PeaceWork, llvl

How did I miss this? Peace work is piece work. You do one small piece at a time. We need one great group of people engaged in the same wonderful/wonder-filled endeavor.

Justice. No Justice, no Peace. No sense walking around, talking about Peace if you’re not going to put your body on the street, your butt in the seat, and your voice on the phone, in letters and on petitions. Let’s step up. Let’s speak out. Let’s be everything we were meant to be by helping others to do the same. It’s hard work but it’s sacred work.

We’re the just the people to do this and there is so much need. Peace. Let’s get busy.


Patience for Peace, llvl

Oh, waiting. It’s not what I’m best at. I sometimes can manage to occupy myself other places, until things have a chance to evolve, but… doing that Peaceful meditation rejoicing in each minute’s gradual flowering is not part of the Ann Keeler Evans skill set.

And yet, Patience is required. Especially when you’re working on huge projects. Things are slow. Things are disappointing. Things have their own time line. None of which is my favorite thing. And yet, each of those things is true. And so, Patience must be cultivated. And if I turn my eyes away and work hard on something else, then something else is getting my attention — that should be good, right?

But one way or the other, Patience must be exercised because the goal is much bigger than my little needs. (oh and doesn’t that sting!) Peace, here in my vida local — Peace, there in your vida local — asks not only for our passion, but also for our patience. Luckily there are those I work with whose skills are better matched to this part of the process and who can hold the line when I am practically vibrating with the need to do something, anything. I’ve never thought of being Patient as doing something. Patience doesn’t much care what I think. Sometimes Patience is the Work.

Watch this wonderful gift that Patience brought me and the Love Flows: the LOVE Project. Hurrah for all who worked on this: Eric Fladen and his Bucknell Film Class, Caring for Kids, Dieticians, Psychologists, and you.


Serendipitous Peace, llvl

What makes these things possible? Presence? Discipline? Sheer, unadulterated Luck? All of these? I don’t know.

I know I am humbled and grateful.

I would love to believe it’s my little village, but it’s not. Villages and Cities are filled with wonderful interesting people everywhere. It may be true that it’s easier to see one another in small towns… I can believe that. And I don’t know that it matters.

I’m here and for whatever reasons, I’m connected to amazing people. People who when we notice that children are hungry step up. I’m grateful every day for the team I get to work with. Caring people and very, very smart. And not just smart, but  ingenious. There we are… making things happen. Things that need to happen. Things that matter. You don’t have to be the best at what you are, what you dream… you do need to be disciplined and consistent. You do need to be, dare I say it, earnest about your dreams and your determination. Earnestness translates; it sells. And selling is what we’re doing.

No one is going to feed hungry children unless you offer them the opportunity and give them a place to pay. It’s that simple… I didn’t always understand that, but there it is.

I believe fervently that we can do work that makes our hearts explode in our chests wherever we are. Yes, sometimes it’s that overwhelming. Yesterday was one of them. I adore this artist. If you’ve followed my work, you’ve adored her as well… She’s the woman who did the Peace mandalas for last year’s musings. A wonderful artist. She lives here. We show up at the same events — last night at Steve’s Musical Mash-up. She’d been there last week and we’d talked about mandalas, about the LOVE project, about doing a project together. We brainstormed words and phrases (while listening to our neighbors play astonishing music).

And then this week she came back. She’d played with words and found three that work. She taught me how to look into her designs and then she told me how her designs move. In and out; around. The designs are gorgeous and her explanations completely germane to the work we are doing. And so we will go to work… And this will be one more way to step up, to be socially active, to feed children… and one more way to think about what matters. And for us, it will be one more way to use our arts… to explore them… to apply them… to collaborate… for good, for community, for Peace.

Oh may your lives be this joyous and filled with magic! I am awed and grateful that mine is.


My Once Favorite Brother

In honoring the UN’s International Day of the Girl, I wrote this second poem in response to Susan Daniel’s Poetry Blogpost. It struggles with the emotions a young mother would feel for a beloved brother who not only participates in but profits from the practice of child marriage. It is a system that must be eradicated. When our girls are safe from such predatory behavior, when our girls and women, both young and old, have the right to decide their futures, then our relationships with our brothers will be celebrated. Thank you for listening. Thank you for taking this issue into your heart and mind.

