Saturday, October 31, 2009

"If we knew each others' secrets, what comfort we would find."

I have a friend who is going through a tough time right now. The courage she's embodying to face this head-on is inspiring.

By revealing her "weakness," she's given her friends the opportunity to share her burden. And, for that, I am grateful.

She shared an especially touching txt that one of us sent. And, she got the words a little mixed up.

I prefer her version. It describes the very best in our friends.

"If we knew each others' secrets, what comfort we could bring."

Friday, October 30, 2009

Hall Pass

Certain concepts from High School have stayed with me.

For example, when my flight's delayed and I'm stuck at the airport, or I'm sitting on a tattered old couch in the office/waiting room of my mechanic while my Tracker "goes for a ride" on the lift (he LOVES it up there)... I am in study hall. Books open. No talking. Txting becomes the equivalent of passing notes.

Really, I'm in heaven. No complaining. I may have stuff to do and places to be, but right now, I'm here; an in-between moment. Just like study hall. I can make lists, plan, call people, but I prefer to take this hemmed in piece of the day to explore, daydream, read, and wonder. I enjoy the breather.

And this morning, I remembered my Hall Pass.

When I hear that voice inquire, "Ms. Ciampa, shouldn't you be doing something?" I flash my pass.

Signed by Mr. Wordsworth. (... who i met in high school.)

Expostulation and Reply

"Why, William, on that old grey stone,
Thus for the length of half a day,
Why, William, sit you thus alone,
And dream your time away?

"Where are your books? --that light bequeathed
To Beings else forlorn and blind!
Up! up! and drink the spirit breathed
From dead men to their kind.

"You look round on your Mother Earth,
As if she for no purpose bore you;
As if you were her first-born birth,
And none had lived before you!"

One morning thus, by Esthwaite lake,
When life was sweet, I knew not why,
To me my good friend Matthew spake,
And thus I made reply:

"They eye-- it cannot choose but see;
We cannot bid the ear be still;
Our bodies feel, where'er they be,
Against or with our will.

"Nor less I deem that there are Powers
Which of themselves our minds impress;
That we can feed this mind of ours
In a wise passiveness.

"Think you, 'mid all this mighty sum
Of things for ever speaking,
That nothing of itself will come,
But we must still be seeking?

"--Then ask not wherefore, here, alone,
Conversing as I may,
I sit upon this old grey stone,
And dream my time away."

i'm back

starting now

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Quote of the Day

"Along with love, compassion is the face of altruism. It is a feeling from deep in the heart that you cannot bear others' sufferings without acting to relieve it." -Dalai Lama

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

sometimes it's the little things

i was txting with a friend the other day.

just one of those random:

i'm going for a walk... but.... maybe coffee first.

she txted back:

my sister-in-law puts a little cinnamon in hers when she brews it.

a thoughtful little suggestion like that makes me happy & adds to my day.

txting with pals.. like cinnamon in coffee... adds spice to life.

Monday, June 01, 2009

what applies?


Here's a fun little vid to kick off the week.

I ran across it at

Brings up the question: what applies?

And: who decides?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act

The good news just keeps rolling in...

(check out for the whole article)

The House and Senate introduced the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act. The The DPBO Act would afford same-sex partners of Fed Employees the same benefits that "opposite marriage" spouses get.

As it stands, and has been for lo these many years, same-sex partners are denied access to retirement programs, life and health insurance benefits, and family and medical leave.

“This legislation would allow the federal government to keep pace with other top employers,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “It is not only a matter of equal pay for equal work, but also the best way to ensure that the government has access to the top talent on the same basis as the nation’s leading corporations.”

(rebuttal, GOP Chairman Steele?)

If you would like to learn about the 1138 Rights Denied to GLBT Americans....

click, learn, talk!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

How much do UNequal rights cost?

Following up on my last post.

(big nod to Autumn Sandeen's article on

When we last left GOP Chair Steele, he was declaring that Marriage Equality would cost too much... not in dignity, pursuit of happiness, sanctity of relationships, civil rights, integrity of the nation, etc etc, but in cold hard cash.

Cut to this scene in Dr. King's I Have A Dream speech:

"When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice."

Back to the future...

As long as Steele is bringing up concern for costs- for the cost of health care and equal benefits to GLBT families- let's consider that DONT ASK DONT TELL is costing the taxpayers a fortune.
In just one instance, $25 million in training is being blown to kick out a decorated war hero b/c he is gay.

