Saturday, June 30, 2007

Yorkshire and on

From Settle, we have entered Yorkshire County, a more activist area of England, after traveling through some of the beautiful areas into the mountains and valleys. We even take time (two seconds) to smell the aromas of the roses along the way. The only breaks in the peace are the low flying military jets shaking the environment, the sudden racing trains, and the sections on the narrow highways. Otherwise, we enjoy a pastoral beauty. Today, we bused back to Igelton to walk to Settle so that we could say that we walked all the way. We will be in Settle for three nights, leaving Monday. The Quakers and others have been joining in the walks. We are entering the rain soaked areas with more in prospect. Nonetheless, the drizzle today gave a new beauty to the views, then the heavy rains hit us the last mile and a half. Better then, than the first miles.

On Wednesday, the fourth of July, we will participate in Independence from America, which is celebrated at Mendel Hill each year. Mendel Hill is a RAF base which is operated by the US to gather intelligence. The reason it is an RAF base is that English law established that all bases on English soil be operated by the English military. Two courageous women entered the base to test the law. A judge asked who operates the base. No answer has been forthcoming. So, the case is in limbo. Independence from America is sponsored by an international Campaign to end United States bases on foreign soils (I do not have the exact name at the moment.) and local peace groups. I will let you know about the event later.

Gandhi did not know what "Indian Independence" meant. His word was "Hind Swaraj", Indian self determination. Swaraj is an important and meaningful word in this context. It means listening to the voice within, acting with determination based upon truth, whether individually or nationally. CONSCIENCE And so, again we are 180 degrees away from Gandhi on many issues.

I just finished Ernest Hemingway's, Garden of Eden, his last novel published post humosly. The plot of characters is a contrast to the Eden Valley we passed through recently. Eden here means "water" according to the early Norsemen, water the basis for life. Garden of Eden is an existential expression of the biological human along with the psychological. The Eden Valley continues my thoughts on the ontological views of life, which have been my reflection for months before this journey. In other words, we generally live in the Hemingway realm, unless we reflect deeper in contemplation of the full reality. Both can be gripping. Both are critical to understand to be real. The duality is the reason we are ruining the earth.

Marcus Atkinson, organizer or this Walk, is from Australia, but his ancestors are from the area we are transversing. They were taken to Australia centuries ago. Even today, the name Atkinson is known in the community.

Today is Lenore Meyer's 60th birthday. May she be blessed with happiness.

Added note about Barrow: Ten years ago the employment was 10,000, now it is 3,000 plus outsources. Little wonder the people are insecure.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Heading inland

From Broughton. We just arrived after a walk over the "mountains" in England's national park on a beautiful cool and windy day. The sights are truly wonderful looking out toward the Irish Sea and the Isle of Man. The park is different than I expected, since sheep were grazing everywhere. the mountains remind me of the peaks of the Rockies, round and green grass. We enjoyed the hike as we now enter the inland, heading for Yorkshire in a few days. We are informed that it is "alluvial" there to use Duncan's word. Severe flooding with four deaths. I hope the worst is over when we arrive.

Yesterday was blustery to say the least as we hiked around the Sallafield area, past their nuclear waste storage site near the beach and into a military weapons testing sight. We hiked several miles toward a town, when we ran into a closed pedestrian bridge. Seven mile detour would be required to get around, making a 20 mile day! No way. After overcoming our fears of nuclear radiation which is everywhere, we walked onto the broad mud flats and across the river. If the tide had been in, we would have needed a boat. Needless to say, we were cold and some of us with wet feet. At a cafe, we thought warm soup would be the ticket. The reality of a three pound price (six US dollars) convinced us otherwise. Then, our local Sallafield reject, Duncan, came to the rescue. He seems to know everyone, including the owner of the cafe, whom he convinced to give the nine of us soup! Rescued in more ways than one.

We hiked the rest of the day through an area with serious warning signs about nuclear radiation and unexploded bombs, then through some local farms where trials led us to our destination. St Mary's Catholic Church hosted us a second night despite objections from locals who don't like Greenpeace! Thank you Marilyn.

