shaktinah's blog

Not a Believer

My father said something today that hurt deeply, despite the fact that it was meant to be a compliment. He said "Katharine is a religion researcher, not a believer."

Ice Cream and Loving Kindness

When I got back from church, famished, my brother handed me something.  He had bought me an It's It!  A San Francisco tradition and my favorite ice cream sandwich in the world.  I scarfed it down, savoring the cinnamony cookie goodness.  We then went to lunch.  (Yes, I had desert first.)

After lunch, we went to the Richmond district apartment building that my parents own.  Something was wrong with the clothes washer and my dad wanted to see if he could fix it.  While he fiddled with machinery, there was nothing for my brother and I to do, so we went over to look at the Golden Gate Bridge.  There's a beautiful view of it not far from the building.  The sky was blue.  The trees a dark green.  The bridge was red.  The wave caps below were white.  Picture perfect.

It Doesn't End When You Die

My brother and I spent the afternoon running errands, some of which took us to Colma, which is a little ways south of San Francisco and what I call the city of the dead.  When land became too valuable on the peninsula, almost all of the graves were dug up and its residents transfered to Colma.  Coma is, I think, the only city in the country where the dead outnumber the living.

As we drove along El Camino Real, we saw a Jewish cemetery, and an Italian cemetery, and a Chinese cemetery... 

Ching Ming was yesterday but since most adults work, not everyone has the luxury to be able to visit graves on the day proper.  Thus a large sign at the Chinese cemetery proclaimed that the "Ching Ming festival" would take place this weekend, today and tomorrow.

We drove on in the sunshine, reflected by the golden California poppies clustered on the side of the road.

Ching Ming and King - part II

continued from Ching Ming and King - part I.

Today was Ching Ming, or Grave-Sweeping Day - the day one pays homage to one's ancestors by tending to their graves (hence the sweeping) and making offerings. Today is also the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. I occurred to me today, because of the coincidence, that ancestors can be more than just those who shared the same blood. Certainly, as an American, Dr. King is one of my ancestors. I have been to King's grave in Atlanta, GA to pay homage. But since I can't be there today, consider this blog post my offering:

Ching Ming and King - part I

Today was Ching Ming, or Grave-Sweeping Day - the day one pays homage to one's ancestors by tending to their graves (hence the sweeping) and making offerings.   I am back in California this week for Ching Ming, to attend to the graves of my paternal grandparents.  Or rather, to watch my father attend so that I will know what to do when it someday falls to me.

It's early April and the California hills are still green as we drive the hour or so distance to Oakmont Memorial Park.  We pass hillsides littered with wildflowers, mainly California poppies.  Poppies are associated with sleep and death but these bright orange sunshiney blossoms seem like anything but.  I make a mental note that I want to plant some in my front yard.

Something There Is That Does Not Love a Wall

When the first Emperor of China wanted to keep out the people to the North, he built a wall. It's estimated that the construction of the Great Wall of China took over one million lives and a vast amount of national resources. Ultimately the only thing the wall accomplished was to become a tourist attraction.

During the Cold War, when East Germany wanted to keep people from crossing into West Germany, it built a wall. For the 28 years that it stood, between 133 and 200+ people died while trying to cross the Berlin Wall.  It became a symbol of repression for an entire generation until it was joyously torn down.

Beware the Believers

 Also from Making Chutney:

A vid starring one of my favorite ideologues

Living Spirituality

For our interfaith dialogue discussion topic last night, the question was "How does your spirituality affect your life?"

That immediately begs the question, what is spirituality?  Is it the beliefs of our religions?  Is it the ritual/spiritual practice?  Is it simply that mystical feeling of connectedness with the divine?  Often times, I hear people use "spirituality" to refer to the stuff they like and "religion" to mean the stuff they don't like.  But even if we reject that simplistic dichotomy, which I do, it seems there is a real difference between "religion" and "spirituality."

How does your spirituality affect your life?

Blessing of the Priuses

This arrived in my email inbox today:


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Acknowledgments is made possible in part by generous support from the Fahs Collaborative