Peace

We look forward to the time when the Power of Love will replace the Love of Power. Then will our world know the blessings of peace.
William Ewart Gladstone

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(A beautiful swan in the pond of the Boston Common’s garden / Boston, Massachusetts / Julie Cook / 2014)

I feel as if I want to yell at the top of my lungs “HOW DID I MISS THIS?!”
Last evening, after watching the umpteenth report regarding the Malaysian Airliner 17 which was shot down over the Ukraine, it suddenly felt as if I’d been hit in the face with a brick.. . .a “helloooo” moment.
I felt as if I was hit in the face with a stalk realization I’d been missing, or it had been so clouded and colluded. Something that has been there all along but finally revealed as tangibly real, as if a curtain has been finally lifted.

I am almost 55 years old.
Do you know, realize and comprehend that for my entire life, my entire 55 years, I, you, we have lived with a suffocating cloud of angst and agitation from and by the USSR, now Russia?

Ever since WWII it seems as if the Government of the former Soviet Union, now Russia, has relished in being a thorn in the side of the United States. And perhaps they, the Russians feel the same about the US.
I don’t know.
Be it a Cold War with the constant threat of annihilation under the threat of Nuclear attack or today’s posturing and jockeying of which is eerily pulling us all backwards rather than forward. . .
Our relationship with Russia is once again sliding backwards.

My earliest remembrance from grade school was the worrisome drills we would practice as the constant threat of a Nuclear War seemed tenuously imminent. It was a worrisome burden for grade school kids who wondered where we would hide when the Soviets shot the missile at us, fretting what would happen to our parents if such should happen while we were at school and our parents were at work and home. Obviously this is certainly no way for children to grow and thrive—not living in a state of constant worry and fear. But could we not say this same sense of insecurity is true today for so many other children around this fragile globe of ours?

An entire generation of us grew up with that very real threat and worry–and yet we’ve marched forward ebbing slowly away from a constant threat into a state of cautious forward progress. We marveled watching a Polish Pope work steadily and steely toward forcing the hand of an entrenched Communist Regime as President Reagan implored President Gorbachev to “tear down this wall”

And now, it is as if we have stepped back to a time that remains dangerous and perilous.
Shadows and question outnumber clarity and openness.
Trust has vanished.
Rhetoric is now the name of the game.
Sanctions, false truths, mysteries, rebels, lies, no ownership, battles, missiles, encroachment. . .all shades of a dark time that was— which oddly, is again, now.

Add to this the ongoing battles in Israel and I feel as if I’m in a time warp.
As far as we’ve moved forward, we have moved equally that much farther—backwards.

Peace
Cooperation
Coexistence
Support
Love

May we accept nothing less.

Prayers for the Ukrainians

Violence is like a weed – it does not die even in the greatest drought.”
Simon Wiesenthal

For evil to flourish, it only requires good men to do nothing.”
Simon Wiesenthal

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This is a very old, very tiny Russian Icon.
It is just a tad bit larger than a postage stamp.
I found it in an equally small antique shop tucked away in a small alley in the ancient hill town of Cortona, Italy, one summer, several years ago.
The small image of Christ the Pantocrator is hand painted and very detailed to be so small but difficult to capture with a camera as much of the detail is lost.
The sterling silver covering, the Riza, or риза meaning “robe”, is not intended merely to protect the underlaying painting, as is often the common assumption, but rather is an added bit of reverence or veneration.

After being the guest at large for the past three weeks, the world has most recently departed Sochi, Russia happy, pleased, as well as relieved. We were welcomed into what is a massively vast country, which for so many of us, for so very long, has been steeped and shrouded in dark mystery. Those of us who have lived through the inception, duration and eventual fall of the tangible walls of a bitter cold war, delightfully enjoyed this most recent and uplifting visit. A large exhaled collective breath could be heard reverberating across the world as the extinguishing of the Olympic flame signaled not only the closing of this year’s games but it also signaled the closing of the possibility, of what so many believed to be inevitable which thankfully had not taken place after all— that being an act of terrorism.

With the unifying events of the Olympics being played out in living rooms around the globe, a more sinister fog hung heavily in the air, seeping its way eastward from the neighboring unrest playing out in the Ukraine. Ukraine, which in fact translates to “borderland,” shares not only its eastern border with its massive overshadowing neighbor Russia, but the inextricably intwined bond of a people bound by language, religion and blood. For years the relationship between the two countries has been tenuous and strained as Ukraine has woven in and out of life under Czarist Russian rule, Soviet rule, eventually turning sovereign neighbor. Yet now, as the world waits and watches, the disturbingly new question begs to be asked if Ukraine does not currently play the part of occupied nation by that of a much larger hostile nation?

As the very fluid events unfold faster than I can type, we, the world hold our collective breath fretting what may be next, not only for the Ukrainians, but for us all as well. We see the faces on the news of people just like you and me—men, woman and children caught in the middle of a power play of political ideologies. The rhetoric escalates as European and American leadership dicker over roles of responsibility. All as the situation seems all too familiar, with actions from the past demigods unfolding as if in a stop frame slow motion camera. The once massive growling grizzly portrayed under the banner of a red hammer and sickle snidely nicknamed “Uncle Joe” sweetly gave way to the childlike cuddly teddybear of the Olympics.

What we must cautiously remind ourselves of today is that all wild animals, even those tamed circus bears and sweet Olympic teddybears, still remain wild at heart, naturally demonstrating tendencies of reverting back to the unpredictable ways of their wild nature. We wonder which bear Vladimir Putin claims for Russia.

May we all pray for a peaceful resolve to the very dangerous and fluid situation in the Ukraine.