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Peace in Retirement



The journey through the second part of life...trying to identify core values, and relishing the steps that are easy and the steps that are difficult.



Updated: 2017-10-24T19:54:20.899-07:00

 



NO, I DID NOT FADE AWAY!

2014-12-31T12:54:42.645-08:00

I find it hard to believe this year, 2014, is gone.  I did not blog once. Me, who always enjoyed writing, was not writing in 2014.  OK, why not?

It was a beautiful year, as they all are. I worked on projects, and watched the birds eating at our feeder. I read and walked in the foot-hills and volunteered, and visited family and friends. I really did try to live in the moment. I relearned how to play and love the now of every little thing. I had a good teacher, my three year old grand-son. There is a reason grand-children come later in life...when you think you have it all figured out, they come to remind you of the things you left behind, like pure joy and delight in being alive.

The condition of the world has saddened me. There is so much inhumanity to man. I want to fix it, but haven't a clue how.

I think I will laugh and laugh and laugh. That certainly can't hurt.

So,come on in NewYear, sneak right past me. I will be here, watching and writing! Welcome!

Pax Tecum



WHAT HE MEANT TO ME

2013-11-22T15:35:20.539-08:00

I was waking up to the world between the ages 18-21. That was the time I knew of him. I was a junior in college. I had been excited to help John Kennedy's campaign for the presidency, although I was too young to vote for him. I had discovered politics and was making decisions about how I was going to live my life in this world. I was young and full of expectations.

I had seen him that Sept. in Laramie when he spoke at the University about the importance of education. Fifty years ago today a bright light in my life went out when his life ended. I have never gotten over it. He influenced the way I have lived my life more then almost anyone else.

I went to the Peace Corps. I worked in public service. I value the poor and work for peace. I have stayed active in politics and he is the reason for all of it. I am 71 years old now and there is rarely a day that goes by that I don't think of him. He was my mentor. I was inspired by his words and felt secure that he was leading our country.

I agree that an unspeakable evil killed him. He had intentions to end the war and work for world peace. He frightened the war hawks and those who made money from chaos. His idealism was almost too much for this world to hope for or to embrace.

It is often said that time will relieve the pain of death.  I cannot think of what happened 50 years ago with any peace in my heart. Just a constant, inexorable sadness of what might have been. Johnny, we hardly got to know you. The glimpse was gleeful but far too short, and the time without you way too long and far away.

I remember it well. I was in the cafeteria, reaching for a dish of tapioca to put on my lunch tray. A friend came up to me and told me the President had been shot. The world I knew at that moment ended, and innocence was forever gone.

Don't let it be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot.

Pax Tecum



AGENT, WHERE ART THOU?

2013-05-20T10:56:30.200-07:00

Now well established in my 7th decade, lots of unorganized thoughts of bucket list items rumble about in my head.  One that has pushed itself to the fore front is that of publishing  a book.

The question looms, have I written one? The answer is:  indeed I have. It's a children's non- fiction book taken from my life experience.  It involves a story with pictures, aimed at an audience of eight to ten year olds. I even had the fore-sight of letting some children in that age group read it, and they voiced approval and interest, and even likened it to the days of the Civil Rights movemnt.

Enter the quest for an agent to take this product to a publisher.  I guess that's the way it all happens now.  Gone are the days when I try to impress the publisher myself, now there is a med-level addition called a literary agent.  So the process begins.  Approach an agent, submit my work and let them decide whether it is worthy of their time and effort.

Trouble is, the process is entirely subjective.  The material must "speak" to them. My story is not about an action hero or a computer whiz, or anything else instantly recognizable in today's culture.  I Just wish some of those bright- eyed deciders would talk with the eight to ten year olds I talked with before the decision is made about whether or not to publish.

And so it goes. There probably is an insightful agent-person out there who could grasp the material's possibilities.  The question is will they be found sometime soon?  My decade is moving quickly and the bucket list continues to swirl inside of me.

Self publish you suggest? Perhaps. That certainly is an option, and one that will get more popular as the years slip away.  Meanwhile the search continues and I shout loudly to the universe, "AGENT WHERE ART THOU?"

Pax Tecum




SNAPSHOTS IN TIME

2013-01-08T14:43:57.661-08:00

Forty five years ago this month, I was preparing for an adventure.  I was 26 years old, single, and a college graduate working as a registered nurse. My best friend and I had ben saving money for two years.We were going to Europe.  Our mantra was  "Don't be late in '68"  That first month in 1968 was exciting in itself. Wyoming played LSU in the Sugar Bowl. One third of the population of Wyoming had descended on New Orleans. When the game was over, (Wy lost) so much Wy money was left in New Orleans that the City begged Wy to return the following year!  And Super Bowl II was gearing up to see Lombardi's Green Bay Packers play the Oakland Raiders.