The Petals of My Daughter

The wonderful David Bauman (who today is reading at the Capitol Building in Harrisburg, PA, sent me a link to a post on Susan Daniels’ Poetry Blog inviting women poets to write a poem about child marriage or child brides in honor of the UN’s International Day of the Girl.

This was a wonderful opportunity to reflect on an agonizing subject. Some of you will know that the Elders, an international, interfaith group of Senior States Men and Women are working hard to eradicate this tribal custom where it flourishes in our world.

This is an issue of power, male dominance and tribal custom which masquerades as a religious issue. I have longed for a way and a place to speak to this, but I speak best through verse. With Dave’s urging, I wrote, we recorded and he posted to my wonderful new Youtube Channel. (more about that later!) Here is the first of two poems: This one’s entitled: The Petals of My Daughter. On this day dedicated to empowering the voices and actions of our daughters, let us work to make the world safe for them.

You Are So Welcome Here

My friends,

I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time. I’ve been agitating about how I might make a difference in the bullying epidemic in our country. Every year 13 million kids are bullied. That means that at least that many children are bullying, probably more. In my little bucolic valley, in the last 2 years, 5 children have committed suicide because of bullying. What we don’t understand is that it’s not only the bullied who commit suicide, the bullies do as well. They are also severely damaged by their part in the violent play. We need to find a way to make this violence stop.

Too many of us can look back at our past and identify a time or place where we were far less kind than we might have been. We may even have been actively unkind, even threatening. As kids, we might have been confused about how to get out of the cycle. As adults, if we’re willing to examine what we did, we’re ashamed. But shame doesn’t help today’s youngsters.

So I decided that I would make a video and identify myself as a concerned adult, living in Northumberland, PA who was willing to talk to our children and their families, their friends, and even their harassers. I may not be able to help you myself. But I can help you find support. This video is not only a declaration of my willingness to help but also an invitation to you to consider whether or not you might not want to declare yourself a supportive adult.

I know that I am very lucky because I work in a denomination and a congregation where I can step forward. Because I can, I must. Not every clergy can make such a video without jeopardizing her or his job. But there are plenty of us, willing to help who can do this.

I’d like to create a network of folk criss-crossing the country who will step up and volunteer their support to these vulnerable kids. My video is longer than it needs to be. I used a professional videographer. Your video can be a 30-second video that says who you are, what you do and where you’re located. I’d like you to post it to the Sacred Village FaceBook page. When we start building some movement, my web-gang and I will figure out what comes next.

I hope you’ll also tell people about this post. I hope you’ll like the video and send it to friends with the same request. I hope you’ll tell your friends on FB both about the video and the campaign.

You and I are a powerful force — either for inertia or for the good. Help me make a difference. Our kids deserve it. We deserve the kids that will grow up free from such bullying. Can my little video make a difference? Can yours? We won’t know until we try. Won’t you stand with me, open your arms and tell the children how welcome they are to talk to you?

You Are So Welcome Here – Long Video

In the meantime, here are some resources to offer to both children and adults who are looking for support. And of course, don’t forget about the new social services resource, 2011.

GLSEN: Gay & Lesbian Educators Network homepage.

Kaiser Family Foundation, Children Now, Nickelodeon (2001). Talking with kids about tough issues: A national survey of parents and kids.  Available from

PFLAG: Parents & Friends of Lesbians & Gays homepage.  Available from

Skiba, R. & Fontanini, A. (2000) Bullying Prevention: What works in preventing school violence. Available from:

“Stop Bullying Now” (2010). Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) Available at

The Trevor Project: Preventing GLBTQ Suicide:

Free Education and Certification

Ever since I saw the TED program on the Kahn Academy I’ve been fascinated. So simple. So straightforward. MIT is in the mix now. So are Stanford and Harvard and lots of other big name schools. There is conversation going on fast and furiously about possibilities for certification rather than diplomas from the big schools. And even if it’s just for fun. If you like physics, or don’t understand it at all, why not tune into a master and figure it out?

