Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Plainest Evidence

DISCLAIMER:  I am describing what I am seeing.  I came across one of these images on another page and many people saw the same things.  It is up to you to make up your own mind.  The labeling is all mine, and highlights the things I have seen in this panorama.

The above image was taken by the Curiosity rover on Mars in February 2014.  Original image is seen here:

You can do a Google search for 'Curiosity rover mars images' and find all kinds of weird images.  Some can be explained as camera tricks or sun bursts or simple wind erosion.  In general, the landscape itself looks nothing like what you would imagine it to look like.  The only current source of erosion should be wind.  Yet, some of the features of this martian landscape are eroded in a way that suggest water erosion or some other mysterious intervention.  On Earth, there is a place called Puma Punku.  Its an archaeologists dream.  (see earlier post).  One theory on Puma Punku is that it was destroyed, but there is no evidence to suggest who.  The landscape is riddled with debris of a once mighty complex of buildings, huge boulders and statues litter to area.  This martian landscape looks similar in that it appears to be an ancient complex, now destroyed and buried partially under the sand.  I will point out my reasons for thinking this further down the post. 

This particular image caught my eye because of something that cannot be explained away with simple explanations.  The image is here:

This sort of phenomenon cannot be caused by wind erosion, and it certainly is not a camera trick.  This is the original image, zoomed in, as taken by NASA's Curiosity rover.  You can see the head of a statue and the top of a pillar just to the top left of the head.  This amazing find led me to examine the entire image further.

My findings are contained below.  I had to divide the image into 4 even pieces to make it easier to describe what you will be seeing, so each section will be labeled 1, 2, 3, and 4 as seen left to right.  And within each section I will post a picture of each phenomenon I was able to see and a general location description.  You may have to click on the images and zoom in to be able to see them, or go to the link I provided with the original image and follow my directions as to the location and zoom in further to see the details.  The original image has a high resolution, allowing you to zoom in and maintain good pixel images.

Within section 1 (far left 1/4), we see:

This image is in section 1 at the very top of the image.  I see what could potentially be the remains of more statues.  The top most circle is definitely a head, and the other two images are unknown but look too well carved to be simple wind erosion. 

Section 2 (second 1/4 from the left):

In this image, from the bottom to the top, the first and third circles look like statue heads.  Tricks of light or bad camera angles could be responsible, but its almost a coincidence that they look similar.  The second circle is an oval shaped rock with a strange hole in it.  I am not certain that such a perfectly hollow circle could be carved by wind.  And the top circle is a stack of rocks.  Wind cannot stack rocks.  And this rock stack is stacked with the smallest rock on the bottom.  Weird.

Section 3 (second 1/1 from the right)

This image appears almost in the middle of the third section.  Notice the circle on the top left, is that a boat??  It has a shape similar to that of a partially sunken boat.  You may need to zoom in to see it clearly.  The bottom circles are pointing out the area I was mentioning earlier about a complex buried under the sand.  You can see what appear to be walls peaking out of the sand.  These are not regular rocks.  The bend at angles that suggest they were the corner of walls, and the one on the right looks like it has a carved line in it.  There are several other places in the original image that have similar 'walls' and they are all in that valley of sand.

Section 4 (first 1/4 from the right)

In the far left side of the original image, smack dab in the very middle of the landscape is the statue head and column.  It sticks out immediately among the rocky area.

This landscape looks like it succumbed to some sort of natural disaster (earthquake) or a destruction at the hands of another martian civilization (or a civilization from another world).  The rocks look broken and carved, not by natural forces such as wind, but perhaps some of them were carved by water that existed on Mars millenium ago.  Or they were destroyed.

It leaves you with a lot to think about. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Day of Remembrance

The service on October 27, 2013 was held in conjunction with Samhain, the day to remember those who have gone before.  UUCL held a regular service with a Ritual of Remembrance, in which members of the congregation were invited up to the chancel and read the name of an ancestor and laid a flower and lit a candle in their honor.  I named Debbie Swanson, my deceased aunt.  She died suddenly of cancer, and her death weighs heavy on my soul, though I do not know why I feel more strongly about her than I do from the death of my brother.