We got on the bus and rode to Denver. We  got on a plane that took us to New York City where we stayed a week. We saw Broadway shows, (eye popping productions for two Wy girls)  and visited the United Nations where we met people from all over the world.

Then it was on the plane again. We flew to Lisbon, Portugal. That is where our great adventure began.  Picture us...me wearing a plaid car coat and trying to manage three pieces of red American Tourister luggage. My friend had one huge suitcase with wheels. Our guide was Arthur Frommer's book, "Europe on Ten Dollars a Day". We followed it religiously. We traveled second-class trains and stayed in small pensiones. We stayed four and a half months, traveled in seventeen countries and loved every minute of it. And it changed my life forever.

What I found was a sense of history I had not experienced on the high plains of Wyoming. Every country had its own language and currency (before the Euro) and culture. Some images that stand out in my mind are cobblestone streets, breath taking architecture, winding rivers, massive cathedrals, and art...oh the art!  The Prado, the Louvre, the Van Gogh, theVatican...and Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, El Greco, Matisse, the entire Renaissance and so much more!  My friend and I were like sponges, soaking up every minute.

We started in Portugal, traveled along the Mediterranean to Greece (have you seen the Acropolis in the moonlight?), then headed north, with special visas to travel in communist countries. And finally to Berlin and the Wall and across the Baltic Sea to Denmark and Copenhagen to see the Royal Ballet. Then back down to Belgium and the Netherlands and England and Ireland. Of course there was also Germany and Bulgaria and Hungry and Luxembourg and France and Scotland and Iceland and finally, home.We were never afraid, never robbed. We traveled on our own and we met wonderful people who shared their lives with us.

One of our last stops was England. We were there on April 4th, 1968. We saw a newspaper headline the next day that Martin Luther King,Jr. had been killed. Brits would look at us and ask, "what is wrong with your country?" I could not answer because I was wondering the same thing. We were home by the first of May. 1968 turned out to be a turbulent year. The Vietnam War was raging, the Civil Rights Movement was in full swing, Robert Kennedy was assassinated, there was violence at the Democratic National Convention and Richard Nixon was elected President. The only constant was change.

Beyond the chaos that year brought, it was a bell-weather year in my life. My world view exploded, my vision of justice was born, and to this day, I am influenced by the global community.  We are one and we belong to each other.  I had a transformation, an epiphany on that European journey. My mind grew to include all kinds of places and all kinds of people.  To this day I am a citizen of the world.
And that is my snapshot of 1968.

Pax Tecum






Dona Nobis Pacem

2012-11-04T07:44:33.610-08:00




What makes peace possible?

Peace       Justice

Two big words.

Peace is at the top of the mountain.
Justice is the long hard climb to get there.






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2012-09-18T10:26:48.620-07:00

Father John Dear, me, and Roxie at the Pond in Los Alamos, August, 2012



Lanterns On The Pond

2012-09-18T10:19:03.951-07:00

It was my second visit that first week-end in New Mexico for the somber remembrance of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 67 years ago. I do it because we have a responsibility to each other on this planet of ours to keep calling for an end to the nuclear experiment.
And believe me, the work of producing bigger and deadlier weapons is alive and well at Los Alamos. On Saturday Nuke Free Now sponsored a conference entitled "Vision Without Fission".  Their mission is to raise awareness of the true costs and consequences of nuclear weapons production, nuclear energy, and corporate profiteering. Their vision is the transformation of Los Alamos National Laboratory to a scientific and technical expertise that would be used for cleanup, remediation, and environmental sciences.

There are 450 Minuteman III missiles deployed in the United States. They are Cold War vintage, and they are wearing out and rusting out. There are plans for "life extension" programs that would extend the life of nuclear weapons, costing an estimate of 10 billion dollars.  Why???  We were all asking ourselves WHY?

Sunday, we journeyed to Los Alamos and met at Ashley Pond at a park in the center of the city. We spent the day listening to speakers, listening to music and making 3,000 paper lanterns with candles to sail on the pond. Late afternoon we went on a silent march to the site of the laboratory and spent time in prayer and mediation. We returned to the park and at sundown the candles were lit and set out upon the water in the  pond. Each candle represented 100 human beings killed in Japan 67 years ago

It was powerful experience, and I sensed a real solidarity with all victims and loved ones of victims that have innocently lost their lives because they were in the way of  that mother of all bombs. As long as I am alive and able to raise my voice and be present, I will scream, with others, that we must dismantle nuclear weapons and promote and treasure peace.

