Lighting a little dark as I go

falling-star
“The temptation is to make an idol of our own experience, to assume our pain is more singular than it is. Even here, in some of the entries above, I see that I have fallen prey to it. In truth, experience means nothing if it does not mean beyond itself: we mean nothing unless and until our hard-won meanings are internalized and catalyzed within the lives of others. There is something I am meant to see, something for which my own situation and suffering are the lens, but the cost of such seeing — I am just beginning to realize — may very well be any final clarity or perspective on my own life, my own faith. That would not be a bad fate, to burn up like the booster engine that falls aways from the throttling rocket, lighting a little dark as I go.”

~ Christian Wiman, My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer

On the afternoon of his 39th birthday, less than a year after his wedding day, poet Christian Wiman was diagnosed with an incurable cancer of the blood. Wiman had long ago drifted away from the Southern Baptist beliefs of his upbringing. But the shock of staring death in the face gradually revived a faith that had gone dormant. Wiman’s book of essays, My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer took shape in the wake of his diagnosis, when he believed death could be fast approaching. These writings come from someone who is less a cautious theologian than a pilgrim crying out from the depths. They divulge the God-ward hopes (and doubts) of an artist still piecing together a spiritual puzzle. San Francisco-based lawyer and author Josh Jeter corresponded with Wiman about his new book, his precarious health, and the ongoing challenge of belief in God. (Source: CT)


Notes:

 

Sunday Sermon

photography,Montana,black and white
I always have this sense that something is going to resolve my spiritual anxieties once and for all, that one day I’ll just relax and be a believer. I read book after book. I seek out intense experiences in art, in nature, or in conversations with people I respect and who seem to rest more securely in their faith than I do. Sometimes it seems that gains are made, for these things can and do provide relief and instruction. But always the anxiety comes back, is the norm from which faith deviates, if faith is even what you would call these intense but somehow vague and fleeting experiences of God. I keep forgetting, or perhaps simply will not let myself see, what true faith is, its active and outward nature. I should never pray to be at peace in my belief. I should pray only that my anxiety be given peaceful outlets, that I might be the means to a peace that I myself do not feel.

~ Christian Wiman, My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer


Notes:

 

God. No God. Bottom Line? Stupefaction.

watermelon

I have observed the power of the watermelon seed. It has the power of drawing from the ground and through itself 200,000 times its weight. When you can tell me how it takes this material and out of it colors an outside surface beyond the imitation of art, and then forms inside of it a white rind and within that again a red heart, thickly inlaid with black seeds, each one of which in turn is capable of drawing through itself 200,000 times its weight – when you can explain to me the mystery of a watermelon, you can ask me to explain the mystery of God.

William Jennings Bryan


Quote Source: Thank you Steve Layman. Image: Wallyes.com. Definition for Stupefaction.

Related Post: Love ya. All Seasons. All Forms. All meals.

 

Sunday Morning: The most blinding illumination

CT focus-poetry-foundation05.jpg

What you must realize, what you must even come to praise, is the fact that there is no right way that is going to become apparent to you once and for all. The most blinding illumination that strikes and perhaps radically changes your life will be so attenuated and obscured by doubts and dailiness that you may one day come to suspect the truth of that moment at all. The calling that seemed so clear will be lost in echoes of questionings and indecision; the church that seemed to save you will fester with egos, complacencies, banalities; the deepest love of your life will work itself like a thorn in your heart until all you can think of is plucking it out. Wisdom is accepting the truth of this. Courage is persisting with life in spite of it. And faith is finding yourself, in the deepest part of your soul, in the very heart of who you are, moved to praise it.

~ Christian Wiman, My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer

 


Credits:

There is no mind on the other side of the wall

Tony Harratt, black and white,photography

It was one of the most emailed and shared NY Times articles this month. It has set off a frenzy of opposing responses from religious groups and from folks who believe in life on other planets – - along with others who are in violent agreement. I read it the day it was published (May 2nd).  I found it interesting that for a man clutching the fence (The Believer of Convenience), it has been looming in my consciousness since then. And, like Lightman, it frightened me too.

The Op-Ed piece is written by Alan Lightman, a physicist from M.I.T. and author of “The Accidental Universe.  It is titled: “Our Lonely Home in Nature“.  A few excerpts:

The tornadoes that have been devastating parts of the South and Midwest, just weeks after a deadly mudslide in Washington, demonstrate once again the unimaginable power of nature…

…Aren’t we a part of nature, born in nature, sustained by the food brought forth by nature, warmed by the natural sun? Don’t we have a deep spiritual connection with the wind and the water and the land that Emerson and Wordsworth so lovingly described, that Turner and Constable painted in scenes of serenity and grandeur? How could Mother Nature do this to us, her children?

…Yet despite our strongly felt kinship and oneness with nature, all the evidence suggests that nature doesn’t care one whit about us. Tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions happen without the slightest consideration for human inhabitants…Our comfort with nature is an illusion.

…In the other direction, nature is constantly given human qualities. Wordsworth wrote that “nature never did betray the heart that loved her.” Mother Nature has comforted us in every culture on earth.

…I would argue that we have been fooling ourselves. Nature, in fact, is mindless. Nature is neither friend nor foe, neither malevolent nor benevolent.

…Nature is purposeless. Nature simply is. We may find nature beautiful or terrible, but those feelings are human constructions. Such utter and complete mindlessness is hard for us to accept. We feel such a strong connection to nature. But the relationship between nature and us is one-sided. There is no reciprocity. There is no mind on the other side of the wall. That absence of mind, coupled with so much power, is what so frightened me on the sailboat in Greece.

…we should not be concerned about protecting our planet. Nature can survive far more than what we can do to it and is totally oblivious to whether homo sapiens lives or dies in the next hundred years. Our concern should be about protecting ourselves — because we have only ourselves to protect us.