"To live in this world you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal, to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and when the time comes to let it go, to let it go." - Mary Oliver

There was a reading of Jane Flander's "Testimony" and the sermon called "As Trees Let Go".

At the beginning of the service, the children paraded into the sanctuary in their costumes and it was so cool to see how many children actually attend our church.  I believe that the UU church is a strong component of teaching children about tolerance and equality.

We sang the following hymns from SLT #413 Go Now in Peace and #175 For All the Saints.


The topic of the worship service on October 20, 2013 was the dangers of fracking.
Our guest speaker was Elaine Esh Lapp, a longtime PA resident who grew up in a farming community now devastated by fracking.  She gave lots of citations and stories and facts about fracking and what it entails and how it destroys the surrounding communities. 

"This we know. The earth does not belong to us, we belong to the earth." - Chief Noah Sealth

In the older children's Sunday School class, they were talking about what they would do if they were God, what kinds of things they would do.  My oldest daughter's innocent answer was "Give sharks immortality".  If only adult minds could work so simply. 

Our hymns were SLT #21 For the Beauty of the Earth, #1073 The Earth is Our Mother, and #175 We Celebrate the Web of Life.

Some members also played music for us.  Phil Holzinger played Amazing Grace on trumpet, as well as the usual anthems played by our pianist.

Loss and Grief, Resilience

I will combine two services in this post because I didn't take many notes from the first one, but I didn't want a two line post, so here you go.

The first one is from July 28, 2013.  It was called Loss and Grief.
We sang the following SLT hymns: #101 Abide With Me, #1002 Comfort Me, and #1015 I Know I Can.
We read from the Christian scripture, Colossians 3:12-15
The sermon was basically about the degrees of grief and how to make it through each one.

The second one is from September 29, 2013.  It was called Resilience and the title of the sermon was A Reed in the Wind.  This was an amazing worship service.  Everything spoke to me so deeply!  The opening quote on our order of service was from Winnie the Pooh.  It read: "Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." - Christopher Robin to Pooh.

Our Reverend was presented with a new stole, to mark her new contract as a full-time minister with our church.  It was a beautiful stole, hand-embroidered by a member of the congregation with many religious symbols on each side.

Early in the service, we have what's called a Time for All Ages, where the children and young at heart will gather in front of the church and there will be a reading, a story or a fable, or some other activity.  On this day, the Director of Religious Education (DRE) Kate Prisby read a story about a donkey in a well.  The donkey fell in the well and the farmer couldn't get him out but he decided that it was time to fill it in to prevent future falls.  So the farmer called a group of people together and they started to fill in the well with dirt.  In the beginning, the donkey struggled and panicked.  But after a while, he settled down and realized that he could just take one step up.  The farmers continued to throw dirt down the hole, but after a few inches, the donkey would take another step and eventually, the hole was filled and the donkey was out.  The moral of the story is simple enough, shake it off and step up.  After the Time for All Ages, our congregation sings Go Now In Peace, which is a hymn that offers peace to the children as they head off to their Sunday School classes. 

The service was filled with inspirational quotes on resilience. 

"One who never makes mistakes, never makes anything." - Theodore Roosevelt
"If you are going through hell, keep going" - Winston Churchill
"I haven't found a way that works, I've found ten thousand ways that won't work." - Thomas Edison

And several from Maya Anjelou

Our hymns were from SLT, #347, Gather the Spirit and #322 Thanks Be For These

Infinite Hope

The sermon on July 21, 2013 was called Infinite Hope. It was about having a sense of hope in the darkest times.  Our Director of Religious Education shared a story about Gander, Newfoundland.  Gander took in thousands of people on September 11, 2001 when planes were diverted away from NYC after the terrorist attacks.  With no questions asked, and without regard to ability to re-pay or their faiths, the people of Gander sheltered and fed their fellow man.  That is pretty amazing.  