Hattie joined us from Vermont for two weeks. She has made nuclear radiation and power her basic issue. Her avid advocacy and concerted study convinced us if we weren't already that it's worse than you could expect it to be...everywhere there are nuclear power plants. Every group needs a Hattie. I don't have all her info with me, but check (?). Peace

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Light in darkness

Greetings from the cradle of The Society of Friends, Quakers, at Swathmore Hall. We are having a rest day after a challenging three days, challenging due to the realities of life in this region. George Fox found this 16th Century society here and we are enjoying the life giving place on the rural edge of Ulverton. Peace and solitude, organic grounds and gardens, spiritual food for the soul, loving hospitality for the walkers. How idyllic for our centering rest!

The Friends have been providing hospitality, support and participation in the Walk's purpose since entering England a week ago. They are light in the darkness, along with individuals and small peace groups in the area.) The closer we got to Sellafield Nuclear Repossessing and then the BAE Systems plant in Barrow, the more fearful was the presence of the community, fearful in that the inhabitants are fearful for their "livelihoods" dependent upon nuclear weapons and power. The word is that they do not want peace!

As we wound our way in the gray rain toward Sellafield on Friday, we saw the gray figures of the nuclear power plants, processing stacks, and buildings spread out in the fog of the valley by the sea. The sun emerged to warm our vigil at the gates, where the group stood in silence with drumming while I stood with arms extended in prayer for the peoples and communities.

Though more sunny and friendly, the weather could not overcome the dark gray of the newly launched submarine at Barrow, BAE Systems. The sub nestled the birthing dock as though attempting to disguise itself even at birth. BAE Systems developed the sub to "protect" the Trident submarines with Cruise Missiles and other lethality. The BAE and the community await orders to build the next generation of Tridents for the United Kingdom.

Sellafield and BAE Systems have a death mission for destruction, destroying the world to save it! As I mentioned previously, the whole local economy is build upon nuclear radiation. People seem to feel trapped by the reality, therefore the denial and hostility.

The strong unions for the coal minors and steel workers have been replaced by the bought off union leaders at Sellafield and BAE Systems. The government phased out the coal mines by replacing them with nuclear power, step by step. Duncan has joined us after living in local exile and after being squeezed out of Sellafield, despite a 19 year employment there. He came to us by trying to catch us, sleeping in farm fields and developing blistered feet. He will come to London with us.

I could not help feeling like Jesus overlooking Jerusalem and weeping for the city.

Thank God for the light of the Quakers! (The other churches are silent.)

Tomorrow, we head inland, walking for a time in the largest UK national park.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Fourth Day In England

Greetings from the Quaker Meeting House in Wigton, England! I am not walking today due to the distance (up to 20 miles) to Maryport, which would challenge my ankle too much and the group's capacity to make the distance. We are a few days from Sellafield, which turns out to be a nuclear waste "reprossessing site", notorious for radiating the Irish Sea affecting England, Irish, Norweigan, and all unsuspecting species. I have much reading to do about these realities before we come to the facility. (I am reminded continually of the work of Dr. Rosalie Bertell, a scientist and Grey nun, whose latest book, Planet Earth, The Latest Weapon of War, opens by describing the earth as looking well, but in the throws of sickness due to the military preparations for war and weapons experimentation.) I want to be in shape for Sellafield.

The Sellafield security staff have been checking us out, anticipating what our actions might be when we arrive. They tell us we will be alright as long as we keep in front of the base which has three plus miles between its gates.

I have not mentioned the walk's organizers, Marcus and KA. They do tremendous work juggling organizing walkers, food and supplies, trip arrangements, media, etc, etc. Their stories are awesome too. For example, they led a nine month walk, four and a half in Australia and four and a half in Japan ending up in Hiroshima. Australia and Canada have half the world,s supply of uranium. The mining of uranium requires huge amounts of water, which is being taken from an ancient aquifer in Australia. This not only affects the lives of the indigenous peoples, but pollutes the environment. Marcus and KA are from Australia, and bring stories, songs, and character to our discussions. The walk through Japan carries the same energy. Marcus once led a walk from Auschwitz, through the Bosnian conflict in the 90's to Hiroshima. Talk about living on the edge! In so doing they connect the mining, production, use, and waste of the nuclear system.

They set a determined pace too. In averaging at least 15 miles a day, they reach their destinations. Gandhi did the Salt Walk in 30 days (241 miles), Foot Prints For Peace did it in 12 days! Marcus and KA once ran 74 miles in 24 hours with a group according to set rules.

