simplicitee

Reading, thinking, biking, sharing…

Religion versus God October 22, 2008

While I am not a religious person, I have always been a faithful person.  I pray daily and seek out God in the little places: in nature, in others, in my heart.  Before I act, I always try to ask myself if the action is aligned with my morals and values.  Above all, I try to be God-ful, sometimes failing, sometimes succeeding, but always trying. 

The most important values to me are love and kindness and I think all actions can be judged against them.  These values apply to our relationships with others, the earth, animals, and God.  During this election season (and earlier), I have been appalled by the hateful venom that has come from religious establishments in this country and from the lack of willigness to care for the less fortunate.

Reading blogs and listening to the likes of James Dobson, I keep hearing that the two most important issues for Christians in the election are protection of traditional marriage and unborn life.  I dont think either of those are bad values.   Marriage between a man and a woman is sacred and beautiful.  I also think abortion is generally morally wrong and I dont support it.  However, I also dont  beleive in a constitutional ban on gay marraige, nor am I part of the pro-life camp. 

Spewing hate towards the gay community and pro-choicers is wrong, wrong, wrong.  I really dont see how civil unions threatens anybody’s traditional marraige.  Are these people really that insecure in their marraiges?!?!  Civil unions are  not going to destroy anybody’s marraiges or corrupt your children.  In contrast, banning gay marraige is hateful and judgeful.  How about trying out a little love and kindness, and if your God dissaproves, then let him judge, not you.

Likewise, overturning Roe v Wade places a woman’s rights to control over her body (and her life) in jeapordy.  Taking away rights moves us towards a slippery and dangerous slope.  Nobody is pro-abortion, they are pro-choice.  If the pro-life camp spent the amount of energy and money they spent fighting abortion on adoption,  contraception, and opportunity for women, I think they would go much farther in reducing abortions.  In addition, they would empower women rather than dimishing their rights.

By focusing so much on gay marraige and abortion, Christians are completely missing the boat on far greater opportunities for good.  If Christians are concerned about murder of the unborn, they should be equally outraged about the murder of US soldiers and Iraqi citizens.  They should be concerned about the underpriveleged and struggling.  Providing universal health care is the decent thing to do.  Caring for veterans and the mentally ill is the moral thing to do.  Protecting the environment is being thankful for the gifts God has provided.

It is my opinion that the fundamentalist movement in this country doesn’t have much to do with God at all.  It has to do with fear and judgement rather than love and kindness.  I hope that the true Christians will vote in November (Republican or Democrat) with their hearts rather than with their church.  I will be, and I dare anyone to call me a heathen.

 

TOWM October 10, 2008

Filed under: arizona,life,mountain biking,Nature,Uncategorized — onarete @ 7:04 pm

 

This years TOWM was sort of a disaster for me, but also alot of fun.  After finding out that the 60 miler was actually 67.2 miles the evening before, I headed to bed.  We were camped in a lava field with all sorts of rocks and painful items stabbing me in the back, when Blair got really sick (the 6 hour flu?).  Needless to say, I was awake almost the entire night.  I still felt pretty good when the alarm went off, and I was looking forward to a day on the bike. 

The first 20 miles or so, I was just suffering.  For some reason, my bike wasn’t shifting and it was still really cold, so my asthma was acting up a little.  After the second aid station, I hit a fast and beautiful dirt road, and from there I had a wonderful day.  It was a little bit cold and breezy, and all the trees were turning.  So  many times during the race, I found myself saying a little prayer thankful for the beauty, for the fresh air, for the blood pumping through my muscles.  I am so lucky to have a life like this.

I ate really well and paced myself and just had a really good time throughout.  I never crashed and felt like I rode the downhills and technical sections really well.  Right before the final aid station it started to rain.  I stopped to put on my jacket and looked at the time.  It was 3 o’clock.  This was a serious bummer because I knew that the cutoff time for the aid station was at 3.  About 5 minutes later I rolled in, the rain pouring, and was pulled.  Part of me was really upset with myself and dissapointed, but a bigger part of me was smiling and happy and thankful for having so much fun and feeling so good.