"It is our duty as people of faith to stand in a place of curiosity."  I do not remember the source for this quote, because it really called to me.  Curiosity makes us human, and without curiosity we fall into complacency.  

Rev. Anne shared a poem called Blanket Weaver from the book Encounters.  I am having a hard time finding the text for this, but if you find a source for me please let me know!

Here are the hymns we sung that day.  The hymns come from Singing the Living Tradition (SLT), and other sources.

~~~SLT #276, O Young and Fearless Prophet
O young and fearless Prophet of ancient Galilee, thy life is still a 
summons to serve humanity; to make our thoughts and actions less prone to please 
the crowd, to stand with humble courage for truth with hearts uncowed. 
We marvel at the purpose that held thee to thy course while ever on the hilltop 
before thee loomed the cross; thy steadfast face set forward where love and duty 
shone, while we betray so quickly and leave thee there alone. 
O help us stand unswerving against war's bloody way, where hate and lust and 
falsehood hold back Christ's holy sway; forbid false love of country that blinds 
us to his call, who lifts above the nations the unity of all. 
Stir up in us a protest against our greed for wealth, while others starve and 
hunger and plead for work and health; where homes with little children cry out 
for lack of bread, who live their years sore burdened beneath a gloomy dread. 
O young and fearless Prophet, we need thy presence here, amid our pride and glory 
to see thy face appear; once more to hear thy challenge above our noisy day, 
again to lead us forward along God's holy way. 
~~~SLT  #1027, Cuando el Pobre (When the Poor Ones) (for the sake of space, 
I will post the translated version here.
When the poor ones who have nothing share with strangers, when the 
thirsty water give unto us all, when the crippled in their weakness 
strengthen others, [Refrain] then we know that God still goes that road 
with us, then we know that God still goes that road with us.
When at last all those who suffer find their comfort, when they hope
though even hope seems hopelessness, when we love though hate at times 
seems all around us, [Refrain] then we know that God still goes that 
road with us, then we know that God still goes that road with us.
When our joy fills up our cup to overflowing, when our lips can 
speak no words other than true, when we know that love for simple things
is better, [Refrain] then we know that God still goes that road with 
us, then we know that God still goes that road with us.
When our homes are filled with goodness in abundance, when we learn 
how to peace instead of war, when each stranger that we meet is called a
neighbor, [Refrain] then we know that God still goes that road with us,
then we know that God still goes that road with us.
~~~SLT #170, We Are A Gentle, Angry People
We are a gentle, angry people, and we are Singing, singing for our lives
We are a gentle, angry people, and we are Singing, singing for our lives

We are a justice-seeking people, and we are Singing, singing for our lives
We are a justice-seeking people, and we are Singing, singing for our lives

We are young and old together, and we are Singing, singing for our lives
We are young and old together, and we are Singing, singing for our lives

We are a land of many colors, and we are Singing, singing for our lives
We are a land of many colors, and we are Singing, singing for our lives

We are gay and straight together, and we are Singing, singing for our lives
We are gay and straight together, and we are Singing, singing for our lives

We are a gentle, loving people, and we are Singing, singing for our lives
We are a gentle, loving people, and we are Singing, singing for our lives


A New/Old Faith

Hello everyone!

I thought I would share a little of my faith with you.  I have done this in the past, sharing my Pagan faith, but there has always been another aspect.  A tolerant, open aspect.  As the title says "a new/old faith".  I've always carried with me the principles and beliefs of the Unitarian Universalist church, they walk easily hand in hand with my Pagan faith, and Pagans are accepted and valued members of the UU (Unitarian Universalist) community.  I attended an Esbat at a UU church when I was a teenager.  When my second child was a baby, she and her sister were dedicated at a UU church in Utah.  And this past summer, me and my family became full members of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Lancaster, led by Rev. Anne Mason. 

The UU faith is an amazing faith, believing that everyone is equal in God's eyes and they really put that into action with their involvement in their communities.  I thought I would share some of that with you today.  I will first post the UU Principles and the sources from which they draw their faith.  I'm sure many of you can identify with one or several of them. 

