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Archive for November, 2009

Men and Patriarchy


In the wee hours today, I realized that any man reading yesterday’s post would feel attacked and dismissed.  Since I have several men friends, plus a son and brothers, whom I love and care about, I’m not mad at them.  Patriarchy is not just about men.  Patriarchy is a system of beliefs. Men are human beings.  Since what we believe determines our actions, if one adopts patriarchal attitudes thoughtlessly then patriarchy continues.  Women  can follow those beliefs too, and will if it’s to their advantage.  Human nature.   It’s about choice.

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I wrote the first draft of this ‘essay’ the evening of Nov. 8, after attending three Remembrance Day Services in 24 hours.  Why would I do that?  Well, the first was to accompany a new friend who wanted to be at St. Mary’s Cathedral for a special service honouring Nicola Goddard.  The second was my regular church service, on Sunday morning at Knox.  The third was a concert I agreed to usher at, held at Knox Church, the Sunday afternoon.  I’m one of the regular ushers for concerts at Knox and I’m rarely disappointed in any of the events I’ve ushered at.  So it just happened that way.  However, by Sunday evening I was so upset I had to write.  That’s what I do to cope with strong feelings.  My emotions inform me of my truth.  This particular  post has become a bit of a rant, which you will discover if you  read it to the end.  It sure felt good to write it!

I welcome your comments!

May blessings come,

Sharon

RESPONSES TO REMEMBRANCE DAY

November, 2009

                After three Remembrance Day services within 24 hours I was emotionally weak – so much intensity, so much sound and music, so much pain and grief.  Why do we do this?  What is the point of  re-hashing the wars of the last 100 years, when it often ends  in romanticism?  Yet this year there was a bit less romance  and nostalgia.  Our men and women in Afghanistan have made many of us more aware of the reality of war.  The articles about Arab-Israeli conflicts, the 20-year anniversary of the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, the shooting at Mt. Hood that killed 13 and wounded 30, all have combined in two days to inflict more pain and heartache in my soul.  It might be preferable to stay away and not experience, albeit vicariously, the grief and pain of war.

                At St. Mary’s Cathedral Sat., Nov. 7, over a thousand people gathered to donate to the Nicola Goddard Foundation, hear 2 choirs, a band and an orchestra, and watch a dance group.  Cum Vino Cantus started the program with a Simon & Garfunkel medley of Scarborough Fair and Sound of Silence.  Next they sang Prayer for the Children, composed by Kurt Bestor who returned to a camp to find all murdered, including the children.  The words were clear, the voices balanced and sweet, the sincerity heartfelt.  I wept.

                The Enchor Chamber Choir sang three songs, Dies Irae, There Will be Rest, and Wanting Memories.  While they sang, seven young women from  Corps Bara Dance Theatre interpreted the songs with fluid drama and poignant poses.   Next the Foothills Brass quintet played Air on a G String (by J.S. Bach).  The piece was well played, with the trumpet, French horn, trombone, tuba, and cornet balanced and harmonious.  Their music swelled.  The second piece, Adios Nonino, was composed by the grandson of a composer of tango music, as a dedication to his grand-father.  The rhythm was so smooth, so tango-ish, I swayed on the bench.  Next they played a wondrous arrangement of Simple Gifts by Gweneth Walker.  I was reminded of my visit to a Shaker Village 3-4 years ago, where a young black woman sang that song as part of a village tour. 

                During the intermission my friend  and I stood to admire the cathedral, which has undergone re-construction. The lighting and windows create a feeling of openness and opportunity, revealing  light in unexpected places.   The woman beside me  confided that she was there partly because her son-in-law is returning to Afghanistan soon for a third tour of duty.  He has a wife and  three children.  We promised her we would keep her son-in-law in our thoughts.

                After the intermission, the above groups combined with the University of Calgary Orchestra to present The Armed Man: a Mass for Peace, by Karl Jenkins.  It is a powerful work that presented  every possible emotion about war  through music and movement.  It started with The Armed Man, followed by a Call to Prayer, sung by Souheil Merhi  from the rear balcony.  His voice soared over the crowd like an ancient song calling across the desert.  I was awe-struck.  Next was Kyrie, featuring a young soloist, Graeme Climie, his clear soprano voice carrying throughout the cathedral.  By this time the Corps Bara Dance Theatre dancers were weaving their way through the aisles and stage, sometimes climbing on chairs, sometimes rolling and stretching across them.  These young women clearly demonstrated the frustration, fear and hopeless futility that women experience when men go to war.  In one of the numbers, a dancer slowly carried a young child, lifeless, to her final resting place.  That part really got my tears flowing!  I was so angry at the pointless loss of our  young people.  When will they ever learn?  Folk singers asked this in the 60s and I asked it again that night.  We have made no progress.  The remaining pieces were entitled Save Us From Bloody Men, Sanctus, Charge!, Agnus Dei, Now the Guns have Stopped, and Benedictus.  All the pieces were exquisitely sung, beautifully delivered.  Music speaks the language of the soul.  The whole evening was outstanding.  When it was over, no one really wanted to leave.  We milled around a little, shared a few more words with my neighbour grandmother, then strolled out. 