I urge you to check out their website for more about their walks, etc. This morning KA shared greetings of support from all over the world for our walk.

Update about Gandhi response: People in Carlisle on Monday in the downtown square and in Wigton yesterday generally do not recognize the Gandhi impersonator. Most avert their eyes. Many respond to my greetings courteously. Some youth snicker. Others inquire about the meaning. One man said that I was Hare Krishna, and refused to accept that I was Gandhi. Our activist hosts honor and encourage me with appreciation.

We have seven walkers at present. Marcus and KA, Jamie from Boston, Cameron from Bainbridge Island (across from Seattle), Liana from eastern US, Dan from London, and me. Each bring rich and interesting stories, despite those with youth. Individuals keep coming and going with us. They are very supportive of me and my presence as Gandhi with limits. Of course, everyone in the group has limits and experience the usual stresses of such and undertaking. the group spirit is strong and very peaceful. KA directly criticised Marcus this morning for first commenting that he would like to spend the day hanging out, later mentioning that the weather looks wet and dreary. "You are some motivator, Marcus." Both these individuals have great sense of humor, strong voices and always responsive. They set the tone.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Crossing Hadrian's Wall

Greetings from England. Crossed the line between Scotland and England yesterday at 9:30 AM after leaving Greta. Now we are in Carlyle hosted by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) at the Quaker House. We have had quite a time. People are approaching the realities today with vigor, as is seen in the Positive News International Network. Some communities are drawing up plans to reduce dependence upon fossil fuels at 3 % per year, the amount projected after peak oil. Humans can take charge of their lives...when they trust with vision. These things I discovered at Global Peace House, a wonderful effort to bring peace by the positive.

Walking from Dumfies was cold and with heavy rain until yesterday. Major along the way was passing the Chapel-cross Nuclear Power Plant on the way. The cooling towers were demolished 10 days before we arrived. Now, it has an ere look with four weathered structures each with a high chimney stack in black. Fifty years of electrical power for billions and a radiation legacy of undetermined effect left us postponing our lunch until we found a better setting. How long can we dot the landscape with these?

We were met coming to Carlisle by a couple and then a CND leader. I asked them about the Hadrian Wall, which crosses the length of the Island and which I just learned about. It was constructed in the second century to keep the savage Scots out. The Castle across the street from the Quaker House is on the remnants of the wall. Our hostess just told me about the 1745 defeat of the Scots by the British. The castle was used to hold hundreds of Scots, whom the British intended to execute. The Carlisle residents said "No." They then had to choose one out of ten for execution. The song, "You take the low road and I'll take the high road", originated from the experience. I need to research these things.

I am not finding much support for our mission here. Our friends say that nuclear power is about all that supports the region. (Note Julie's research about local nuclear disposal (Sellafield where we will be in a few days) into the Irish Sea, two blogs ago.) The coal mines are closed, steel mills down, lumber down. Some farming left. Residents are left with what? We must do more to foster the visions mentioned above. I thought I had discovered a comrade in the message yesterday in James Lovelace's book on Gaja, then was told he now advocates nuclear power!

I feel like I am giving you bad news again, and I am. I hope you bear patiently with this, and seek the truth as I am trying to do. As you can imagine, walking close to Mother Earth for hours gives much time for thought. If I had more time and Internet access I would develop more of these ideas. Our walking and chanting at times just carries us along, beautiful and uplifting. NA MU MYO HO ZIN GE KYO

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Why radiate the beauty of creation?

This has been a full week. We have passed through an area full of radiation "incidents". Most prominant result is the high rate of child lucemia. The Irish Sea had radiation wastes dumped into it in the 50's. Nuclear radiation has been released into the environment from the nuclear plant we will visit soon. Chernobyl released radiation into Northern Europe due to east winds at the time, much landing in the hills of Scotland. More recently, we walked through the base where the Royal Air Force practiced firing DU along the coast.

The Sunday newspaer has a nice panaramic picture of us walking into town, Creetown, to highlight an article about the fact that the UK Department of Health will not release a report about radiation in the area.

