And, it was “game over”

Eric-Metaxas

[…]

Mr. (Eric) Metaxas pushes back against what he calls the “lie that faith and science are somehow opposed to each other.” He thinks the two work in tandem. As he wrote last year in these pages: “There are more than 200 known parameters necessary for a planet to support life—every single one of which must be perfectly met, or the whole thing falls apart.” In sum: “Can every one of those many parameters have been perfect by accident?”

This resonates with people. “They say: ‘You know, it didn’t make sense to me that the universe made no sense.’ ” In his book about the miraculous, Mr. Metaxas cites the Christian scholar C.S. Lewis, who wrote in his 1952 book “Mere Christianity”: “If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.” […]

While he “floundered,” he was influenced by a good friend who was a Christian. Mr. Metaxas’ initial attitude was: “Don’t come too close. That’s all that weird stuff I’ve been trained to avoid. On the other hand, tell me just a little bit more.” The friend gave him “The Cost of Discipleship,” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German Lutheran pastor from a prominent family who stood in solidarity with the Jews in World War II, publicly denouncing the Nazis at his peril. At age 39 Bonhoeffer was murdered by Hitler’s henchmen two weeks before the Americans liberated Flossenbürg.

This story laid the groundwork for Mr. Metaxas’ “dramatic” conversion experience, which he says happened overnight, in a dream. It was “game over.” He said he knew he believed in Christianity and his only question was: “How do I reconcile my life to this?” […] [Read more…]

Sunday Morning. Only one possible prayer.

woman-red-dress-painting-art

There is really only one possible prayer:
Give me to do everything that I do in the day
with a sense of the sacredness of life.
[…]
Tomorrow the world crashes in again.

~ May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude: The Journal of May Sarton


Painting: Taras Loboda, Lady in Red 1961 (via Mennyfox55)

 

My Kind of Deity

dali-lama

Indeed, even as he seems the paragon of saintly forgiveness, he advances a claim to ordinariness. ‘‘I am a human being like any other,’’ I heard him repeat in several public appearances over the last year. In Tibet, he told me, too many superstitious beliefs had overlaid Buddhism’s commitment to empirically investigate the workings of the mind. Tibetans believed that he ‘‘had some kind of miracle power,’’ he said. ‘‘Nonsense!’’ he thundered. ‘‘If I am a living god, then how come I can’t cure my bad knee?’’

He similarly asserted his nonsupernatural qualities at the summit meeting of Nobel Peace Prize winners in Rome this December. When the city’s former mayor asked him how he coped with jet lag, the Dalai Lama, Newsweek reported, gave a frankly nonreligious explanation. He could train his mind to sleep well, he said (he goes to bed at 7 p.m. and wakes at 3 a.m. to meditate). ‘‘Traveling the world — time difference — no problem,’’ he added, ‘‘but bowel movement does not obey my mind. But this morning, thanks to your blessings — after 7 o’clock, full evacuation. So now I am very comfortable.’’

~ Pankaj Mishra, The Last Dalai Lama?


Source: NY Times Magazine – The Last Dalai Lama?

Miracle. All of it.

fog-vancouver-island

If there is one god who shaped this ribbon of coast and mountains, who created and nurtures the community of living things that covers it, this god is Rain. About 215 days each year have measurable rain or snow. Yearly precipitation on the island totals nearly a hundred increase – eight feet – and perhaps half again that much on the high slopes. A single inch of rain disbursed over a square mile equals 17.4 million gallons of water. This means about 1.7 billion gallons falls each year on every square mile of the island. The upthrown land is wrapped almost constantly in clouds, and the stead wash of rain has shaped it with veins of coalescing water. Thousands of streams and rivers shed their burden into the Pacific, where it convenes as a mass of freshened current that flows along this entire coast. The rich forest exists here at the behest of rain, as do the muskegs and estuary meadows, and the whole array of rain-loving animals, from timber and slugs and click beetles to bears and bald eagles. I crawl outside the tent to feel the storm once more and take in this moment of its life. Standing in near-absolute darkness, I breathe the wind and try to perceive the power of the moment, to let the storm blow away these snares of thought and leave me the purer freedom of my senses. The storm has given me this day, this island born of rain.

~ Richard Nelson, The Island Within


Notes:

  • Photo: Adele Oliver (Vancouver Island) via Elinka
  • Related Richard Nelson Posts on Live & Learn: Richard Nelson
  • Inspired by Albert Einstein’s quote: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
  • Related Live & Live Posts: Miracle. All of it.

Riding Metro North. Vive la France.

moving-train

Monday.

2:45 am.

How quiet it is.
Too soon to wake.
Too late to stop the mind.
A hamster on the wheel, spinning.

Duras: “How quiet it is,” […] “Who’d believe our nights are such an ordeal?”

3:30 am.

Up.
Pre-dawn.
In the Quiet Zone.
Ascending to de Botton’s higher consciousness. Or somewhere.

Alain de Botton: “Perhaps late at night or early in the morning (when there are no threats or demands on us), when our bodies and passions are comfortable and quiescent, we have the privilege of being able to access the higher mind …We loosen our hold on our own egos and ascend to a less biased and more universal perspective, casting off a little of the customary anxious self-justification and brittle pride.”

I do feel that ascension. Now if I could only park here.

6:51 a.m.

Father and his daughter walk to train station.  It’s 45° F.  “It’s cold Dad.” I look down at her bare red legs pockmarked with goose bumps: “Why aren’t you wearing nylons?” She snaps back at me: “Really Dad? Nylons. Nobody wears Nylons anymore? That’s creepy.

