Beliefnet
The Queen of My Self


JULY & AUGUST 

The entire planet is heating up right now. Global warming is playing havoc with weather patterns, which in turn affects all plant and animal life. Our emotions are fired up and disagreements are reaching a boiling point, as is evidenced by the ever-increasing and escalating geo-religious-political-economic conflicts around the globe.

Time out! 

Now is the time to turn our attention to positive solutions and focus our thoughts and actions creating peace. Peace of Mind. Peace of Heart. Peace on Earth. There is a chance for peace.


By Karen Ethelsdatter, 2007

Those holy moments before sleep
when the mind lets go
& the hands & the teeth & the jaws unclench
& the body settles into the arms of the bed
& in winter comes the welcome weight of blanket, of cover.
Those holy moments we call peace, may they cover the land,
may they overtake the warrior
May they show us how to cease fighting
among ourselves.
May they unname the enemy,
may they rename her/him
neighbor, friend.
***
Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.


JULY & AUGUST 

The entire planet is heating up right now. Global warming is playing havoc with weather patterns, which in turn affects all plant and animal life. Our emotions are fired up and disagreements are reaching a boiling point, as is evidenced by the ever-increasing and escalating geo-religious-political-economic conflicts around the globe.

Time out! 

Now is the time to turn our attention to positive solutions and focus our thoughts and actions creating peace. Peace of Mind. Peace of Heart. Peace on Earth. There is a chance for peace.


By Brenda Peterson

With the publication of Silent Spring in 1962, Rachel Louise Carson, biologist and nature and science writer, set off a nationally publicized struggle between the proponents and opponents of the widespread use of poisonous chemicals to kill insects — which she predicted would have harmful effects on air, earth and water. Her vociferous defense of the natural world led to a world wide environmental movement.

Rachel Carson was born May 27, 1907, on a small family farm near Springdale, Pennsylvania. She credited her love of nature to her mother, who once wrote in The Saturday Review of Literature, that she had taught her daughter “as a tiny child joy in the out-of-doors and the lore of birds, insects, and residents of streams and ponds.”

As a child, she exhibited an exceptional talent for writing. She began writing stories — often involving animals — at age eight, and had her first story published when she was eleven.

She enrolled in the Pennsylvania College for Women at Pittsburgh with the intention of making a career of writing. First she specialized in English composition. Later biology fascinated her and she switched to that field, going on to graduate work at Johns Hopkins University.

She then taught for seven consecutive sessions at the Johns Hopkins Summer School. In 1931 she became a member of the zoology staff of the University of Maryland, where she remained for five years.

Meanwhile, a childhood curiosity about the sea stayed with her. She absorbed all that she could read about the biology of the sea and she undertook post-graduate work at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

In 1936 she was offered a position as aquatic biologist with the Bureau of Fisheries in Washington. She continued with the bureau and its successor, the Fish and Wildlife Service. In 1937, an article, “Undersea,” in the Atlantic led to her first book, Under the Sea Wind, published in 1941. This was followed by her appointment as editor-in-chief of the Fish and Wildlife Service, blending her two specialties of biology and writing.

The Sea Around Us, published in 1951, made her world famous, and she received numerous honors. They included the Gold Medal of the New York Zoological Society, the John Burroughs Medal, the Gold Medal of the Geographical Society of Philadelphia and the National Book Award.

Meanwhile, in 1952, she resigned from her government post to continue her writing. Rachel was no armchair naturalist. To gain experience the hard way, she once sailed in a fishing trawler to the rugged Georges Banks off the Massachusetts coast. Her third book, The Edge of the Sea was published in 1955. The sea trilogy explores the whole of ocean life, from the shores to the surface to the deep sea.

In the late 1950s, Carson turned her attention to conservation and the environmental problems caused by synthetic pesticides. “Chemicals are the sinister and little-recognized partners of radiation in changing the very nature of the world — the very nature of life,” she wrote.

The sprays, dusts and aerosols are now applied almost universally to farms, gardens, forests and homes — non-selective chemicals that have the power to kill every insect, the good and the bad, to still the song of birds and the leaping of fish in the streams — to coat the leaves with a deadly film and to linger on in soil — all this, though the intended target may be only a few weeds or insects.

