Legal, illegal.  Atheists, Jews, Arabs.  Multi-generational.  And the cast is amazing.  I highly recommend it as well.  The movie should make you think, and unless you are one way or the other on the issue, this is not a black and white movie, but shades of gray.

Finally, IT'S SHOWTIME. 

What?  Where?  When?

The voting has started in Southern Sudan, the referendum to separate from Northern Sudan.  A new country might be born at the end of the day.

There has been so much written and spoken about this day that it is funny it is so quiet.

Quiet.  Listen.

Can you hear New Sudan's first breath?

First cry?

I can.