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SHORT-SIGHTED
August 15, 2010
 
There are three feeders out here, ladies.

I don't think they heard me. Or, more likely, they did hear me and are just tuning me out. Hummingbirds are territorial -- they'd rather fight about the feeders than drink from them. No, it's NOT enough that she stays away from my feeder. I want her out of my YARD! And so they dive-bomb each other without mercy every time one of them tries to feed, and in the end, nobody eats. Hummingbirds preparing for migration need to eat about 11,000 calories a day. These two had better come to terms soon, or they'll be spending the winter in New Jersey.

In appearance they are so unlike us -- so tiny that they'll sometimes come right up to us unafraid, if we're not moving, because they think we're trees, or maybe smallish continents. They can fly backwards -- we can't even fly forwards. They can put themselves in a state of suspended animation if it gets too cold for them. Many of them are irridescent, and hardly any of us are. They may be able to inherit memory from their parents -- some hummers are believed to have found fruitful feeding grounds which their mothers visited repeatedly but to which they themselves had never been.

But in one regard we are just alike: sharing is hard for the members of both species. Often we are willing to go without something we truly want and need, just for the pleasure of depriving someone else of it.

Something primitive in us fears that someone else's good fortune will come at our expense. It is a ancient thing, I guess, born of an ancient jungle reality that bears little resemblance to the reality we actually inhabit: Grab what you can, no matter whose it is. You don't know for sure that you'll have another chance at it. Such grasping is understandable if you're a Pakistani flood survivor and haven't eaten in a week, but it's less so if you're in Metuchen and could stand to lose twenty pounds. Surrounded by more than enough of everything, we nonetheless remain fearful about our hold on anything, so much so that we are willing to sacrifice everybody's longterm good, including our own, for the sake of short-term profit we can pocket right now.

Nowhere is our moral and practical blindness more visible than in the political realm, where short-term self-interest trumps anything remotely resembling truth so frequently that we have all trained ourselves to laugh at it when we see it. Every day we hear them repackaging themselves, repudiating their own past positions, striving to help us see that they never really said what we heard them say last month -- well, that is, they may have said it, but they didn't mean what we thought they meant. What they really meant was what we want to hear. Then they wonder why people hold them in such low esteem. Such transparent self-serving is in the paper every day, of course, but it is far from new -- among our possessions is an 18th/century engraving called "The Politician," in which the subject sits reading, so intent on his newspaper coverage that he fails to notice that the candle he holds is setting his own hat on fire.

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Want to see William Hogarth's "The Politician"? Visit http://www.darvillsrareprints.com/images/Hogarth percent20prints/Hogarth percent2018th percent20century/politician.jpg

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Fall is coming, and with it a new season of retreats and quiet days with Barbara Crafton at various places around the country. Maybe one of them is near you -- check out events on the Geranium Farm at www.geraniumfarm.org/events. Events are frequently updated. Here is what is inplace as of today.

In 2010:

July 18-August 29th St. Luke's Metuchen, NJ
Barbara Crafton will celebrate and preach at St Luke's every Sunday during this period.

Sept 17-19 Quiet Day at Good Shepherd, Raleigh NC
Forgiveness: What It Is And What It Isn't. Barbara Crafton is retreat leader.

September 25-26 St. John's Episcopal Church, Hollywood,FL
A visit from Barbara Crafton.

October 1-3 Diocese of West Missouri ECW
A quiet day with Barbara Crafton.

October 8-10 The Falls Church, Falls Church VA
A quiet day with Barbara Crafton

Saturday, October 16, 9-3 Quiet Day at St. Simon's, Staten Island, NY
"Forgiveness: What It Is and What It Isn't" with Barbara Crafton.

October 17-19 Interfaith Power and Light Conference at Kanuga, Hendersonville, NC
Barbara Crafton is chaplain to this conference on the church's role in energy sustainability. Sally Bingham, founder of IPL, is the keynoter. www.interfaithpowerandlight.org

November 7 West Hartford, CT
Barbara Crafton visits for sermons and an adult forum.

November 13-14 St. Paul's, Augusta, GA
Barbara Crafton visits.

December 5-6 Grace Church, Camden, SC
Barbara Crafton visits for a quiet day and preaching.

Dec 12 Church of the Ascension,Montgomery, AL
Barbara Crafton visits for quiet day and preaching.

In 2011:

January 10-14 "Jesus Wept: When Faith and Depression Meet" at General Seminary, NYC
A one-week course in the Center for Christian Spirituality for the Epiphany term, exploring the ways in which people of faith experience depression, this week will be of benefit to clergy and laity alike, both those who have experienced depression and those who care for them. Contact the Center for Christian Sprituality, 212-243-5150 for information about registration.

February 25-27 Daughters of the King, Diocese of San Joaquin, CA
Barbara Crafton leads a DOK retreat in this reborn diocese.

March 18-20 Forgiveness Retreat at Kirkridge
Beloved by generations of thoughtful people, Kirkridge welcomes Barbara Crafton for a weekend retreat on a perennial spiritual issue.

May 13-15 Province V ECW
Barbara Crafton is speaker.

January 17-19 Houghton College, Houghton, NY
Barbara Crafton in residence at the college.

March 3 Pensacola, FL
Stay tuned.

June 20-24 "Retreats and Quiet Days: How to Lead Them," General Seminary, NYC
A one-week course in the Center for Christian Spirituality for clergy and lay leaders. Phone the Center at 212-243-5150 for registration information.

July 11-17 Sewannee Church Music Conference
Barbara Crafton is the chaplain for this venerable conference.
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