Mel's Healing Pilgrimage 2016

Links to the Camino de Santiago pilgrimages are on the navigation links to the right of the web page.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Squirrel vs Dog - Unleashing our drug laws

The title of the article might have been about the so called  surprising results from Portugal's decriminalization of drugs. I can't say I'm very surprised at all. In fact, it's about time we address the astonishing cost, both financially and in human lives, of our war on drugs.

Our country's relentless frontal attack on the problem reminds me of animal behavior classes I took years ago. A dog on a leash, seeing a treat, will tug on its chain to try to reach its goal, even if the chain is snagged on a pole. It might try to dig, claw, bark, but it never looks back to see that the chain is caught and never addresses the root cause of its problem.

A squirrel on the other hand will, if chained, look around, move backwards, climb, scramble, go backwards even to find a way to get to its treat. It will usually figure a way to correct the chain's problem and get to its treat.

Portugal looked at the drug problem, stepped back and found a compassionate AND cost-effective way to  address the issue. It reduced the number of people shackled by drug issues, and showed that relentlessness does not have to be the same as a direct frontal assault. Our countries spends billions on attacking drugs with full force head-on, without the same thoughtful, comprehensive approach. It's the club rather than the protractor approach, and it's clear that it isn't working.

As in the movie "Up", it's time we yell a collective "POINT" and help this dog of a drug policy around its blinders, and instead lead it towards a more compassionate, comprehensive, successful strategy. We need a real solution that respects the value of all the people caught in the chains of drug addiction.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Something old, something new

This week's news was again about celebrating a wedding, about bringing something old and something new. I mean, very new. Yes, this morning, Slate published an article on the first gay wedding on a US military base.

Here, we have an old institution, a bedrock of American society, standing firm since the very beginning of this country. Yet, it didn't know who its people truly were, what they wanted deep inside, and what it took to keep them firm in their commitments, faithfulness, truthfulness, honor.

But it became apparent through the years, that many were not being truthful or living in honesty. An institution grows decrepit when populated by such folks, and people grow to distrust the institution. So, this mainstay of American wanted to confirm its relevance and authority, not by redefining itself but by affirming what it truly envisioned itself to be. And it wanted to a beacon of justice, when its past had too many examples of otherwise.

Yes, the article was about the US military. I, though, am talking about the Episcopal Church.
When we ask people to commit themselves 100% to their mission, their passion, their love, we cannot treat them like second class citizens. We cannot say that their baptism was a mistake, because God already made holy their incorporation into the body of the church. They are our kin, even if we're just not that into them.

It pains me when I see the way these soldiers were ostracized by their churches. Yet God's expansive love found a way to them, and they are together in the eyes of the army and in the eyes of God. Just as we are commanded to feed the hungry, so must we nourish the souls of those who seek out the divine.

If the US army -- conservative, assured, protective, firm -- can meet the needs of its people, other institutions that we trust should as well. My church has taken continued its many new steps in this direction, and for that I am humbled and grateful. I pray that we continue to recognize all who work towards justice and bring the God's kingdom to all who desire.

-- Mel

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Repost from my Walking With Integrity Blog - "Let All Who Are Thirsty Come"

Reposted Article, originally published on Integrity USA's Walking With Integrity 

"Breathe" I told myself. It's the Episcopal Church's triennial General Convention, you'll be surrounded by other faithful people, and you've worked at high tech conferences and convention halls for 25 years. But this was different.
I was volunteering to be the social media dude at Integrity USA.
The first orientation gathering didn't calm me down. The eager staff and volunteers meeting was packed with clergy, seminarians and the discerning. Who was I to be the mouthpiece or at least the e-megaphone for this amazing group of God lovers?
But after a couple of days, we settled down. I sat in committees, tweeted, posted, blogged, facebooked, photographed, webbed, texted, videotaped, video-blogged, sang, and prayed. I broke bread not just with Integrity but with a caring, larger community from a world-wide church. I learned much about the church in continental Europe as well as in our own backyards. I befriended Bishops, cried with transgender clergy, sang with ordinary canons and canons of the ordinary, and was told to go fishing by +Gene. 
We all worked so hard, got tired, then worked harder. And we hunkered down, afraid of the 107F swamp air outside the convention center. I listened and sang to Taizé songs in my room, for I needed to center myself against the flurry, so as to better share Integrity's message with others.
And the message of God's inclusive love wasn't getting sent out there. It already WAS there. I can't express my surprise at the difference between GC 2009 in Anaheim versus Indianapolis. People WANTED to make all mean ALL. And with that, I was humbled by the Holy Spirit as she lifted us higher.
Even more so, I connected more strongly with social media in a way that I hadn't expected. I became a fan of twitter three years ago after the last General Convention. The fact that the General Convention was one of the TOP TRENDING search topics (#GC77) shortly after the passage of A049 on same gender blessings blew me away. We were acting because of God's prodding, and the world was watching, sharing, retweeting. It was humbling.
And on top of all that, I even got to enjoy a few minutes of Bonnie-Ball (tweet or facebook me if you haven't seen the final score).
At a local watering hole on my last night, a waiter expressed surprise that we were having cocktails AND we were at General Convention. Clearly, he didn't know  the Episcopal Church, on several levels. We shared our message with him, and he seemed impressed, pleased, and most curiously, curious. It's that curiosity that I found most powerful, because in the seeking lies the seeds of new awareness, new life, and new followers.
Thank you Integrity, #GC77, and all who build bridges for those who were lost or locked out. I pray that your work evangelizes and helps the discouraged and distraught find justice and equality. 
Let all who are thirsty come, and let all who wish receive the water of life freely. Amen.
by Melvin Soriano
Geeky Volunteer/Choir member/Vestryperson from All Saints Pasadena &
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