There are seven principles which Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote:
  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  • Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  • The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
Unitarian Universalism (UU) draws from many sources:
  • Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life;
  • Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;
  • Wisdom from the world's religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;
  • Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God's love by loving our neighbors as ourselves;
  • Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit;
  • Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.

I would also like to share pieces from the services we have attended at UUCL since the summer.  I take a notebook and write down the hymns and any readings or thoughts that come to mind.  Those will be in the following posts.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Why I Am A Pagan

Why am I a Pagan?
It's not an easy question to answer.  Just as when someone asks 'what does it mean to be a Pagan'?  Those are not easy answers to give.  With many other faiths, you can say 'I am Christian because I follow Christ' or 'I am Muslim because I call God by the name Allah and follow the Q'uran'. 

To be a Pagan is to be a little bit of everything I guess. 

As a child, I grew up in a household that were Christians, though we never went to church or got baptized, just Christian because it was the 'thing' to do.  When I became a preteen, I began exploring.  The world was small to me, and while I was aware that there were a multitude of religions in the world, I didn't really thing of them as religions, but more other lifestyles.  I didn't know any better.  So I started going to church, many different denominations.  Seventh Day Adventist, Catholic, Baptist, Church of Christ, Church of God.  But none of it made sense to me.  There is even a passage in the Book of Genesis 1:26: Then God said, "Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness"  The plurality of that statement was always confusing to me, since it was taught that there was only one God, a male figure.  And I wondered, why would He use 'Us'?  Also, if we are made in His image, and there are two sexes, wouldn't that imply a male and female Deity?  Now that made sense.  So as I got older, I explored the possibilities, and it came to me.  It was possible that there were male and female Creators.  After all, women are the bearers of children, not men. 

As I came to this realization, it was as if the universe opened up to me.  Where most people would see something insignificant or plain, I would see so much more.  Where people would see science, I would see a miracle.  A tree is not just a tree, it is an integral part of the world, creating life through it's oxygen and shade through it's leaves. 

And if I listen to the simple miracles of life all around me, I can almost hear the Gods of Old talking to me.  And my ancestors as well.  I have been the family genealogist for over a decade now and I have traced lines of ancestors far back in time, and I feel like it's a way to honor our past.  It's a way to learn about the way life was before it was complicated by industry and technology.  It's a simpler way of living. 

To be Pagan, I am accountable to myself and my community.  There is no guidebook for Pagans, our morals and life lessons come from nature, from our own conscience, and from our community.  To me, it is a very honorable thing to teach my children, that all ways lead to God, by whatever the name you choose to call them.  If you lead a good life, a noble and helpful life, you will arrive in a peaceful place when this life is done. 

I hope this way enlightening, for those who read all of it.  And as always, I am open to questions.  However, I do not like to be told that 'I am doing it wrong' or that 'I am going to Hell'.  I shed the God vs. Devil, Heaven vs. Hell worldview long ago.  Ask me anything, I'm an open book.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

20 Weeks, Super Happy, but Disappointment rears it's ugly head.

It's been 9 weeks since I posted my last post. 
I am now 20 weeks pregnant, and I feel great.  My blood pressure has stayed normal, my weight gain hasn't been an issue yet, and my baby is perfect.  We found out we are having another girl.  Most of the people who know us know that we wanted a boy, but I am thankful that we are having another child at all.  Over the last few years, our family has felt incomplete.  I was even told that I was unable to conceive due to an ovarian condition, so I had pretty much given up all hope of it being complete.  Until April that is.  In April I received a positive test.   Many times over the last year I had bought tests and taken them, not really hoping for a positive result, but just out of hope that maybe something would change.  By the beginning of April, I had missed a period and felt pregnant, so that test was intentional.  Fast forward approximately 16 weeks and here we are, having another girl.  I am so blessed and thankful that I have been granted my one humble prayer.  But having another girl is not where the disappointment has come from.

