Images of the Holidays

The Season is finally here!

Sending all my readers and friends around the world

greetings and  best wishes for the Holidays.


Chanukah celebrations begin this evening around the world.

Children will play the Dreidel game

Menorahs will be lit with candles in remembrance

of the time when Jews regained the Temple

to find that they had only one day’s worth of oil left in the Temple

for the Eternal Flame

And a miracle  let the oil last for eight days

long enough to make more oil 

Presents are given to children for the eight nights the holiday lasts




 Christmas Eve is also tonight and is frequently when families go to candle light

services as a family.

Some open presents on the eve and some on Christmas morn.This 

is the celebration of the birth of Jesus.




Kwanzaa begins December 26 and runs through January 1                  

Zawadi - Gift-giving for Kwanzaa

Greetings - The Swahili way

The greetings during Kwanzaa are in Swahili. Swahili is a Pan-African language and is chosen to reflect African Americans’ commitment to the whole of Africa and African culture rather than to a specific ethnic or national group or culture. The greetings are to reinforce awareness of and commitment to the Seven Principles. It is: “Habari gani?” and the answer is each of the principles for each of the days of Kwanzaa, i.e., “Umoja”, on the first day, “Kujichagulia”, on the second day and so on.


Gifts are given mainly to children, but must always include a book and a heritage symbol. The book is to emphasize the African value and tradition of learning stressed since ancient Egypt, and the heritage symbol to reaffirm and reinforce the African commitment to tradition and history.

x x X

Colors and Decorations

The colors of Kwanzaa are black, red and green as noted above and can be utilized in decorations for Kwanzaa. Also decorations should include traditional African items, i.e., African baskets, cloth patterns, art objects, harvest symbols, etc.




However you celebrate your holiday be blessed

and know you are a part of the family of Man and of God.

We honor all cultures and all paths

Put positive energy into the Universe and the entire World

will Shine with the Light of being connected to each other in Love and Acceptance.

I wish the World a year of PEACE and JOY!




As I have declared before, we are all children of the Universe. We are interconnected. I am in the butterfly and the butterfly is in me. We are not only connected to each other but to every living thing. This meditation was written a long time ago and it helps us to recognize on the inner landscape, out true relationship with all that is living. I hope you will try it and see if it makes a difference.


“I am in everything and everything is in me.” —-Khabira


The beauty of spring in Western North Carolina

The beauty of spring in Western North Carolina. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio, 2016


I started as a mineral

Then I became a vegetable,

then an animal,

then a human,

and I will continue in the heavenly spheres



Vibration, molecules, crystal,

I am the bounty of my heavenly condition manifested.

My heavenly counterpart seeks to be.

I was born out of the encounter between heaven and earth.

My consciousness was vibrating like a harp.


My thoughts are the thoughts of the universe

I sought to awaken beyond my human condition —

And as I awoke I discovered the universe within me —

Free from myself.


I begin to look into the calls of the crystal

Visualize the life force within the crystal;

the molecules, electrons whirling, sparkling —

being the expression manifesting the language of the universe

frozen in a crystal


Throbbing at the subatomic level

Imagine the rigor involved

Some electrons escape by following light

Then they fell back for lack of energy

They Danced.

They Sparkled.


Now get into the consciousness of a flower

A bud, opening up —

one petal at a time

Then the petals begin to fall off

and it dies

But, oh, the moment of glory —

the seed remains;

the perfume extracted —

and then the air

The only way it can express is by form, color, fragrance

for but a moment of glory


What leap forward for the state of the animal —

Respiratory system, circulatory system, et cetera —

taken eons of time.

Now the need to manifest not only in form but more —

The support system is more elaborate.

Each animal manifesting its divine qualities.

Now emerging as a human being.

Not only aware of stars but —

visualizing them as radiant luminaries with life systems,

more advanced than ours —

light years away.

Reaching into thinking of the universe

Not only receiving the light of the stars but —

perceiving their thinking.


We are awakening to all levels of the universe

Discovering the qualities

Begin to feel it in the animal


Compassion, love, et cetera.

More qualities. More of the universe.

And as more comes through

you become more cosmic


What is more, we are able to feel

that emotion of the universe that became

the crystal

the plant

the animal


Can you feel it?


