October Update

Bought a standard poodle puppy.  Bringing him home October 5, so October will be full of housebreaking, and FUN.




Built to Move

Last Sunday’s New York Times carried Gretchen Reynolds' summary of new research showing we stay healthier and burn significantly more calories, when we move around all day.  (In fact, I’ve begun marching in place when I’m riding in an elevator, but only if I'm alone.)

         Curiously, Reynolds reports that regular exercisers remain more sedentary throughout the day, after exercising, than non-exercisers.  I can’t help wondering why this latter finding should be true.

         I am a regular exerciser.  Weekday mornings I rise around 5:00, brush my teeth, make my bed, limber up, and climb many flights of stairs inside my apartment building.  Then I head outside to walk briskly anywhere from 3 to 4 miles.  I'm fortunate to be able to walk along a bike path that threads the generous park hugging Chicago’s Lake Michigan shore.  The limbering, climbing and walking take about an hour and fifteen minutes, and I return home feeling energetic and alive.

         Part of the energy must come from moving aerobically.  But part of the energy is spiritual.  Outside among the trees and shrubs and grass, under the dark or dawning sky, my muse visits me.  I am enlivened with ideas for what to write or what to add to what I’m writing.  The ideas seem to come from a Higher Power, along with spring’s blossoms, mating ducks, newly arrived robins, and Frisbee chasing dogs.  My walk makes me available to inspiration from the cosmos.

         Yet, I’ll stay healthy longer, stay available to inspiration longer, if I get up from my desk, interrupting my writing over and over, to move around.  What a strange contradiction!


Reclaiming a Neighborhood: Project HOOD

In my last post, I reported on Rev. Corey Brooks, the pastor of New Beginnings Church on the south side of Chicago.  I told you about his spending the winter camped out on the roof of an abandoned motel, a crime magnet that blighted the neighborhood around the Church.  His doing that attracted nearly half a million dollars to buy the motel and tear it down.

         That was phase one of Brooks’s vision.  Now he is launching phase two, Project HOOD.

         Over the coming summer, Pastor Brooks is going to walk across the U.S. from New York City to Los Angeles in an effort to raise $1.5 million to put up a community center on the location where the abandoned motel once stood.

         Meanwhile, back at New Beginnings Church, the congregation will engage in “Take It Back Summer 2012,” or “HOODvision 2012.”  There will be neighborhood watches and patrols to keep the streets safe.  There will be HOODfest, a weekly Saturday barbecue for everyone in the neighborhood from noon until 8:00 PM.  And there will be day camp for kids every day (Rev. Brooks believes the money to run this camp will somehow appear.  So here’s a really worthy cause we can all support!)

         Last Sunday when I listened to Rev. Brooks describe all this, I truly believed he and his congregation will be successful.  I’m certainly going to support them as much as I can! 


It's Jesus!

Sunday morning I had a heavenly experience at New Beginnings Church on the south side of Chicago. What was this Jewish girl doing there?

         Last fall, the pastor of New Beginnings, Rev. Corey Brooks reached his limit: He kept officiating at funerals for young, healthy men shot dead in gang violence, and adding to the pain, across the street from his church stood an empty, dilapidated motel where drug deals, murders, and prostitution going down daily. 

         Rev. Brooks found he would need $450,000 to buy and tear down the motel.  So he climbed to the motel roof and camped out for 94 days, throughout the winter.  When his vigil had brought in $350,000, Tyler Perry heard about the campaign, and donated the rest.  Success!

         While Rev. Brooks was living on the roof, a member of Anshe Emet Synagogue on the north side (my synagogue) was mentoring a teenage girl at New Beginnings.  The girl invited her mentor to hear her sing at a New Beginnings Sunday service.  At that service, the mentor learned of Rev. Brooks.  She urged Anshe Emet’s Rabbi Michael Siegel to meet Rev. Brooks.  So Rabbi Siegel drove down to the south side, took a cherry picker to the motel roof, and the two religious leaders studied together and became friends.