I’ve written on this page before about the blogs (Fixes) written by David Bornstein and others that are found on the Thursday NY Times Op-Ed Page. They’re examining things that work to make people’s lives better. (oh what a novel idea, things that make life better, not horror stories!)

His post today is about ALISON which is teaching certification for work programs. And it is providing these courses for free. Although the bulk of students come from UK and US and India, Malaysia, the Philippines, Nigeria and the Middle East where ALISON has 200,000 students. But there are also students in tiny countries who would not otherwise have access to the career of their dreams or a skill that fills a local need. This way, enterprising people are looking at jobs that are available, and going after the certificates needed to match their skills to the openings… It’s a great tool for a new world.

This is an idea worth supporting… and ingenuity worth celebrating. Hooray.




We are so easily sarcastic and cutting. I’m not pointing any fingers here, there have been times it’s been an artform in my life. And that irony was meant to amuse. And it always amuses the artist, and often the audience… and it frequently wounds the object of the biting, so-called witty repartee.

And yet, we the witty, are aghast at bullies. And not all sarcasm is bullying… but it can be an easy edge from one to the next.

Words are unbelievably powerful. Choosing words of kindness can build up a world rather than destroy it. If we’re going to work to stop bullying, and we must, then we must learn the art of kindness… not that awful saccharine, glib stuff… but real and heartfelt sweetness that makes space for everyone…

I’m working on it… and on finding a way to make observations funny, but not wounding…

The World’s Hunger, Our Joy

There’s an aged Presbyterian Theologian (born in 1926) who keeps popping up in my consciousness as a gift from the outside world. Despite having started out a Presbyterian, I never encountered him… not in church that I remember, not in seminary.

Part of what I like about his writing is that it’s about service. Nothing of his that I’ve encountered speaks to the rewards of belief, instead I hear about the privilege of response. The quote from today about God calling us to “the place where our deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meets” is a wonderful acknowledgement of our deep resources and equally profound responsibilities.

When we know about something, we are called to care for it. We can see what needs to be cared for because we have the gifts to respond. Oh we are mighty creations. And so we must care for world. Ah Frederick Buechner what a gift you are. I’m grateful for all the cracks your words ooze through to encourage us…

You Say Vageena, I Say Vagina

Last week in Michigan, State Rep. Lisa Brown (D-West) was barred from speaking on the floor of the State House–until further notice–after she said the word “vagina”.  Vagina.  The house speaker who  banned her claimed she violated decorum by her choice of words.  One of the most immediate—and correct—criticisms of this event is by Representative Brown herself, who said, “If they’re going to legislate my anatomy, I see no reason why I cannot say it.”  But the issues that surround the ban for saying “vagina” are more complex than just whether or not the word can be spoken civilly and with tact.  That answer is simple: Of course it can.  It’s not a slang term, it’s not a pejorative.  It’s the legitimate clinical name for a part of the female reproductive system, and it’s had to endure a lot lately.

Instinctively we recognize that we are all greater than the sum of our parts.  We know that there is more to being a man than having a penis, and that the vagina does not make the woman.  But the biological demarcation of gender is one of the primary ways in which we identify ourselves and each other in our society.  One of the first questions asked on forms we fill out is whether we are male or female.  One of the first ways we get divided in school is by gender.  Even our infant toys and clothes are gender-specific and highlight what we see as “normal” outward manifestations of our biological sex characteristics.  We may not think the actual phrase, “Oh, she’s a woman and therefore, she has a vagina,” but we know it, we understand it, and we base many of our interactions on our assumptions of gender identity.

And identity matters.

While Majority Floor leader Jim Stamas (R-Midland) said Brown violated “decorum” but has declined to elaborate further, Representative Mike Calton, another member of the House, said, “What she said was offensive,” and that “It was so offensive, I don’t even want to say it in front of women. I would not say that in mixed company.”