Read entire article: Our Lonely Home in Nature


Notes:

  • Image Credit: Tony Harratt Photography. Storm in Liverpool Bay.
  • Related Quote: “The universe doesn’t care about us. Time doesn’t care about us. That’s why we have to care about each other.”  ~ David Levithan

 

Is it not by his high superfluousness we know Our God?

dandelion

Too often we start with seeing what is wrong with this world.
We wallow in ‘what’s wrong.’
We need to instead ‘celebrate what’s right with the world.’
And adopt this as our perspective. Our frame of focus.

The lights dimmed after his introductory remarks. Dewitt Jones is one of America’s top freelance photographers. He has worked for the National Geographic magazine for 20 years. He is the author of nine books on nature and leadership. And he’s an inspirational speaker.

Hundreds of us sat, hushed, in the dark, awaiting light to be beamed from three large projection screens. He then flashed up a photograph.

See this untamed field of green, dotted by bright yellow dandelions.
This is the Selkirk Mountains in British Columbia.

I was dialed in. Selkirk Mountains. My mountains. My British Columbia. My Canada. What were the odds that he would have picked this shot and this story? [Read more...]

Panning for Gold


Ben Sollee, 30, is an American cellist, singer-songwriter, and composer known for his innovative playing style, genre-bending songwriting, electrifying performances, political activism, and wide appeal. His music incorporates banjo, guitar, and mandolin along with percussion and unusual cello techniques to create a unique sound. His songs exhibit a mix of folk, bluegrass, jazz, and R&B elements. Sollee has also composed longer instrumental pieces for dance ensembles. Raised in Lexington, Kentucky, Sollee began playing the cello in elementary school. Besides classical music, his early musical influences included recordings his parents played of Wilson PickettRay CharlesBillie Holiday and Otis Redding, and later he discovered folk music. (Source: Wiki)

Find this tune on Sollee’s album here.


Thank you Steve Layman for introducing me to Ben Sollee.  And don’t miss Ben Sollee on Tedx here.


Something, something, something

Peter-Matthiessen

“How does that happen?” Matthiessen asked me rhetorically, posing the question of the novel. He referred back to the novel’s epigraph, a poem by Anna Akhmatova that wonders, when we are surrounded by so much death, “Why then do we not despair?” Matthiessen looked at me, eyes dancing, beating on his leg in time as he said, “Something, something, something,” unable to name the mysterious life force that allows us to rejoice…

~ Jeff Himmelman


Peter Matthiessen, 86, died last night.  R.I.P.

The quote above is an excerpt from Himmelman’s April 3, 2014 NY Times Magazine article titled Peter Matthiessen’s Homegoing.

From today’s front page story in the NY Times Peter Matthiessen, Lyrical Writer and Naturalist, Is Dead at 86:

“Zen is really just a reminder to stay alive and to be awake,” he told the British newspaper The Guardian in 2002. “We tend to daydream all the time, speculating about the future and dwelling on the past. Zen practice is about appreciating your life in this moment. If you are truly aware of five minutes a day, then you are doing pretty well. We are beset by both the future and the past, and there is no reality apart from the here and now.”

Wiki Bio:

Matthiessen was an American novelist, naturalist, and wilderness writer. He was a three-time National Book Award-winner for The Snow Leopard and Shadow Country. He was also a prominent environmental activist.  According to critic Michael Dirda, “No one writes more lyrically [than Matthiessen] about animals or describes more movingly the spiritual experience of mountaintops, savannas, and the sea.”

Matthiessen’s new book, In Paradise, is scheduled for release on April 8, 2014.


why i feed the birds

bird-in-hand

once
i saw my grandmother hold out
her hand cupping a small offering
of seed to one of the wild sparrows
that frequented the bird bath she
filled with fresh water every day

she stood still
maybe stopped breathing
while the sparrow looked
at her, then the seed
then back as if he was
judging her character

he jumped into her hand
began to eat
she smiled 

a woman holding
a small god 

~ Richard Vargas, why i feed the birds

 


Image Credit. Poem Credit. Poem from Vargas’ book Guernica at Amazon here.

5 Rules For A Happy Life

Charles-alan-murray

Charles Murray’s 5 Rules For A Happy Life:

  1. Consider Marrying Young
  2. Learn How to Recognize Your Soul Mate
  3. Eventually Stop Fretting About Fame and Fortune (Fame and wealth do accomplish something: They cure ambition anxiety. But that’s all. It isn’t much…)
  4. Take Religion Seriously
  5. Watch “GroundHog Day” Repeatedly

#4: Now that we’re alone, here’s where a lot of you stand when it comes to religion: It isn’t for you. You don’t mind if other people are devout, but you don’t get it. Smart people don’t believe that stuff anymore. I can be sure that is what many of you think because your generation of high-IQ, college-educated young people, like mine 50 years ago, has been as thoroughly socialized to be secular as your counterparts in preceding generations were socialized to be devout…I am describing my own religious life from the time I went to Harvard until my late 40s. I still describe myself as an agnostic, but my unbelief is getting shaky…Start by jarring yourself out of unreflective atheism or agnosticism. A good way to do that is to read about contemporary cosmology. The universe isn’t only stranger than we knew; it is stranger and vastly more unlikely than we could have imagined, and we aren’t even close to discovering its last mysteries. That reading won’t lead you to religion, but it may stop you from being unreflective.  Find ways to put yourself around people who are profoundly religious. You will encounter individuals whose intelligence, judgment and critical faculties are as impressive as those of your smartest atheist friends—and who also possess a disquieting confidence in an underlying reality behind the many religious dogmas. 

Read all five rules here.


Image Credit

This is a bit of an epic fail

planets-earth-girl-bubbles

Steve Layman’s shares “7 Questions About the Universe That No One Has Answered“:

…There’s also so much mess after 4.5 billion years of geophysics that some of our best information about the planet’s origins come from meteorites and the cratering of other worlds — outsourced. Speaking of other worlds, we’re not even sure we understand where the Moon came from, maybe it was a giant impact, maybe not. For an allegedly clever species on a small rocky planet this is a bit of an epic fail…

There’s an awful lot we don’t know (far more than just the examples here). But the point is not to get despondent, because this ignorance is a beautiful thing. It’s what ultimately drives science, and it’s what makes the universe truly awe-inspiring. After the hundreds of thousands of years that Homo sapienshas loped around, the cosmos can still elude our fidgety, inquisitive minds, easily outracing our considerable imaginations. How wonderful.