Also booted out:

Arab linguist Dan Choi

over 200 other service members since Obama took office, after campaigning to put an end to Don't Ask Don't Tell

Saturday, May 16, 2009

equal rights cost too much, suggests GOP chairman

From the AP: RNC chief: Gay marriage will burden small business


So we'll send service members out to pay the ultimate price to defend our rights and freedoms...
but when it comes to "denting our pocketbooks," we draw the line?

We'll throw bazillions bailout $ at the big banks, but when it comes to paying a relatively tiny amount of money to ensure that ALL Americans are treated equally, the RNC wants to scare small businesses & financially struggling citizens with this garbage.

Apparently, GOP Chairman Michael Steele believes that its too great a cost to extend these rights to a minority group here in the good ol' US of A.

If only he could put himself in the place of a minor...i... ty.....? wait....

Friday, May 15, 2009

Peep Break

Quail Peeps
Did you know: their eyes are blue when they hatch,
(just like baby kittens)
this post is in memory of the bird got into Alise's basement,
which she sicked Mr. T, her cat, on

Rep. Pingree's Marriage Equality Statement

Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) hits the nail on the head.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

"Tell me your image of God, and i will tell you your politics."


I attended a seminar in Pgh with Mom the other day. The theme was "Radical Abundance: A Theology of Sustainability."

One of the speakers, David Korten, shared an interesting story.

Here is the gist of it, which I found at Tikkun Magazine.

Some years ago I was privileged to share a conference platform with Jesus scholar Marcus Borg. I will never forget his defining statement: "Tell me your image of God, and I will tell you your politics." Borg explains that the many scriptural images of God are of two basic types. One is the patriarch with the flowing beard: the God we visualize in human form, the God of Michelangelo's famous painting in the Sistine Chapel, who lives in a distant place we call Heaven. The other image of God is as a spirit manifest in all being.

The patriarch image sets up a hierarchy of righteousness and domination running from those closest to God to those most distant. It leads to a competitive individualistic politics of separation, domination, favor seeking, and wealth accumulation. It is the foundation of the Calvinist belief that the rich and powerful are by definition God's most favored, and that financial success and Earthly power are marks of special righteousness. Within this belief system, the world is whatever God the patriarch wishes it to be, and it is beyond our means to change it for better or worse.

By contrast, the spirit image-by which we recognize the face of God in every human being, animal, insect, and grain of sand-leads to a politics of community, shared purpose, and mutual service. Everything in creation is both manifestation and agent of a great spiritual intelligence seeking to know itself through the creative exploration of its possibilities. Within this belief system, to do harm to another being is to harm oneself. We see ourselves as agents of that creative journey and find our ultimate fulfillment in devoting ourselves to it.

There is a striking difference between the image of God evoked by the language of public discourse and the image of our inner understanding. The God of our public discourse and of most formal religious liturgy is the male patriarch to whom we pledge our faith and obedience in hope of winning favor now and in the afterlife. Because the very word "God" so strongly evokes this image, I generally prefer to discuss matters of faith in the language of spirit or creation. This may well be, in any case, the way most people see things.

Bob Scott, director of the Trinity Institute, recently sent me the results of a national survey he commissioned in his earlier capacity as editor-in-chief of Spirituality and Health magazine. The findings suggest that most people's private beliefs align much more closely with the spirit image of God than the patriarch image.

Eighty-four percent of Americans view God as being "everywhere and in everything," rather than "someone somewhere." Given a list of characteristics and asked to pick the one that describes God best, 71 percent chose "loving." Only 5 percent chose "remote," and only 2 percent chose "judging" or "controlling." I find quite stunning the contrast between what these results reveal of our private images of God and the image evoked by the language of our public discourse and liturgy.

In our lecture, he went on to say that we must work to make our institutions (churches, banks, etc) reflect our private images of God.

Personally, I find that I slide back and forth between both of those images.

Anyway, if you have any thoughts on this, feel free to comment.

"Clergy Call for Justice and Equality" - Rev. Dr. Love

Rev. Dr. Cindi Love's contribution at HRC's Clergy Call '09

more vids from a variety of clergy members, including Tony Campolo, are available here (ps: they are short)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Faith in America's Open Letter to Miss Ca

So I just got off the phone with a good friend who sometimes checks in when something gay happens.
She wanted to talk about the Perez Hilton/Miss California Gay Marriage Question.
I like these talks. We get to move deeper; explore farther.
Getting peppered with soundbites doesn't cut it anymore.... they used to feel like an elephant stampede, but now, it's more like a swarm of gnats.
And when we take the time and risk of talking about what is Important to us, it can feel like the difference between getting a post card from Wyoming, or spending a week hiking through the mts, valleys, river beds, and vast plains....
So. Much. Richer.
In an attempt to add to the vista, I'm posting Faith In America's Open Letter to Miss California.
And, my personal 2 cents: Faith is not the exclusive Trump Card of one side.
An open letter to Carrie Prejean

April 22nd, 2009

Dear Ms. Prejean,

On a recent interview with’s Courtney Friel, you stated that you did not mean to offend anyone when you stated your opposition to gay Americans having the right to marry.
We believe you are sincere in that answer.