                Sunday morning I went to my church, Knox United in Calgary.  This was a Remembrance Day Service also.  The music was outstanding, some of it composed by our music director and organist, Frank McKitrick.  Our church band, Equinox, hooked us emotionally before the service started with their rendition of Peace Train.  After the processional,  two children laid a wreath, followed by a gentleman placing a second wreath.  Robert Lang played the Last Post and we stood in silence a short time.  The first hymn was God! As with Silent Hearts (to a familiar tune) and after the opening prayer we sang Through Ancient Walls, which I love.  We had a responsive reading (Psalm 85) and a passage from the Gospel of Thomas (47-48) where Jesus talked about choice.  Grant Dawson’s sermon was called Reimagining Peace, and he spoke well of what one person can do that makes a difference.  He reminded us of the butterfly effect.  Grant talked about knowing what you stand for and living your own truth.  He talked about the Berlin Wall, and peace within a family, a home, a community, a nation, and the world.  It starts with each one of us. 

                The choir sang two anthems, Make Me a Channel of Your Peace (arranged by Frank), and Remember, a new song composed by Frank.  It was lovely – melodic, soaring, hopeful, strong.  The choir was magnificent. During the offertory, two men read aloud the names of people on the memorial plaques, so we heard the names of members of Knox who served in two world wars.   We ended the service by singing new words to Onward Christian Soldiers, written by Don Smith.  The whole service was very emotional.  After the benediction, Frank and the choir offered another piece of music with trumpet and clarinet.  My heart was full; my spirit strained for expression.  I was overwhelmed.  

                Only two hours later I ushered at the Mt. Royal Kantorei concert for Remembrance Day.  I sat with a dear friend to watch/hear the concert.  Well!  This service was very powerful as the choir was so large.   After the processional and placing of the flags, we sang O Canada, and most of the audience joined in on the first verse.  The choir did a grand job singing the second verse.

                After three choral numbers and a short reading, the choir led the audience in singing wartime tunes, and that’s when the emotions really got to me.  Singing the songs I sang as a child, barely knowing anything about war, brought me so much pain that the tears ran down my cheeks. I could barely sing.  I thought about how the people at home kept up their spirits through song and tried to be so positive while their hearts were breaking.  I grieved for all the families at home, waiting and praying that their men would be safe.  The songs were: It’s a Long Way to Tipperary, We’ll meet again ( don’t know where, don’t know when); Pack up Your Troubles( in your old kit bag); Don’t sit under the apple tree; Lilli Marlene; There are smiles that make us happy, and (There’ll be bluebirds over) the white cliffs of Dover.  I was a mess by the end of those songs, with a discard pile of wet tissues beside me. 

                The next songs by Kantorei Chorus were  Oh Danny Boy, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, In Flanders Fields,  And God Shall Wipe Away All Tears, Amazing Grace (played by a bagpiper), In Remembrance, For the Fallen, Our God Our Help in Ages Past, the Kontakion (just glorious!), and finished with Let Peace then Still the Strife.   It was a marathon of emotion.  I was spent.  The music pushed all the feeling out of my physical body. I was limp.  Yet around me the air was tingling. I felt unbalanced. 

I got angry.  I was angry at the maleness of these three services.  Sure there were women singing in the choirs, but the whole focus in the past 24 hours was about men, and the suffering of men in war.  Well! If men weren’t so bloody war-minded, there might have been an end to war a long time ago.  It doesn’t seem to be the women who vote for war, or who put impossible unreasonable demands on others.  Violence seems the only answer men know.   It is time that men laid down, laid down their weapons, gave up posturing, shut their mouths, and listened.  They need to listen to women.  They need to listen to their mothers, their wives and their daughters. 

It is time for the male-centered culture of the past three millennia to dissipate and allow women’s energy to rise.  It is time.  Men are not capable of making decisions that are right for people, for our cities and communities, for our nations and our world.  Men have shown by their continued reliance on outdated thinking that they cannot reconcile differences.  They cannot find and maintain peaceful solutions to problems. 

Women can.  We can because we are mothers and we raise families.  We raise children and appreciate their uniqueness.  We love them equally and find ways to like the unlikable.  Even the men.  I don’t blame men totally, for they are but the product of their fathers’ teachings.  But those teachings no longer serve the present world.  It is time for a matriarchal culture to arise.  As women we must go within, discover our own strength, and stand up.  We must stand on our own feet, join hands with other women, work together for solutions, speak our truth, and lovingly guide others to peaceful paths.  It is time.  It is past time. 

I predict that in the next five years, there will be massive change unlike any other five years in the past century.  I sincerely hope and pray that by 2015 a matriarchal culture will guide the world.  We will guide institutions like the UN and WTO, world financial institutions, the G8 or G17 or whatever will be, and we will be doing this from a grassroots wellspring.   We will direct these through prayer, intuition, energy work, direct service, leadership, political office, campaigns, protests and policy meetings galore.  We will move our husbands and sons aside, tell them to sit down and take a break, and then we will clean up the mess.  We will assume our rightful place as the mothers of creation, and we will not be quiet.  We will not be passive.  We have had enough. 