Pax Tecum



THE COMMUNITY OF DOUBLE-TALK

2012-04-23T09:29:31.787-07:00

The first ten years of my life was idyllic.  I lived in a small town with wide streets, some paved and some not. There was lots of space between houses. There were large lawns with pine trees and garden space that covered half a block. We raised our own chickens which provided us with eggs and lots of fried chicken. There was a detached garage perfect for playing Annie-Annie Over.

I had two sisters then. One was older and one was younger. I was the middle one. We used to go all over town, anywhere play took us. There were few locked doors and we were never fearful. There was a group of about ten kids that lived in our area.  These were the days before television and computers and video games, so every daylight moment was spent outside. There was a world to explore, after all. In addition to Annie-Annie over, we played Hide and Seek and Mother-May-I and Red-Rover. We roller-skated and rode bikes and played Hopscotch.

We would gather at each other's houses and play and play until dark.  In the cold winter months our Dad would contact the fire department and they would bring their trucks and big hoses and flood our large garden space with water. It would freeze and we had a wonderful ice skating pond. We were very popular in those winter months!

And a most interesting thing about the entire experience was that we shared a language all our own. We called it double-talk.  I don't know how we learned it, but we all knew how to speak it, and we all understood each other.  It was not pig latin.  It was a combination of consonants added to words. Parents couldn't understand it. When we played together we communicated using this language. It could very well be that this is where my sense of community was born.

When I was ten we moved away from that comfortable safe life and moved to a much larger town. We couldn't run free anymore. We had to ride a school bus and played mainly in our house or our own yard. There were three more girls born to our family. They never learned double-talk and could not understand what we were saying.

To this day, in our 6th and 7th decades the three of us can still speak to each other in double-talk. It always brings back memories of a very special time, an epiphany of the beginning experience of community, which to this day is an important part of my life.

Pax Tecum



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2012-04-23T08:56:49.840-07:00




LESSONS LEARNED

2012-01-01T13:52:39.793-08:00

I have the past 365 days to ponder. I am old enough now to be grateful that I can remember events I have learned in 2011. ( I still have some memory left!) This is a good time, in the beginning of the blank slate, in a bright, fresh new beginning to think about how this time has impacted my life.

There is an Egyptian proverb that says, "Dearer than our children are the children of our children." I have been able to understand that fully in 2011. I became a grandmother. I have always loved my children, but it just can't match loving as a grandparent. It's very close in coming full circle. It's a hellva wonderful place to be.

I recognize joy and it lives in every moment. I get frustrated with my country, with my church, with the workings of the computer, and other various and sundry things. But joy just seems to out-distance them all. I like being around my growing family as we all evolve into our roles ofbeing fully human. I especially like getting to know my sons-in law, all nearly three of them. That has really been a lesson for me. I never had brothers or sons, and my Dad and my husband are my male influences. It's good they have company now.

I came to the conclusion that movement is life. If I don't move, especially as I grow older, I will literally turn to stone. So despite my utter dislike of exercise, I have learned I must make it my companion if I am to march into the wonder of 2012.

And that, dear companions along the journey, is some of where I have been. Let's get on with it. This will be a big year for me. Number 70th year is coming to meet me head on. I'm going to be waiting for it with joy. Happy New Year!

Pax Tecum



Dona Nobis Pacem - Peace on Earth

2011-11-04T08:29:24.372-07:00

(image)


We can talk about peace, wish for it, worry about it. None of that will do a thing to influence it coming into the world.....so what will make a difference?

Peace comes in baby steps. It starts deep within each of us. It's a tiny little seed that we need to identify inside of us. We need to nurture it and water it and encourage it to grow. Then when it becomes to big for our bodies, it needs to be let out into the world. PEACE in the universe comes from a little peace that is within each of us. We need to work for it, exploit it, and treasure it for ouselves, for each other, and for the entire world. Let us start, today, to spread the gift of peace.

What a beautiful world it can be!



OF BLANKETS AND BOOKS

2011-10-24T11:18:30.896-07:00

Retirement brought so many options. How to spend my time, what to do, where to go. I hustled from one interest to another, usually following my love of social justice issues. Sometimes I felt like I was meeting myself coming and going and I was running as fast as I could.

I was getting weary. Then something happened that made me pause and ponder. A joy happened in my life that stopped me in my tracks. My first grandchild Elijah was born. My focus went from a priorty of run, run, run and do, do, do to slow down, you move to fast, gotta make the morning last. I sat on my patio and pondered. I listened to what the trees and the birds were telling me. I breathed. The insight that came to me was I wanted, more then anything, to watch Elijah grow, to establish relationship with him. That meant spending as much time with him as possible. I want him to remind me of that childhood gift of just be-ing, and he is such an example of the pure joy of in the moment be-ing!

