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Paying for the perfume: What a mystic looks like

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Twentieth-century spiritual leader Thomas Merton wrote, “God is everywhere, His truth and his love pervade all things as the light and the heat of the sun pervade our atmosphere. We are called to be mystics, each and every one of us.”
What does it look like to be a mystic? Here’s my list of some characteristics.

The mystic celebrates relationality.
Scientists, striving mightily to find the basic building blocks of matter, discovered the subatomic particles called quarks. Yet to their dismay they found that quarks to not exist as independent units but rather come in pairs. They exist only in relationship. At the very heart of matter is a mutual dependency, a woven-together web. We humans exist in the midst of a complex web, as well.

So the mystic sees, for example, making love as a mutual and often sacred experience. The mystic knows the necessity of friendship, of the acceptance of brokenness and loss, of maintaining an intimacy with the natural world. The mystic trusts that since life is indeed a complex web of interconnections, nothing is ever really lost. Ultimately every difficulty is an opportunity. These are some ways to live relationally.

Eco puns

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News of a coming flood was leaked.

Canyons can be gorge-ous.

The snowstorm arrived at a fortuitious moment. It was white on time.

Lightning storms can be very striking.

To spot a glacier you have to have good ice sight.

The weather bureau is an umbrella organization.

If you breathe heavily on the map, it will reveal topography, he said with a sigh of relief.

A spelunker held out on revealing the treasure's location until he finally caved in.

When the fog burns off it wont be mist.

The color of the early morning sun: rose

If we canteloup, lettuce marry

On organic farms they till it like it is

With fronds like you, who needs anemones?

She beat him to the garden by pre-seeding him
During a meeting about earthquakes there were several motions.

A toothless termite walked into a tavern and said, "Is the bar tender here?"

A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion

The chickens were distraught when the tornado destroyed their home. Hopefully they will be able to recoup.

Too many spiders in your house can turn it into a no fly zone

200 years from the final buffalo hunt will be a bisontennial.

Tips for starting a parish vegetable garden

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We love our organic vegetable garden at St. Pius X church in Mission, Kansas. Here’s why: 1) It is a great community-builder 2) We’re pleased we can use some of our unused land for good purposes 3) It motivates people to grow their own food which is good for the Earth 4) It’s a focal point for all our green efforts. Our garden has worked so well for us that I want to encourage you to consider it for your parish if you have the available land.

Book review: Eaarth, by Bill McKibben

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EAARTH
MAKING A LIFE ON A TOUGH NEW PLANET
By Bill McKibben
Published by Times Books, $16.95

No, it’s not a typo. McKibben spells it “Eaarth” to emphasize that we are not living on the same planet as we used to, thus its new name. It’s quite a sobering idea, but one you’ll find almost irrefutable after reading all of McKibben’s facts, figures, and stories. If you are new to McKibben, he is a journalist and the author of more than 12 books, including The End of Nature and Deep Economy, and is the founder of the environmental organizations Step It Up and 350.org.

In my zeal and enthusiasm for this book, I’d like to tell you every great thing I learned, but mostly I just want you to read it yourself. In fact, I’m begging you to PLEASE read this book, because we all need to get up to speed on the real state of the planet’s health, the factors at work, and what can be done about it. As an avid environmentalist, I thought I knew a lot about the planet’s woes. I was wrong. I had no idea how serious it is.

'We have forgotten who we are'

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I learned after we had chosen the title for this blog that Eco Catholic can also mean “Easter and Christmas Only Catholic.” Oh well, such is life. We early on decided that we would include on this blog regular updates on the seasons as they pass, on the night skies that present themselves to us when we look up, as the Earth makes its journey around the Sun, even including a “star” of the month. We wanted to include a hefty dose of the bioregional vision -- that notion that the task of preserving the Earth is doable if we begin in our own backyards, neighborhoods and bio-regions -- those natural boundaries of the planet that provide us our food, water, weather, animal neighbors, plants and trees.

The purpose of these updates and reflections is to situate us solidly within the holy seasons of the planet on which we live and within the vast cosmos of which we are a part. Mindful of Fr. Thomas Berry’s warning that we have sorely neglected the ages-old conversation the human has always had with the rivers, the oceans, the forests and the skies, I also think of the prayer that was included in the United Nations Environmental Sabbath Programme some years ago:

March night skies

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Aldebaran, the star that represents the "eye" of the constellation Taurus, the bull, is to the lower left of the Moon in early March. The star shines bright orange, indicating that its surface is thousands of degrees cooler than the surface of the Sun. Cancer, the crab, is well up in the east at nightfall and passes high overhead later on. Although it is part of the zodiac, its stars are dim. The brightest, Beta Cancri, is so faint you may not be able to see it from a suburb, let alone a city.

Virgo, the constellation most identified with spring, is entering prime evening viewing time. Most of its stars are relatively faint. But Virgo's brightest star, blue-white Spica, is easy to pick out. It rises in the east in mid-evening.

The largest and smallest planets in the solar system slide past each other the week of March 14. . Jupiter is the larger and brighter of the two. Mercury, the smallest planet, creeps up toward Jupiter, passes it , and pulls away later on.

Wendell Berry receives award at the White House

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Poet and Kentucky farmer Wendell Berry was honored at the White House Wednesday for his writings and conservation advocacy, receiving the National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama.

Berry, 76, shook hands with Obama, and the two whispered to one another briefly. The president then draped the red ribbon and medal around Berry’s neck. “The author of more than 40 books, Mr. Berry has spent his career exploring our relationship with the land and community,” said the citation that was read aloud during the White House East Room ceremony, attended by Vice President Joe Biden, First Lady Michelle Obama and heads of federal arts agencies.

'Can a tree make you happy?' and \"I was a victim of the peanut butter recall'

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Kathleen Wolf, a social scientist at both the University of Washington’s School of Forest Resources and at the U.S. Forest Service, studies how trees and green spaces can make urban dwellers healthier and happier.

Scott Dodd, food columnist, writes about his experience with the food giant Unilever's recall of its Skippy reduced fat peanut butter products across the Northeast and Midwest because of possible contamination with salmonella.

Both of these pieces appear on the Natural Resources Defense Council's On Earth blog.

Listening to your life

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There is widespread fascination today with elements of Native American spirituality. A central component of these spiritualities is the vision quest, that part of a person’s development in which she goes out into the wilderness for a period of time to fast and pray, to nourish an intimacy with her inner life, and to find direction for life.

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July 4-17, 2014

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