But we are writing this letter in hopes that you will come to better understand why it does offend gay Americans, their families and their friends. It’s the kind of hurt that burrows deep within a person’s soul always there to remind them that there are those around them who deem them inferior, undeserving and unworthy to be treated like everyone else.

Just imagine if the question had been about Mildred Loving’s marriage to her husband Richard?
Mildred and Richard lived in Virginia, a state that banned interracial marriage at the time. So they went to the District of Columbia and married in 1958. Upon their return to their home in rural Virginia, they were arrested.

Leon Bazille, the trial judge in the case, ruled in 1959 that the Lovings had violated what was considered at the time a religious tenant of civil marriage in America – that people of the opposite race should not marry because “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages.”

Later in 1966, the Virginia Supreme Court upheld the Lovings’ conviction, with then Chief Justice Harry Lee Carrico writing these words: “Marriage, as creating the most important relation in life, as having more to do with the morals and civilization of a people than any other institution, has always been subject to the control of the Legislature.”

Sound familiar?

It’s interesting that this month is the same month that the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the Loving case. The question before them was basically the same question that we as a society face today in regard to marriage between two people of the same sex and in essence the same question before you Sunday night.

Is it right to use deep-seated prejudice – even when such prejudice is widely accepted in society – to deny someone the same right that other Americans enjoy?

The U.S. Supreme Court in 1967 ruling that Mildred should not be denied the right to marry the person she loved – despite the fact that interracial marriage was not widely accepted in America at that time.

The most important question as it relates to your response to the question Sunday night is why was interracial marriage not accepted by a majority of Americans in 1967?

It was because for years the church had taught what Judge Bazille referred to in his statement – that God did not want people of opposite races sullying the sanctity of marriage.

I had the rare honor to meet with Mildred Loving in May 2007, just weeks before the 40th anniversary of that landmark Supreme Court decision. As we sat there in the same wood-frame house in which she and Richard resided, I asked Mildred what she thought about those people who had used their Bible to justify prejudice against her.

She said it obviously offended her but that the pain didn’t penetrate deeply because she knew in her heart that God doesn’t want us to use religious teaching to look down upon others as inferior, unworthy or undeserving.

In the interview, you also stated that you considered your response Sunday night a test of your character and your faith.

Mildred Loving in 2008 issued a statement which answers the question about gay Americans having the right to marry:

“Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the ‘wrong kind of person’ for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.”

They are the words of an extraordinary and beautiful woman who possessed rare courage, strong character and unyielding faith.

Brent Childers
Executive Director
Faith In America

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Training Rules on CNN

Turn on CNN today(April 7) for the 3-4pm hour.

They will be promoting the documentary "Training Rules", which explores the stories of former Penn State Wmns Basketball players who were vicitimized by former coach, Rene Portland's, policy of anti-gay discrimination.

I attended the premiere on Saturday. Three of the players who courageously came forward were from my hometown of Indiana, Pa, which made it especially poingnant. I have friends who played with them in high school; know parents who cheered them on.

The film was riviting, heartwrenching and inspiring.

Hope you can see it when it comes to DVD.

In the meantime, check it out on CNN today and have a look at the website.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


We are a community.
We take care of each other.
We shine.
We try hard.
We are good at what we do.
We are the calvary.
We've got your back.
Our skills are at your service.
We're pulling for you.
We care about you.
We're in this together.
(we just don't always make the news)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Wednesday Zen

Inspired by Alise, here is a sweet couple of minutes to just...


reminds me of being a kid

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Lighting The Way

Ran across this story today... whoa, I am running late for church... so, quickly...

It just goes to remind me that there are so many ordinary people who do the right thing; the brave thing. Most of the time, they don't get the credit or hoopla by making headlines or history books.

More importantly, we miss out on their example.

I will be adding Claudette Colvin to the crowd of people I carry around in my heart. I will think of her when I need a courage to do the right thing.

She is a light along the path.

Friday, March 13, 2009

slumpin' it

I am in a slump-

It's probably a lingering after-effect of my trip to Florida... come home, get into a rut.