That led me to looking around, at me, at the things I enjoy doing, right where I am. I watched for signs that are always given to us, and I grabbed at them. Social justice issues in my own back-yard type of things.

I started gathering paper-back books and taking them to the local detention center. Hardly anyone does that and I filled a nitch. I remembered well my time in prison was spent hoping for books to read and coveting every one that came into my hands. Yesterday,my husband Tom and I delivered book number 3,000 to the jail. The inmates have little to do to occupy their time. Having books to read helps.

And then there are the blankets. When I was working in public health I started a blanket drive. I would walk along the river and give blankets to homeless folks living outside in the cold Wyoming winters. Somehow people just started giving me blankets, and I distribute them to agencies and others who will see that they get to people who need them. And I still walk the river.

And so I am doing my little piece in my home-town to make things a little easier for some folks.
I still think big justice issues are imporant and I will continue working on them. I'm just not running as fast these days. Sometimes great revelations come in small packages. Thank you Elijah for coming into my life!

Pax Tecum



FROM THEN TO NOW

2011-08-26T08:38:03.611-07:00


I haven't written since March 17th. I love to write, but my blog would never know it. I do have excuses, and I think good ones. And here they are......

I did indeed become a Grandmother. It was, without doubt, one of the most joyous events in my life. His name is Elijah and he is five months old. Full of smiles and wonder and love. My sister gave me a wall hanging that says, "I used to think I was too old to fall in love again, but then I became a Grandma." I thought I had all the joy my life would allow when I had my children. I have learned that there is more, and I am immensely grateful to be able to experience the "icing on the cake"! My husband and I relish the role of grandparents.

The summer months have flown by, as always. We have camped out and breathed in the beauty of Wyoming. I have re-connected with family and extended family in gatherings around the area. And I am pursuing areas of interest that have long been on the back burner of my brain. Things like starting a children's book, and doing research on TB Camps of the 1920's in the mountains of Wyoming. Social justice issues continue to interest me.

Spiritually I am trying to assimulate a balance between action and contemplation, and feel inadequate in both areas most of the time. The poor continue to haunt me, and I look for signs to determine my path of solidarity to them and with them.

I love this prayer of St. Teresa of Avila:

Christ has no body now but yours
no hands but yours,
no feet but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which
Christ's compassion must look out on the world.
Yours are the feet with which
He is to go about doing good.
Yours are the hands with which
He is to bless us now.

Let us continue trying.....

Pax Tecum



WAITING.....

2011-03-17T08:57:31.249-07:00

Patience has always been the least of my redemptive features. I can still recall how it felt on Christmas Eve when I was just a kid living on Wy Ave in Buffalo, Wy. It was agony to wait for Christmas morning to open gifts. This lack of patience has followed me through my life.

Three years ago when I was sentenced to prison for civil disobedience, I had to wait two months before I finally walked through that steel door. Believe me, waiting those two months just added to the time I spent behind bars. Last year at this time I was waiting to go to Haiti to work at a clinic. I knew a month ahead I would be going, however it took time to organize the team, and so I waited.

These recent examples of wait happened in March. Here it is, March again and I am waiting again. This time, perhaps for the most joyous, anticipated reason of all for waiting.....the birth of my first grand-child! This wait resembles the other waits. There is some anxiety, some reflection, some longing that my reality was not in a holding pattern but in full motion. ON WITH IT! But this time the wait is not about me. It's about an angel about to be. A new spirit deciding when to enter this world. This child of God who will change our view of life forever.

It takes my breath away to think about it. Perhaps this March wait time will be the one to teach me about the gift of waiting, in fact, I think it already has....

Pax Tecum



HELLO DARKNESS, MY OLD FRIEND

2010-12-14T08:24:08.993-08:00

I have never been afraid of the dark. I've felt that it offers me a protective covering, a kind of warm fleece snuggie. And I have always been in love with stars, and they just don't happen without dark. I find this time of year interesting. As we march to the shortest day of the year, it always brings out the hope and the anticipation of that first Christmas night.

I'm always ready for the season of Advent. It slows me down, it allows me to get ready. Not for the crazy holiday push to acquire, but for the fullfillment of a longing, a yearning for the union of Emmanual with us, and the knowledge that since He came and lived among us, we have the tools to continue the journey.

This year, the coming of the Babe has an even deeper meaning as we wait for another babe to be born. This one will arrive in March, also with great anticipation. As we prepare for the birth of both babies, I can't help but marvel at the goodness of God. He showered the night with stars to announce the arrival of His gift to us. And He has filled the night with stars since then to remind us that great gift continues down through time and appears continually in all births.

