Saturday, January 28, 2017

You Are Welcome Here

You Are Welcome Here

Black, Brown, Tan, White

No matter where you were born

Female, Intersex, Male, Trans

Bi, Gay, Lesbian, Queer, Straight

Able-bodied or Disabled

Adult, Baby, Child, Elder, Teen

Agnostic, Atheist, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jew, Muslim, Other, Quaker, UU,

Conservative, Liberal, Progressive, Radical

All People Are Welcome Here

But Not All Behavior

No Hatred, Yes Love

No Name-Calling, Yes Respect

No Harassment, Yes Consent

No Unfairness, Yes Justice

No Intimidation, Yes Inclusion

No Grandstanding, Yes Listening

It’s okay to feel your feelings

You have choices

Use them KINDLY

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Rules for Listening to People You Love But Don't Agree With

Rules for listening to people you love but don't agree with.

1. Choose to believe what they are telling you - that there is a truth at the root of what they are saying, even if it is not what they think they are saying.

2. Ask for clarification and more information instead of arguing. 'Can you tell me some specific examples of what you're talking about?' 'Can you tell me why a is more important to you than b?'

3. Move the conversation towards consensus by finding out what want or need is underneath their position. They want to feel safe - you also want them to feel safe. If you're both working on ideas of what would help them really be safe instead of attacking their first thoughts about what would make them feel safe, you'll get a lot more of what you want, too.

4. Say it's okay for the two of you to disagree. It really is. Disagreement is not the problem and can be done respectfully. Disrespect is what is not okay.

Sunday, May 22, 2016


All I have to do
is let the love flow through me
like breath when I sing.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Doctor Who, Stonehenge, and Paganism


Green underlay
Stonehenge stones (gray felt)
Yellow felt Sun
Blue Felt Tardis
Science Symbol
Pagan Symbol

Spread out the green underlay in front of you

Hm, I wonder what this could be?

Start to set out the gray stones.

Someplace green … maybe it’s grass.

But what are these gray things?

[Kids may guess, or not.]

This is Stonehenge.  Stonehenge is a great circle of really big standing stones in a wide open field.  The stones line up so that at the Winter and Summer Solstices, you can see the sunset and the sunrise perfectly framed by the stones.

Put the sun at one end of the circle, then the other.

Stonehenge is in England.  England and other countries in Northern Europe is where a lot of my ancestors came from, a long time ago.

But Stonehenge was built much longer ago than that, probably starting about 5000 years ago.

I wonder what life was like then?

I wonder why people built this?

I wonder HOW people built this?

I wonder how we could find out the answers to the questions we have about this great mystery?

Bring out the Tardis.

One way we could find out is by time travelling.  There’s a very famous TV show called Doctor Who.  In it, The Doctor is a Time Lord.  [let kids tell you about The Doctor if they want to]  He can travel to wherever and whenever he wants.  And when he gets where he is going, he likes to find out answers to questions like, why did people build Stonehenge?  How did they do it?  Why was it important and what did they do there?


If we could do that?!?!?

But we can’t.  We don’t have a Tardis or any other kind of time machine.

Scientists try to answer these kinds of questions, too.

Bring out the science symbol

They dig up the ground and they radio-carbon date things and they examine the stones and they figure stuff out, like where the rocks in Stonehenge came from.  Some of them probably came from over 150 miles away.  Which means that people moved these HUGE stones on foot about as far as from here to Washington DC.  Which is AMAZING.

But they can’t really tell us why.  Science can’t tell us what the people who did these amazing things were thinking or feeling.  We can only guess.

So we guess.  And we guess that Stonehenge was used for religious ceremonies of some sort.  Pagan religious ceremonies.

Bring out the pagan symbol

A lot of religions have holy books or scriptures that tell the people who belong to that religion how the religion started, what to believe and how to worship.  Paganism doesn’t have that.

What Paganism has is a lot of stories and myths and rituals.  Some Pagans now go to Stonehenge and hold rituals and tell stories that are their best guesses about what the people who built it would have done there.  They take everything that the scientists know or guess, and they take fragments of stories that have been passed down through the generations, and they make something that means something to them out of it.

Are they right about what Stonehenge was for?  We don’t know.  They have no way to know, for sure, either.  But what matters to them is that the rituals they perform and the stories they tell make them feel more connected to each other and the natural world and the spirit world, more whole, happier. 