Over the years, I have been greatly disillusioned with my family.  I have tried hard to forget the horror of my childhood, and I may have succeeded if I had been smart and cut all ties with my family after I got married.  But then again, I had tried to make my family into the ideal that it should have been.  I invited all of my family to my wedding.  No one came.  I was alone at my own wedding, I knew only 3 other people there in addition to my husband, I had never met the other in-law family until the day before the wedding.  I felt horrible, and for some unbelievable reason I forgave them and continued speaking with them over the next few years.  A little less than a year after my wedding, my first child was born.  I kept having these day dreams of my father and step-mother coming down to where we lived to meet the baby and celebrate with us.  Upon coming home, there were dozens of people at my house celebrating the birth of our first daughter, but again my family was nowhere in sight.  I only spot to them on the phone because I called, not the other way around.

Fast forward 2 years, and the birth of my second child.  We were living close to my family so it should have been an easy task for them to spend time with us.  In the almost 2 years we lived in that area, they came to my house maybe twice.  I spent a lot of time out at their place, but that was the only time there was any familial visitation, if I drove the 45 minutes out to their place.  When I was 7 months pregnant, we were in a bad car accident.  Instead of sticking around for the birth of my child and helping us get back on our feet, my family left the state.  My father was not even there for her birth, nor was he much interested in her.  Lots of things have happened since then, but the whole point of this point is my current disappointment with my family.

When I announced my pregnancy to the families, my in-laws were thrilled.  I could hear the screams and happiness through the phone as my husband told them.  My family, however but not surprisingly, was as non-chalant as they have ever been.  They treated it as if I had screwed up again, as if I was a 15 year old child telling them I got knocked up by some random street bum, not like the woman who has been happily married to the same man for 9 years and is living her life honestly, honorably, and industriously.  My father didn't answer the phone, so I left him a message and when he returned my call, he told me that he was laughing about it when he heard the message.  He was mocking us for having another daughter when we so badly wanted a son.  It was like the polar opposite of the happiness and well-wishes we had received from my husband's family and our friends.  Even worse, when he saw the name we were going to give our daughter, he said "That's what you're calling her?  Ooooooookay" as if mocking our choice.  So far, only one other person has expressed that they didn't really like the name, but they had said it was up to us and they were happy no matter what.  Could my family get any worse?  Talking with them is like an antidote to happiness, an instantaneous burst of depression.

I should be really happy, I have had so much support and well-wishes from my dearest friends and my in-laws.  Yet here I sit, dwelling too much on the pain that my family has caused me over the years.  So I resolve to put an end to it, but the end of the year.  They obviously aren't excited for us about the birth of our beautiful and blessed child, so I won't involve them (burden them) with any news.  Not even the birth of my child will be announced to them.  And while I am recovering from childbirth and bonding with my little angel, I will also be struggling to maintain my distance.  Why am I so weak when it comes to this?  I shouldn't allow them to continue to hurt me and treat me as if I am something so unimportant.  Over the years I have kept the ties, which is more than I can say for my other siblings.  Is that why?  Am I an easy target for their 'woe-is-me' attitude?  Well I'm done.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Week 11

11 weeks today, May 31st.  29 weeks to go, give or take.  I was unable to beat the morning sickness this time around, though it has been different than the previous two.  I am very nauseous almost all of the time and the fatigue is kicking my butt.  I have had more breaks from it during the day and small bursts of energy, but I am so over this trimester.  3 more weeks and I can move into the more comfortable and beautiful 2nd trimester.