I welcome short days and long nights. The time for Jesus and hope and renewal is here. Then it's on to March! And the mystery of a new birth that will allow me to be GRAMMA for the first time! Merry Christmas!

Pax Tecum



HAITI

2010-04-27T07:07:53.169-07:00

This blog is about my journey to Haiti. It's going to be a glimpse of an experience that touched my life like almost no other has. So let us begin....Some time ago I had picked Haiti as the place I would like to visit. Perhaps because it is the poorest country in our hemisphere and I wanted to get up close to poverty, to look it in the face and to feel its reality. After the earthquake on Jan.12th, I kept waiting for an opportunity, and one came knocking on my own back-door. My own parish church's response to the earthquake was a relief effort called the Wyoming Haiti Relief. It would coordinate medical teams to travel to Haiti to assist in the recovery. It was a no brainer, I was in the right place at the right time. No excuses. I volunteered. It took awhile. I couldn't go right away and when I was ready, the team wasn't formed. But I finally made it as a member of Team 5 which would include 3 men, working on affordable housing, and 2 nurses.Our location was Matthew 25 House in Port-au-Prince. Before the earthquake it was a hospitality house for travelers coming in and going out of Haiti. It currently houses relief workers from all over the world who are in transit to all parts of Haiti. Our team was assigned to work at Matthew 25's adjacent tent city of 1800 Haitians living on three acres. The director of Matthew 25 is Sister Mary Finnick, a long time resident of Haiti.Our first day in Haiti was Thurs., March 25th, day 62 after the eaethquake. It was hot, humid, third world, destroyed, and utterly chaotic. Sister Mary met us at the airport, holding a sign that said "Wyoming". She put us into her SUV and attacked the dirt streets of Port-au-Prince. No street lights, no right of ways, just sheer guts. And she seemed to be the guttsiest. I think the Holy Spirit was sitting on top of the SUV, holding on for dear life! That was my introduction to my two week stay in Haiti.It was personally challenging for me. Living and sleeping in a tent for 14 days, working in an outdoor clinic all day, everyday, with temps in the 90's and humidity in the 60's and 70's put this old girl through the wringer. I sweat constantly, lost my appetite, lost 15 pounds, and desperately missed the winds of the High Plains!I spent Holy Week with a new appreciation for bodily suffering. Some days I wondered if I would make it.But there was another side of it. That side was EASTER. It was exhilarating! I met people from all over the world, coming to Haiti to help. They worked hard, long days trying to make life better for the Haitian people. I was amazed at the volunteers who had been there several times, and came back and came back again.But most of all, the Haitian people were a revelation. They had nothing. No running water, little food, living in small crowded tents inches from each other. I never saw a child with a toy. But their attitude and spirit were buoyant and joyous and ever hopeful. It was a true pleasure to be among them. My friend, Pat, the other nurse and I would marvel at how the Haitians always looked clean with clean clothes. We looked the exact opposite. We couldn't figure it out.I attended the Easter Vigil Mass with Sister Mary. The Church had been damaged, so it was held outside. We had to carry our chairs to sit. There was no electricity so we held candles for light. We had no music but sang without it. The priest gave his homily in French, but at one point looked at the relief workers and said in English, "You are here. This is your destiny. This is the Resurrection." And I did indeed understand what he meant.I learned that poverty does not mean misery. Poverty makes the way easier to the true meaning of life. Simple joy, fa[...]



30 YEARS AGO TONIGHT

2009-12-21T21:35:06.860-08:00

I can remember it like it was yesterday. I was wrapping Christmas presents in the family room downstairs in my home. The gift was a golf practice game for my husband. That's when the telephone call came that was to change my family's life forever. My Dad was in the emergency room at the hospital. Get there as soon as you can. My Dad? He's at a Christmas party with his co-workers. Mom went with him. And that's the last normal thing I knew. It wasn't the same after that.

Dad had collapsed while dancing a waltz at that Christmas party. He had finished a dance with Mom and one of the other women asked him to dance. I always liked to watch him dance. He was so graceful, and he loved to dance.

Dad had a massive heart attack and died that Christmas party night on the Winter Solstice, Dec.21,1979. I was 37 years old with a husband and three little girls. I needed my Dad and wasn't ready for him to fly off into the night, leaving us all bewildered below.

As I left the ER that night, on my way home to a new reality, I remember looking up at the stars and thinking of Shakespeare's Romero saying "And, when he shall die, take him and cut him out in little stars. He will make the face of heaven so fair that all the world will fall in love with night and pay no heed to the garish sun."

