Rev. Jill Cowie
Posted on March 17th, 2017

As Congress debates the Administration's replacement for ObamaCare, I think of my sister who  in her testimony at a rally describes the world of hurt she would be in if  health care exchanges were dismantled.  Please call your senator and representative and urge them to protect health care benefits for her and millions of others.

"​I’m Ann, resident in Colorado for 27 years. In 2012 I was diagnosed with tongue cancer. The surgery that removed the tumor also removed the left half of my tongue. Subsequent radiation treatment left ulcers and scars on my throat. In 2014 I suffered a heart attack. As a result of the cancer related procedures, I have difficulty eating, swallowing, and maintaining a healthy weight. I am at risk of aspirating food into my lungs. I can only eat small portions at a time and it takes longer than it would take a normal person.  To maintain my weight, I need to make sure that I get enough calories and that my diet is high in fat and protein. But, my heart condition does not allow me to eat a lot of fat. Therefore, I need to consume twice as much food to get all of my calories.  I basically need to eat many small meals almost continuously over the course of a day.

I also have a speech impediment that has prevented me from returning to my former job. .  A lot of people cannot understand me on the telephone and some can’t in person unless I spell the words. I am not able to talk very long before I lose my voice or my enunciation deteriorates.I generate a lot of thick mucus that most people would swallow and I can’t. Therefore, I have to expectorate periodically. I currently take prescription medications to control my heart condition, my aspiration problem and my phlegm generation. I live on a limited income and am insured through the Colorado Health exchange. If the exchange is repealed, I am in a world of hurt. The cost of my prescriptions would be more than 75% of my income. That does not leave enough money for food and mortgage payments. Both my cancer and heart history could be considered pre-existing conditions, the repeal of the Colorado Health Exchange and the ACA might make me completely uninsurable. I am 60 years old. I still have a lot to contribute to society and without health insurance, I am not sure that can happen."

Posted on February 27th, 2017

​In his book "Reimagining Christianity," Episcopal Priest Alan Jones writes:
"The realm of God is concerned with the restoration of lost harmonies,
with the healing of fractured integrities,
with the creation of new spaces within the soul.
One way of understanding the realm of God
is to think of it is a code word for mending the creation and for enlarging the space in which it can flourish."
 I spent a week of October last year on the Arizona/ Mexico border on a Border Witness Trip. When I left I wasn't sure what was meant by the word "witness." But now I know it has to do with restoring lost harmonies, mending creation, and creating space where it can flourish.   We visited the desert marked by the footprints of thousands seeking freedom from the hunger and violence of their countries. Not all make it.  Over 6,000 people have died along the US. Mexico borders since they started trying to count in 2001, and those that are doing the counting say that in truth the actual number is that times ten.    Of those captured, many are taken to the federal courthouse in Tucson bound in chains. We witnessed them being process sometimes in groups of 70, each mumbling "soy culpable" (guilty), and given six month prison sentences.  We are one of very few countries that criminalize migration.  We met others who were released after prison back in Mexico. Most of them had lived in the States for over 10 years, some had small businesses, all had U.S. born children. 
​To witness means to no longer to be a bystander- to fully see the humanity of one who is oppressed- a humanity often veiled by an interweaving web of laws, perceptions, biases, that make the oppression seem normal. To witness means to deconstruct that normal and see with new eyes. It takes effort and a willingness to question, to probe, to feel your heart break open and hold all the pain. To witness is to see our own government breaking international law by imposing a border control policy that costs thousands of lives. (Inter-American Court, 2003). To witness, is to follow the lead of those oppressed, to let their strength, courage, and conviction fill your broken heart. Only in solidarity, can we move together, stop by step to reclaim the higher law of human worth and dignity. 
To witness means to believe that love is stronger and more resilient that the forces that oppose it.  We witnessed so many wonderful people working on the side of love. On our last day, my colleague, Victoria Safford offered this prayer.  I share it with you now in hope and solidarity that we  help our nation heal fractured integrities and live into the realm of God.
Spirit of life and love
moving in the wind and over all waters
shining in sunlight and starlight
rustling in wild autumn grasses,
spirit that murmurs over the darkening desert,
 great spirit,
moving in all things and in the breath of each of us, gather us in.
 Our open eyes hold images we will not,
must not forget
images of brokenness and beauty unspeakable cruelty,
unspeakable courage.
Our open ears hold stories we will not
must not
songs of brokenness and beauty unspeakable sorrow unspeakable hope
must not, will not forget:
Our open hearts hold all of this: shards of brokenness
shimmers of beauty, struggles and joy
the evidence of evil - which our own eyes have seen,
and we also are culpable; the testimony of compassion – which our own ears have heard,
and we also are capable of love.
We are made for this, our hearts are made for this: to hold it all,
to hold the unspeakable –and to speak it,
to find within us, and among us, a faith sufficient to speak truth to power. By grace and by our will, may we find the power to speak. Now begins our journey.
May we carry with us as we go all that we have seen and heard, all the truth we know by heart.