Please feel free to use this story anywhere you'd like with attribution to Dawn Star Sarahs-Borchelt 2016.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Fibonacci Scarf

I'm not sure this exactly belongs on this blog, but my son wanted me to post it somewhere and it fits better here than anywhere else ...

Last year (2014) for Christmas I sent my husband and the kids to the craft store and told them each to pick a skein of yarn for me to knit a scarf with.  I hadn't knit in a long time.  When my oldest was about 4 and my second was about 2, they discovered that knitting needles made great swords, and they tended to take the 'swords' out of whatever I was knitting and it just didn't really work well.  But now, I thought, the older one knew better and the youngest (then 2) was not as interested in sword play as her brothers had been.

And knit I did.  I made three scarves for the three youngest, and by then I was getting a bit bored with extremely simple designs that I could knit almost in my sleep.

So for my oldest, I made a Fibonacci scarf.

I cast on 21 stitches.

I expressed the sequence in three different ways:

Fibonacci #1

1: knit 1 row
1: knit 1 row
2: knit 2 rows
3: knit 3 rows
5: knit 5 rows
8: P2, K17, P2; K2, P17, K2; P2, K17, P2; P21; P2, K17, P2; P21; K21; K2, P17, K2.
13: K2, P17, K2; P2, K17, P2; K2, P17, K2; K21; K2, P17, K2; K21; P21; P2, K17, P2; P21; K21; P21; K21; K2, P17, K2.
21: P2, K17, P2; K2, P17, K2; P2, K17, P2; P21; P2, K17, P2; P21; K21; K2, P17, K2; K21; P21; K21; P21; P2, K17, P2; K21; P21; K21; P21; K21; P21;  K21; P2, K17, P2.

Fibonacci #2

0: K21

1: K1 p201: K1 p202: K2 p193: K3 p185: K5 p168: K8 p1313: K13 k821: K21

Fibonacci #3

K1 p1 k2 p3 k5 p8 k1
P12 k9
P12 k1 p1 k2 p3 k2
P3 k8 p10
K3 p18
K3 p1 k1 p2 k3 p5 k6
P2 k13 p6
K15 p1 k1 p2 k2
P1 k5 p8 k7
P6 k15
P6 k1 p1 k2 p3 k5 p3
K5 p13 k3
P18 k1 p1 k1
P1 k3 p5 k8 p4
K9 p12
K9 p1 k1 p2 k3 p5
K8 p13

This shows all three sequences in order (or almost all three):

I was able to do almost 4 repeats of all three sequences with one ball of Sugar-n-Cream Hot Green yarn on size 6 needles.  Frustrating not to be able to finish the last 8 rows or so!

But he didn't care.  Here he is modeling (along with siblings modeling theirs) on New Year's Eve, when I finally finished it:

Friday, January 1, 2016

The Girl Who Broke Her Pot

This is a story from the Tsonga people, who have lived in the lands which we now call the countries of South Africa, Swaziland, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, for more than a thousand years.

That’s on the south east coast of the African continent.  It’s a tropical climate, with a dry season and a rainy season. 

Now once upon a time in the dry season, there was a village that was very far from the waterhole, where they went to get water for drinking, cooking, and washing.

One day, a girl was going from that village to draw water from the waterhole, when the rope holding her water pot broke, the pot fell to the ground, and broke into many pieces.

This was a terrible problem.  “Oh, no!  I must find a new pot,” she cried.  She looked up.  And there, hanging from a cloud, was a rope.  She took hold of it, and pulled on it, but it didn’t fall into her hand, it hung there as if attached to something strong.

Since she didn’t know what else to do, she climbed up the rope.  And in the sky, she found a ruined village.  An old woman was sitting there, and asked what she wanted.

The girl told her story, and the old woman told her to keep walking in this sky land, and if an ant crawled up into her ear she must leave it alone, as the ant would tell her what to do.
She wasn’t sure how this was supposed to get her a pot, but she didn’t have any better ideas, so she kept walking.  And pretty soon, an ant did crawl into her ear. The girl kept walking, and came to another village, where she heard the ant whisper to her to sit down at the entrance.

If she had come this far, she might as well do as she was directed and see what happened.  So she sat down at the gate.  Some Elders came out in shining clothes and asked what she was doing there. 

Well, she thought it would look silly to these shiny, important people if she told them she wanted a new pot, even though it WAS important to her.  Thinking quickly, the girl said she had come to look for a baby.  That SOUNDED serious and important.

When they heard this, the elders took her to a house, gave her a basket, and told her to collect some corn from the garden. The ant whispered that she should pull one cob at a time, and arrange it carefully in the basket. So she did. 