Can anyone believe it is possible to lay down such a barrage of poisons on the surface of the earth without making it unfit for all life? They should not be called ‘insecticides’ but ‘biocides’.

Silent Spring, her book on this topic brought environmental concerns to an unprecedented portion of the American public. Silent Spring spurred a reversal in national pesticide policy — leading to a nationwide ban on DDT and other pesticides — and the grassroots environmental movement the book inspired led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency

On April 3, 1963, the Columbia Broadcasting System’s television series “C.B.S. Reports” presented the program “The Silent Spring of Rachel Carson.” In it, Queen Carson said:

It is the public that is being asked to assume the risks that the insect controllers calculate. The public must decide whether it wishes to continue on the present road, and it can do so only when in full possession of the facts.

We still talk in terms of conquest. We still haven’t become mature enough to think of ourselves as only a tiny part of a vast and incredible universe. Man’s attitude toward nature is today critically important simply because we have now acquired a fateful power to alter and destroy nature.

But man  is a part of nature, and his war against nature is inevitably a war against himself. The rains have become an instrument to bring down from the atmosphere the deadly products of atomic explosions. Water, which is probably our most important natural resource, is now used and re-used with incredible recklessness.

Now, I truly believe, that we in this generation, must come to terms with nature, and I think we’re challenged as mankind has never been challenged before to prove our maturity and our mastery, not of nature, but of ourselves.

Her books won her huge fame (or notoriety, depending on what side of the argument one was on) as well as significant monetary reward, which she used to continue to research and write. Queen Rachel died from complications of breast cancer on April 14, 1964, at the age of 56. She was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Jimmy Carter.

Like water, be gentle and strong. Be gentle enough to follow the natural paths of the earth, and strong enough to rise up and reshape the world.

***
Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

 


JULY & AUGUST 

The entire planet is heating up right now. Global warming is playing havoc with weather patterns, which in turn affects all plant and animal life. Our emotions are fired up and disagreements are reaching a boiling point, as is evidenced by the ever-increasing and escalating geo-religious-political-economic conflicts around the globe.

Time out! 

Now is the time to turn our attention to positive solutions and focus our thoughts and actions creating peace. Peace of Mind. Peace of Heart. Peace on Earth. There is a chance for peace.


Peace Pilgrim devoted almost 30 years of her life to walking and talking for peace. Born Mildred Lisette Norman in 1908 on a small poultry farm in Egg Harbor City, New Jersey. She was the oldest of three children in a loving, close-knit, extended family of nine.

The Norman ancestors had fled Germany for America in the mid-19th century to escape conflict and militarism. Her parents instilled a strong peace ethic in their children, encouraging discussion of social and political issues, and pursuit of moral questions. The family considered themselves “free-thinkers” who sought answers through reason and logic.

After her high school graduation, Mildred Norman took secretarial jobs. As a young adult, she led an active social life and at the age of 25 she eloped with Stanley Ryder, a businessman. They were very mismatched and the marriage was fractious from the start. Stanley wanted a traditional domestic life and children; Mildred did not. He liked to drink, Mildred did not. Stanley believed in war, Mildred did not. With each passing year, the couple grew further apart.

Ironically, during the Great Depression Mildred learned that making money was easy, and that spending it foolishly was completely meaningless. She knew that this was not her destiny, but did not know what was.

She did know, however, that she was dissatisfied with her life. She was increasingly uncomfortable about having so much while others were starving. In 1938 she spent an entire night walking through the woods praying for guidance to discover her calling, and she underwent a profound spiritual experience awakening,

I felt a complete willingness, without any reservations, to give my life – to dedicate my life – to service. “If you can use me for anything, please use me!” I prayed to God. “Here I am-take all of me; use me as you will. I withhold nothing.” Then a great peace came over me. I experienced a complete willingness without reservations whatsoever, to give my life to something beyond my self.

Thus began a 15-year period of intense inner transformation. She said, “I tell you it’s a point of no return. After that, you can never go back to completely self-centered living.”