~ Caleb A. Scharf, Scientific American


Image Credit. Thank you Steve Layman.


(7º F.) Conversation with G

winter-cold-jacket-bundle

G:    Gluttony?
dk:  Lately or average?
G:    Gluttony?
dk:  Bit testy, no? Ice cream and pasta.
G:    Church?
dk:  (crickets)
G:    Do unto others…?
dk:  Come on Father. I can’t believe we’re all created in your image.
G:    Do unto others…?
dk:  Oh for G…Sakes. (Sorry) Some of them deserved it.
G:    Adultery?
dk:  No. Closer to celibacy. Desert here Father. Monk. Parched.
G:    Kindness?
dk:  Mostly. Yes.
G:    Kindness?
dk:  OK. OK. There’s work to be done here.
G:    Be sure you wear your thermals.
G:    And, don’t forget your tuk and mittens.


Image Credit

No, it stays right at the front.


I can still remember how she looked. Black gown grey against the sky, clutching the scroll in the hand. So much hard work.

Did it mean anything when all paths led to the same end. You can extend the path you take. Choose the one less travelled. Be all the richer for it. But it is still a path, and all paths lead to the same end.  If you have a Lover and a Dog waiting for you, you are one of the lucky ones.  I don’t think there’s anything afterwards, outside the stories. if there is, how would that work?

She believed.  She wasn’t a zealot or fundamentalist.  But she believed.  Enough to not get scared at the end. Vast thunder storms. Fat on the horizon. But she could still see the sun. All things shining.

Sometimes I do the impossible. Steal a glimpse of her out of the corner of my eye. Light and full of love. I don’t try to stop her. Tap her on the shoulder. Pull her home.  

They ask me years later.  Does it get easier as time passes or does it stay at the back of your mind.  

No. It stays right at the front.

 ~ Jack Tasker


Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes!

zeke-vizsla-cute-dog

We become religious,
then we turn from it,
then we are in need and maybe we turn back.
We turn to making money,
then we turn to the moral life,
then we think about money again.
We meet wonderful people, but lose them
in our busyness.
We’re, as the saying goes, all over the place.
Steadfastness, it seems,
is more about dogs than about us.
One of the reasons we love them so much.

~ Mary Oliver


Credits:

  • Thank you MJL for sharing the poem.  I must check out Mary Oliver’s book “Dog Songs.”  Amazing reviews on Amazon.
  • Poem Source: “How It Is with Us, and How It Is with Them” by Mary Oliver, from Dog Songs via Writersalmanac
  • Thank you Susan for the picture of our Zeke.

Perhaps, means a little bit more

Grinch-Christmas

And the Grinch,
with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow,
stood puzzling and puzzling,
how could it be so?
It came without ribbons.
It came without tags.
It came without packages, boxes or bags.
And he puzzled and puzzled ‘till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before.
What if Christmas,
he thought,
doesn’t come from a store.
What if Christmas,
perhaps, means a little bit more.

— Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Credits: Image. Dr. Suess Excerpt from Fables of Reconstruction.

Things and Flesh

great egret, forest park

Maybe love is the Lord’s trap.
Maybe He sees us as
the tree leaning over the stream.
Perhaps He can’t experience
the difference between
our pain,
our loneliness,
and the heron flying
through the special silence at evening.

— Linda Gregg, closing lines to “The Center of Intent,” from Things and Flesh 


Linda Gregg, 71, is an American poet born in Suffern, NY.  She grew up in Marin County, California.  Her first book of poems, Too Bright to See, was published in 1981.  Her published books include Things and FleshChosen By The LionThe Sacraments of DesireAlmaToo Bright to SeeIn the Middle Distance, and All of it Singing. Her poems have also appeared in numerous literary magazines, including PloughsharesThe New Yorker, the Paris Review, the Kenyon Review, and the Atlantic Monthly.  She taught poetry at various schools and universities across the U.S. She has been living in New York City since 2006.


Source: Poem – Thank you A Poet Reflects. Photograph: Thank you Amy Buxton

It seems too good to be true

galaxy-life-stars

“Some things occur just by chance. Mark Twain was born on the day that Halley’s comet appeared in 1835 and died on the day it reappeared in 1910. There is a temptation to linger on a story like that, to wonder if there might be a deeper order behind a life so poetically bracketed. For most of us, the temptation doesn’t last long. We are content to remind ourselves that the vast majority of lives are not so celestially attuned, and go about our business in the world. But some coincidences are more troubling, especially if they implicate larger swathes of phenomena, or the entirety of the known universe. During the past several decades, physics has uncovered basic features of the cosmos that seem, upon first glance, like lucky accidents. Theories now suggest that the most general structural elements of the universe — the stars and planets, and the galaxies that contain them — are the products of finely calibrated laws and conditions that seem too good to be true. What if our most fundamental questions, our late-at-night-wonderings about why we are here, have no more satisfying answer than an exasperated shrug and a meekly muttered ‘Things just seem to have turned out that way’?

It can be unsettling to contemplate the unlikely nature of your own existence, to work backward causally and discover the chain of blind luck that landed you in front of your computer screen, or your mobile, or wherever it is that you are reading these words. For you to exist at all, your parents had to meet, and that alone involved quite a lot of chance and coincidence. If your mother hadn’t decided to take that calculus class, or if her parents had decided to live in another town, then perhaps your parents never would have encountered one another. But that is only the tiniest tip of the iceberg. Even if your parents made a deliberate decision to have a child, the odds of your particular sperm finding your particular egg are one in several billion. The same goes for both your parents, who had to exist in order for you to exist, and so already, after just two generations, we are up to one chance in 1027. Carrying on in this way, your chance of existing, given the general state of the universe even a few centuries ago, was almost infinitesimally small. You and I and every other human being are the products of chance, and came into existence against very long odds…”

Read more @ Aeon Magazine by Tim Maudlin: The Calibrated Cosmos: Why Does The Universe Appear Fine Tuned For Life?