“I believe the world is beautiful
And that my veins don’t end in me
but in the unanimous blood of those who struggle for life,
little things
landscape and bread
the poetry of everyone.”
Words of Roque Dalton, poet of El Salvador (adapted)   

by Jill Cowie on February 24th, 2017

​ My husband Ben, a marine biologist told me the Rights Whales are on their way back to the Gulf of Maine.  I downloaded the free “Whale Alert” app and saw the song of one whale had lit up one buoy in the Boston Harbor Shipping Lanes.  Just knowing they are there reminded me of the day I spent counting Right Whales from a four seat plane over Cape Cod Bay.   As we flew, 1,000 feet over the perfectly calm water, I was reminded of a folktale called The Perfect Globe.
The folktale tells of how once, long ago there was this tiny globe, just a few feet in diameter, which was kept safe in a museum.  It held so much mystery and beauty that people came from miles and miles just to see it.   And there it was a delicate sphere in space, looking different at every angle. Sometimes you could see big pools of water in it, and smaller flows of water feeding into the big pools.  There were bumps too, some big bumps, with white tops, and some smaller with gentle bumps. 
I thought of this tiny globe as we gained elevation from the Plymouth airport and saw the small and big pools of water.   Duxbury Bay, nearly drained at very low tide, was a vast expanse of mud flats.  The coastal ponds seemed swollen in comparison, and my eye searched the malachite green for the bottom of their depths.   But then, we left the land and the Cape Cod Bay, the southern portion of the Gulf of Maine stretched out before us.
It was an extraordinary day.  One-fourth of our world’s endangered Right whales (79 of 350) were off our coast feeding on copepods.  My husband works for Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary and I was helping him film the whales and to document how close to ships they were.  The Sanctuary had placed real-time whale detection buoys in the Boston shipping lane that bisect the Sanctuary, and all of them had been activated by Right Whale calls.    
As we flew over this part of the bay, known for its rich diversity in marine animals and plants, the water seemed to come to life.  The white sides of dolphins flashed like beacons, and their brief small blows brought the water to life like inverse rain.  Finback whales methodically made their way, blowing and arching at predictable and consistent intervals.  A Humpback, silhouetted under water by the white barnacles on its body seemed suspended in the jewel green of the bay, and I felt as if I could reach down and hold it in the palm of my hand.
And we saw the right whales, waving their tail flukes over and over as if they were answering the beckoning arm of Cape Cod.    My heart seemed to pause with time as their magnificent blows shot up like geysers, suspend for a moment then disappear.  The calm water they left behind after surfacing spoke to ancient times untouched by current day threats.
As we flew above this all, I felt like I was in that museum of ancient days, marveling with wonder and awe at this tiny treasure of our ocean.    I joined the people in the story who felt wisdom and healing after seeing their perfect globe. The ancient story ends sadly, the tiny globe dies as people stopped coming to the museum.  So I write to you to share the awe and wonder and change the ending of the story.   Listen and track the whales at   Share the treasure.

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