For the entire decade of the 1940s, Mildred searched diligently for the service that she felt she was called to undertake. First she worked with senior citizens and those with emotional problems. Then she volunteered for peace organizations: the Quaker American Friends Service Committee, the Philadelphia Fellowship Commission and the United Nations Council of Philadelphia and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

As she entered her midlife, Mildred began to radically simplify her life. She decided to get rid of unnecessary possessions and frivolous activities. She dissolved her unhappy marriage. She became a vegetarian, disciplined herself to live on ten dollars a week, and pared down her wardrobe to two dresses. Her goal was to “experience and learn to appreciate the great freedom of simplicity.”

She described this period as a time when she was engaged in a great struggle between ego and conscience, or between her “lower, self-centered nature,” and the “higher, God-centered nature.” She strived to overcome selfishness in order to attain inner peace and spiritual maturity.

Mildred joined the Endurance Hiking Club and took wilderness treks to increase her physical strength and to gain experience in simple living. In 1952 she became to the first woman to walk the entire 2,050-mile length of the Appalachian Trail in one season.

Life on the trail agreed with her. Hiking reinforced her belief in simplicity and confirmed her ability to live “in harmony at need level” for long periods of time, in all weather conditions. She managed to live outdoors for five months equipped with only a pair of slacks, one shirt one sweater, a blanket and two plastic sheets.

Her menu, morning and evening, was two cups of uncooked oatmeal soaked in water and flavored with brown sugar; at noon, she had two cups of double strength dried milk, plus any berries, nuts or greens that she found in the woods.

Her experience convinced her that material possessions were simply a burden, and that to achieve a daily state of grace, she would need to maintain that simplicity after she got off the trail.

Her long walk led to a period of concentrated inner questioning about what she, one person, could do in the cause of peace. This midlife meditation culminated in her experiencing a powerful spiritual vision, an undeniable epiphany. She came to understand that it was her destiny to be “a wanderer until mankind has learned the ways of peace.”

I then saw in my mind’s eye, myself walking along and wearing the garb of my mission…I saw a map of the United States with the large cities marked – and it was as though someone had taken a colored crayon and marked a zigzag line across, coast to coast and border to border, from Los Angeles to New York City. I knew what I was to do. I will talk to everyone who will listen to me about the way to peace. I’m even planning to wear a sign, the back of which will read, “Walking Coast to Coast for Peace” and the front, “Peace Pilgrim.”

She gave away all of her possessions — including her name — and prepared to embark upon the incredible pilgrimage that she would maintain for the rest of her life.

Step by step. . .Mile by mile. . .Walking. . .Marching. . .Dancing

Becoming a moving force for peace.

-DH

On the morning of January 1, 1953 at age 44, Mildred Norman Ryder adopted the name Peace Pilgrim, put on a pair of sneakers, donned dark blue slacks, blouse, and a tunic — blue being the international color for peace — and set out from Pasadena, California to walk the length of the country. She pledged to walk until she was given shelter and to fast until she was offered food.

She marched ahead of the Rose Parade where thousands of people could see her off on her way. Her tunic bore her name, Peace Pilgrim, on the front and the back was printed with her goal: 10,000 Miles for World Peace. She carried her few belongings — a comb, a toothbrush, a pen, some postal stamps and nothing else, not a penny — in its pockets.

Peace Pilgrim stepped out for peace on faith alone, and in so doing, undertook a daring and groundbreaking feat that represented enormous moral courage. On that first trip, in the midst of the Korean War, the Cold War, and at the height of the McCarthy era, she walked 5,000 miles from California to New York, from coast to coast and from border to border, sharing her message of peace.

No one walks so safely as one who walks humbly and harmlessly with great love and great faith. For such a person gets through to the good in others (and there is good in everyone), and therefore cannot be harmed. This works between individuals, it works between groups and it would work between nations if nations had the courage to try it.

She gave everyone she met a printed explanation of her walk that bore the simple message. “This is the way to peace — overcome evil with good, falsehood with truth, and hatred with love.” She rarely missed more than three meals before she was offered food. If she was not offered shelter, she slept in fields, under bridges, and on more than one occasion, in jail.

During her 28 years on the road, Queen Peace far exceeded her original mile-goal. When she passed the 25,000-mile mark, she stopped counting, but she continued to walk for 17 more years. She went through 29 pairs of sneakers, averaging 1500 miles per pair. At that rate, she walked about 43,500 miles.

