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“The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as we have defined it.”

(This quote is actually from environmental scientist David Orr’s book Ecological Literacy: Educating Our Children for a Sustainable World.)

Spiritual restlessness

It is in part my own unsettled feeling that has made me pay attention to an article titled The Spirituality of Restlessness in a pamphlet by the Friends World Committee for Consultation.

When everybody else is calm and restrained, and you feel the call to go...
When everybody else is calm and restrained, and you feel the call to go…

In this pamphlet, Snyder (2010) describes spiritual restlessness as archetypal. He describes it as “the call to leave the known for the unknown” (Snyder, p. 2). He makes the assertion that it is found in all religious traditions. Continue reading “Spiritual restlessness”

Feast Day of Service and Community: Maundy Thursday – Gründonnerstag

"The Last Supper - Abendmahl". Painting in the rural chapel of Helshoven in Belgium by an unknown painter of Flemish school (16th century). Gemälde eines unbekannten Malers aus einer flämischen Schule (16.  Jh)
“The Last Supper – Abendmahl”. Painting in the rural chapel of Helshoven in Belgium by an unknown painter of a Flemish school (16th century). Gemälde eines unbekannten Malers aus einer flämischen Schule in der Kapelle eines ehemaligen Johanitterspitals in Helshoven, Belgien (16. Jh)

During meditation this morning, it occurred to me that Maundy Thursday is the day during the lenten season and the holy week that embodies the calling of my life: To be of compassionate service and to live in community. Maundy Thursday is the day of the biblical last supper and the foot-washing ceremony, two strong symbols for community and service.

I took the above picture during my journey on foot through Belgium. In the following article, you can read how I came across this painting that is not quite a Rubens, but nonetheless left a strong impression with me. En route –  from Brustem to Tongeren (Belgium) , with more pictures here: Brustem to Tongeren (the pictures)

Während der heutigen Morgenmeditation wurde mir klar, dass der Gründonnerstag der Tag ist während der Fastenzeit und Karwoche, der meine Berufung im Leben am besten verkörpert: Im Dienste des Nächsten und gemeinschaftlich Leben. Am Gründonnerstag wird in der christlichen Tradition das letzte Abendmahl und die Fusswaschungszeremonie gefeiert. Das sind zwei starke Symbole für Dienst am Nächsten und Gemeinschaft.

Das obige Bild habe ich unterwegs durch Flandern in einer kleinen Kapelle geknipst. Im folgenden Beitrag kannst du mehr erfahren über die Reise die mich zu diesem Bild führte, das zwar kein Rubens ist, aber doch einen starken Eindruck bei mir hinterlassen hat. En route –  von Brustem nach Tongeren (Belgien) mit mehr Bildern von unterwegs: Brustem nach Tongeren (die Bilder)

The Last Supper celebration at the Capuchin friary in Rapperswil. Das Abendmahlsfest in der Kapuzinerkirche in Rapperswil
The Last Supper celebration set-up at the Capuchin friary in Rapperswil. – Der Tisch ist gedeckt für die Abendmahlsfeier in der Kapuzinerkirche in Rapperswil
Inviting the community to the table! - Die Gemeinde an den gemeinsamen Tisch einladen!
Inviting the community to the table! – Die Gemeinde an den gemeinsamen Tisch einladen!

Before I dance with Death… (+de)

Tafel 45 des Totentanzes auf der Spreuerbrücke in Luzern - Panel 45 of the Danse of Death series on the Spreuer Bridge in Lucerne.
Der Bauer: Tafel 45 des Totentanzes auf der Spreuerbrücke in Luzern – The Peasant: Panel 45 of the Dance of Death series on the Spreuer Bridge in Lucerne.

Ach Pur wie sur gwünst du dein Brot. – Ich gwüns mit Arbeit Angst und Not. –
Wil läben doch lieber ein Pursman. – Als gstorben für ein Edelman.

(transcribed in: Der Todtentanz: Gemälde auf der Mühlenbrücke in Luzern, 1881) Continue reading “Before I dance with Death… (+de)”

Ausgrenzung, Unterdrückung, und Widerstand (+en)

(English translation below)

Bei der Ankunft im ehemaligen Kapuziner Kloster, dem heutigen Haus der Gastfreundschaft, ist eine grosse, steinerne Gedenktafel sichtbar. Obwohl die Tafel in erster Line auf die Baugeschichte des historischen Gebäudes verweist, lässt sich aus dem ersten Satz viel Vorgeschichte heraus lesen:

Sunnehuegel7

„Zur Beruhigung der bitteren Untertanen schickte nach dem Bauernkrieg von 1653 der Rat von Luzern die Kapuziner nach Schüpfheim und erbaute ihnen auf eigene Kosten hier, wo bisher ein Galgen mit Überresten hingerichteter Bauernführer stand, Kirche und Kloster. 

