Both Sides of the Fence

A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!

Go forth and set the world on fire

Wauwatosa, Marquette University Call to Service, Thanksgiving, Underwood Parkway, American Transmission Company

This is a week of cleaning, cooking, eating; hunting, football watching, and family-and-friend gathering. It’s also time to feel gratitude, joy, and contentment. For some, it's a time of feeling sad or lonely for what is gone or has never been. For most of us, it's a time of busy-ness and happier contemplation.

But then there’s after-feast-and-reflection. What will you do next? Besides eating turkey sandwiches and shopping. Or instead of shopping (I wouldn’t dream of skipping the turkey sandwiches).

Fellow Tosan and writer Pam Parker introduced me to Marquette University’s admirable call to service.

What better time to rededicate ourselves to the goal of transforming the world through service to and collaboration with the community? We ask that you use your talents and gifts to address the gritty realities and inequities that plague our community and world and to find meaningful ways to work in solidarity with our neighbors. This may involve moving outside your comfort zone or finding ways to deepen the service you already perform.

Watch these glowing students perform Mary Oliver’s What I Have Learned So Far. Their message: be ignited or be gone.

The  words of the poem follow. It’s easy to misread as a suggestion that reflection is less important than action. It’s not: we need the two together. Meditate to feel and know delight, what moves us, what calls to our attention. Then labor to maintain or create it. Then more meditation to know if we are following the right path. Then correct course or keep going.

What I Have Learned So Far

Meditation is old and honorable, so why should I
not sit, every morning of my life, on the hillside,
looking into the shining world?  Because, properly
attended to, delight, as well as havoc, is suggestion.
Can one be passionate about the just, the
ideal, the sublime, and the holy, and yet commit
to no labor in its cause?  I don’t think so.

All summations have a beginning, all effect has a
story, all kindness begins with the sown seed.
Thought buds toward radiance.  The gospel of
light is the crossroads of — indolence, or action.

Be ignited, or be gone.

I know what I’ll be doing; working to save the Underwood Parkway from being further defiled just because it’s there and it’s an easy route for the transmission line builders. Nearly every day, walking there restores my soul. The calm and peace there suggests how important it is to have places and time away from screens and metal structures. It's a green gateway that proclaims Tosa as a community of stewardship, not decline. One alder says it's as important a cause as the Save the County Grounds movement was.

We need to be ignited or it will be gone.

To whatever community service you perform, please add a moment to email Mary Carpenter of the American Transmission Company ( asking them not to set a precedent here in Wauwatosa for taking parkland and important environmental corridors for powerlines. The deadline for this phase of what looks to be a long battle is November 30.

Happy Thanksgiving. May your spirits, not your turkey, be ignited.



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