I hightailed it back to the venue where the road was already turning to a gooey mess.  Blair and I threw all of our wet gear in the car, and decided to leave.  Judging by the numbere of other cars leaving, I think it must have been a pretty small crowd that stuck around for the night.  After a pitstop at Dairy Queen, Blair drove me home and unpacked.  I definately owe him one now.

The good thing about this race is that I felt really good and have obviously built up my endurance.  On the other hand, I am slooow.  Which I knew, but it was good to be reminded of it.  Now I know where I have my work cut out for me. 

Overall, I’d have to say it was a lot of FUN!

 

Worth a thousand words October 6, 2008

Filed under: adventure,arizona,happiness,life,love,mountain biking,Nature — onarete @ 3:10 pm

I will write up a report on TOWM soon, but first I want to share some pictures from the last several weekends of biking.

This is a picture of the McDowell’s on a hot summer morning.

 

Sweaty but still smiling.

 

 BB at a beautiful lookout in Prescott before we started descending.

 

Lovely little pool that we ran into late in the afternoon.  I stopped for a snack.

 

 

Going through a tunnel blasted through the rock.  This was in Flagstaff. 

 

Riding through the aspens; moments of joy.

 

Flagstaff September 23, 2008

Filed under: arizona,Camping,Flagstaff,happiness,life,love,mountain biking,Nature — onarete @ 8:11 pm

Photo Credit

We escaped to Flagstaff for the weekend.  These little trips become so easy when you do lots of them, things are organized, you know exactly what you need for 2 days camping and biking.  Flagstaff was cold and windy when we arrived early Saturday morning.  It felt like fall!  We set up camp quickly and headed out on the bikes.  

What a ride.  We rode singletrack for 5 1/2 hours, sweeping through all kinds of scenery: meadows, aspen forest, pine trees, red rock.  I was so giddy, I was flying.  After 2 1/2 hours, Blair finally made me stop to eat something.  I didn’t even feel like I was working.  “This is mountain biking,” Blair said.

Sunday we rode from camp, climbing several miles before we started “the climb.”  We rode waterline road to Abineau Canyon.  The road is surrounded by Wilderness area and offers spectacular views.  Every time I went around a corner my heart jumped in awe.  Right before the cabins, the road winded through the most amazing forest of aspens.  I had never seen anything like it!  Fat aspens as far as the eye could see.  (I will post some pictures once I get them uploaded).  After the cabins, the road became more primitive.  There were areas where the whole road was covered by rock slides.  The wind also picked up and was blowing me around like crazy.  Just as my legs were starting to give in, we made it to the end of the road, Abineau canyon.  This was at 10,500′.  I think that is a record on my mountain bike.   From there, we were able to see the Grand Canyon!  What a view!

From there, we had close to 20 miles of downhill.  Both Blair and I were riding slow to enjoy the scenery and also to keep from getting too cold (we were freezing by the bottom).  This was a fabulous ride.  Lots of climbing, but never too steep and jaw-dropping beautiful.

I feel so blessed to have a weekend like that.  In so many ways I am blessed.

 

Wilderness therapy September 11, 2008

Filed under: God,happiness,love,Nature — onarete @ 4:21 pm

We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.  -Mother Theresa  (Picture credit)

I am a life-long worrier.  I have  been busy worrying since I was a little kid.  Sometimes, I worry about important things.  Am I headed down the right career path?  Am I saving enough money?  Is our government protecting the less-fortunate, the environment, and our civil rights? 

But more often than not, I am worrying about really stupid, unimportant stuff.  Did I lock the back door?  Why is my bike making that creaking noise?  Am I going to make it to work on time?  I drive myself crazy, and I am pretty sure I make the people around me crazy also.