And I loved this one too by Mark Morford: 40 Billion Ways to Dance.


Image Credit


I kept calling to you, and you did not come

sky-clouds-ocean-aerial

I imagine that God speaks to me, saying simply,
‘I kept calling to you, and you did not come.’
And I answer quite naturally,
‘I couldn’t come until I knew
there was nowhere else to go.’

~ Florida Scott Maxwell, The Measure of My Days


Florida Pier Scott-Maxwell (1883 – 1979) was a playwright, author and psychologist. Florida Pier was born in Orange Park, Florida, and educated at home until the age of ten. She grew up in Pittsburgh, then moved to New York at age 15 to become an actress. In 1910 she married John Scott Maxwell and moved to her husband’s native Scotland, where she worked for women’s suffrage and as a playwright. The couple divorced in 1929 and she moved to London. In 1933 she studied Jungian psychology under Carl Jung and practised as an analytical psychologist in both England and Scotland. Her most famous book is The Measure of My Days (1968).


Sources: Poem – Thank you Make Believe Boutique. Photograph: Sundog In the Sky by Lechef Photography.


Believe. In Verbs…

sunrise

Sunday mornings evoke childhood memories. Our cousins are off fishing. We dress and are dragged by our Parents to the sobranie for the Sunday morning molenie (service). Bread, salt and water sit on a spartan wooden table separating the men on one side, the women on the other.  Prayers are read.  Psalms, are led by the Elders – their intonation climbing and falling – lyrics incomprehensible. This is followed by the chanting of Otche Nash by the entire congregation…Our Father in Heaven...I’m yanking on my turtle neck, stealing glances at the clock, and at my Brother.  When will this end?

I haven’t been back.
To our religious services.
Or to any other for that matter.
In more than thirty years.
Yet, Sunday mornings return.
With their quiet Grace and Peaceful easy feeling.

Two men, both bloggers, are workmanlike in their daily postings.
Steve Layman posts after midnight. I’m posting at dawn.
He’s a Believer.
And like Friend Brenda, Belief comes from the Center, the Core.
There is Confidence. There is Conviction. There is Peace.

And there I sit.
A Bird on the fence.
Anxious. Restless. Hurried. Searching.
Flitting on and off.
And Leaning in the wrong direction. [Read more...]

You are entitled to what you want; otherwise why would you want it?

black-and-white-cat-paws-wallpaper

Be the noble curator of your excellence,
for fate made you perfect.
In all things, be precise:
standing, sitting, staring, walking, sniffing, eating, sleeping, killing.
Never look in mirrors, which are windows for the insecure.
Sleep in a variety of comfortable places,
which were created for you alone.
Make acquaintances, never friends.
The latter tend to cling.

All phenomena are potential enemies.
Therefore, stare, listen, listen, stare, sniff, stare, listen, sniff,
hide, stare, and listen.
Never perform tricks.
Leave those to dogs, who need to be wanted and want to be liked.
Talk as necessary, but never just to chit-chat.
Crack the whip of feline fury as you wish.
Keep the blades of your four feet sharp and retracted like long-held resentments.
Let your soul’s motor idle and strum the taut cord of your body. No one owns you.

God made you and likes you best.
In a world that’s dubious, you are certain.
You never make mistakes.
You are entitled to what you want; otherwise, why would you want it?
No matter what else you may be undertaking,
never be reticent to stop and groom yourself,
for you are superb, and self-maintenance doubles as self-admiration.
You are a cat,
a form of beauty that enters stealthily, naps, and agrees to be admired.
You are a cat.
Everything is as it should be.

~ Hans Ostrom, How To Be A Cat


Poem Source: Thank you Dan @ Your Eyes Blaze Out.

 

I’m a falcon. A storm. Or an unfinished song?

MN10 peregrine in flight 112_7553

I live my life in growing orbits
which move out over the things of the world.
Perhaps I can never achieve the last,
but that will be my attempt.
I am circling around God,
around the ancient tower,
and I have been circling for a thousand years,
and still I don’t know
if I’m a falcon,
a storm,
or an unfinished song.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke, The Book of Hours


Credits:


Sheryl goes home. Buys a church on the Internet.

Sheryl-Crow

“Sheryl Crow, 51, has sold over 50 million pop and rock albums.  She moved across the country from Los Angeles to Nashville, a place that, according to the title of her new album, “Feel’s Like Home.”…Today, Ms. Crow’s own home consists of a spacious stone mansion, a two-story barn and a church that she bought online for $5,000…

…Ms. Crow’s new songs reveal the singer’s search for a home of her own. “When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, it was kind of a soul-searching time for me, and I realized the one thing that I didn’t have in my life was roots.”…For the past seven years Ms. Crow has been in Nashville, where she says there are no paparazzi. Her two adopted sons, Levi and Wyatt, aged 3 and 6, can finally go to school without being photographed.

….Her parents, who have been married for nearly 60 years, raised her in a small town of “churchgoing, hardworking people.” Ms. Crow considers herself a Christian, but she doesn’t subscribe to specific religious rules. That didn’t stop her from buying a dilapidated church on the Internet, which she had shipped to her house and restored near the stables on her property, for her personal use. “Since I was 21, I’ve always had a strong relationship and an everyday, ongoing dialogue with a higher power,” she says. “He or She seems to be most evident in nature, which I guess is why I’m so environmentally driven to preserve what we have around here…”

~ Sheryl Crow.  Read full interview in wsj.com: Sheryl Crow Goes Country


Image Credit; Sheryl Crow’s new album “Feel’s Like Home” can be found here.