Did you know that both the Dalai Lama and Stephen Lewis have stated publicly that it will be only through the intervention of women that our world can reverse its self-destructive habits?  This is not an original idea, as feminists have been saying this for the last 200 years.  However, for those readers who need to know what famous men think, these two inspiring men have gone on record that this must happen or our world will continue to down-spiral.

It’s time.  There must be an end to war.  There must be an end to violence.  It is time to stop what is wrong, and to do only what is right for our families.  Our priorities are clear.  We are women who love.  We will work lovingly and tirelessly to restore balance to our world and its people.  That is our only hope, and it is time.

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I will be at Our Angels Center for Well Being on Saturday, Nov. 21st for the official “launch” of the 2nd edition of Your Invisible Bodies.  This much improved book has been sold at four expos in the last month, but Nov. 21 is the first time it will be available in a store.  I’ll get to the other stores that have carried the first printing and exchange their unsold copies for the new book.

Nov. 21 is also the official opening of Our Angels Center for Well Being in their new location, #3, 2009 33rd Ave. SW.

They used to be on 34th Ave. and have moved to a larger space on 33rd, right next to Nellie’s.  It’s a great space, offering more room to browse through the gifts and arts and to visit over a cup of their wonderful loose teas.  The healing practitioners who rent rooms there will be present, for 1-4 p.m. is a Meet and Greet.   This is what Our Angels… offers:

Psychic, Shamanic, Tea Leaf, Angel Readings, Guided Meditation, Aura & Chakra Photo, Massages, Hot Stone, Ionic Detox Foot Bath, Reflexology, Reiki, Body Talk, EFT, Biofeedback, Ear Candling, Yoga classes, Hypnotherapy, Past Life, Root Cause, REBA testings and more …

As well, you can purchase lovely gifts for yourself or others: crystals, loose tea and accessories, Tarot/Angels and Oracle Cards, and of course my book.  The store carries a few books on consignment, and I’m delighted mine is one of them.  Be sure to look at the art work for sale.  There are wonderful collages of leaves that create marvellous animals.  A treat to see. 

Downstairs at Our Angels, in what was formerly a Yoga Studio, is meeting space.  I will be there reading from my book at 3:00 p.m.  If you wish to buy a book, the customer service desk upstairs will be glad to ring it in for you.  This edition sells at $17.50.   Since it combines the old Study Guide into one book with the children’s text and pictures, it is a deal.  The book includes two photographs of my aura, which add more credibility to the premise of ourselves as energy fields.  I also have expanded the historical background (in FAQs) to credit eastern and world spiritual traditions, so it is more inclusive (and more honest!).

Since writing this book my life has changed immeasurably.  My world has expanded to include more writers, more knowledge of spiritual truths, and more excitement.  Please come and join me in a small part of my journey.

The complimentary bookmark has this blessing, which I repeat for my readers:

May you joyfully live in all your bodies, fully awake in your feelings, thoughts and soul.  May the warmth of your inner star and the light of Spirit guide you each day, for your greatest good.

Let the blessings come.

Sharon

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I’ve been so busy marketing my book and visiting family and friends in BC I haven’t had time to write a new post.  This morning while looking through the Raging Granny songbook I found this rap, which I wrote 2 years ago for a conference at the University of Calgary, called ‘Puppets As Agents of Social Change”.  I based the rap on the puppets I have, which I’ve used with children during my teaching and counselling career.  Anyway, it’s fun, and suffices to show the world what I believe, still, two years later.  It’s more fun if you read it out loud, like a rapper!

PUPPETS AS AGENTS OF SOCIAL CHANGE
(rap)
 Puppets as agents of social change?
Don’t you think that’s a little bit strange?
How can a puppet make anyone care?
Who’s looking at us? Is anyone there?
 
This big wolf is in disguise,
He sees things differently because of his eyes.
The calm little wolf is so much older
He gives advice when one needs a shoulder.
Monster or meanie or good-deed-doer?
You decide if his words are true, or
Maybe his teeth display his power
To bite into topics and talk for an hour.
 
And here’s the chameleon, the versatile lizard,
So close to the ground he thinks like a wizard
And spits his tongue when he hears a lie
And marks the times when the children cry
So never ignore what is causing pain
Or the lizard will spit and spit again.
 
Then there’s Percy, the Pheasant who asks
So many darn questions while taking to task
All those big law-makers who think they rule
When everyone around just sees a fool!
 
For as you see, a puppet can say
When an ordinary person might fade away
And not pronounce her own opinion
But behind the puppet will take dominion
Over greed and anger and pain and fear.
So for these puppets let’s raise a cheer!
 
(Written for the Puppet Conference, Puppets As Agents of Social Change,
U of Calgary, May 26, 2007,
By Granny Sharon of the Calgary Raging Grannies)

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