Written by Sister Jan Kilian, this blog will give an understanding of what it’s like to be Franciscan. Living out the spirit of Saint Francis, we see all God’s creation as brother and sister. We, Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, are committed to building relationships and community, ministering wherever there is greatest need, promoting justice and healing Mother Earth’s wounds. My writings will give a glimpse of the compassion, spirituality, interconnectedness and goodness of living Franciscan.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

All good gifts around us, are sent from heaven above

by Sister Carolyn Law

Time to write the December blog. I am having a hard time deciding on a theme. There are many to choose from. Christmas is coming and before that is the observance of Advent. In between my community celebrates the Feast of Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception on December 8th. In the northern hemisphere the day is short. Darkness stays late in the morning and comes quickly in the afternoon. Ere in Chicago, peak sun is gone by 2 p.m.

Shall I write about the opportunity for accepting winter’s invitation to tuning inward and reflect or comment on the end of the year distractions? Then there is the beautiful song sung on Thanksgiving Day, All Good Gifts, from the musical Godspel that continues to reverberate in my head and heart. Here is a selection of the words to this song of gratitude:
All good gifts around us, are sent from heaven above.
Then thank the Lord, then thank the Lord for all his Love.
Then there is still that question of Afghanistan. Our president Obama prepares to announce his plan for nation building in this distant land. (I write this on November 29.) He who campaigned for peace and dialogue among nations is put to the test for also promising to be tough on terrorism. The parallels with Lyndon Johnson’s Vietnam are striking. Robert McNamara’s Johnson’s Secretary of Defense is featured in the captivating movie The Fog of War. This movie is a must see for those who haven’t seen it and a must re-see for those who have. It is available for viewing on line at www.freedocumentaries.org .

I have written a couple of times about this difficult issue. I mentioned that my peace group has been reading and reflecting on Afghanistan. Here are a few more factoids I have gathered:
Afghanistan is about the size of Texas, 2/3 of it very mountainous. It borders Iran, Pakistan, China and several former USSR states on the north. On the crossroads between the east and the west, it is a buffer state.

The people are largely rural, tribal and Islamic. (The occupying force is largely “Christian”.) The population is approximately 25 million. In 1999, there were 500,000 widows from the Soviet’s war and the subsequent civil war. Afghanistan had the largest refugee population in the world. (I don’t know about now.) Since war destroyed (and destroys) their agricultural and industrial economy, poppies for heroin greatly contribute to the survival of many. Northeast Afghanistan has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world. Women suffer disproportionately from war. When women prosper, every one prospers. Of the 30 million land mines laid during the Soviet’s war in 2000, 10 million remained to be cleared. Osama Bin Laden got his start fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan. The central government of Afghanistan has never been strong, repeat: never been strong.

By the way, last week there was a short news item in the newspaper stating that the Obama administration has decided not to sign the international treaty to ban the use of landmines. After review it was decided to continue Bush’s stance on land mines. Curious, isn’t it? While more than 150 countries have agreed to the land mine ban treaty, other countries who have refused are China, India, Pakistan, Myanmar and Russia.

There is always much to reflect on and I hope that you have some time this December to do so holding the many mysteries and conundrums in your heart and mind. Here are the two verses from the Godspel hymn of praise:
We plow the fields and scatter the good seed on the land..
But it is fed and watered by God's almighty hand..
He sends us snow in winter, the warmth to swell the grain...
The breezes and the sunshine, and soft refreshing rain...

We thank thee then, O Father, for all things bright and good,
The seedtime and the harvest, our life our health our food,
No gifts have we to offer for all thy love imparts
But that which thou desirest, our humble thankful hearts!

All good gifts around us
Are sent from Heaven above..
Then thank the Lord, thank the Lord for all his love.
I really want to thank you Lord!



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