And on the 9th day…


My Brother Rich shared this video with me. It’s been viewed more than 2,300,000 times since it was posted. My hunch is all you dog lovers have seen this 2-minute clip at least once.  It was new to me.

Dogs. The deep baritone Paul Harvey-like voice with a rhythmic cadence. And you have another winner.

This clip is a take-off on the highly acclaimed Superbowl Ram Truck commercial on Farmers.  If you missed it, you need to check it out at this link: And the winner is…

 

Cherub

costa rica

His name tag said Antonio.  He wore creaseless khaki shorts.  An olive green polo shirt.  Spotless white shoes.  The hotel staff uniform.  And, I’m guessing he was in his early 30′s.

Cherub.  That’s the word that immediately came to mind.  I looked it up after returning home from vacation.  “A chubby, healthy-looking child with wings.  A cherub is a type of spiritual being usually associated with the presence of God.”  A message to me?  A message from “Above” to the Believer of Convenience?

From late morning until late afternoon, he’d walk the beach with a wooden tray offering complimentary plastic shot glasses of mango smoothies, cappuccino ice cream coffee shots and strawberry shakes.  Every few hours, he would offer to clean your sunglasses – - and would do so with such care you would think he was holding a caterpillar.

He offered a perma-smile.  The man radiated Light. [Read more...]

A life lived well is never wasted

Marilynne-Robinson

Lori, LouAnn and Sandy Sue inspired me to read books written by Natalie Goldberg following my share last month.  So I dove into the Long Quiet Highway and came across this passage early in her book.

“Often when you take on the voice of a great writer, speak his or her words aloud, you are taking on the voice of inspiration, you are breathing their breath at the moment of their heightened feelings, that what all writers ultimately do is pass on their breath.”

I paused and reflected on the “great” writers that I have read.  Marilynne Robinson immediately came to mind.  She has the ability to transport me to another place and time – - writing with such grace, such beauty and such humanity.  She’s won literary “hardware” for her three major novels.

  • HousekeepingNominated for the 1980 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and winner of the Hemingway/PEN Award for first fiction novel.
  • GileadWinner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and winner of the National Book Circle Critics Award for Fiction.
  • HomeWinner of the 2009 Orange Prize for Fiction award.

Soon after I read Goldberg’s thoughts on great writers, I came this excerpt from a Chicago Tribune article shared at Lit Verve  where the writer asks Robinson about Rev. John Ames, a congregational minister in Gilead, Iowa and the main character in her novel Gilead: [Read more...]

Steady my harried pace

slow-me-down


Wilferd Arlan Peterson (1900–95) was born in Whitehall, Michigan and lived most of his life in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was an American author who wrote for This Week magazine (a national Sunday supplement in newspapers distributed to 13,000,000 readers). For twenty-five years, he wrote a monthly column for Science of Mind magazine. He published nine books starting in 1949 with The Art of Getting Along: Inspiration for Triumphant Daily Living.” Peterson was regarded as “one of the best loved American writers of the 20th century, renowned for his inspirational wisdom and aphoristic wit” by the Independent Publishers Group. His influences include Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau and Abraham Lincoln, among many others. His contemporaries include Norman Vincent Peale and Dale Carnegie, and current writers and philosophers such as Jack Canfield and Brian Tracy have referred to Peterson’s works. He was married to Ruth Irene Rector Peterson (1921-79). He credits his wife Ruth as being the inspiration for his work (saying that while he “wrote about the art of living, she lived it”), and they collaborated often on producing these inspirational books. (Source: Wiki)


Source: Thank you Perpetua at The Seeker

Belief in God = Morality and Good Values?

values, generational, God, religion,morality,values


Source: Wall Street Journal Statshot: Carl Bialik, ‘The Numbers Guy’

These are mind blowing large numbers

Parmitano-photo-of-earth

…Just how many planets are there?…There could be about 23 billion stars in our Milky Way galaxy, each harbouring Earth-sized planets with life-friendly temperatures on their surfaces. Twenty-three billion, give or take a few…Some studies produce numbers of Earth-sized planets closer to 17 billion…Others suggest a figure as low as 6 billion or so, but these are just the planets close to Earth in size. If we extend our reach to slightly larger worlds, the places now known as ‘super-Earths’, we’re back into the tens of billions. No matter how you slice the cosmic cake, you end up with a vast wedge of planets that we’d be happy to go and study, perhaps even land on and cautiously tiptoe about. These are mind-blowingly huge numbers…

So, given the enormity of the number of planets in the galaxy, the question Caleb Scharf tries to answer in his essay is: Are We Alone?


Image Source: theorangeco.  Quote Source: Aeon Magazine

A Morning Prayer

funny-prayer-God-quote


Source: themetapicture.com

Tuesday Morning. And we’re off.

sweat-photo

Need to catch 5:36 am to Grand Central.
Out the door.
Reach down in one motion…snag the morning paper and head down the street. Smooth. Just like 007.
Walking briskly. It’s 5:20.  ½ mile walk. Gotta go. Gotta go.
Grab iPhone to check weather.

Precipitation:50%
Humidity: 96%
Wind: 4 mph
Temperature: 72F

Humidity. 96%. 96%. [Read more...]

Just sayin’

religion,funny,true,God, bible


Not sure about your neighborhood, but mosquitoes are the size of dimes in ours…


Source: themetapicture.com

New Research. Bull. It’s the natural order.

black and white photography, siblings, brothers, childhood, memories

6:30pm NBC Nightly News last night. Brian Williams shares a feature story on how younger siblings suffer adverse long term effects from bullying by their older siblings. COME ON. Don’t believe everything you read. Here’s some real life case studies involving long term research.

But first, a short bio on my brother. He’s two years my junior. Today, he is married. He has a beautiful wife. Two handsome well behaved, high potential teenage boys. He has a great job and is making a real contribution to the community. A good man.

Roll it back to his teen years. Pudgy, but nimble in dodging blame. Lazy, but quick to vanish when it was time for chores. Shirt untucked and laden with food droppings.  Pants hanging off his a** before it became a fashion trend.  And foreign ooze dripping from his nose, year around.