*sigh*  Really?  Can someone please install a fainting couch in the Michigan State House?  Because it looks like the menfolk are fixin’ to have a swoon.

Here’s the problem: vaginas and their use (or misuse, as some may see it) are being legislated about all the time.  Abortion, premarital sex, the “age of consent”, access to birth control, condoms in the school, rape legislation, these all center around what goes on inside a vagina.  Representative Brown said “vagina” during a debate about abortion which, like it or not, inherently involves vaginas.  And no matter how you feel about abortion, you have to understand that it’s going to primarily affect women, and women are classified as women (legally, in a hospital, at birth, unless they’ve had gender reassignment surgery—which leads to a whole other host of legal concerns) because they have vaginas.  Saying the word isn’t going to hurt anyone.  It’s not like yelling “Vagina!” in a crowded movie theater will cause mass panic, possible property damage, or death, though it may cause some confusion.  And to think that you can’t say the word “vagina” in front of women is infantilizing for everyone involved.  What are these guys, eight years old?  Are ladies going to giggle and hide because you’re publicly talking about their ladyzones?  This is how you act on a playground, not in a legislative arena.

It’s this playground mentality that delegitimizes any poorly-balanced leg the anti-vagina contingent thinks they can stand on.  First and foremost, sticking your fingers in your ears and humming loudly does not dismiss the existence of vaginas or the very real needs of the people who have them, no matter how much you might hope otherwise.  Neither does bullying your adversary into silence.  And clutching your pearls and swooning because you’re incapable of saying the word “vagina” doesn’t change the social reality that this is a part of womanhood.  Ladies aren’t comprised of lacy collars and high heels and floral scented body lotion and an anatomically smooth and undefined nether region.  Remember, with their pants off, Barbie and Ken are practically identical.  But men and women?  We are not the same.  When you are sworn into office as a representative, you swear to represent the entirety of your constituency and unless you’re the representative from Barbie-and-Kenville, part of that constituency will involve vaginas and the people who sport them.

Consider the other ways we socially identify—consider race, for example, since that’s another cultural marker that’s present at birth.  If members of the Michigan State Legislature were to faint away should another member said, during a debate, “Look, my skin is black, and this thing we’re debating about profoundly effects me, and not in an abstract way,” we wouldn’t expect that member of the legislature to get banned.  We wouldn’t expect the Speaker to get all “I’m not hearing you!  Lalalalala!” by pointing out that there may be different perspectives held by people with other cultural backgrounds, which should be taken into consideration by the officials elected to represent said diverse members of the constituency.  And if he or she did, we would (rightly) expect the ground to open up and swallow the Speaker for his or her reprehensible behavior.  Yet the vagina warrants a muzzle on the basis of decorum.  Indeed.

What it boils down to is this: he didn’t like her argument, it made him uncomfortable.  Because she’s vagina-bearing and identified by said vagina, and the word is indecorous and therefore dismissable, she became dismissable.  This?  Is not acceptable.  Not for adults, not for debates, and certainly not for legislators who orchestrate bills that can effect…oh…the entire population of the state of Michigan which, according to census information, is somewhere around 9,876,187.  Roughly half of all Michiganders have vaginas.  Ladies, don’t let yourselves get overlooked.

Remember, this ultimately isn’t a debate about abortion, even though that’s what brought about the vagina talk in the first place.  This is a public statement on the nature of debate and the creation of policy.  If you’re OK with legislators being shut down because they try to have a dialogue that represents the reality of women’s issues, if you’re OK with being dismissed because you have a body part that is viewed as a shameful thing that can’t be discussed in mixed company, then please, stay seated and continue to do nothing.  But if you’re tired of having to apologize for your vagina and want it to be recognized as a legitimate and healthy thing that does not brook dismissal, then take action.  Support Representative Brown.  Find like-minded people and support them.  And never, ever, ever allow the bully in the room to shut down a conversation because it makes them uncomfortable.  When we step outside our comfort zones, growth happens.  So get comfortable with the idea of being uncomfortable, and repeat after me:

Vagina, vagina, vagina!