Kneel for prayer. Why?

photography,portrait,black and white

Why must people kneel down to pray?
If I really wanted to pray I’ll tell you what I’d do.
I’d go out into a great big field all alone or
in the deep, deep woods and
I’d look up into the sky—up—up—up—into that lovely blue sky
that looks as if there was no end to its blueness.
And then I’d just feel a prayer.

— L.M. Montgomery


Lucy Maud Montgomery (1875-1942) was born in Clifton, Prince Edward Island. Montgomery, was a Canadian author best known for a series of novels beginning with Anne of Green Gables. Montgomery went on to publish 20 novels as well as 530 short stories, 500 poems, and 30 essays. Most of the novels were set on Prince Edward Island, Canada, and places in the Canadian province became literary landmarks. She was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1935.

Her mother died of tuberculosis when Lucy was 21 months old. Stricken with grief over his wife’s death, Hugh John Montgomery gave custody over to Montgomery’s maternal grandparents.  She was raised by them in a strict and unforgiving manner. Montgomery’s early life was very lonely. Despite having relations nearby, much of her childhood was spent alone. Montgomery credits this time of her life, in which she created many imaginary friends and worlds to cope with her loneliness, as what developed her creative mind.


Notes: Photograph – bigdaddyk. Poem Source – The Sensual Starfish. Bio: Wiki.

Tuesday Titter: Think Titanic

funny-titanic-art-fear


Source: Drake

Early we receive the call

Christian-Wiman-portrait
The endless, useless urge to look on life comprehensively, to take a bird’s-eye view of ourselves and judge the dimensions of what we have or have not done: this is life as a landscape, or life as resume. But life is incremental, and though a worthwhile life is a gathering together of all that one is, good and bad, successful and not, the paradox is that we can never really see this one that all of our increments (and decrements, I suppose) add up to. “Early we receive a call,” writes Czeslaw Milosz, “yet it remains incomprehensible, / and only late do we discover how obedient we were.”

— Christian Wiman, My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2013)


I finished this book last night. As Henry David Thoreau said: “Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.”


Notes:

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:

 

Something is off

blood-drop-red
Something is off. Life passes and we do not recognize it. The past streams through us like molecules we can’t perceive…They are not so much remembered as resurrected in us, little stitches of ordinary time that suddenly —a prick in the existential skin, a little dot of Being’s blood— aren’t. Is it merely certain temperaments—inclined to solitude and absence, feasting on distances —that are at once susceptible to these little epiphanies and yet slow to recognize them for what they are? Or is it a symptom of the times— distracted, busy, forward-rushing— that we are in? Or a symptom of time itself as we have come to understand it:

We have constructed an environment in which we live a uniform, univocal secular time, which we try to measure and control in order to get things done. This “time frame” deserves, perhaps more than any other facet of modernity, Weber’s famous description of a “stahlhartes Gehäuse” (iron cage).

—Charles Taylor, A Secular Age

~ Christian Wiman, My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013)

 


Notes:

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

 

Sunday Morning: Pärt and Soul


Stuart Isacoff in wsj.com titled Pärt and Soul:

“You may not know the name, but you’ve heard his music. Estonian composer Arvo Pärt’s alluring, hypnotic “tintinnabuli” (“bell-like”) style has resonated with listeners world-wide—the database Bachtrack reports that Mr. Pärt is now the most performed living classical composer. The haunting music in the trailer for the film “Gravity”—a perfect complement to the image of astronauts adrift, its piano pattern suggesting a cosmic clock as floating violin tones and spacious pauses convey a sense of human frailty—is his 1978 work, “Spiegel Im Spiegel” (Mirror in the Mirror).

…”The thing that struck me when I first heard this music at age 18,” remembers Mr. Reeves, “is that I should not be sitting—I should be standing. I cried. It’s not like a Beethoven sonata, where you are on a journey, watching how a theme develops. With Pärt, it is the opposite—you are emptying everything out, accessing a space that may be cluttered because people are always talking over it.” [Read more...]

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.


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

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.

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...]