Case 1: Lazy summer afternoon. We were chased outside to play. I grabbed our baseball mitts and ball. He reluctantly agreed to play. We tossed it back and forth a few times. He then sat down in the grass in the shade and called out: “It’s too hot.”  I walked over, glared at him and told him to “get up.”  No movement.  I’m staring him down.  He’s scooching backwards on his hands towards the tree: “I’m tired. This is boring.” That was it.  I marched back down the lawn.  Stopped.  Took a deep breath.  Turned, and in a single motion unleashed a fast ball from 15 feet away nailing him in the forehead. Based on his reaction, you would have thought I hit him with a Scud Missile. Outcome for me: Capital Punishment. Outcome for him: Appropriate long term attitude adjustment. (One doesn’t forget a baseball to the noggin’.) [Read more...]

Running. With Marc and Eddy Verbessem.

Identical Twins, Euthanasia, Belgium


5:30 am.  59F. Birds up and singing in all their glory.  It’s still.  Very still.

I put on my Adidas running shorts.  Rachel’s scolding from months back surfaces: “I can see your tan line.  They’re too short.  Those are Perv Shorts.  Embarrassing. Go change.”  I growl.   Now, each time I put them on, I’m thinking Perv-Man.  Words. Killer.  What a delicate flower.

What do you want to do for Father’s Day Dad?
I’d like to be left alone for the day.
Really?
Yes, if you could arrange for me to be sitting alone next to Thoreau, at Walden Pond, listening in on his thoughts, that would be a perfect Sunday.”
“Who? What?”
Forget it Honey.  Forget it.”
Have to say Dad, you have to stop your incoherent mumbling.” [Read more...]

One day it will be pleasant to remember these things

africa, nakuru,sunrise, flamingo,reflection,photography

“Nothing can be given or taken away; nothing has been added or subtracted; nothing increased or diminished. We stand on the same shore before the same mighty ocean. The ocean of love. There it is – in perpetuum. As much in a broken blossom, the sound of a waterfall, the swoop of a carrion bird as in the thunderous artillery of the prophet. We move with eyes shut and ears stopped; we smash walls where doors are waiting to open to the touch; we grope for ladders, forgetting that we have wings; we pray as if God were deaf and blind, as if He were in a space. No wonder the angels in our midst are unrecognizable.

One day it will be pleasant to remember these things.

- Henry Miller, Nexus


Credits: Quote Source - whiskeyriver.blogspot.com.  Photograph: Thank you sundoginthesky via Marco Matiussi (Flamingos @ Lake Nakuru in Africa)

Fall to your knees. Today.

dancer,painting,whimsy

“They say that every snowflake is different. If that were true, how could the world go on? How could we ever get up off our knees? How could we ever recover from the wonder of it?”

~ Jeanette Winterson


Bio: Jeanette Winterson, 53, is a writer, journalist and delicatessen owner. She was born in Manchester, England, and adopted by Pentecostal parents who brought her up in the nearby mill-town of Accrington. Intending to become a Pentecostal Christian missionary, she began evangelising and writing sermons at age six. As a Northern working class girl she was not encouraged to be clever. Her adopted father was a factory worker, her mother stayed at home. There were only six books in the house, including the Bible and Cruden’s Complete Concordance to the Old and New Testaments. Strangely, one of the other books was Malory’s Morte d’Arthur, and it was this that started her life quest of reading and writing. The house had no bathroom either, which was fortunate because it meant that Jeanette could read her books by flashlight in the outside toilet. Reading was not much approved unless it was the Bible. Her parents intended her for the missionary field. Schooling was erratic but Jeanette had got herself into a girl’s grammar school and later she read English at Oxford University. While she took her A levels she lived in various places, supporting herself by evening and weekend work. In a year off to earn money, she worked as a domestic in a lunatic asylum.

Credits: Image – Thank you HungarianSoul. Quote: Thank you Whiskey River. Jeanette Winterson Bio @ this link and Wiki.

In that fierce embrace, even the gods speak of God

robbie_williams_portrait_black_and_white

Self Portrait

It doesn’t interest me if there is one God
or many gods.
I want to know if you belong or feel
abandoned.
If you know despair or can see it in others.
I want to know
if you are prepared to live in the world
with its harsh need
to change you. If you can look back
with firm eyes
saying this is where I stand. I want to know
if you know
how to melt into that fierce heat of living
falling toward
the center of your longing. I want to know
if you are willing
to live, day by day, with the consequence of love
and the bitter
unwanted passion of your sure defeat.

I have heard, in that fierce embrace, even
the gods speak of God.

– David Whyte
from Fire in the Earth


Minutes after learning of Margaret Thatcher’s death yesterday, I came across this poem from David Whyte.  Coincidence, hmmmmm.  From Death. To embracing that fierce heat of living.  The image is of Robbie Williams, as we continue to ride the UK train this morning…whose portrait…if you can look back with firm eyes…seemed to captured the spirit of Mr. Whyte’s marvelous poem.  This is where I stand...


Source: Thank you (again) WhiskeyRiver.  Image: SolarNavigator.net

Running. In Confessional.

blue, photography,sun,light

I’m off.  35F. Feeling good.
It’s the day after Good Friday.
The title of LaDona’s post banging around in my head like a 50 Cent Rap song – - the tricked up Chevy heaving up and down to the beat:

This Place Was Made By God.
This Place Was Made By God.
This Place Was Made By God.

I look around.  Trees reflecting on the still waters of the Long Island Sound.  Sun’s up in its full magnificence.  Sky is a brilliant blue.  Who else could have made this?

She goes on.  This place was made by God, a priceless sacrament; it is without reproach.
(She’s so d*mn sure.)

And on.  The most sacred day in the Christian calendar, and indeed, in Christianity itself. Inspiration for stunning, poignant music across the centuries. Even if you don’t believe, or if you do and God seems far away, the music speaks. And touches. And heals.
(I’m right there with you Sister on the far away part.  And right there with you that the music speaks, touches and heals)

Then the mind, faster than a switchback on a BC mountain highway, turns to a conversation with a colleague on Thursday: [Read more...]