If you can grasp the countenance of your being —

it is an effort to express that splendor.


Now hoist yourself to the levels of your being —

exploring the metaphors of your being;

New thoughts emerge —

prompted by emotion

(Not random thoughts

but thoughts provoked by

the intensity of the emotion)


Be kind to your soul.

The emotion of your soul

is prompted by



You are born out of that Divine Nostalgia

Accept your Divine Being.

You have seen how far you have come

to be a human.

It is now time to awaken

to one’s own Divinity —

by being aware of

the Divine Nostalgia

that spurs us to

our Divine Power


Instead of thinking of yourself

as a person —

think of yourself

as the fulfillment of

the Divine Purpose;

Like one of the sketches of Leonardo di Vinci

that leads up to the final picture.


In us is God’s fulfillment —

How great is my glory —

This does not mean

the individual

but is more cosmic.


For, when you discover

Yourself in the Universe

You discover the Universe in You



A water Lily Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2016

A water Lily
Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2016

Rape as a Weapon of war

Mass Rape, a Weapon of War, Traumatizes South Sudan


The aftermath of an attack in February on a United Nations camp for civilians in Malakal, South Sudan. 


GENEVA — First they killed her husband. Then, the South Sudanese woman said, government soldiers tied her to a tree and forced her to watch as at least 10 of them raped her 15-year-old daughter.

A little more than two years after the outbreak of civil war in South Sudan, the United Nations said Friday that all parties to the conflict had committed serious and systematic violence against civilians, but it singled out forces loyal to President Salva Kiir as the worst offenders.

“Crimes against humanity and war crimes have continued into 2015, and they have been predominantly perpetrated by the government,” David Marshall, the coordinator of a United Nations assessment team, said in an interview that was videotaped in South Sudan and released Friday along with the team’s report.
The mother’s account to United Nations investigators of the rape of her daughter was among many stories cited by the United Nations as evidence that government forces and affiliated militias had used sexual violence systematically to punish and terrorize civilians. Opposition forces also committed atrocities, but to a lesser degree, the United Nations said.

“This is one of the most horrendous human rights situations in the world, with massive use of rape as an instrument of terror and weapon of war, yet it has been more or less off the international radar,” Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, said in a statement.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed and more than two million forced to flee their homes since the start of the conflict between Mr. Kiir and his former vice president, Riek Machar, in December 2013, the United Nations said. The two sides agreed last August to set up a transitional government, but they have yet to do so.

In its 102-page report, the assessment team estimated that 10,553 civilians had died in Unity State in the 12 months that ended in November. Most appeared to have been killed deliberately, the team said.

The South Sudanese conflict intensified last year, particularly in Unity State, “where there has been a push by the government, both through the military leadership and the political leadership, to displace, kill, rape, abduct and pillage large portions of the civilian population,” Mr. Marshall said. “The consequence is that there has been much terror.”

Rights groups that have been expressing alarm about South Sudan for the past two years seized on the report to press their demands for a Security Council arms embargo and the establishment of a special war crimes court.

“While justice and an arms embargo alone will not solve this disaster, they are an essential contribution to ending the litany of appalling abuses against civilians,” said Jehanne Henry, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch. Tom Andrews, a former United States congressman who is president of United to End Genocide in Washington, said: “The time for pleading and begging South Sudan’s government to implement a peace deal is over.”


The United Nations assessment team, which visited South Sudan between October and January, recorded detailed accounts of how civilians, including women and children, had been hanged from trees, burned alive, shot and hacked to pieces with machetes. Churches, mosques and hospitals came under attack, the team said.
The team said it documented more than 1,300 cases of rape between April and September in Unity State alone, and 50 more cases from September to October. Mr. al-Hussein said the numbers “must only be a snapshot of the real total.”

Government forces carried out most of the rapes in 2015, although in some cases, criminal gangs that have flourished in South Sudan’s prevailing lawlessness were involved, the team found.

Army-affiliated militias, made up mainly of youths, raped and abducted women and girls essentially as a form of payment, under an agreement that allowed them to “do what you can and take what you can,” the team reported. The militias stole cattle and other property under the same understanding, the team said.