         The first morning of Passover, Rev. Brooks gave a stupendous sermon at Anshe Emet about acting in faith.  And this past Sunday, Rabbi Siegel preached at New Beginnings to help Rev. Brooks kick off Project Hood (more about this wonderful project in my next post).

         A friend and I drove to the south side for the service at New Beginnings, as did many Anshe Emet congregants.  I have never felt so WELCOME anywhere in my life.

         From the moment we got out of the car, people opened doors and said, “Hello!  Welcome to New Beginnings!”  They smiled, shook our hands, and hugged us.  At the doors to the church, in the lobby, at the doors to the chapel, down the aisles, into our seats, beside us: we were greeted and celebrated, until we couldn’t doubt for a moment that we were welcome at New Beginnings. 

         To one of the greeters I exclaimed, “You make us feel so welcome!”  And she smiled broadly and replied, “It’s Jesus!”

         Soon the music began and we were up on our feet, dancing, singing, and praising God.  And I had no doubt I was in divine hands.

           It’s Jesus! 


Conjuring a Happy Birthday

In Judaism, the number eighteen is a felicitous number.  Numbers in Hebrew are represented by letters, and the number eighteen, if read as a word, is chai, meaning life, as in L’chaim!  When making donations, or  giving bar- or bat-mitzvah gifts, Jews customarily write checks that are multiples of eighteen.

         Yesterday was my birthday, and it started well when my son called early in the morning to wish me a happy day and to point out that my age this year is a multiple of eighteen.  No wonder the day had actually become special the night before when a dear cousin had called with good wishes.  Now, the auspicious numerology gave me a sense of being afloat on the wings of good fortune. 

         I thought back to the last time I was a multiple of eighteen, and realized that year had ushered in a delightful period:  I fell madly in love and enjoyed a sustained period of spiritual depth and uplift.  That spiritual change became an integral part of me, in spite of the relationship’s recent end.

         Then I realized that this week, even before I realized I was headed for a multiple of eighteen, I was already moving toward a happy birthday.  I had rescheduled a dentist appointment for a non-birthday-day.  I had just finished and mailed invitations to an open house I am throwing next month, with the result that lots of people began telling me how happy they were to be invited.  With the dentist out of the way, I had time to have a fun lunch with some fellow writers.  Next came a phone call from my college roommate, with whom I celebrate almost simultaneous birthdays; so I shared the good news about chai with her.  And soon after that, my daughter called with birthday greetings. 

         By the time the day ended, I was fully in the swing of being a multiple of eighteen—it’s a buoyant swing to be in.


Super Big, Super Mysterious

I get a spiritual thrill when I contemplate some of the incomprehensible sizes and quantities in our universe.  Gribben’s Watching the Universe provides plenty of examples.

         The heat and light energy we receive from our sun results from nuclear fusion.  That means fusion of hydrogen nuclei to form helium nuclei in a three-step nuclear reaction.  The fusing nuclei lose mass, and the mass becomes photons of energy shining out into space and upon us!  (E=mc2

         In this fusion process, every second, the sun loses 4,500,000,000 kilograms of mass.  The sun can afford such a steady, gigantic loss of mass because its total mass is 2,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 kilograms.

         Those photons resulting from nuclear fusion on the sun do not reach us instantaneously.  The heat of the sun is so great, each photon experiences innumerable collisions that drive the photon back and forth, so that it will be a million years before any new photon makes the full trip out of the sun.  A million years before that photon reaches outer space, and sometimes the surface of the earth.  So the photons warming us and making vision possible came from fusion reactions that happened a million or more years ago.

         But a 3% of the energy we receive from the sun, results from the neutrinos that fly out of the sun instantaneously during fusion reactions.  Nothing stops them because neutrinos are without mass and without charge, though they do have “spin.”  Neutrinos travel at the speed of light and don’t collide with anything as they zip through matter and empty space.  Every second, 100,000,000,000 neutrinos pass through every square centimeter of everything on earth.

         And finally, how is it that human brains can discover the laws of mathmatics and physics?  How on earth can human brains use those laws to design research and experiments to figure all this out about the sun?  Wow, I feel as if I’m floating in a mysterious, majestic ocean of cosmic truth. 

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