This week has been quite the rollercoaster.  My youngest daughter had an asthma attack over Memorial Day weekend and was hospitalized for one night.  It was a scary event, this was her first hospitalization ever and on top of that, the rollaway bed in the room was very uncomfortable.  Needless to say, neither of us slept that night.  She came home on Sunday and after a few days of medicine, she is doing much better.  Now my husband is sick, not sure what it is other than its very uncomfortable for him and we are hoping that its a temporary thing.  On top of the illnesses in the family this week, the kids are finishing up school.  Selene graduated from kindergarten yesterday and Arwen has an award's ceremony today.  Tomorrow is only a half-day and that is it for school until August 29.  It's going to be a long summer.  By the time it's over, I'm sure I will be nice and plump and swollen and miserable from the heat.  My hope is that the girl's find some measure of self-control and help me out more this summer.  I have lots of activities lined up for us to do and I'm sure we can fill in those lazy days with trips to the river or just at home doing nothing.  

Little baby is doing well, heart beat was 171 at my last appointment.  I have even felt him moving slightly.  The girls are excited and can't wait to feel him moving too.  I say 'him' because we are hoping for our little boy.  We have had a boy's name picked out since we got married almost 9 years ago.  Here's hoping that our little Donovan will being coming in December.  If it's a girl, names are trickier.  I don't want a cookie-cutter name and I prefer to have a name that has meaning and personality to it and isn't already overused.  We did love the name Maya, which means the creative divinity in the universe, but I have seen it twice already so I'm not sure about it.  The other name me and my husband love is Briseis (bre-say-iss).  Certain members of my family hate it, but should I really care?  It's a beautiful, classic name found in literature.  Only time will tell what this child will be called.  All I care about is that they will be healthy.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Coming December 2012

Two years ago, severe menstrual pain and irregular cycles led me to my doctor.  After several tests and a question-answer session, I was told I had a condition called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.  Later tests revealed that I was not ovulating and thus infertile.  I was devastated.  I suppose my disappointment was ill-founded since I already have two children but the pain of it was still there.  I held out hope that they were wrong and I would soon find myself pregnant.  Fast forward two years.  Around Christmas last year, I became less concerned with getting pregnant and more concerned with keeping my cysts under control and losing weight.  So I went back to my doctor who told me my best chance was taking birth control.  So I took the prescription and bore the cost of it, my insurance didn't cover it.  After a few months, I decided to quit taking it and just live my life.  It wasn't doing anything for my weight and it was causing more pain than I wanted.  In March, I quit keeping track of my cycles.  I would always mark it on the calendar, but this time I just gave up.  I felt like that part of my life was over.  At the beginning of April, life continued.  By April 15, I hadn't had my period yet but I knew my cycles were crazy so I didn't think anything of it.  Along came April 17, I felt horrible!  So that day, I went and bought another test.  This was probably the 10th test I had bought over the last 2 years.  I set it in the bathroom and forgot about it.  2:20 AM April 18, I was wide awake.  I'm not sure why, but I felt compelled to go and take the test.  I knew it would say 'negative' and so I took it and left it on the counter and went back to bed.  Half an hour later, I was still awake so I went in and looked at the test.  I must have stood there for quite a long time, I did not expect to see the double line!  So I took the test downstairs and laid it on a blank white piece of paper and drew a heart around it.  And there it sat until 5:30 AM when my husband woke.  I showed him the test and we both shared a quiet moment of triumph and anxiety.  So I guess you have figured it out by now:  I'M PREGNANT! 

This is my miracle.  It is hard to describe what I am feeling right now.  My little baby that wasn't supposed to be will be here in time for Yule/Christmas 2012.  I always contemplate rebirth at that time of year, so it feels unbelievably fitting that he/she will be here just in time for it.  So I guess I will be blogging all about the pregnancy from now until then.  Because I had stopped tracking my periods, my due date is Dec. 22.  I am now 9 weeks along, baby is busy making fingers and getting bigger and he/she is a little wiggle worm.

Have a great week!