Our recent walk took us to the town of Kirkcudbright, where we were hosted by activists, including church folks. They have some most knowledgeable people, but "apathy" rules the day. Our hosts thanked us heart fully for coming and moving them to move into more action.

The countryside and water are so beautiful, with spring flowers ruling the day. I never saw so many cows, sheep, and to a lesser degree, horses. It is very pleasant walking along side roads in this place, two lane main highways are another story. For a few days I could wear my cotton Gandhi clothing since it was sunny and hot. The last two days brought back the wool clothing and rain poncho. There was a stretch yesterday where the wind tried to undress me. Now, we are at a World Peace retreat center with a needed rest day. We continue to be very well fed. Our night in the wild two nights ago was needed respite from too much food. Even there, we were brought up a casserole and desert.

Just past the firing range for DU, etc, we stopped at the partial shell of Dundrennan Abbey, a classic middle ages abbey now a visitor site. It was founded by the 12th Century Cistercians of St. Bernard fame. I was moved because it is the same monastic order of Thomas Merton in Kentucky. I thought of Merton's latest book, Peacemaking In A Post Christian World, published forty years after his death. Th local pastor told me that his church was built with some of the stones from the Abby after the reformation (Church of Scotland) by the former abbot of the monastery, and that now the roots of the next paradigm or religious meaning are beginning. Perhaps, the mix of folks I am walking with and meeting are the co-creators of that paradigm.

I am impressed with the awareness of peak oil, global climate change, the futility of modern war, organic living and agriculture that our present hosts embrace. Flashback to Cleveland: I was surprised by the awareness there too. But, we are all captured by modern transportation, etc.

Talking about transportation: my feet are getting me there, but with discomfort due to various maladies. the rest of the body is doing very well.

Today, we are in Dumfress, tomorrow move on toward the nuclear power plant.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Walking along

Just finished the second of two 17 mile days, now in Kirkcowen. We had a wonderful host family, Maggie and Jim with four daughters. We fit right into their family and they with us. They gave us a deeply moving letter about our presence. And, did they feed us too. Now, we have a busy evening. After dinner, we will meet at the town hall. The next few days will be eventful too. I have only a few minutes.

I asked Marcus if he took us out of the way to see the scenic route along the coast. "No" he said that the Irish Sea is one of the most polluted body of water in the world due to the nuclear plant, which we will visit at Sollefield (?). We bear witness to these. Foot Prints For Peace has visited many nuclear sites.

My feet are responding!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Brake at Ballantrae

Gandhi's words are one of my companions. For example, "It has been suggested by American friends that the atom bomb will bring in ahimsa like nothing else can....This is very like a man glutting himself with dainties to the point of nausea and turning away from them only to return to them with redoubled zeal after the effect of nausea is well over. Precisely in the same manner will the world return to violence with renewed zeal after the effect of disgust is worn out."

Our youngest companion turned 17 yesterday. Jamie is from Boston, is home schooled, and has been participating in these walks since he was 13. We had a nice BD party last night.

Duncan, who is near 60 and joined us for 10 days from a nearby village, observed that wars are killing fewer and fewer soldiers after viewing the ever present war memorials. Twenty some in The Great War (WWI) and five in WWII from this village of Ballantrae. I observed that civilians killed in wars went from one civilian to 10 soldiers at the beginning of the twentieth century to 10 to one soldier at the end of the century.Then, there are the long term effects, like DU.

Ballantrae is on the ocean across from northern Ireland. Quaint and beautiful. Robert Louis Stevenson wrote The Master of Ballantrae.

Tomorrow, I will walk after seeing a doctor, who gave me wraps to support my ankles. I may have to go to shoes. Ah,the soft life of the American Gandhi!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Our Dance

Second day off for swelling, after a wonderful hosting by Church of Scotland in Gervan. Tomorrow is a rest day. Walk on Friday?

So much is negative, i.e. yesterday's news of which I blogged a summary. Here are my deep beliefs in summary form with words of teachers:

Merton: "The hidden ground of love", "The Hidden Presence", "The hidden reality", as other words for God, Tao, Allah, Brahman.
Gandhi: "Truth is God", "God is truth", "God is light, and life, God is ethics and morality, beyond all God is Conscience". "God is pure consciousness".