Thr lessons I learned from him were many.He was always there for us.He worked harder then a man should have to work. He was proud, he loved Wyoming,and had the best sense of humor. He was comfortable around people and could shoot the shit with the best of them. One day I stopped to have lunch with Mom and Dad. I was stressed out over a job I had as a nurse. There was no job description and I had to develop it as I went. It was a big chance and a big challenge and needed constant interpretation to everyone. I was sick and tired of it and wanted to quit. As I talked to my parents about it, Dad said I should quit. He questioned the reasons the job was given to me, didn't they know it would be too hard? On the way back to work, I got mad. They were not going to beat me, I would show them I would do just fine, and I would do what I knew deep down I could do. Dad's reverse psychology really worked on me that day!

We just didn't have him long enough. There's lots I would like to talk to him about and tell him. I do that now, but his twinkling blue eyes are not looking at me, and his crazy faces are only a memory. I know life is a journey to death. He made his journey a legacy for us. I pray I can do half the job for my children that he did for us.

Good-night, Herm. Sleep well. Tomorrow is another dancing day, and you and Mom have the universe to waltz through. Don't stumble on the stars.

Pax Tecum



ILLUSIONS, PART 2

2009-11-03T10:45:10.141-08:00

There are 450 Minutemen III missles deployed in the United States. That breaks down to 49 in Colorado, 82 in Nebraska and 19 in Wyoming all controlled from Warren AFB in Cheyenne.
There are 150 in North Dakota controlled from Minot AFB, ND. Finally there are 150 in Montana controlled from Malmstrom AFB in Great Falls

Each missle has one nuclear bomb on board. The size of the bomb is estimated to be between 12 and 18 times the size of the Hiroshima bomb. They are on constant alert with bomb crews deployed in groups, which are assigned 10 bomb sites per launch control center.

Vigil at Nuclear Silo N8, August 15, 2009. The directions from Cheyenne: Go south on route 85 to Ault. Take route 14 east for about 35 miles to road 113, you can see the silo from the road.
East of I-25 in Colorado, it looks alot like Nebraska, rolling farm land with miles of corn and cows. The sky is very blue.

We, who are gathered here, pray today with all the world citizens that peace may be in every heart, in every home, in every nation.

I didn't think it would have the impact it did. A steel lid on a concrete pad with a fence around it, looked on by a camera and a satellite dish in the middle of Colorado farm country. Every bit as powerful as 20,000 people at the gates of Fort Benning. Why? It was the stillness that caught my attention. The air, the site, and very nearly my heart....all still. It was all over me. Comprehension of chaos evoked a sense of stillness to the extent I almost didn't breathe.

What was that? If you get the chance, visit a Silo up close. Chances are your reaction will be similar. The stillness is deafening.

Pax Tecum



ILLUSIONS, PART 1

2009-08-18T17:44:13.806-07:00

The dog days of summer. August is here. The road trip from Wyoming to New Mexico was relaxing and scenic and summer. The horizons smiled at us. Santa Fe was bustling and vibrant and fun. Lots of people and history and art.We were on our way to Los Alamos, which has a history unto itself. Our focus was the Los Alamos National Laboratory. It has 13,000 employees and a yearly budget of 2.2 billion dollars. It's main purpose has always been the classified work for the design of nuclear weapons.We, along with other Pax Christi members traveled from many states and countries to participate at a vigil to remember what happened from there 64 years ago. As we walked in silent, reflective, non-violent procession to be witnesses to that event, I thought it ironic we crossed a street called Oppenheimer Drive, named for J. Robert Oppenheimer, the first director of that famous Manhattan Project.Los Alamos is high country, over 7,000 feet. It has breath-taking mountain scenery. Its canyons and mesas cry out beauty and peace. It is one of the wealthiest communities in the United States. Hundreds of PHD's do not come cheap. As I sat among others at the lab site, in silent prayer and reflection, my mind reached back and pulled 64 years ago close."The bomb exploded with a blinding flash in the sky...a great rush of air...a loud rumble of noise...a great cloud of dust and smoke...a pall of darkness...fires sprang up...an immense fire store...." (from the U.S. Gov't report on Hiroshima)Monday, August 6, 1945....Hiroshima, JapanThursday, August 9, 1945...Nagasaki, JapanThese are, to date, the only attacks with nuclear weapons in the history of warfare.The victims: Two cities in JapanThe perpetrators: The United States of AmericaKilled: 140,000 people in Hiroshima80,000 people in NagasakiOne half of these deaths occurred on the days of the bombings. 15-20% died from injuries of the combined effects of flash burns, trauma, and radiation burns, compounded by illness, malnutrition, and radiation sickness. Since then more have died from leukemia and cancers attributed to exposure to radiation released by the bombs.MOST OF THE DEAD WERE CIVILIANS.THE RESIDENTS OF HIROSHIMA WERE GIVEN NO NOTICE OF THE ATOMIC BOMB.Beautiful Los Alamos. Why am I crying??Pax Tecum [...]



