Just when you thought you couldn’t add another thing….

I tied a wish to this wishing tree, next to the 12,000 year old neolithic shrine of Gobeklitepe near Urfa.
A few months back, as our wedding plans were in full swing, I was feeling overwhelmed. I’ve been learning to share about these things at Quaker meeting, living into the honest exchange I hope to build in community. After I shared, a Friend came up to me and said “when you feel like you’ve got too much going on, take on just one more thing to push yourself over the tipping point. I’ve found it helps me put everything back into perspective.” I shrugged off the advice, not really knowing what to make of it at the time.

But as my wedding thank you notes still sat waiting and the grant project at my work drew to a close in a flurry last week, I got a surprise offer: How would I like to go to Southern Turkey to accept an award on behalf of the Rachel Corrie Foundation, my former employer? I sprang at the opportunity and quickly understood the earlier advice.

It was an amazing experience, accepting an award on behalf of an organization that means a lot to me. I worked very hard for the Foundation, and sometimes it was challenging from Olympia to feel the wider impact of our global mission. Going all the way to Sanliurfa, Turkey, to accept an International Abraham Meetings “Goodness” award, had a big impact on me regardless of its larger purpose for the organization. For one, Turkey is very close to my heart and even in the few short days I was there I got to see old friends, speak a language that I still love to learn, and eat amazing food. I also had a fascinating experience as I learned about the award the Foundation was receiving, part of a clear effort within Turkey to raise up the history and heritage of Abrahamic faith traditions from an Eastern perspective. Thirdly, and probably most importantly in some ways, I reoriented my perspective on what I am doing now and the responsibility of the blessings all around me.

In the afterglow of my wedding, as I enjoy a great job and live a comfortable life, I’ve really felt blessed. I’ve been thankful every day for all the blessings I have. But I had not reminded myself about the responsibility I have because of these blessings. My blessings are only as meaningful as the way I share them, like my lesson from Quaker meeting. As I spoke with my good friends in Turkey about their fears of an impending war with Syria, of destroyed homes and refugee situations that were “at least a little better than Iraq”, I remembered that I could take on one more thing. I take my blessings with me no matter what I do, but carrying them and sharing them where I am led takes one more bit of effort. I believe that effort is worth it.

So much for the afterglow…

After such a huge buildup of anticipation this year, for 3 weddings, for new jobs and exciting work opportunities, for sharing the excitement of Fede’s graduation and green card, i’m feeling a little letdown now that it’s all over. I’ve felt so hugely supported by my community of friends and family, it’s a little sad to be on the other side of a huge shower of love.

And then this morning a judge in Israel absolved the state and the IDF of any wrongdoing in the death of Rachel Corrie. I simply can’t help but think of how many people who I know, including my wife, who have put themselves on the line and been luckier than Rachel. Rachel did the right thing as many before her any many after her will do, and she was and still is surrounded by loving community. But today I have been reminded what I already know: the state has no interest in protecting those who seek justice. The state is a cold and ultimately heartless thing, unable to hold itself accountable. As the media falls all over itself to cover party conventions and presidential theatrics, who asks the agents of the state, the gatekeepers and handshakers, what they would do to protect the dignity and human rights of the people? It is our consciences that make us free, but how willing will we be to put that conscience on a shelf, “compromise for the greater good?”

I honor those who follow their dreams and stand up for the right thing, who organize and surround themselves with a true community of accountability.

Moving Quickly

A postcard from Pendle Hill "Just outside the Beltway"

I sold the boat, this much is true
I quit the Rachel Corrie office too

I bit the bullet, changed my life

My blessings are so many, rife

I’m chilling out in Philly now
Peaceful like a just-milked cow

The city’s warm, it’s late Sobember
A time to visit, love, remember

With little plan but some paper cuts
A show downtown, I love to putz

Life starts coming when I stop and let it
And so far I do not regret it


I’m writing out corporate discerment

Been doing a lot of writing these days but not much of it’s made it up here. Suddenly the internet doesn’t seem so private when people are reading and making comments. I’m just a bit more delicate these days. I’m packing up the emotional angst, demon wrangling and struggles with myself in the box “Fragile” and carrying it under my arm.  It’s a shame you don’t live in Olympia because long distance postage is killer

Sometimes I think the constellation of my contacts here enjoy the honesty of the package, the fact I thought of them to share. We sent out 200 appeal letters from the foundation the other day and so far only 3 have come back undeliverable.  It’s not that people aren’t able to receive, it’s just their not always ready to do something about it.  I’m certainly not, I don’t think it’s always as rosey as all that. My best packages arrive more carefully done far far away from here where I’m shielded from the immediate consequences.

Bare legs and aftershocks

It’s been beautiful in Olympia.  Splitting wood behind Rohan’s house, I could almost pretend that the drama had blown over with the clouds.  It was not so.  But I am more comfortable admitting my struggle is personal, individual, inexplicable. And the sunburn left over from yesterday’s sail with my lovely cousin beside me in the cockpit could not be diminished.

The weird nieghbor who communicates mostly through a system of grunts and constantly wears a leather cowboy hat and jacket passed by the boat today with the familiar tops and shorts on the bottom.  Jacket and hat untouched.  I’m really really curious about what his boat looks like.

I also probably would not have worried about a earthquake in Italy 6 months ago.  Now I do.  I’m checking the maps and feeling silly for it. What does it matter whether I know the people being hurt around the world? What difference could it make?  Am I really obligated to tell the Greek women on the phone intending to play Rachel in a play that I actually have absolutely no relation to the Corries? Am I?

The R C for P and J

breakfastinthesecuritybuilding This is breakfast in the little coffee shop I pass every morning on my way down the granite hall and up marble-trimmed stairwell to the office.  While the rest of pre-Washington Washington was building everything EVERYTHING  out of old growth timber, Olympia’s fat cat Insurance executives decided they would sit finest European minerals on the shaky infill beneath downtown. (After much circling and pawing, of course)  Always a sucker for anachronisms, I’ve thought a lot about the heavy weight of the financial structure on a foundation of questionable premises these days.

But this building houses the future of my little slip of water for the time bein.  I’m working on the 3rd floor in the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice as the Operations Manager (Office manager, Project Manager, Budget and Financial Manager, Managing to Manage Manager).  It’s amazing work, an incredibly lucky and meaningful gig to land in tough economic times and so close to the work I’ve been doing lately.

Our board president and spiritual mother Cindy came back from her delegation to Gaza today.  She and her husband Craig, the parents of a 23 year old woman killed in 2003 by the Israeli Defense Forces while protecting a Palestinian home from a bulldozer, recently returned to the Gaza Strip and the site of Rachel’s death with a group of Americans on International Women’s Day.  As Cindy sat in our warm office today, my morning’s coffee still tickling my nerves and my full breakfast filling my belly, she told of the devastation, trauma and intense human tragedy she just witnessed.

Cindy is an incredibly kind person, always eager to see the good in people and loathe to speak ill of anyone.  As she unloaded some of the horrors laid at her feet, little girls who had witnessed bodies of policeman flying around, families suffering the indignity of 7 years of peeing with their bathroom doors open so the IDF soldiers occupying their house could monitor them, piles of rubble full of children’s shoes, I felt I had to acknowledge her hurt and devestation.  Perhaps we as outsiders are not meant to fully take on or understand the depth of suffering far away, but what if we are meant to try?

An interesting interview with the Corries: