A Bridge

Building Bridges

Pentecost 62

 

Egypt is the only trans-Asian country which means is spans two continents – Africa and Asia.  The Sinai Peninsula forms a land bridge of sorts connecting the northeastern corner of Africa with the southwestern corner of Asia.  Technically, Egypt is the world’s only Eur-afra-sian country since it is bordered by the Mediterranean on the north as it shares a northern border with the Gaza strip and Israel, the Gulf of Aqaba to the east, the Red Sea to the south as well as Sudan, and Libya on the west.

 

Egypt is located in what historians and anthropologists call the cradle of civilization.  Its history is as long as any nation and it became one of the world’s first cultural and ethnic entities while at the same time becoming one of the first actual political and geographical countries.  At one time or another, Egypt has been ruled and influenced by Greek, Persian, Roman, Arab, Ottoman, and European cultures.  Its eighty-nine million residents were some of the first Christians but Islamic conquests during the seventh century made it an Islamic nation.

 

Most Egyptian territory lies within the Sahara Desert which is largely uninhabitable.  The majority of Egyptians live near the banks of the Nile River.  The world’s longest river, the Nile is thought to be the result of climate change in the earth’s early history.  The historian Herodotus called Egypt is the “gift of the Nile” and for many, it is considered the gift of the world.  Hate mathematics?  Blame an early Egyptian whose artifacts left writings resembling early multiplication and a series of numbers looking like multiples of ten.  In fact, it is hard to find something that does not have an Egyptian connection.  Egypt was a major trade country with its borders on seas and the Nile.  Early Egyptians cultivated wheat and made paper from papyrus.  Water buffalo from Africa and camels from Asia only served to intensify the multicultural aspect of life in early Egypt.  European expeditions waited until Napoleon to discover Egypt although certainly trading with Asia and India introduced some aspects of Egyptian life prior to this.

 

Many of us only know Egypt from the big and small screen.  Movies about the early Christians with the actor Charleston Heston and later music videos by Michael Jackson starring comedian Eddie Murphy and supermodel Iman do little to tell the true story of Egypt.  The ancient name for the country is from a word meaning black soil, and is best written as “km.t”.  This was to distinguish the land of Egypt from the desert area or red soil.  The English version of the country’s name comes from an ancient Greek word “Aigyptos” which dates back to the French “Egypte” and Latin “Aegyptus”.   Early Greek tablets show it written as “a-ku-pi-ti-yo” which became the Coptic “gyptios” and the Arabic “qubti”.  The official name of Egypt is “Misr” which translates as metropolis, civilization, or country.

 

Bridging the two continents and the various cultures involved has resulted in a history full of conflict.  It has not gotten easier as time has progressed.  We must learn to build figurative bridges and join all the cultures of the world if we are to move forward and have a future.  Egyptian-American writer Suzy Kassem explains: “It is up to us to keep building bridges to bring the world closer together, and not destroy them to divide us further apart. We can pave new roads towards peace simply by understanding other cultures. This can be achieved through traveling, learning other languages, and interacting with others from outside our borders. Only then will one truly discover how we are more alike than different. Never allow language or cultural traditions to come between brothers and sisters. The same way one brother may not like his sister’s choice of fashion or hairstyle, he will never hate her for her personal style or music preference. If you judge a man, judge only his heart. And if you should do so, make sure you use the truth in your conscience when weighing one’s character. Do not measure anybody strictly based on the bad you see in them and ignore all the good.”

 

A shaman was quoted as saying, “A story is like the wind: it comes from a distant place and we feel it.”  Today you will write the story of you.  You may not have control over the setting, the characters, or even the action to a large part, but you do have control over yourself.  We make a choice each and every hour whether to act or simply react.  Steve Jobs said it best:  “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

 

Today you will add a chapter to the mythology of that which is you.  More importantly, today will offer you opportunities to build bridges.  As you write the story that is you, as you develop the lot lines of your life, you will bridge the past with the present and pave a road by which we will enter the future.  The bridges you build today will connect all of mankind and turn the ordinary into something esxtraordinary.

 

A Bridge

A Bridge

Pentecost 140

Much of what we know about Egypt comes from stories.  While we are discussing the mythologies of the world, which means by definition that we are discussing the stories of the world, it is important to remember exactly what is fact and what is legend.

Egypt is the only trans-Asian country which means is spans two continents – Africa and Asia.  The Sinai Peninsula forms a land bridge of sorts connecting the northeastern corner of Africa with the southwestern corner of Asia.  Technically, Egypt is the world’s only Eur-afra-sian country since it is bordered by the Mediterranean on the north as it shares a northern border with the Gaza strip and Israel, the Gulf of Aqaba to the east, the Red Sea to the south as well as Sudan, and Libya on the west.

Egypt is located in what historians and anthropologists call the cradle of civilization.  Its history is as long as any nation and it became one of the world’s first cultural and ethnic entities while at the same time becoming one of the first actual political and geographical countries.  At one time or another, Egypt has been ruled and influenced by Greek, Persian, Roman, Arab, Ottoman, and European cultures.  Its eighty-nine million residents were some of the first Christians but Islamic conquests during the seventh century made it an Islamic nation.

Most Egyptian territory lies within the Sahara Desert which is largely uninhabitable.  The majority of Egyptians live near the banks of the Nile River.  The world’s longest river, the Nile is thought to be the result of climate change in the earth’s early history.  The historian Herodotus called Egypt is the “gift of the Nile” and for many, it is considered the gift of the world.  Hate mathematics?  Blame an early Egyptian whose artifacts left writings resembling early multiplication and a series of numbers looking like multiples of ten.  In fact, it is hard to find something that does not have an Egyptian connection.

Egypt was a major trade country with its borders on seas and the Nile.  Early Egyptians cultivated wheat and made paper from papyrus.  Water buffalo from Africa and camels from Asia only served to intensify the multicultural aspect of life in early Egypt.  European expeditions waited until Napoleon to discover Egypt although certainly trading with Asia and India introduced some aspects of Egyptian life prior to this.

Many of us only know Egypt from the big and small screen.  Movies about the early Christians with the actor Charleston Heston and later music videos by Michael Jackson starring comedian Eddie Murphy and supermodel Iman do little to tell the true story of Egypt.  The ancient name for the country is from a word meaning black soil, and is best written as “km.t”.  This was to distinguish the land of Egypt from the desert area or red soil.  The English version of the country’s name comes from an ancient Greek word “Aigyptos” which dates back to the French “Egypte” and Latin “Aegyptus”.   Early Greek tablets show it written as “a-ku-pi-ti-yo” which became the Coptic “gyptios” and the Arabic “qubti”.  The official name of Egypt is “Misr” which translates as metropolis, civilization, or country.

When we think of Egypt we often first think of the pyramids but also of animal forms of the many gods and goddesses.  People mistake reverence for these animal forms as worship.  The early Egyptians did not worship animals, only the deities they felt took the animal form.  The Egyptian deity Bastet was, before 1000 BCE, considered a sun god with the head of a lion and the wife of Ra, the supreme sun god.   However, in 1000 BCE, when Bubatis became the capital of Egypt, she became the first” Cat Women”, a goddess with the body of a female and the head of a cat.  Cats were then mummified upon their death so that they could be reincarnated and the killing of a cat became an offense that might result in the offender’s death.

The greatest of ancient deities is often considered to be Isis but in truth, there are many influential Egyptian mythologies and deities.  The eye became a symbol of which these deities could keep watch over the world after their passing.  Even currency in the United States contains a form of the Egyptian Oudjat eye.  From the past to the present, Egypt has been a bridge for the world.  So are the mythologies of the world.  Tomorrow we will follow the Nile to other parts of Africa.  Storytelling is today one of the greatest natural resources of Africa and it remains a major source of religion, education, and life in general.  They even have a story about how story telling began.  As one shaman was quoted as saying, “A story is like the wind: it comes from a distant place and we feel it.”

Today you will write the story of you.  You may not have control over the setting, the characters, or even the action to a large part, but you do have control over yourself.  We make a choice each and every hour whether to act or simply react.  Steve Jobs said it best:  “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”  Today you will add a chapter to the mythology of that which is you.  Happy writing; blessed living!

Egyptian or Greek

Egyptian or Greek

Pentecost 134

Living in a diverse area has its perks.  It can also lead to confusion at times.  I remember two friends from school.  One was of Egyptian ancestry while the other had parents who had emigrated from Greece.  My own parents were forever getting confused as to which friend was of which ethnicity.  It didn’t really matter except one had parents who owned a restaurant and she was always bringing food when she came.  The other friend was the one who would get the thanks, even though her parents were doctors.  I had not really paid much attention but both had similar coloring and wore their hair about the same.

A similar confusion has arisen over one of mythology’s most well-known characters – the sphinx.   Both sphinx characters, the Greek sphinx and the Egyptian sphinx, are hybrid animals, meaning they contain body parts from two or more animals.  The Greek sphinx is a demon with a tail and wings.  There is also a sphinx character from Crete and Asia with wings but it varies slightly from the Greek one.  The Egyptian sphinx had the head of a human and the body of a lion.

WE discussed the legend of Oedipus when we delved into Greek mythology in July.  Oedipus became a hero by answering the riddle of the sphinx, a demon that had been terrorizing the area.  No one had ever correctly answered the riddle and punishment was to be eaten alive by the sphinx.  Oedipus, however, gave her the correct answer and the sphinx went off and killed herself.  By knowing “”What has 4 legs in the morning, 2 at noon, and 3 at night?”, Oedipus became the king of Thebes.  The answer, in case you’ve forgotten, is “Man.”  As an infant, man crawls; as an adult, man walks upright; as an old man, he uses a cane.

Yesterday we discussed the Great Pyramid of Giza but it is not the only great stature in the area.  There is the Great Sphinx of Giza, considered the earliest of all mythological sphinx statures.  Thought o be both a memorial to Khufu as well as homage to the god Horus in his affectation as Haurun-Harmakhis, some believe it is also a portrait of Khufu.  Others describe it as having the head of a woman with the body of a lion.  Today the Great Sphinx of Giza stands as the national symbol of Egypt.

What is your symbol?  If someone were to construct a stature in homage to you, what would you want it to resemble?  Better yet, if someone built a stature about your life, what would it symbolize?  Today’s post will be brief because these are not questions to skip over.  How we live is our myth, the story of our lives.  The mice thing about stories is that there is always another chapter.  We have the ability, the power, the right, and the obligation to ourselves to rewrite what we are doing by beginning another chapter.  It is not always easy but nothing worth really having ever is.

Your life….Your story…. Your happily ever after.

Mystery of a Myth

Mystery of a Myth

Pentecost 133

Yesterday we began our discussion of Egyptian mythology by a quick nod to the oldest of the three pyramids at the royal necropolis at Giza.  Constructed somewhere between 2589 and 2504 BCE, the Great Pyramid of Khufu is the only one of the original three pyramids that remains intact.  Some of the blocks that comprise its construction weigh over fifty tons while the other 2 million-plus blocks weigh anywhere from two tons to thirty tons.  As mentioned yesterday, this pyramid is aligned with the constellation Orion but it is not the only one that is.  The pyramids of Menkaure and Khafre are also so aligned.

The Egyptians had a deep reverence for the sky but they also recognized that earth gave us the ability to live.  Perhaps that is why the interior temperature of the Great Pyramid at Giza is a constant temperature that equals the temperature of the earth, 20-degees Celsius or 68-degrees Fahrenheit.  More amazing is that the cornerstone foundations of this pyramid have a ball and socket construction, just like our shoulders, elbows, and knees.  This type of construction allows the pyramid to deal with heat expansion and earthquakes.  Even the mortar is mysterious.  After much analyzation, the exact composition is still unknown and attempts to reproduce it have been unsuccessful.  Unlike conventional mortar used in bricks, this mortar is actually stronger than the stones is binds and connects.

The Great Pyramid of Giza was also known as “Ikhet” which translates as “glorious Light”.  If you remember, we discussed yesterday how it was originally covered in casing stones made of highly polished limestone.  These stones would reflect the sun’s rays, causing the pyramid to sparkle and shine.  It has been determined that such a covering of shimmering limestone made the pyramid similar to a mirror, reflecting light that, if one stood on the mood and gazed upon its location on earth, the pyramid would have shone like a star.  The quarry from whence these limestone blocks were quarried as well as how they were transported to the construction also remains a mystery we have yet to unearth.

What we do know is that the Great Pyramid of Giza is today the most perfectly aligned, accurate to one-tenth of a degree, edifice in existence.  When constructed the North Pole was in perfect alignment with the pyramid.  It is also at the very center of the land mass of the earth.  If you look at a map or globe, this might not seem true but it is in how such a center is determined that makes the statement true.  East/west parallels and north/south meridians intersect at two places.  The parallel and meridians are determined to be those that cross the most land.  One place of intersection is in the ocean while the other is…you guessed it, at the Great Pyramid of Giza.

The walls of the Pyramid are also unique.  For one thing they are concave.  The centers have an indention which forms an eight-sided pyramid inside, visible only from the air and only in certain light.  The eight-sided pyramid is visible at dawn and sunset on two vernal equinoxes – spring and autumn.  The pyramid also contained a swivel door, found in only two other pyramids.  The coffer was built during construction as its size prohibits it passing through any of the doors.  Its construction is also unique.  It was made from one block of solid granite which would have necessitated saws with blades eight to nine feet long possessing teeth made of sapphire.  Hollowing out its interior required extreme vertical force and the use of tubular drills also made of sapphire.  If take the perimeter of the coffer and double it and multiply that by ten to the eighth power you have the sun’s mean radius.

The mathematics might be coincidental except too many such equations exist to be merely random.  The curvature of the faces of the pyramid matches the radius of the earth.  For over thirty-eight hundred years, this pyramid stood as the tallest structure on earth.  The relationship between Pi (p) and Phi (F) is also somewhat of a mystery regarding the Great Pyramid.  Phi is the only number whose square root is one more than itself.  Phi is also known as the Golden Ration, a so-called perfect number found throughout nature.  Pi is the circumference of a circle compared to its diameter.  The Great Pyramid illustrates the relationship of Pi and Phi as well as giving proof to the Pythagorean Theorem, developed by Pythagoras in 570-495 BCE.  Using the Pythagorean Theorem one can construct a Golden Triangle or a perfect triangle with a right angle of 90-degrees or a right triangle.  The Great Pyramid of Giza has four Golden Triangles and perfectly illustrates the relationship between Pi and Phi.

Thus we have a very mathematical, permanent structure, withstanding countless earthquakes and intrusion and thievery.  After all, this was a pyramid whose construction was ordered by a young man, for Khufu was only twenty years of age when he assumed power.  The pyramid took twenty-three years to complete and many myths revolve around both the demeanor and the leadership/tyranny of Khufu as well as the labor needed to create such a memorial.

All too often great leadership does not reflect great humanitarianism.  Andrew Carnegie once said:  “Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” The American industrialist Henry Ford is known for having introduced the moving assembly line and created the world’s first production in 1908.  I think someone in Khufu’s regime might have beaten Mr. Ford to the punch on that.  The Great Pyramid of Giza was built with mathematical precision and teamwork and each worker had to have given it his best.

The Great Pyramid of Giza was a great monument for a pharaoh that was not a great humanitarian. It stands today as a testament to the mythological beliefs about the soul being taken to the heavens.  It also incorporates another great myth, that of the underwater world of Atlantis.  Remember the granite coffer in the middle of the Kings’ Chamber?  Supposedly it came from Atlantis.  There are no engravings or inscriptions – just a very large block of chocolate granite.  It is said that the golden capstone also shows water level marks from the flood for which Noah built his ark.  A pyramid built in 2589-2504 BCE showing a watermark from a flood supposedly occurring in 2304 BCE with a stone in the middle from a city written about by a man who lived 427-347 BCE.  And somehow they are all connected…mysteriously.

Pyramid or Something Else?

Pyramid or Something Else?

Pentecost 132

It is seven city blocks long and wide.  Known as the Great Pyramid of Giza (and yes, there are other “great pyramids” worldwide), it was constructed in 4500 BCE.  The name is something of a misnomer, however, since there are actually three pyramids.  They were constructed to honor the grandfather Khufu, the son Kaffre, and the grandson Menkaure.  The pyramid built to house the body of Khufu was coated with white limestone and had a gold capstone.  Like most pyramids’ purpose, we assume it was built to house the body of the pharaoh.  But could it have had a different purpose?  Was there another reason for the construction and why are the three pyramids placed in the positions they were built?

Storytellers in Egypt did not just tell stories.  They had archaeological show-and-tell artifacts to accompany their legends.  The legends of this region are plentiful and, although many visit things such as the Great Pyramid(s) and the various Sphinxes, not much is really known about most African and Egyptian mythology.  First of all, these stories were and still are mainly found in the form of oral tradition, passed from generation to generation by mouth.  Additionally, the belief systems were not that organized and it is difficult to identify the thousands of deities in these myths.  Froom Benin and the Fon religion to Mali with its Dogon mythology, every facet of living became symbolic, based upon some myth.

Egyptian writing refers to a limitless creator, the “Hidden One whose eternal form is unknown.”  In Egyptian mythology, a deity exists first as potential energy.  That energy or potential would then take shape, usually an animal form or combine with another deity.  It is really interesting to me that they treated their deities like scientists treat elements.  Think about the Periodic Table of Elements.  Each exists on its own and yet, most can and are combined to form something else.  Hydrogen and oxygen exist in their natural state but when combined, with twice as much hydrogen as oxygen, then they become what we known as water – H2O.

The Egyptian goddess Ra joined with the god Horus and became Ra-Horakhty; Isis, the Egyptian goddess who is the patron saint of mothers and children and not the radical terrorist modern group who goes around killing mothers and children, formed an alliance with Renenutet, a goddess of fertility and the harvest who was often portrayed in the form of a cobra, to become Isermithis.

It is important to note that while the Egyptians did not worship animals, they did hold in high esteem the animal forms they believed their deities took.  Animals were mummified so that they might be reincarnated.  Animals were also embalmed and received proper burials for much the same purpose.  It was believed that showing such reverence to these animal forms would give a person special blessings and consideration by the deities.  The reincarnated animals would act as liaisons between the gods and goddesses and mankind.

The power of a story is very evident in sub-Saharan Africa and it holds the attention today just as it did when the first stories were told.  One of the more famous myths is from the Ashanti of Ghana and it addresses how these mythologies came to be.  These Anansi stories, so named because the myth gives credit to Anansi, a crafty spider, for convincing the sky deity Onyankopon to release the stories in exchange for Anansi trapping various gods in his web.  The myth proclaims that Anansi, with the help of his wife, even captures Mmoatia, the spirit, considered a most impossible task.

The sky was very important to ancient Egyptians.  Writings known as Pyramid Texts refer to the stars as “imperishable ones”.  The Egyptians believed that, upon his death, the Pharaoh would be transformed into a celestial being.  Did they construct their pyramids, and especially the Great Pyramid of Giza to be more than just a large burial crypt?  The sides of all three pyramids face north, south, east, and west.  The entrance of the largest of the three pyramids faces due north to within one-tenth of a degree.  This is an amazing fact given the tools they had at the time of the pyramid’s construction.  Additionally the descending passage into the burial chamber itself also faced north.

The internal design of this pyramid is fascinating.  It is believed that the Egyptians determined due north using the Pole Star method.  The Pole Star would have been a fixed point and once due north was identified and the passageway built, then construction continued on the rest of the pyramid.  The King’s Chamber is at the heart of the sarcophagus and is directly on the center axis.  It would have contained the mummified body of the pharaoh.

The north and south walls have two shafts and we can only speculate at their purpose.  Was it to provide ventilation or perhaps illumination?  The Egyptians believed the soul was immortal and could not die.  They embalmed and mummified so that the “ka” or body could be unified at some point in the future with the “ba” or soul which, upon death, would be sent or beamed up to the stars.

Beaming a soul up to the stars may sound more like modern-day science fiction than ancient Egyptian mythology but the Egyptians thought of such long before Star Trek had Scotty beaming up Captain Kirk.  Remember, the Egyptians thought one’s soul went to the stars upon death.  The north and south shafts in the Great Pyramid of Giza bend at some point so they could not have simply been observation points.  They do, however, align with the brightest stars of the constellation Orion or rather, they would have aligned at the time of the construction.  We’ve discussed previously the North Star and how the North Star of today has not always nor will forever be the North Star due to something called precession.   The north shaft connected directly to Thuban or Alpha Draconis, a former North Star while the shaft on the southern side aligned with Osiris, the Orion’s constellation god of afterlife.  Osiris also represented the complete cycle of life to the Egyptians – birth, death, and resurrection.

We will discuss this Great Pyramid again but for now, ask yourself:  What captures your spirit today?  What gives your soul release?  What is it that allows you to feel free, really free in your mind?  The purpose of all of these myths was not simply to entertain but to explain.  We often forget to stop and ask ourselves some very important questions, questions like “What would really make my spirit soar?  I have a feeling the questions at the beginning of this paragraph, when you first read them, invoked answers in your mind that went something like this.  What captures my spirit?  Work and responsibilities; they capture and enslave me.  What gives me release?  Going home or, perhaps, going to the movies or out on the town.  What allows me to feel free?  A nice cold beer or piece of chocolate or maybe even a long hot soak in a hot tub or bubble bath.

It is important to know not only where we have been and where we are going, but also to know what drives us and what can give us rest.  Thuban is no longer the North Star but it remains an important nautical marker which continues to guide sailing vessels.  Naval historians know that the USS Thuban, an attack cargo ship served valiantly and was of great importance to the United States Navy during World War II, the Korean Conflict, and the Cuban Missile Crisis.  The naming of this ship is yet another instance of how ancient mythologies never fade away or die.  They are as immortal of the deities whose stories they tell.