MY THIRD CHAPTER

2009-08-06T09:44:29.308-07:00

I just completed reading a remarkable book entitled "The Third Chapter...Passion, Risk, and Adventure in the 25 Years After 50" by Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot. She writes that the third chapter is a stage of life when the traditional norms, rules, and rituals of our careers seem less restrictive; a time to embrace new challenges and to search for a greater meaning in our lives.

This book spoke to me. Since my retirement 2 years ago I have been on a new path, that I haven't been able to articulate clearly, to myself or to others. For over 30 years I worked diligently in the public health sector being an advocate for people who had no power.
Along the way I was fortunate to be in the arena with some large social justice issues. I worked with the farm-workers in Central California, with immigrants fighting tuberculosis in Texas, and elderly people in Wyoming who had to choose between buying food and medications. I did what I could, along with working long hours and raising a family.

My life changed dramatically and quickly when I retired. All of a sudden I had the time and the passion to devote to direct action activities so near and dear my heart. With the support from my terrific family, I entered into justice issues, I had never had the time to explore before.

And I jumped in with both feet, energized by a passion too long ignored in a journey that led to this time in my life. I am no longer afraid of speaking out, or of standing up, or of questioning the powers that be. My place is to be in that march to make the world more just, more peaceful and more loving. There is a voice to my heart and it speaks louder every day.

And so I am arrested and imprisoned for my beliefs. What a gift that was! And I continue on. Know that in my writings I am talking to myself as much as I am talking to you. I wll write more of my journey, most recently a trip to New Mexico in recognition of the anniversary of the atomic attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. With joy I invite you to travel with me, but wear good shoes and carry some water. The trail can get bumpy and hot!

Pax Tecum



MOM'S MOJO

2009-05-18T09:36:15.991-07:00

One year ago, on May 13th, Mom died. The year went quickly, as I knew it would, bringing us back to that pivotal day, that the world we had known with Mom in it, ended.

I knew in my heart that remembering her especially on that day would not be enough, so I branded the week that was, Mom's Mojo week. I wanted to honor the things that were important to her, and fun for her. And it turned out that her spirit was indeed along for the ride!

It started with Mother's Day on May 10th. I went to Mass and prayed, along with everyone else for my Mom and Moms everywhere. The impact they make on the lives of their children is priceless.

Then on to Tuesday. My sister, Judy and I, with the help of Jolyn (another sister) gathered up flowers and plants and made the trip to Buffalo. It's about two hours north of Casper. We visited her and Dad's grave-sites, and many other relatives resting in the Willow Grove Cemetery. We spent time walking in that beautiful, peaceful place among the trees and listened to the breeze as we looked to the Big Horn Mountains. It is a friendly place, and very familiar. The spirits of the history of our loved ones reside there, and they were happy we came. From there we visited relatives in the area, people who share our history and that we see all to seldom. Our bond of family lives in us all. From there we visited sites remembered in a long ago childhood, the library, now a museum, but still smelling of books read and listened to long ago. And our elementary school, where we began our journey to the outside world. It was a day treasured.

Wednesday was difficult. I worked in the afternoon but was distracted. I kept remembering the Feast of Our lady of Fatima a year ago, and how I had prayed for Mary to take Mom home on that day. It pained me to know she honored that wish.

Thursday, the early morning Mass was said for Mom. It was said in Mom's favorite Church, where she had attended most of her life, and the Church where her funeral Mass was conducted. And so we came full circle.

Friday came and it was time for fun. She loved to travel to Deadwood to gamble at the slots. Tom, Judy, and I went to Deadwood for the week-end and walked to all the places Mom had so much fun going to. It was a fun trip, and as we listened to the bells and the whistles and saw the lights flashing and heard the excited banter, I felt Mom's presence and heard her laugh and saw the twinkle in her eye. We did indeed inhale her mojo, and we all won little bits of money, and even found money on the floor, not one of us but all of us! How do you explain that?

And so that was the week that was. Gone but still here,never to be forgotten, loved forever, in my heart always!

Pax Tecum



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2009-04-03T13:22:36.397-07:00

A YEAR LATER

This very hour, this very day one year ago, I was kissing my husband good-bye, fighting tears, and going through the steel doors of the Federal Detention Center at SeaTac near Seattle. It was one of the most traumatic moments of my life. Every thing was stripped from me. I got to keep my glasses, and that was it. But I did still have my body and my mind and my spirit. And I knew I had a choice. I could choose how I would live in that environment and I could choose what I wanted to learn and bring out of that experience.

