Sunday, August 16, 2009

Celebrating with Friends....

I have been too busy this week to post daily. Besides going to meetings, I went to two concerts:

On Friday night I went with Jeff Utter and a contingent of interfaith folk to a Tchaikovsky concert at the Hollywood Bowl, where there were spectacular fireworks accompanying the 1812 overture. I thought the best fireworks were generated by the Romanian pianist Mihaela Ursulaesa, a 30-year-old who looks like a teenager and plays with incredible passion and power.

Last night I went with Joseph Prabhu (chair of the local chapter of the Parliament of World's Religions) to the Huntington Garden picnic where we heard a concert by Ian Whitcomb, a former British rock star who now bills himself as the foremost ragtime and tin pan alley ukulele player in America. (See It was fun to hear the tin pan alley tunes from a witty old Brit whose love for this music is irresistible.

It's ironic that a couple of weeks ago, I was concerned about how to have a social life without my sweetie around to take to concerts and movies. Now I feel almost overwhelmed with social engagements, having gone to five concerts in the past week!

Thank you, God, for answering my prayers so abundantly. Now may I please have a little peace and time to write and reflect?

Besides going to concerts, I've been attending meetings, as usual: ICUJP, UDC, and today the World March for Peace.

Today I'm looking forward to a birthday party for Grace Ridley, a 90-year-old member of my Quaker meeting who is currently in hospice care. Grace is a delightful person who dresses up rather elegantly, often in bright purple, with scarves and fashionable hats, like an actresss. She has a very upbeat attitude towards life and a mystical perspective on spirituality. Our meeting has decided to give her a special birthday "send off" as a kind of a preview of her memorial meeting. We are putting together a booklet of pictures and anecdotes remembering all the good things about her, and today we are going to have a time of sharing so we can tell her how much we love her and how much she means to us.

It seems so much nicer to do this while Grace is still alive rather than waiting until, as another old timer in our meeting says, she "falls from her perch."

I don't know if other religious denominations do this, but from time to time Quakers like to organize special celebrations for elderly Friends who are nearing their time of transition. I think it's a great way to celebrate and honor our elders.

My big concern this week has been health care reform, which has become the test of the Obama adminstration's promise, "Yes, we can." I was asked to give a presentation on this topic to ICUJP this coming Friday and titled it: "Heath care reform: yes, we can, but will we?"

Whether we get health care reform depends on whether we get organized and let our elected officials know what we want. Following a cue from our Quaker lobbying group, the Friends Committee on National Legislation (, I plan to go to the offices of our Congress people to deliver flowers and encourage them to move forward with health care reform. FCLN is recommending that we bring flowers to our elected officials as a way of changing the tone of the debate on health care reform. Instead of being divisive and acrimonious, those in the religious community need to be civil and model a more enlightened way of lifting up the need to reform our sick health care system.

Thank you for this day, O Lord, this healing day!

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