So, now I’m on the wrong side of 50 and creepy.  OK, so it wasn’t a focus area. And, it’s not that I haven’t looked at women’s legs. And there you are, a flat stone skipping silently across the water, jumping decades of fashion revolution. [Read more…]

I wonder what she prays for, and if you hear her.

feet-souls

[…]

When I got to the waiting room I saw your mother perched there with her incurable stare. She was in that place where the high probability of failure intersects with a two percent chance of success. Hope at its most corrosive. […]

How is your boy

She didn’t move or look at me, but there was graciousness in her tone when she said

He’s just not so good

When I returned the next day I peeked in to see my dad and then I darted over to look for those feet of yours. When I didn’t see them I stopped a nurse and said, the boy, the tall one, where is he? It was a nurse I didn’t recognize and she clearly didn’t know that you were supposed to be a big basketball star and live to be eighty, she clearly knew none of that because she did not look up and said flatly that they had taken your body away.

That day was over twenty years ago. I’ve been witness to great tragedy since but I’ve never forgotten you. I created different details to your narrative to go along with what I knew and it never seems like what I assume is inaccurate. I feel like by having some understanding of your latitude I can deduce your center, like quantum gravity, which I can comprehend about as much as I can a mother burying her son, but if certain scientists are correct and it becomes possible to bend time, then I’ll be able to ask you if any of my assumptions were correct. I don’t need answers until then, unless the idea of God becomes willing to explain itself, in which case I am up for that Q& A. Where your story intersects mine is at my refusal to accept things too sad for me to process; my reimagining endings that haunt me. It’s hard to reconcile that God is either entirely too secretive or has a totally deficient ability to prioritize. I hear people say, “It happened for a reason,” or “It’s part of God’s plan,” and I wish that made sense to me but it doesn’t. I carry you around still and who knows why. Perhaps there are no answers for us poor humans, but we know a handful of things. We know there exists a planet with four thousand versions of songbirds. Because that is possible and because on that same planet can exist sentient beings made up almost entirely of stardust, and because bonafide poetry erupts mightily from some of those beings, and there is music, sex, and babies that laugh in their sleep; because we are roaming a universe that may be a hologram, with another dimension consecutively projecting itself outside this construct of relativity and gravity; because of all that, there is no reason why my prayers shouldn’t be able to reach your mother whose name I didn’t even know. There is no reason why not, when nothing is completely harmonious with its description, not really, and there is a flaw in every theory of time and space.

From time to time I picture it. I see her watching while you go flying down that court. I see her shoulders moving almost imperceptibly to mimic your bobs and weaves around the other players. She is going where you go without thinking about it, tied to you, following and winning when you win, until you turn to wave and that puts her on her feet and beaming. I do know that if your mother is alive today she is thinking of you right this minute. I wonder what she prays for, and if you hear her.

~ Mary-Louise Parker, “Dear Mr. Big Feet” from Dear You 


Photo: derrosenkavalier titled Feet part ten

Running. With Rain.

fall-autumn-leaves-golden

56° F.  Rain spitting on the windshield.
The convoy rolls out to Mianus River for a trail run.
Zeke sighs as he curls in the backseat.  Anya settles in the trunk.
The Wolfpack is draggin’.
Their leader rides the slow lane on I-95 thinking about the benefits of a long walk on his joints.
99 days. 3 months + since your last trail run. What a lazy a**.

Rain stops.  Clouds hang low.
We pass through the gate.
The Park is empty but for a fisherman making his way upstream.
Both dogs pull on the leashes. A sharp tug gets them to heal.
Wait! I’m not ready for this yet.

I look up.
A gold leaf canopy.
I look down.
A solid gold leaf carpet.
Someone is laying tracks.
[Read more…]

Rabbi to Agnostic: Your Word is Fire (Have me thinkin’)

breathe-cold-mist-portrait

If prayer is pure and untainted,
surely that holy breath
that rises from your lips
will join with the breath of heaven
that is always flowing
into you from above […]
Thus that part of God which is within you
is reunited with its source.

~Arthur Green & Barry Holtz, Keter Shem Tov, as adapted in Your Word is Fire


Credits: Poem: Thank you Make Believe Boutique. Photo: Samantha West (Untitled)

Sunday Morning

cloudless-blue-sky

The nearest I’d come to feeling
anything like God
was the plain blue cloudless sky
and a certain silence,
but how do you pray to that?

~ Janet Fitch, White Oleander


Notes: Quote: The Chateau of My Heart. Photo: So, Now What?

Walking Cross-Town. Heal the wounds. Heal the wounds from the ground up.

pope-francis-1

“Pray for me.”

Soft spoken and gentle, he leans into a man and his child amid the throng on the streets of DC.

He repeats.

“Please pray for me.”

I ponder that for a moment.  And, I keep walking.

Barricades are coming up. Husky NYPD officers are manning their stations. NYPD Commissioner Bratton quipped that the pontiff will have “6,000 guardian angels watching him.” He means “Six thousand police officers, 1,173 police cars, 818 tons of concrete barriers and 39 miles of metal and wood barricades are what is needed to help protect Pope Francis on his visit to NYC.”

6000 Guardian Angels. 818 tons of concrete. 39 miles of metal and wood barricades.

I walk.

The flock is amassing.

Man with Gramophone stands in front of Madison Square Garden warning of Armageddon. [Read more…]

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