So, today I just want to get something out on the blog.

Let's see....

Maybe start with something to be thankful about.


A list.

Thankful for:

1. a friend who is now a Vet and can field questions like: "so IF my cat ingested glass, what happens next?"
2. being given a super-cool necklace out of the blue
3. a friend who will call me as she goes through a hard time, b/c she knows I get it
4. other friends who teach me how to be a better friend to her
5. txting
6. baby kittens
7. older kittens
8. farms
9. dirtbikes
10. helmets (ha)
11. work trips with the church
12. facebook
13. internet
14. ipod
15. candles
16. sarah vowell
17. blogs
18. small groups
19. wyoming
20. books
21. comments on my blog

Monday, March 09, 2009

Lost Generation

I've been slacking on the blog lately. Hope to get back to it soon.

In the meantime, I found this vid while surfing.

This turns cool, watch it through...

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

True Nature of Security?

Thinking about Loving Your Enemy.

Acutually, I don't think much about enemies. I think about unpleasant folks in daily life.

Lately, a phrase from a Speaking Of Faith episode keeps coming to mind:

"One of the words which, to me, is a mark of deep religion is paradox... And often, the true nature of things is paradoxical. And the Christian paradox is that the true nature of power is in weakness and suffering. That is the true nature of power. And it is transformative. ...the underlying question is what's the true nature of security? And the answer is very simple. You are secure if you have no enemies. That's where security lies. So how do you change enemies into friends is the true question which underlies true security." ~George F. R. Ellis. professor of Applied Mathematics at the University of Cape Town, recipient of the Templeton Prize, and the author

So, how do we turn enemies into friends? ...I'm guessing the answer is, We love them.

I would like to hear some real-life stories about this.

I'll be thinking about it. And, in the meantime, if you have a comment or story, please share.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Good Life

"Once our basic physical needs are covered, more stuff does little to boost our happiness. Friendships, family, self-acceptance, and meaning in our lives are the core determinants of our happiness."

~Frances Moore Lappe; Yes Magazine, "Voices Carry"

Last week, I attended a workshop. The title was something like: The Theology of Abundance: Creating a Future with Sustainability.

One of the key concepts was "The Good Life." As the world changes with new technologies and diminishing resources, how do we create the The Good Life? What could it look like? ...What comprises The Good Life anyway?

We discussed how to create new and meaningful changes in society from the ground up.

To be honest, when I hear "grassroots," I think of grungy myopic fringe-type activists who are (I'm sure) doing fine work, but I'm happy to leave it to "them."

However, as we talked and shared stories, it became clear that there are plenty of choices out there. We are not locked in to a boring life. We can apply our wits, knowledge & skills to whatever vision we have for our life, our home, our community, and beyond. And, creation & expression are satisfying.

In one of our sessions, the themes that came up... our thoughts and interests... seemed to hone in on Community and Intimacy. A few complaints about txt messaging and facebook ("People don't communicate deeply anymore"), led us to appreciate them as tools. It's revitalizing to remember that we get to choose how to use them. And, if we remember that it's Intimacy that we're after, then we can choose to develop that.

In the midst of new challenges, we can be creative and seek out the new opportunities that lie in our midst.

Pretty cool.

PS: I would love to hear your thoughts on The Good Life

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Rev. Joseph Lowery

After hearing a lot about the controversial choice of Rick Warren to deliver the Inaugural Prayer, I was reminded of a blog post that said something like:

Once Rev. Lowery has spoken, you will no longer be thinking of Rick Warren.

After hearing Lowery's benediction, I felt the sting of knowing that I had focused too much time and energy to the wrong person. I wish even half of the media coverage had been devoted to the life and work of Rev. Lowery.

Here are his Inaugural Benediction, and his eulogy for Coretta Scott King.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Sea Kittens

"I don't see fish as sea kittens; I see them as food," says 12-year-old Chastity Haskins.

PETA rebrands fish as "sea kittens."

I'm having flashbacks to my high school friend Jill. When she wasn't imploring me to have our cats fixed, she was pleading the case of the sea kittens.

...which reminds me of the time she had to euthanize her own sea kitten.

While working towards her Masters in Physical Therapy, she got herself a Chinese Fighting Sea Kitten.

At some point, it came down with a disease and it's fins fell apart.

Eager to meet every challenge that came her way, she put her new skills right to work. She created a physical therapy program for him, in which she would drag the tip of a toothpick across the top of the water. Being a fighter, not a lover, he would muster up enough energy to chase it around. (also reminds me of an encounter with a weasel at a Wildlife clinic I interned at.... another time)

Against all odds, she was able to coax him through his time of grave illness. It was impressive.