By the time of her death in 1981, she had walked across the United States seven times, visited ten Canadian provinces and parts of Mexico, spreading her hopeful message of peace and inspiration to the countless thousands of folks who crossed her extraordinary path.

Peace Pilgrim is my shero. I can only pray for the wisdom and determination to follow in her footsteps.

“To attain inner peace you must actually give

your life, not just your possessions. When you at last give your life — bringing into alignment your beliefs and the way you live — then, and only then, can you begin to find inner peace.”

— Peace Pilgrim
***
Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.


JULY & AUGUST 

The entire planet is heating up right now. Global warming is playing havoc with weather patterns, which in turn affects all plant and animal life. Our emotions are fired up and disagreements are reaching a boiling point, as is evidenced by the ever-increasing and escalating geo-religious-political-economic conflicts around the globe.

Time out! 

Now is the time to turn our attention to positive solutions and focus our thoughts and actions creating peace. Peace of Mind. Peace of Heart. Peace on Earth. There is a chance for peace.


 
Well, the world as we knew it seems to be going to hell in a hand basket.

And our great nation is majorly implicated as a super destructive power, displaying, as it does, a shortsighted, selfish disregard for the health, safety and spirit of the rest of the planet.

The recent release of the latest environmental report card issued by some 2500 scientists from around the world, exposed the full extent of the global environmental emergency and our direct responsibility for its deplorable condition.

We were the only country out of 200 developed nations to refuse to sign Kyoto international agreement to work to reduce the proliferation of greenhouse gases and to reduce the wanton depletion of Earth’s resources. And we have pretty much ignored the situation and our contribution to it.

Although we represent only five percent of the world’s population, we are the source of fully one fourth of the greenhouse gases produced in the world today. This outrageous fact has failed, so far, to convince us to make the slightest alteration to our greedy, consumptive ways.

We continue to defend our right to drive cars that get eight miles per gallon of gas, our freedom to cool movie theaters to the extent that we need to wear sweaters inside in July, our liberty to live in luxury at the expense of the rest of the world.

We have been convinced that conscientious environmental awareness and improvement would be bad for the economy. According to Jerry Falwell, “The whole (global warming) thing is created to destroy America’s free enterprise system and our economic stability.”

But we can’t just blame the big guys, the government and industry. We are, all of us, delighted to do our part by diligently acquiring as much as we can, lusting after what we cannot obtain and wasting what we do have — even those of us who are careful. We are all responsible for global warming.

Lately I’ve seen several outrageous television commercials that blithely extol the benefits of throwaway dust rags, hand towels, floor mops and disposable baby bibs, of all things. Apparently the landfills are not yet filled to over-flowing capacity with pampers, as I had assumed. As it is, every American uses an average of four to six trees a year on paper goods, wood products and newsprint.

Buckminster Fuller once posed a most provocative and challenging question. “If the success or failure of this planet and of human beings depended on how I am and what I do, how would I be and what would I do?”

What is a well-meaning woman to do? What have I done lately? What did I do today?

I have come to understand that this is an important distinction: what did I do versus what did I not do. The issue is not how many trees did I save, but how many trees did I plant? I should have planted a few hundred trees by now to replace those that I have used in my life. While I have conducted quite a few tree-planting ceremonies over the years, I still owe the earth a new orchard, at least.

Maybe it is self-defeating to think that we should be giving up comforts and luxuries in order to be more environmentally correct and connected. Such negative terminology doesn’t make acting conscientiously seem like a very attractive prospect, but rather like some sort of deprivation that would appeal only to martyrs. That’s just bad psychology. Unproductive. The medicine does not have to taste bad in order to work well.

Perhaps it is more fruitful to think not of giving something up, but of giving something back. It is the most elemental and universal rule of etiquette that if you take something, you put it back; if you use something, you replace it — plus some.

While saving and conserving are admirable virtues to be commended and encouraged, being generous and proactively responsive is equally crucial to our survival, body and soul. Take less. Give more.

It is pay back time. So I pledge to plant trees this spring — as many as I can to make up for all the tissues, toilet paper, napkins, notebooks and printing paper that I have used over the years. Not to mention those ten-pound Sunday New York Times newspapers.

It’s least I can do.
***
Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.