Some women reported being taken as “wives” by soldiers and kept for sexual slavery in barracks where they were raped repeatedly. In some instances, witnesses said, attackers killed women who resisted them or even looked them in the eye, or who showed signs of being unable to withstand continued gang rape, the United Nations reported.

In one incident, witnesses saw soldiers arguing because one of them wanted to “take” a 6-year-old girl he thought was “beautiful.” Other soldiers eventually shot the girl, the witnesses said.

The United Nations team concluded that the violence it documented required a degree of preparation that suggested there was a plan to attack the civilian population. Attacks by the armed forces loyal to Mr. Kiir largely targeted members of Mr. Machar’s Nuer community, which is consistent with the government’s political objective of weakening its opponents and communities perceived as supporting them, the team said.

Critics of the government also became targets of state violence, the United Nations team said. Human rights activists, journalists and United Nations aid agency staff members were threatened, harassed, detained and in some instances killed, the team said.

One journalist, Peter Julius Moi, was shot dead in the capital, Juba, in June, only days after Mr. Kiir threatened to retaliate against journalists who reported “against the country.”

Another journalist, Joseph Afandi, who had written articles critical of the government, was found dead near a Juba graveyard earlier this week, according to the local news media, which reported that he appeared to have been beaten and burned. Mr. Afandi had been released in mid-February after two months of detention without charge.

“There needs to be a commitment to end the violence, and then there needs to be a commitment on meaningful accountability, to investigate, prosecute and punish the perpetrators,” Mr. Marshall said in his recorded interview.

But the reality is that “that can’t happen given that the machinery of violence is basically the state,” he added. “Both the military arm and the civilian leadership are part and parcel of the problem. They are orchestrating the violence against their own civilians.”

The United Nations report came as the world body’s Human Rights Council prepared to take up the South Sudan conflict. The council’s 47 members will vote this month on a resolution that is likely to call for the United Nations to appoint a special rapporteur to monitor developments there and report back to the council, according to diplomats engaged in negotiating the text.


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So here we are, hearing stories of murder and rape during war. I think that the UN should stop rapes of women and girls.It is totally uncivilized to fight a war this way. Civilians do not often have a lot to do with the causes of war and yet they regularly pay the price.


I believe that it is an crime worse than murder. Rape, especially in the third world countries, takes a woman’s life away from her and she is still alive to watch how it unravels and disappears. Little girls, if they are not killed during the rape, often have serious physical and emotional injuries. Soldiers often use rifle butts and knives to commit the rapes. Fathers and brothers are many times made to watch. There have been reports of rapes among little girls as young as six years old.

Think about your daughters and granddaughters going through an experience like this. It is horrifying. The UN needs to intervene and punish all soldiers who commit rape and murder among innocent civilians. We must focus on our similarities and remember we are all children of the universe. We are star matter. Yes, you may have decided that you have a right to participate in war but nothing ever gives you the right to injure innocent citizens. Wars don’t accomplish anything; they destroy lives and countries. They are good for nothing. This depravity is despicable in the eyes of civilized peoples.






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Soldiers waging war on civilians including rape and murder.

Soldiers waging war on civilians including rape and murder.



Soldiers fighting in the South Sudan war

Soldiers fighting in the South Sudan war

This is the Universe

Since so many of us are house bound here in the states due to the wicked snow storms, I thought I would take you on a little trip, Up,UP, and Away. I found this to be amazing and thought you all might also. This trip is way cooler than anything you could be doing stuck inside because of the storms. Let me know if you enjoyed it.






The view downriver from my den window. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2016

The view downriver from my den window. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2016



Friday 9 am from my balcony looking up river. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2016

Friday 9 am from my balcony looking up river. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2016



Snowflakes falling. Taken from my third floor balcony at 2:00 am Friday morning

Snowflakes falling. Taken from my third floor balcony at 2:00 am Friday morning. Photograph and copyright Barbara Mattio 2016

Our Place in the Universe

The American Museum of Natural History, in association with the Hayden Planetarium and the Rubin Museum of Art, has created a Digital Universe – a beautifully rendered graphic representation of the Universe as we have so far been able to discover it.