The elders were pleased with her work, and told her to cook the corn.  So she did, following the ant's instructions.  Again, the elders were happy.

The next morning they showed her two babies, one wrapped in red cloth and one in white cloth. She was going to choose the one in the red clothes, when the ant told her to choose the one wrapped in white instead. 

The elders gave her the baby, and as many cloths and beads as she could carry.  It wasn’t a new pot, but it was something better.  Her family welcomed her home with joy and greeted the new baby with delight. 

Bad fortune broke her rope and her pot, but because she looked around for a solution (seeing the rope), was polite (to the old woman), willing to follow directions (from the ant), and willing to do what was asked of her (by the elders),  good fortune brought her something better. 

I adapted this story from this source: and I'm happy to have it used for any non-profit purpose.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Do you know how strong you are?

Stars are amazing, wonderful things.

This is true even when a star is not a star.

When is a star not a star?

We will come back to that question in a moment.

First, I want to tell you a story.

It’s almost Christmas. At Christmas we will tell the story of the miraculous birth of Jesus of Nazareth. But did you know that there are other miraculous birth stories of other great religious leaders? Today I’m going to tell you about the birth of the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

When Muhammad’s mother Amina was pregnant with her baby, she fell into a dream. A voice said to her, “The child you bear is the best of all humankind, and he will be a leader of his people. When he is born, give him the name of Muhammad, which means ‘Highly Praised’.”

Now many legends have been passed down about the time when Amina was giving birth. My favorite is that as Amina was in labor, a white bird came and lay its wing across her, helping her to keep her confidence.

Most importantly for our story today, some people say that at the moment when Muhammad was actually born, the stars lowered themselves from the sky and made a light so bright that no one could see anything else. Or, maybe, that Muhammad himself shone with a light as bright as a star. And there are even stories which say that on that day there was a battle between devils and angels in heaven, and as the angels defeated the devils the devils fell out of the sky as shooting stars, falling down, down to their doom on the Earth.

Do you think that is really what happened?
Maybe. Maybe not. Stars cannot really come down out of the sky, as far as we know. When it looks like they do, they are really shooting stars, which aren’t stars at all but meteors, burning up as they enter the Earth’s atmosphere. Tiny babies are beautiful, but they don’t actually emit light! And shooting stars aren’t devils or angels, either.

Still, whether stars came to earth to see Muhammad or not, whether he glowed or not, whether angels cast devils out of heaven or not, the baby who was born that day grew up to be a great prophet who founded the religion of Islam. He taught the importance of doing right, of giving alms to those who were poor, and of praying each day so that we may keep our minds on that which is best in the world.

And it turned out that the stars were very important to the early Muslims who were trying to follow Muhammad’s teachings. At that time, studying the stars – doing astronomy – was the best way to keep track of time and direction – and Muslims needed to know the right times to pray, and the right direction to pray in (towards Mecca). So the work of astronomers was greatly valued. And as people in other parts of the world who practiced other religions became more curious about how the Universe worked, they turned to the books those Islamic astronomers had written to learn from.

So when is a star not a star?

When it’s a meteor.

The stars came to earth to see the birth of Muhammad. Perhaps there was a meteor shower the night he was born – they do happen, and why not on that night as opposed to any other night? Large meteors are very, VERY bright. When they break up in the air or land they make a huge, blinding flash. When we look at something else after seeing a very bright light, sometimes it seems to glow. And we make up stories about the things we don’t understand all the time – it’s part of what humans do. I can imagine wondering if maybe a meteor shower was somehow a battle between magical beings in a realm far away from the real world I live in, and telling a story about it.

So when is a star not a star?

The other time a star is not a star is when it’s a metaphor.

The stars came to earth to see the birth of Muhammad. All that was bright and beautiful recognized the importance of this one baby. Therefore, the people hearing the stories knew that they should, too. That baby was so full of positive, creative energy that people thought of him as glowing. And the message he brought to the world helped many people struggling with their own internal demons, working hard to cast them out and turn to the side of the angels.

May we recognize the starlight in each other’s eyes this season. And the starlight in the eyes of those seeking refuge from the storm in our world right now. May we allow our own lights to shine brightly. And may we struggle towards peace.

Do you know how strong you are?
Do you know how beautiful you are?
That you shine like a star in the night?
That you blaze with your own light?

With thanks to for a very small part of this story, adapted.  May be reused for non-commercial purposes with attribution.