Doubt

photography, black and white, bird, hand, bird in hand

It was like the moment when a bird decides not to eat from your hand, and flies, just before it flies,

the moment the rivers seem to still and stop because a storm is coming, but there is no storm,

as when a hundred starlings lift and bank together before they wheel and drop,

very much like the moment, driving on bad ice, when it occurs to you your car could spin, just before it slowly begins to spin,

like the moment just before you forgot what it was you were about to say, it was like that, and after that, it was still like that, only all the time.

- Marie Howe, “Part of Eve’s Discussion” from The Good Thief

[Read more...]

Shinto

dandelion-art-color-orange

When misfortune confounds us
in an instant we are saved
by the humblest actions
of memory or attention:
the taste of fruit, the taste of water,
that face returned to us in dream,
the first jasmine flowers of November,
the infinite yearning of the compass,
a book we thought forever lost,
the pulsing of a hexameter,
the little key that opens a house,
the smell of sandalwood or library,
the ancient name of a street,
the colourations of a map,
an unforeseen etymology,
the smoothness of a filed fingernail,
the date that we were searching for,
counting the twelve dark bell-strokes,
a sudden physical pain.

Eight million the deities of Shinto
who travel the earth, secretly.
Those modest divinities touch us,
touch us, and pass on by.

– Jorge Luis Borges


‘Shinto is the indigenous faith of the Japanese people. In general, Shinto is more than a religion and encompasses the ideas, attitudes, and ways of doing things that have become an integral part of the Japanese people for the better part of 2000 years. The ancient Japanese never divided spiritual and material existence, but considered that both were inseparable, seeing everything in a spiritual sense. Shinto, unlike other major religions, does not have a founder, nor does it possess sacred scriptures or texts. Shinto practices can be roughly summed up by the four affirmations:

  1. Tradition and family
  2. Love of nature – The kami are an integral part of nature.
  3. Physical cleanliness – Purification rites are an important part of Shinto
  4. Festivals and ceremonies – Dedicated to honoring and amusing the kami”

Credits: Poem Source: Mystic Medusa.  Image: Mme Scherzo. Shinto Definition: About.com, Jinja Honcho


 

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.


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...]

Belief in God = Morality and Good Values?

values, generational, God, religion,morality,values


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

Just sayin’

religion,funny,true,God, bible


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


Source: themetapicture.com

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)

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:

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...]

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...]

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...]

Sunday Morning: Remember to Breathe

Shot in Alberta.  Paired with the song “Roam” which is performed by Wil Mimnaugh.  Here’s more of Canada’s breathtaking beauty and its people.

O Canada.

My heart swells watching this…

Good Sunday morning.



So…
Close your eyes and see
Gold…
Fields that chase the breeze
Hold…
Your eyes up to the trees
Have your ever seen
The sun jumping into a stream
It’s really something to see

Roam
Up into the peaks … of snow
The sky that you can reach
Float
Clouds that look to breathe
Rolling along with the creek
It’s really something to see
She’s really something to me

Roam !!!
Open up your eyes
Know!!!
Know that we can fly
Float!!!
Float into the sky
Along the tops of the trees
Our shadows dance on the seas
Remember to breathe
She’s really something to me


Thank you Lorne for sharing.

Related Posts:

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

Sunday Morning: Growing is forever, they whispered…

“A very long time ago, there were no groves because everywhere was a grove with no roads to bisect and no people to erect stones and fences and bridges. The trees were very, very young and had much living ahead of them. The enormity of their lifespan loomed in wooly mists around them, so they stretched out their root fingers and wrapped them around each others’, intertwining and holding very tight. The ferns found pockets of root fingers where they could nestle in and the moss stretched itself out over the soil and everything became very soft. The trees grew and made patterns of light and dark on the ground and the vines swirled in to trace the patterns. Spotted spiders moved back and forth and up and down, making nets to catch the mist, and the mist would linger on the nets in drops that cupped the light. It was very quiet all the time because the trees needed to focus on their lives. It is not easy to grow so much, for so long. Some trees became tired and lay down on the soft ground; others leaned and rested their tops on another. Growing is forever, they whispered, and when one tree had to stop, another would grow out of it and reach very high into the grey and gold sky. The trees rested and waited to the mist to come and cool them. They were very large, but still not very old, and had much more growing to do.” ~ Kallie Markle

Good Sunday morning.