But then, I got a phone call.

"Never leave your fish alone with something that is called a 'White Convict!'"

She had bought her sea kitten a friend. And it ate him.

Well, not totally.

But, after its extensive stint in rehab, this Chinese Fighter was no longer a Contender.

A difficult decision had to be made.

She said her goodbyes. And, being Catholic, I'm sure she administered her own special version of Last Rites. Then, she carefully scooped him up and ran down the hall to the bathroom where she had a towering stack of Anatomy books waiting. (flushing was cruel)


If you were watching this on TV, the camera would now cut to the hallway. You would see baffled co-eds wondering what was with the girl who just blew past them.

And then, you would hear something resembling a war cry, followed immediately by a thundering, slightly squishy, SLAMMMM!!

Friday, January 09, 2009

"Terrorism is rare"

"...terrorism is rare. If a bunch of men with guns and grenades is all they really need, then why isn't this sort of terrorism more common? Why not in the U.S., where it's easy to get hold of weapons? It's because terrorism is very, very rare."

That is a message that bears repeating. It's not something that makes the news, is it?

Here's the article.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Cloverfield 2.0 Goes Straight To Video...

Square Fish

Taking my lead from Alise, who posted a classic Swedish Chef clip today.

Because that was fun, and I have a clip of my own stuck in my head, and we both love DW, I wanted to put this up.

Enjoy! Until the next posting, happy monkey!

Headline of the Day

Craze over touch-screen gadgets not shared by the blind

Happy Monkey!

This was awesome...

I had a great time catching up with my best friend from high school, Alise. She has always been quick to laugh (and what a laugh it is) and is good at ferreting out obscure, yet hilarious, stuff. Plus, she's got a husband with a matching sense of humor.

First, she informs me of their New Years tradition. As soon as The Ball drops, they flip the channel to "The Horrible Singers." Apparently, when they moved to W.Va, like 10yrs ago, they happened across the local access channel and this choir of "really old people" were, well, singing horribly. Oh, they found this to be right up their Amusement Alley. And, every New Years since, they have faithfully watched the Horrible Singers! ...she worries that eventually they will be invited to a NYE party and will have to scheme some way to watch them.

Ok. Now, Part II.

We were talking about this insane Science vs. Religion phenomenon. Like, when did Christians start not believing in science? I didn't get the memo, or maybe it got buried in under a pile of molecular chemistry lab reports... while I was studying Environmental SCIENCE in college.

Anyway, she told me about a comment on a science blog that her (Christian) husband reads. The guy GOES OFF and it is AWESOME!! He ends by saying:

"I wish I could get a job teaching at a University, but I am not qualified. I am not a terrorist (BillAyers) and do not worship the environment(global warming nuts), do not seek monkeys as my creator (evolutionists) and do not brainwash other people (Marxists). I suppose I am disqualified from teaching. Maybe someday, America will wake up and fire every hippy liberal brainwashed professor and hire real teachers who teach the truth rather than a mock version of reality.... Until then, happy monkey! (or what ever non Christmas evolution people say)"

Needless to say, "Happy Monkey" has been flying around their house non-stop ever since.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Happy Happy

“If you want others to be happy,
practice compassion;

if you want to be happy,
practice compassion.”

~Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama

Gone but not forgotten

One of my favorite sights of the year has been a rare but dependable occasion in rifle season. When the time and conditions are just right, the morning sunlight strikes the trees where I'm nestled.

Usually, I am gazing across the hilltop beyond the farmhouse where pink-orange clouds start lighting up the cool blue morning... soon, they are glowing. At last, the sun crests and sends blazing orange light across the brushy brown hills and pastures. And, when I finally glance behind me, it looks like someone's flipped a switch. Hot pink and orange floodlights are pouring across the hillside.

I visit these scenes in my head in quiet moments throughout the year. I'm glad I snapped a few pictures this year.

Turns out, it was the last season for these gentle giants.... in December, they were marked for logging- numbers in blue spray paint ranged up into the 50's.

My buddy just called to tell me that they logged that patch.

The bright spot? The 2 trees that we hunted from were left standing.

PS: click on the pics for a larger, more real to life, feel

Majora Carter's "This Is Home"


Here's someone who brings some inspiration to the table: Majora Carter.

She has taken her talents, knowledge and initiative and applied them to her own hometown... the South Bronx.

When I first heard her story, I was reminded of a poster back at college- "Bloom Where You're Planted."

Here's her 5 min essay on "This I Believe."