No God? Or All God?

photography,sunset,clouds,Colorado River, Toroweap

“The familiar stark divide between people of religion and without religion is too crude. Many millions of people who count themselves atheists have convictions and experiences very like and just as profound as those that believers count as religious. They say that though they do not believe in a “personal” god, they nevertheless believe in a “force” in the universe “greater than we are.” They feel an inescapable responsibility to live their lives well, with due respect for the lives of others; they take pride in a life they think well lived and suffer sometimes inconsolable regret at a life they think, in retrospect, wasted. They find the Grand Canyon not just arresting but breathtakingly and eerily wonderful. They are not simply interested in the latest discoveries about the vast universe but enthralled by them. These are not, for them, just a matter of immediate sensuous and otherwise inexplicable response. They express a conviction that the force and wonder they sense are real, just as real as planets or pain, that moral truth and natural wonder do not simply evoke awe but call for it.”

~ Ronald Dworkin


Ron Dworkin died on February 14, 2013.  He was an American Philosopher and scholar of Constitutional Law.  Before he died, he sent The New York Review of Books the text of his new Book, Religion Without God, which will be published later this year.  Dworkin was born in 1931 in Providence, Rhode Island.  He studied at Harvard University and at Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar .


Source: The New York Review of Books. Image Source: Katy

Related Posts:

Sunday Morning: Amazing Grace

It’s an Amazing Grace feeling-kind-of-morning.  Here’s Rodney Britt and friends with 53-second clip, which I wished kept going and going.


And from a simple, spiritual, soulful version – - we move to the soul stirring pipes.  Amazing Grace hits a crescendo after 4:00 minutes.   [Read more...]

May your gravity be lightened by grace

dancer in wind gif

For Equilibrium, a Blessing:

Like the joy of the sea coming home to shore,
May the relief of laughter rinse through your soul.

As the wind loves to call things to dance,
May your gravity by lightened by grace.

Like the dignity of moonlight restoring the earth,
May your thoughts incline with reverence and respect.

As water takes whatever shape it is in,
So free may you be about who you become.

As silence smiles on the other side of what’s said,
May your sense of irony bring perspective.

As time remains free of all that it frames,
May your mind stay clear of all it names.

May your prayer of listening deepen enough
to hear in the depths the laughter of god.”

― John O’Donohue, To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings


John O’Donohue (1 January 1956 – 4 January 2008) was an Irish poet, author, priest, and Hegelian philosopher. He was a native Irish speaker, and as an author is best known for popularizing Celtic spirituality.  O’Donohue said: “Part of understanding the notion of Justice is to recognize the disproportions among which we live…it takes an awful lot of living with the powerless to really understand what it is like to be powerless, to have your voice, thoughts, ideas and concerns count for very little. We, who have been given much, whose voices can be heard, have a great duty and responsibility to make our voices heard with absolute integrity for those who are powerless.


Sources: Image – Thank you Anake Goodall. O’Donohue Blessing: Good Reads. O’Donohue Bio: Wiki.

Related O’Donohue Post:

When it comes, I’ll be fine, calm.

black and white, photography

“My doctor told me that I’m old, fat, and ugly, but none of those things is going to kill me immediately,” he told me shortly before his 72nd birthday. “The actuaries say I have six to eight years. The best tables give me 10. Three thousand days, more or less.” I asked if he is afraid to die. “Because of my hemophilia, I’ve been prepared to face death all of my life. As a boy I spent a lot of time in hospitals. My parents had to leave at the end of visiting hours, and I spent a lot of time just lying there in the dark, thinking about the fact that any accident could be dangerous or even fatal. So I’m ready. Everybody fears the unknown. But I have a strong feeling there’s something bigger than us. I don’t think all this exists because some rocks happened to collide. I’m at peace. When it comes, I’ll be fine, calm. I’ll miss life, though. Especially my family.”

~ Roger Ailles, 72, Founder and Head of Fox News, in Vanity Fair


Whether one is far right, passionate left or in the center, we are not so different at our core. We face our daily struggles. We love our family. We’d give anything for another ten years…Life is good.  Have a good day…


Image Credit: EveryThing All Around Me

Running. With Galileo.

bird, nature, fly,wings,inspirational

Late (LATE) start. Galileo’s Sun is up. I look up and bask in its warmth. I start my run into a cold headwind. Fingertips tingling. My eyes, fill with water. Like mist on cold air over warm waters. This will clear.

Run by the corner of Noroton and Post Roads. Church Corner. Ascension Episcopal. Noroton Presbyterian. Christ Scientist. Churchgoers are filing in. Man cradling baby in a papoose. Families striding briskly, holding hands with their children. Lady holding kerchief in place from wind gusts. Elderly couple shifts right to let me pass. Community. Peace be with you too.

I usually run too early to see churchgoers. Not today. Guilt washes over me. Eric joined his friends in attending a eulogy yesterday. “Weird,” he described it. “Awkward not having been to church in years.” He lights my fuse using less than 10 words. Jung scolds: “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” Then Robert Fulghum piles on: “Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.” How quickly this has escalated. Yes, “my” Son – - he’s been watching. And now I’m irritated, here on Galileo’s beautiful Sunday. NO, gentlemen. Not today. You won’t get under my skin today. No sir.

[Read more...]

Is that a path or a rut?

photograph,sand,dune,desert,path,solitude,

“What we don’t know chains us, leaves us sitting in the valley with a stupid smile. We discover our ignorance as we go. After a lifetime, if we’ve been attentive, we should fall to our knees before the vastness, the ungraspable minutiae of our world. We should suspect that it constitutes our God. And we so-called experts of this or that, could we have done more than play our one chord? Wisdom is to know, at best, that we make only a little good noise, a few small dents. It’s why the wise laugh a lot, why the laughter of metaphysicians echoes in the spaces they probe. We walk out of our houses into the enormity of our task. What kind of ant is that? Who named the phlox? Is that a path or a rut?”

