Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunday Reflection - For everything there is a season

Everything that happens in this world happens at the time God chooses:

For everything there is a season,

And a time for every matter under heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die;

A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal;

A time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh;

A time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;

A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to seek, and a time to lose;

A time to keep, and a time to throw away;

A time to tear, and a time to sew;

A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate,

A time for war, and a time for peace.

-- Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

From the Holy Bible: the book of Ecclesiastes contains the thoughts of 'the Philosopher,' a man who reflected deeply on how short
and contradictory human life is.

photo taken by peacesojourner

Monday, May 23, 2011

The History of the Peace Sign

Throughout history, numerous visual images have symbolized peace. These include images of doves, olive branches, broken rifles and the sign language V used by Sir Winston Churchill during World War II. Later signaled by hippies to represent both peace and love.

One peace sign that is recognizable to many is the peace sign designed by Gerald Holtom. It is the familiar round circle with a line down the middle and two slanted lines, about half the length of the vertical line. The slanted lines attach to the vertical line, slightly below its direct middle, and continue to the perimeter of the circle.

This particular peace sign is also called the peace symbol, and it can be referred to as the CND. Initially, Holtom designed the sign in 1958 for the Direct Action Committee Against Nuclear War (DAC). During the early '60's British 'Ban the Bomb' advocates for nuclear disarmament formed the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), and used Holtom’s sign as a badge. While the sign initially stood for nuclear disarmament, it quickly became a symbol for peace, adopted in the 1960s by the strong anti-war and counterculture movements occurring in both England and the United States. Buttons with the peace sign first made their way to the US in 1960.

If you’re familiar with semaphore, the use of flag movement and hand positions to signal letters that can be understood from a distance, the peace sign makes sense. It incorporates the semaphore positions for the letters N and D and stands specifically for nuclear disarmament. Additionally, Holtom suggested the interior lines were that of a person, standing with arms down in a despairing pose.

Now known as an international sign for peace, it is very common to see people wearing clothing, flying flags, holding placards and banners proudly displaying the symbol.

Worldwide millions of people have demonstrated against war. How sad that this is still needed today. Here are the latest statistics on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars:

Casualties in Iraq
and Afghanistan -
The Human Cost of Occupation

Total # U.S. Military Deaths - 6,034

US Military Deaths - Iraq


US Military Deaths - Afghanistan


Long may we remember them



Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunday Reflection - War - On Whose Side is God?

If God is always on the side of the righteous – whose side is He on?

More than one million people have died during the past ten years as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue.


Two parties differ in their ways of life, and in their belief and understanding of God.

God loves us and will neither take sides nor abandon us. He did set up the rules to guide our existence upon our journey here. He will let the law take its course whenever we cause a reaction. That way, we would learn and improve ourselves.


And so the prayer goes on in camps

Begging the Almighty God’s support

To strike down the opposing fighter 

And each fighting party places its hope

On might of the same and only God 

To upon the enemy strike vengeance.

But who shall God Almighty strike

When He is Love and only Love 

And has made no one His enemy? 

But who shall God Almighty strike

When in His love He has made all 

And has nothing but love for all? 

Now shall God Almighty pitch a camp 

And take side with one of His own 

To bring vanquish upon the other? 

Shall God Almighty worry with man

When He had set the law in time

To guide man from the start of time? 

Or shall He let these events unfold

To take their course and go around 

For the laws of life to apply to all. 

Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Omniscient, 

are the attributes of God Almighty

who is too much to take any side.

Oliver O. Mbamara, 2003

God is alive and present to every human being on this earth. He loves every one of us equally, which means that God is as much present to those living in Iraq and Afghanistan as God is present to the United States.

God is as much present to the Iraqi soldiers as He is to our soldiers. God is as present to the people from Iraq and Afghanistan as God is to you and to me.

God is present as much to sinners as to saints, because God loves all of us equally.

It’s alright then, to be confused about a lot of things about these wars and the whole situation. It’s alright to be on different sides if that’s where our conscience takes us. But, as disciples of Jesus Christ, we cannot be confused about whose side God is on, or whom God loves more.... them or us.


When Abraham Lincoln was sworn into office in 1860 the division in this country was so deep that it would take 4 years of war and the loss of almost 250,000 lives to reunite our union. Articles and letters from the period indicate that both North and South were quick to claim divine authority – absolute certainty that their cause was just and favored by God.