What a difference a year makes. It's Spring again in Wyoming, with all the heavy wet snows and the budding trees and the tiny green leaves of daffodils waiting patiently for their blanket of whiteness to melt. And I get to look back and reflect on a year unlike any other.

Such joy and such sorrow and such growth. How could I know that when I said good-bye to my Mom sitting in her blue recliner that it would be the last time I would ever see her in her home? The day I was released from jail, she went into the hospital and died 13 days later. And how much joy was felt when almost a year later, my oldest daughter married her love.

But the growth has not been without the pain. I am not comfortable now. I question more, have less patience with the wrongs in the world and wonder, more then ever, where my place in all of it should be.

I continue to try and read the signs. I have a new job, working a few hours a week at a clinic for the homeless. I consider the clients fellow pilgrims, who add joy and hope to my world. I write to prisoners and gather books for them and try not to forget that one out of every 31 adults in this country is in jail. And I returned to Georgia last Fall to continue my commitment to close down the School of the Americas. And I was witness to six new people who came forth and non-violently stood up and challenged injustice. They are currently serving their time in prison.

I am optimistic about this country of ours. I feel that justice and peace are more possible now then ever, and I am confident that this economic crisis will improve. As my 67th birthday approaches, I thank the Spirit for allowing my journey to include a side trip behind those steel doors. There are all kinds of gifts. Who would know that one of the greatest gifts was given to me one year ago this very hour when the doors clanged shut, leaving me locked inside.

Pax Tecum






Yu Betta Belize It!

2009-01-28T09:24:57.165-08:00

Winter always lasts too long under the blue sky of Wyoming. This January we decided to take a time out and leave the snow and wind and biting cold behind us. We drove to Denver, left our winter coats in the car, got on the plane and flew to Belize.

Why? Because it was warm, and was some place we had never been before. We were ready for a new adventure and Central America and the Caribbean called us to their warm shores and their laid back life-style. We didn't expect to fall in love, but Belize took us by surprise, and fall in love we did.

It inspired us to relax, invited us to explore, and exposed us to a gentle, kind people. We saw shapes, colors, and creatures near the hemisphere's largest barrier reef. We walked among prehistoric tree ferns and ancient religious plazas in Maya archaeological sites.
We saw birds, insects, cats, and critters in Belize's vast areas of forests.

We met many of the 290,000 Belizeans coming from a multitude of Creolized cultures. The English-speaking, affable citizens make things easy, its location to the United States makes it close, and its wealth of creative accommodations, and active list of tours makes it a natural place to visit.

It gave us a different perspective, took us to a different place and a different time in our lives.

My favorite place ? There were many. Certainly the wildlife boat trip on the New River to the Mayan temples at Lamanai , and the taxi boat rides to the neighboring Cayes basking in the bluest waters I have ever seen are among the high-lights. Of course down-town Belize City with the markets and the bustle and the easy going people with the sights and sounds, of the drumming on the city street corners, and the clothes hanging out to dry from porches, and windows and door-ways and the bright colors of the houses including purples and oranges and yellows and all shades of blue, but no dark colors, all filled my senses and delighted my being.

There was poverty. Lots of it. People living simply, but with an attitude of gratitude and sharing. It humbled me to be among them.

And so on this end of January day, with snow and wind and below freezing temps outside, I sit inside warmed not only by the fire in the fireplace,but by that inner Belizean glow that will substain me in the coldest of days.
Yu Betta Belize it!!!!!

Pax Tecum



GOODBYE 2008

2008-12-31T21:21:49.766-08:00

New Year's Eve has always been a reflective time for me. I look back at the year with amazement. Did all that really happen? And I survived it!

My life has really been impacted by the events of this year. The first and most significant was the death of my Mom. She was 88 years old and I am 66. I still wonder how I can get along without her. She was the wise woman who knew the answers, and it was always comforting to know she was close by. She's even closer now, living in my heart. But it's a change that's difficult to get used to. I am trying. I know she would want me to. Thanks Mom for being a presence in my life that was always bigger then life. I am happy the cosmos is now your playground. Tell Dad Hello and all the rest of the family who waited patiently for you.

For the first time in my life I went to trial and to prison for standing up for something I am passionate about: Justice. I'm happy I had the guts to follow my heart and do what was my right thing to do.

Two of my daughters became engaged and two of my sisters moved back home, and another sister retired. Older age brings transitions, and change seems to be in the air. My family remains my center. They help to define me. What blessings and gifts I have been given. I am thankful for each and every day.

I always look forward to the New Year. Maybe more this year. I have great hopes that this country that I love so much will become new again.

From me to you, Pax Tecum and HAPPY NEW YEAR!