Our living also leaves its footprint on the world.  We may never have a ship named after us or have a great pyramid built in our honor but we do leave our mark.  The trick is to make certain that we are leaving something positive.  We all have a legacy.  Unlike these myths and the spirits about which we are discussing, we can write our own story, create our own legacy.  What will you write today?

Pentecost 114

Pentecost 114
My Psalm 114

Oil and Water

We’ve all heard the old saying: “Oil and water don’t mix.” Although there are countless other similar sayings in a variety of cultures, this particular one is attributed to Joseph Jones somewhere around the year 1783 as Mr. Jones attempted to describe two things with such contrasting natures that they could not be combined successfully.

Why don’t oil and water mix? It is, quite simply, because of what they are. The website “Let’s Talk Science” explains it this way: “Oil and water are two liquids that are immiscible – they will not mix together. Liquids tend to be immiscible when the force of attraction between the molecules of the same liquid is greater than the force of attraction between the two different liquids. “

Think of it like two bags of candy, both chocolate based. A bag of two M & M’s is lighter than a bag of two blocks of dark chocolate. The two bags contain items with different masses and densities even though they are both chocolate. Although the same, they are also different.

Any liquid less dense than water will simply float on the water. Similarly, a liquid more dense will sink. Density, in case you’ve forgotten your science lessons, is the measure of the amount of a substance found within a specified volume of liquid.

Quiting again the website “Let’s Talk Science”: “To gain an understanding of density, think of two zippered plastic bags of the same size (same volume). Imagine that one bag contains 10 marbles and the other 20 marbles. The bag containing 20 marbles is more dense than the bag containing 10 marbles because it contains more material – even though it is the same material. This analogy describes the relative densities of different concentrations of the same substance.

Also imagine that there is a third bag containing 10 very large marbles. The volume of the material is the same, the number of molecules (marbles) are the same but again, the bag of large marbles contains more material – it has a greater mass and so a greater density. This analogy represents the experiment above since two different materials are used. The objects added to the container will float at different levels according to their density. If the density of the object is similar to that of water, the object will float in the water. If similar to the oil, the object will float in the oil.”

Oil and vinegar are similar to oil and water as anyone attempting make a salad vinaigrette knows. Short of making a salad, what does it matter whether or not we can get oil and water mix? Well, do you like wearing clean clothes or eating off clean dishes? Most of us do.

Soap has no magical qualities for making dirt and germs disappear. I hate to destroy any thinking you might have had regarding such but it doesn’t. Soap is neither a block of superhero dirt-fighting warriors nor does it erase the dirt and accompanying germs and make them magically disappear. It is, however, the way we mix oil and water.

The “Let’s Talk Science” website explains. “Getting oil and water to mix is at the very heart of cleaning dishes and clothes. A lot of agents that make dishes and clothes dirty are greasy or contain oil. Water alone is not attracted to these compounds. However, because a detergent has one end that is attracted to oil-like molecules, detergents tend to bind to dirt, grease and oil. The other half of the detergent binds to water molecules, allowing the soiling agent to be washed away.”

Soap is a catalyst. It breaks the surface tension of the dirt molecules from the object – cloth or dish – and allows the oil within to be released into the water which then washes it away. Never realized the detente that occurred in your sink or washing machine, did you?

When we attempt to mix oil and water or say Israel and Egypt, we need a catalyst, a method for doing so. The history of these two nations and cultures and their conflicts are as old as the history of the world. Peace treaties, like the one arranged by President Jimmy Carter of the USA in the late 1970’s have made some admirable progress. However, they only last as long as people are respectful.

When we live with respect for those of varying beliefs other than our own, when we acknowledge the catalyst that respect contained within all belief systems for all living things can provide, then we live a new creation – a creation of peace and hope. Such a creation provides for a productive and successful tomorrow. Respect should be our manner of living. It is the only catalyst possible that we have for a better tomorrow.

My Psalm 114

O Lord, we treated your children with disdain.
We valued ourselves more than they.
The earth shook and life died.
Your creation was bruised and the winds screamed at us.
The earth knows you are its Maker.
Help us to lie the love you give to us.
Help us pass that along to those who are not our mirror images.
Help us to work together,
Letting diversity be our strength and not our fear.