We are totally sustained by the Hidden Ground. We are merged as an unspeakable unity. We are mere expressions of reality, given a consciousness of all observable reality. We have the ability to consciously live in the eternal. To live is to express love, knowingly or unknowingly.

To live is to play in existence. To live is to dance with the endless possibilities. Open to all and to every, charged with expectation and mystery, but with the possibility of harm and death. No matter, all are our reality.

The world is about to pass through an era of change. Rampant and blind technological "advances" will be blunted by limits. To live is to play with reality, the Hidden Ground of Love.

I know this is rough and undeveloped. The limits of time with the Internet and the Walk. Peace.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Carnegie Library interlude

From the Ayr Uk coast looking out toward Ireland, I am taking the day off from walking due to swollen foot/ankle. We had a wonderful night at a home B&B. Reading this mornings news, the heat is on which relates directly to my statement about "why" I am walking. Putin has stated two threatening complaints just two days before the G 8 meeting to deal with global climate change and poverty. He see threats in the US missile bases in Eastern Europe and he points to BP's not complying with agreement for gas production, threatening agreement licensing. He did not mention that Gazprom, the Russian oil/gas company, restricting the use of gas lines to China and other locations as causing the problem. Of course, the 2002 US backing out of nuclear ABM Treaty, etc, has also contributed to the growing friction. The UK analysts are more concerned with the loss of gas possibility at this time.

My time is running out. But, these are the international/corporate dynamics which will be increasing in the coming years if the powers to be do not choose different modus vivendi.

Monday, June 4, 2007

First Days of the Walk

Just arrived at a B&B outside Ayr after three days walking. The Walk organizers happened upon our hostess while looking for a place. We have been walking through urban and rural areas. The first day was cloudy, the second rain all day, the third, cloudy then sun. Beautiful countryside with violet Rodie's everywhere, the color of my home. We stayed in a Church of Scotland in Glasgow, a Christian Reformed Church in Barrfield, St. Matthew's Roman Catholic last night. The CND hosted us with meals and a program, which we presented about nuclear disarmament and Foot Prints For Peace. I shared some Gandhi words. Around 45 miles in three days.

Today as we approached Prestwich, police sized us up by asking many questions about our trip and identities. Prestwich Airport has had many protests about the cluster bombs flown in from the US on the way to Israel to be used on Lebanon, also People were flown to Guantanamo through the airport.

All in all we have been treated very well. I do not know how often I will have access to the Internet in the next few days. At present, we have seven walkers, two from the UK, Two from Australia, three from the US. Numbers will increase as we get closure to London. Walkers come and go.

I understand that the Faslane 365 website has pictures of our arrests.

Friday, June 1, 2007

The change we need to see?

Spent a day and night at the Peace Camp outside Faslane, where they have been for the last 25 years. The Camp is nestled among the trees next to the road to Faslane. It is an assemblage of salvaged materials: vans, buses, tarps, constructed huts, shelters, etc. Here resides a community of people committed to a peaceful and sustainable life. Flowers, vegtables, bushes, trees bring life to the colorful shelters. Some would call the place a "hippy" village. I call it "futuristic". No doubt, most of the world's population lives in lesser conditions than Peace Camp. The way the haves, we US citizens among them, are consuming the earth's resources, future villages will be similar to the Camp...for those who can learn to be loving humans.

This is the world I am working for: a world where we can let go of fear and anxiety, greed and hyper-control, where we can spend the time in convivial living accepting the reality of life on earth. People have been and are still "being the change they want to see."


Greetings from Glasgow! Tomorrow we begin our walk to London, due to arrive on August 4Th. There we will have days to remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We will stay one night at Kingsbury Hall where Muriel Lester hosted Gandhi in 1932, then walk to the Nippon Zen Pagoda (not the exact name or spelling) north of London.

Scotland has just elected a prime minister who stands for independence from England and who is opposed to the Trident weapon system. We will see how this plays out in the coming years. Traveling by foot brings us into many contacts with folks on the ground, giving us grassroots views about down to earth life. I maintain that only the grassroots can empower "leaders" to act for justice and peace. Of course, leaders can set a course. Even there, the people must accept it. While the Scottish people are opposed to Trident on their land, like the in US, standing up with loud and clear voices is not yet sufficient for full resonance.

Faslane 365 is looking for US citizens to come on August 19Th for US action.