The last couple of weekends I have gotten to escape to the wild.  Well not exactly the wild, but I’ve gotten to escape to nature.  And the same thing happened that always happens when I get outside: I quit worrying.  My mind goes quiet and my body literally fills with joy.  My soul is filled with wonder and amazement, love and happiness, peace and spirit.  I’m not the person who goes to work, exercises each night, makes phone calls, runs errand, tries to stay connected to family and friends.  I just am.  And I am well.

Being in nature is our primal condition.  Animals, trees, water, mountains, deserts: these are all a part of who we are as humans.  And yet so much of our modern life is spent separated from it all.  An article in the Oxford University Press suggests the same:

Humans have spent many thousands of years adapting to natural environments, yet have only inhabited urban ones for relatively few generations.  Whilst modern ‘westernization’ has doubled our life expectancy, it has also created disparities between ancient and present ways of living that may have paved the way for the emergence of new serious diseases.  ‘As more people survive to older age, and as patterns of living, consuming and environmental exposures change, so non-communicable diseases such as coronary heart disease, diabetes and cancer have come to dominate.’ Further, mental, behavioural and social health problems are seen to be an increasing health burden in all parts of the world.

According to the World Bank and the World Health Organization, mental health disorders currently constitute 10% of the global burden of disease. In Australia, depression costs the economy AUD$3.3 billion in lost productivity each year. Estimates suggest by the year 2020 mental health disorders will rise to 15% of the global burden of disease and depression alone will constitute one of the largest health problems worldwide…The evidence invites us to ‘look outside’ for solutions to this global contemporary health epidemic.

Clearly, our health, mental and physical, is effected by our environment.  I would also argue that our spiritual health is affected.  For me at least God is nature, they are one in the same.  Which makes sense.  Our connection to nature is primal; our connection to God is primal.  A sense of our true self can only be found outside the city limits.

For me at least.

 

Grand Canyon September 8, 2008

Filed under: arizona,Grand Canyon,Nature — onarete @ 9:08 pm

 

In the Grand Canyon, Arizona has a natural wonder which, so far as I know, is in kind absolutely unparalleled throughout the rest of the world…. Leave it as it is. You cannot improve on it, and man can only mar it. What you can do is to keep it for your children, your children’s children, and for all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American….should see.”

Theodore Roosevelt
 

Desert storm August 15, 2008

Filed under: arizona,desert,happiness,Nature,road biking,Uncategorized — onarete @ 6:17 pm

The wise man in the storm prays to God, not for safety from danger, but deliverance from fear  –Ralph Waldo Emerson

I suprised myself yesterday when I went for a road ride and realized that it had been over 3 weeks!  Part of this is that it has been just too hot to hang out on the blacktop in the 105+ degree heat.  It is much easier to wait until the sun goes down and ride dirt.  As I left work though, it was a cool 97 degrees, so I jumped at the opportunity.  It was hot and sunny but not overwhelmingly so.

I did the Home -> Bush Highway -> Usery Pass -> Home loop.  Once I passed the Walgreens, not a soul was out.  Even the traffic was abnormally light.  It was just me and the desert, and I was flying.  Every so often I would look around and be hit by another wave of awe at the beauty of the mountains and the river and the saguaro cactus saluting as I went by.

As I approached the turnoff for Usery Pass, the sky was turning ominous.  Half way up the climb, dirt and sand started blowing across the road (and yes, at one point, a tumbleweed).  At the top, it had gone from a sunny day to black, lightening, and windy.  On the descent, the wind gusts were threatening to knock me over.  As hard as I tried, I couldnt keep my front wheel in a straight line.  Every time I nearly crashed and kept it together, I felt a surge of adrenaline cursing through my body.  Wild and smiling, I turned toward home, the wind to my back, spinning furiously to outrun the storm.  I was flying.

I pulled into the apartment complex just as the storm instensified and the sky went totally dark.  Blair had dinner on the stove.  I was salty and windblown.  Inside, it was safe.  I was totally, totally happy.