Watching this video made me think about all the things that divide human beings on Earth, and how truly petty they are.  We are fighting wars and killing our planet, and we think that we have so much power; but when you compare us to the brilliance, the ordered chaos, the sheer beauty of the Universe and other Universes, the greediness, the hatred, the lack of compassion and lack of respect for life and the planet is so unimportant.
We are made of stardust.  We are all as beautiful as the stars in any Universe.












The sun in our Universe

The sun in our Universe



Our solar system

Our solar system

I am Rambling Today

My nephew is coming through today. We planned to have breakfast together and then he would be on his way. His train is five hours late. I can’t get organized. It is a beautiful day and my mind keeps wandering. That and I pick up a book and read then set it down and am making a list as I am going away for the weekend. So I have decided that I am going to share my mind’s journey with you all. Fasten your seatbelts.


“O God, forgive our rich nation where small babies die of cold quite legally.

O God, forgive our rich nation where small children suffer from hunger quite legally.

O God, forgive our rich nation where toddlers and school children die from guns sold quite legally.

O God, forgive our rich nation that let’s children be the poorest group of citizens quite legally.

O God, forgive our rich nation that lets the rich continue to get more at the expense of the poor quite legally.

O God, forgive our rich nation which thinks security rests in missiles rather than in mothers, and in bombs rather than babies.

O God, forgive our rich nation for not giving You sufficient thanks by giving to others their daily bread.

O God, help us never to confuse what is quite legal with what is just and right in Your sight.”

—Marion Wright Edelman



God’s Questions


God won’t ask what kind of car you drove, but will ask how many people drove who didn’t have transportation.

God won’t ask the square footage of your house, but will ask how many people you welcomed into your home.

God won’t ask about the fancy clothes you had in your closet, but will ask how many of those clothes helped the needy.

God won’t ask about your social status, but will ask what kind of class you displayed.

God won’t ask how many material possessions you had, but will ask if they dictated your life.

God won’t ask what your highest salary was, but will ask if you compromised your character to obtain that salary.

God won’t ask what you did to help yourself, but will ask how many people to whom you were a true friend.

God won’t ask what you did to protect your rights, but will ask what you did to protect the rights of others.

God won’t ask in what neighborhood you lived, but will ask how you treated your neighbors.

God won’t ask about the color of your skin, but will ask about the content of your character.

God won’t ask how many times your deeds matched your words, but will ask how many times they didn’t.

—Author Unknown


” A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”   —Albert Einstein







 We are in the universe and the universe is within us.


We are all equal in the eyes of the Divine.

We are all equal in the eyes of the Divine.

Reality Check



Welcome to the real world.



The Milky Way. If we destroy ourselves, what happens to the universe?

The Milky Way. If we destroy ourselves, what happens to the universe?




Dolphins living free until we completely destroy our planet

Dolphins living free until we completely destroy our planet




Twilight on boat launch at Avon. Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

Twilight on boat launch at Avon. Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014



California Poppies. Another gift from Mother Nature.

California Poppies. Another gift from Mother Nature.




Upper Waterfall in Letchworth State Park. The Genesee River has formed a gorge. We must take care of the gifts from Mother Earth.

Upper Waterfall in Letchworth State Park. The Genesee River has formed a gorge. We must take care of the gifts from Mother Earth.

We have to take care of our planet. It is more important than oil, money, arms, greed, jealously, bigotry, injustice, hatred and war. We must take care of Mother Earth. Our planet has changed greatly during just my lifetime. There is a supervolcano under Yellowstone National Park. If it blows, it will destroy most of America. Yet we continue fracking, mining, polluting the earth and the air. We must stop. To choose not to stop is to commit suicide.



 Great Spirit


Great Spirit,

give us hearts to understand;

never to take

from creation’s  beauty more than we give;

never to destroy wantonly for the furtherance of greed,

never to deny to give our hands for the building of earth’s beauty;

never to take from her what we cannot use.

Give us hearts to understand that to destroy earth’s

music is to create confusion,

that to wreck her appearance is to blind us to beauty;

that to callously pollute her fragrance is to make a house of stench;

that as we care for her she will care for us. Amen     —U.N. Environmental Sabbath Program





Praying for Mother Earth.

Praying for Mother Earth.