During the war Abraham Lincoln attended a scientific convention in Washington - as he exited the building one of the members approached him and asked "Mr. President, we trust during this time of trial in which the nation is engaged, God is on our side and will give us victory."

Lincoln's reply was simple and profound, " Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side. My great concern is to be on God's side. For God is always right!"


Make sure that you are on God’s side.

For God is always right.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Interesting Art - Superb Painted Hands

The best painted hands that I have ever seen. They are absolutely amazing!

All of the animals painted on the hands are looking fabulous.

This is pure art and it's too bad that they have to eventually wash their hands after the photos.

The Graceful Swan

The Proud Eagle

This wonderful art was forwarded to me via e-mail.

I have learned that the images were created by the amazing artist Guido Daniele. More of his work can be found at his website

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Today is National Train Day - 2011

The Southwest line travels from Waterloo, London to Bournemouth, England

A typical freight train in the United States

Today is National Train Day - 2011

Those who know me well know that I love to travel by train whenever I can. I sometimes think that I was born in the wrong century because I still have the nostalgia of train travel which developed when I was a child, and to be honest I have never felt the desire to rush from place to place :-)

Just this Tuesday I took a one day return ride on the the train from Buffalo, NY to Albany NY - a six hour journey each way - I was so happy to view the countryside just as the leaves are just appearing on the trees and the flowers are blooming. It is a wonderful route that travels through many towns and an excellent way to view the many bridges, and scenery that New York offers.

A young passenger in front of me was talking on his cell phone and I heard him say that he had never been on a train before and he was really enjoying it. He told his friend that it is just like being on an airplane except that the windows are much bigger and there is more opportunity to walk around. I thought that was an insightful observation.

As I was reading the complimentary magazine provided by Amtrak, I noticed the articles advertising information about the upcoming National Train Day and that it is on May 7, 2011 – today.

What Is National Train Day? It is a day for train lovers to celebrate the existence of trains. There are official Train Clubs; I have a friend who travels all over the world just to experience riding a certain train in a certain country. No, I do not sit at the train stations and record which trains I have viewed or travelled on in a Train Spotters Journal but I do think that I could get drawn into that hobby if someone invited me to do so.

Here is a condensed history of trains in the United States written by Amtrak. On May 10, 1869, in Promontory Summit, Utah, the "golden spike" was driven into the final tie that joined 1,776 miles of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railways, ceremonially creating the nation’s first transcontinental railroad. And America was transformed.

Suddenly, the country was united in a way it never had been, and train travel sparked imaginations in small towns and big cities, among folk who desired adventure and businessmen who saw fortunes to be made. The sound of a train whistle was the soundtrack of happy reunions and tearful farewells. It heralded the arrival of mail, supplies and change.

The train became more than the go-to mode of transport for people and goods. It was a proud achievement of engineering vision, technical ingenuity and sweat. It was a cultural force that sparked the creative imaginations of storytellers in songs, movies and novels. Railways provided jobs for thousands of Americans. The train station became a focal point of every community, from New York City’s Pennsylvania Station to the tiny stations that dotted rural America.

Now, 140 years after the “golden spike” connected east and west, there’s never been a better time to take the train. Huge crowds and the frustrations that go with them burden our highways and airports. And at a time when we all share the same pressing concerns about environment and energy conservation, trains are a more energy-efficient mode of travel than either autos or airplanes. Riding the rails is not only a great way to reduce your carbon footprint, but also a great way to meet interesting people and see breathtaking scenery.

That’s why, in commemoration of the anniversary of the day the "golden spike" was driven, they celebrated the first-ever National Train Day on May 10, 2008. Thousands enjoyed live entertainment, train displays, raffles, prizes and surprises for big and small across the nation.
This year the events will be even better. Today there will be a coast-to-coast celebration of the way trains connect people and places, with major events in Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Los Angeles, while other events will occur in smaller markets nationwide. Join us and discover the Rail Way during any of the National Train Day festivities that are sure to be a treat for all ages.

To find out what activities may be happening to celebrate National Train Day in your area go to:

As I write this I realize that I could spend hours on this subject, especially about the immigrants who came to the United States (some voluntary and some enslaved) who laid those original tracks so that people could travel this vast country. I will save that story for another day.

I am off to my local train station to join in the fun – why not join me?