Der Bauernkrieg war ein Aufstand der rechtlosen Landbevölkerung. Die Bauern hatten genug von der politischen Bevormundung und der wirtschaftlichen Ausbeutung und Benachteiligung durch die mächtigen Stadtherren. Continue reading “Ausgrenzung, Unterdrückung, und Widerstand (+en)”

A Better Yukon for All – the governmental strategy for social inclusion and poverty reduction

A critical review by Othmar F. Arnold

(All mentioned documents are linked directly to the original source.)

The preamble to the new strategy document outlines very nicely what a better Yukon for all means: “A socially inclusive society is one where all people feel valued, their differences are respected, and their basic needs are met so they can live with dignity. It is a society where everyone has the opportunity to participate and to have their voice heard.’ (p. 8) And it continues with deep insight about social exclusion: it “is the result of barriers in the social, economic, political and cultural systems” (p. 8).

In the introduction, the scope of the strategy is presented as a guideline to social policy development; or in other words, how government will facilitate a way of meaningfully living together. From the research the government conducted, it concluded that service delivery and access to services appear the main reasons for the fact that some people in the Yukon do not feel included. Furthermore, “poverty is one of the most obvious factors contributing to social exclusion, but social exclusion also stems from and is exacerbated by inadequate education, housing, health, social participation, employment and access to services (p. 8)”.

Continue reading “A Better Yukon for All – the governmental strategy for social inclusion and poverty reduction”

Landfillharmonic

Dear Friends,
please enjoy and get inspired by this teaser film for a documentary called “LandFillharmonic” I found on an other blogsite. It is excellent evidence that we can make the best out of whatever we have, even if we have nothing!

“One day it occurred to me to teach music to the children of the recyclers and use my personal instruments,” explains 36 year-old Chávez, who worked as an ecological technician at the landfill. “But it got to the point that there were too many students and not enough supply. So that’s when I decided to experiment and try to actually create a few.”

Working beside the families for years Chávez eventually made friends and became acutely aware that the children needed something positive in their lives. He was inspired to do something to help. He began using the trash in the landfill to create instruments for the children.

The town of Cateura was built virtually on top of a landfill. Situated along the banks of the Paraguay River, the landfill receives over 1,500 more tons of solid waste each day. There are seven different neighborhoods built around the landfill, accounting for over 2500 families living in close proximity to dangerous waste. Most of the families, including children, are employed by the landfill as recyclers. The poverty has forced children to work in the landfills, neglecting any education that might lead them to a better life. (from: artjournal.com)

It matches the powerful message of my own film project about community development, empowerment, and resourcefulness “Healing in Babalmé”. Watch the short film on YouTube or follow this link:

Hope on the Horizon – the movie

Here is the link to the Landfillharmonic video: The world sends us garbage…

Scribblings from the Bluegrass

Check this out:

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Becoming a Quaker in a fragmented world (+de)

The Friends Meeting House in Victoria, BC. The Quaker community is celebrating the 100th anniversary of their meeting house in 2013. (photo credit: Vancouver Island MM)
The Friends Meeting House in Victoria, BC. The Quaker community is celebrating the 100th anniversary of their meeting house in 2013. (photo credit: Vancouver Island MM)

Für eine deutsche Übersetzung, klicke hier: Quäker werden in einer fragmentierten Welt

Now it is official, I have been accepted into membership of the Religious Society of Friends. I would like to share a quote from the report of the clearness committee that helped me discern whether becoming a Quaker is the right step for me and the Victoria Friends Meeting at this time:

…His readings, experience and deep reflections about his spiritual journey and its congruence with his life of service led him to apply for membership after some email exchanges and conversations with VFM members.

Our clearness committee enjoyed a lively visit with Othmar.  He exhibits a remarkable mix of delightful enthusiasm and direct, serious, and practical commitment to humane principals.  He also has deeply realistic expectations about his service without cynicism or romanticism.  We appreciated his good natured story-telling which was appropriately serious without solemnity.  We feel that he is committed to spiritual openings compatible with our understanding of Quaker faith and practice.  He seeks to deepen his spiritual life with support from Quakers and in particular our Victoria Meeting…

…We recommend his acceptance into membership with joy and the conviction that our conjoined spiritual lives of worship and service will benefit.

This is a big step for me. Continue reading “Becoming a Quaker in a fragmented world (+de)”

The significance of the insignificance of self

significance of insignificance
The winner of the 2008 Qavvavik sled dog races in Gjoa Haven, Nunavut, supported by the community in an inhospitable environment.

In a previous post I made the statement that “we are insignificant but essential particles in the universe”. Out the of the entire article, this statement yielded an immediate reaction from the readership. I then recalled that I made a similar entry in my diary last summer during the time I was visiting in Switzerland:

A thought about the rank of self within the higher order of the universe: I am a small, insignificant part of a much larger organism. Despite that smallness, the self is assigned a significance of its own because it is at the same time a manifestation of the whole; also because it bears its own potential within. That potential is a substantial part of the larger organism, without which the whole would not be complete.

(my own translation from German)

I believe this thinking is influenced by the thought of Mahatma Gandhi.

Continue reading “The significance of the insignificance of self”