 ~ Stephen Dunn, Ignorance - Riffs & Reciprocities


Stephen Dunn (born 1939) is an American poet. He won the Pulitzer Prize for his 2001 collection, Different Hours.  He was born in Forest Hills, Queens in New York. Dunn completed his B.A. in English at Hofstra University and his M.A. in creative writing at Syracuse. He has taught at Wichita State, University of Washington, Columbia University, University of Michigan and Princeton University.  Dunn lives in Ocean City New Jersey.


Sources: Quote - whiskeyriver.blogspot.com. Image: Jakupwashere

The long roll of heavens artillery

black and white, ocean, waves, photography

“Nature has many tricks wherewith she convinces man of his infinity, – the ceaseless flow of the tides, the fury of storm, the shock of the earthquake, the long roll of heavens artillery, – but the most tremendous, the most stupefying of all, is the passive phase of the White Silence. All movement ceases, the sky clears, the heavens are as brass; the slightest whisper seems sacrilege, and man becomes timid, affrighted at the sound of his own voice. Sole speck of life journeying across the ghostly wastes of a dead world, he trembles at his audacity, realizes that his is a maggots life, nothing more. Strange thoughts arise unsummoned, and the mystery of all things strives for utterance. And the fear of death, of God, of the universe, comes over him, – the hope of the Resurrection and the life, the yearning for immortality, the vain striving of the imprisoned essence, – it is then, if ever, man walks alone with God.”

~ Jack London


This share was inspired by the 10 ton meteorite falling out of the heavens in Siberia on Friday. (The long rolls of heavens artillery…The sky clears, the heavens are as brass…)

Jack London (January 12, 1876 – November 22, 1916) was an American author, journalist, and social activist. He was a pioneer in the then-burgeoning world of commercial magazine fiction and was one of the first fiction writers to obtain worldwide celebrity and a large fortune from his fiction alone.


Sources: Quote – thank you makebelieveboutique.com.  Photo: midnightmartinis - “Portugal” – by Hélène Desplechin

Like, A Horse with No Name.

lost, confused, don't understand, poetry, poem

In 7th grade, a substitute teacher introduced us to poetry.  Well, sort of.  He circulated a copy of the lyrics for America’s hit song: A Horse With No Name.  The class lit up like fireflies offering up their interpretations.  DK, shoulders slumped, head down, was pretending to be reading the lyrics – - sat nervously hoping he wouldn’t be called on.  The 30 minutes of inadequacy never vacated short term memory.  (Samuel Beckett: I’m like that. Either I forget right away or I never forget.“)  I came across the poem below by George MacDonald and I found it moving me…Spring fever perhaps….and as my eyes slowly worked down one line and then the next, I found my spirits lifting…Hey! I understand this.  I get it. I like it.  No, I love it.  And, then. Reality.  I reached the last line and was stoned.

Through all the fog, through all earth’s wintery sighs,
I scent Thy spring, I feel the eternal air,
Warm, soft, and dewy, filled with flowery eyes,
And gentle, murmuring motions everywhere—
Of life in heart, and tree, and brook, and moss;
Thy breath wakes beauty, love, and bliss, and prayer,
And strength to hang with nails upon thy cross.

- George MacDonald, Diary of an Old Soul

So Sensei.  My wise readers.  Help me out.  Explain what the last line means.  So, I can get to sleep. Or, better yet, tell me you have no idea either. And I’ll sleep like a baby. :)


Source of Beckett quote and MacDonald Poem:  journalofanobody

And the winner is…

The runaway winner among all the Superbowl commercials.  Dodge Ram Truck.  And Paul Harvey.  GOOD DAY!

Synchrodestiny. I am the way.

Carl Jung, Faith, believe, belief, God, religion, spirituality

I’ve read hundreds of books.  And I remember what?  Snippets.  Particles.  Fragments. Crumbs. Smidgens. Specks. Morsels. Bits.  Traces.  A messy mosaic of something. Adding up to a little more than nothing. A cacophony of deafening alarm bells ringing out to me. Wake up!  Slow down!  Listen!  All banging around.  But coincidences.  And synchrodestiny.  Are crumbs that resurface with frequency. The culprit?  A Deepak Chopra book picked up while browsing at a Barnes & Nobles bookstore on a bitterly cold day over ten years ago. [Read more...]

Peace


I have come from so far away…Down the road of my own mistakes…My soul renewed, and my spirit free…I’ll find my peace.

~ Michael McDonald, Peace

Grounded.

illustration, sketch, black and white, simple figure, woman figure

It’s Monday, October 29th.  The day that Hurricane Sandy hit the Tri-State Region.

I’m scrolling down the new WordPress posts for bloggers I follow.  My fingers sliding clumsily on the touch pad. Scrolling. Scrolling. (Cursing because I haven’t figured out this d*mn touch pad. I miss the eraser thing in the middle of keyboard.  Getting old.  Hating change.  Big clumsy fingers. I slide fingers in wrong direction and I’m taken to another website.  I lose my place.  Need to start back at the top.  Grrrrrrr. Can this be so difficult pal? )

My eyes flitting from post to post.  Scanning images and topics of interest.

My eyes land on the image on the left.  I freeze.  (What is it about this image?  I can feel its soothing effects.  The ‘Work’ clutch now slipping from OVERDRIVE to neutral.)

A few lines.  Black lines.  White background.  A simple image. A simple, beautiful human image.  (Let’s not get too carried away.  It’s certainly not that simple.  And nothing I could ever draw.)

I found it to be startling.

[Read more...]

To Be

“Ours is a time of continual movement which often leads to restlessness, with the risk of ‘doing for the sake of doing.’ We must resist this temptation by trying ‘to be’ before trying ‘to do.’”

~ Pope John Paul II, Novo Millennio Inuente


Sources: Image –  goodmemory. Quote: crashinglybeautiful