Only a self-destructive species would do to our planet, what we have done.

Only a self-destructive species would do to our planet, what we have done.

Here in the Light

let your hope rise to the heavens.

let your hope rise to the heavens.

We are facing a dark time in the world. It is not the first time and it won’t be the last time either. Each of us must decide how we are going to face the darkness and work through the pain and hopelessness.

Since the dawn of time there have been those who will take what they want without a care to the effect on other people. Greed and jealously twist the human heart and life becomes less valuable.

We can choose that path or we can choose to walk in the light. We can choose the light. we can work to keep hope alive. We can reach out to others, families and survivors.

I must keep my heart strong and loving. I must look up. My prayer is that if I do, I will do all I can to stand tall there, as tall as 5 foot 2 inches can stand. I will use every ounce of courage to light my candle.

I will forgive and I will love all of the children of the universe while tears slide down my face. Yes, tears because my heart is broken andI know it will be again. So I suggest we all work towards compassion, kindness, loving each other as sisters and brothers. Because we are all children of the universe. Life is bigger than each individual act. We need the big picture.

We need to remember that we are all equally part of the family of man.
And women. We can only survive if we work together to stop the darkness.

gathering of the flowers

gathering of the flowers

Let us all work together to bring beauty into the darkness and never give up or lose hope.

A Tiny Drop of Water

     The Joy of Unity With the Universe

“O Lord,
One tiny bit of water rests on the palm of my hand.
I bring it to you and with it I bring the whole ocean
This tiny drop has the power to ease the burning thirst of men,
when spread on the earth, to give life to the seed and the future
when poured on the fire to quench the blaze.
A tiny drop of water
can cleanse the whole of my impurity when blessed by your forgiveness.

—Ishpriya rscj


Seeing the World Through Different Eyes

Invoking the powers of the Universe or bestowing on Mother Earth or other beings is neither a simple benevolent wish nor an act of hubris. It is really an act of creative confidence.We free ourselves to come into dynamic relationship with the entire Universe. “May all beings be happy.”

“What a thing it is to sit absolutely alone,
in the forest, at night, cherished by this
wonderful, unintelligible,
perfectly innocent speech,
The most comforting speech in the world,
the talk that rain makes by itself all over the ridges,
and the talk of the watercourses everywhere in the hollows!
Nobody started it, nobody is going to stop it.
It will talk as long as it wants, this rain.
As long as it talks I am going to listen.
————Thomas Merton

“Let us be united,
Let us speak in harmony,
Let our minds apprehend alike,
Common be our prayer,
Common be the end of our assembly,
Common be our resolution.
Alike be our feelings,
United be our hearts,
Common be our intentions,
Perfect be our unity.

—— From the Hindu Rig Veda

Cuyahogua Falls, Ohio;  Photo by Barbara Mattio

Cuyahogua Falls, Ohio; Photo by Barbara Mattio

Being Human

Waves, Myrtle Beach, Photo by Barbara Mattio

Praise to You, O God,

Let us imagine a world without color, without regal red or leafy green, a world that bores the eye with grey

Praise to You, O God for all the colors in the rainbow, for eyes that are made for seeing, and for beauty that “is its own excuse for being.”

Let us imagine a world without sound, a world where deathly silence covers the earth like a shroud.

Praise to You, O God, for words that speak to our minds, songs that lift our spirits, and all those souls who know how to listen.

Let us image a world without order, where no one can predict the length of the day or the flow of the tide. Imagine a universe where planets leave their orbits and soar like meteors through the heavens, and where the law of gravity is repealed at random.

Praise to You, O God, for the marvelous order of nature, from stars in the sky to particles in the atom.

Let us image a world without love, a world in which the human spirit, incapable of caring, is locked in the prison of the self.

Praise to You, O God, for the capacity to feel happiness in another’s happiness and pain in another’s pain.

As the universe whispers of a oneness behind all that is, so the love in the human heart calls on people everywhere to unite in pursuit of those ideals that make us human.

As we sing of One God, we rejoice in the wonder of the universe and pray for that day when all humanity will be one.

–Rabbi Henry Cohen

The color of Earth; Photo by Barbara Mattio

Singing the Blues; New Orleans; Photo by Barbara Mattio