Growing is Forever from Jesse Rosten on Vimeo.


Related Posts:

Sunday Morning: On the Isle of Kaua’i

If I could snap my fingers and instantly land somewhere on this planet this morning, Kaua’i would certainly be on my short list.

Good Sunday morning.


ISLE OF KAUA’I :: HAWAII from Scott McFarlane on Vimeo.


Related Posts:

Sunday Morning: A Winged Victory

Love this…hypnotized by it…but not sure that I fully grasped the story line.  Van Gogh and his illnesses have been on my mind from posts earlier in the week. (9/21-a and 9/21-b).  All interpretations welcome.

Good Sunday morning.


A Winged Victory For The Sullen – Requiem For The Static King Part One (Official Video) from Erased Tapes on Vimeo.


Related Posts:

Unstoppable

Lorne - unstoppable - bone marrow transplant

This is my youngest brother Lorne.  This photo was taken one year ago yesterday after his successful bone marrow transplant.  He celebrates another year of a remarkable life.  This man, my Brother, carries himself with such grace, with such gentleness, with such kindness and with such optimism – – I shake my head in wonder.  It makes me believe that he was “selected” because of his indomitable spirit and strength.

[Read more...]

Sunday Morning: Everything is Incredible

Agustin is from Siguatepeque, Honduras.  He was born “lame with his right leg shorter than his left.”  He was later struck with polio leaving him severely disabled from the legs down.  He dreamed of being a pilot but because of his disability, he couldn’t fly.  He turned his energy to building his own helicopter largely from parts found at the trash dumps.  He started building in 1958.  He is still pursuing his dream today more than one-half a century later with his helicopter still under construction.

His Minister:  “I don’t know what he’s paying for his helicopter in the ultimate sense.  I think he’s paid a lot for that helicopter.  I think he’s paid an awful lot.  You might say what has he gotten out of it?  I don’t know.  Maybe its kept him alive. Maybe its been able to conquer loneliness.  Maybe its been able to conquer poverty.”

Agustin later in the story explains: “The problem is that everything is incredible and people just don’t accept it.”

This video is beautiful. Sad.  Touching.  And inspiring.

And, yes, Agustin, we are blessed. And everything is incredible.  And often times we take it for granted.

Good Sunday morning.


Everything is Incredible from Tyler Bastian on Vimeo.


Related Posts:

Sunday Morning: What did you leave behind

“At 68, Rob Elliot has guided 200+ trips on the Grand Canyon of the Colorado river in Arizona.”

How do you want to be remembered, when this life joins the wind?
What did you leave, in these chasms, upon these lives, young & curious?
What did you write? What dust in the rain, sand in the rivers?

Those you touched, embraced and kissed, loved… what echoes there?
How will it travel, your wisdom, your story, your suffering and joy?

These walls, silent, deafening, ancient and new.
What did you make them, what did they make of you?
A life running, teaching or learning, what is escape?
What did you find?

Wind, replenishing rain, sun.
Who did these thorns see?
What did these waters wash from you?
The stars, in the abyss beyond, how did they shine, on you?

Will you release the storm, the scars, whirling as they go, yet holding love, life?
The luminous child, the harsh knowing of age, what did you leave behind?

Good Sunday Morning…


OF SOULS + WATER: THE ELDER from NRS Films on Vimeo.

 


Related Posts:

Sunday Morning: Holi. Festival of Colors.

“If you notice the instances under which people gather in large groups, in coliseums, in stadiums – it usually has to do with contention, competition, rivalry, partisanship.  The Festival of Colors stands out from those events because there is none of that competition or rivalry or sectarianism.  People are gathered together just about celebrating our own spirituality and creator from whom we come…He’s present within his name.  Whenever you are chanting any bona fide name of God, God is dancing on the tip of your tongue.  Life becomes simple.  Life becomes streamlined and pared down – – to love of God and love of one’s fellow living beings…We’re all basically the same. There’s unity in diversity.  Underneath all that, there is a natural outpouring of love.”


Holi. Festival of Colors. 2012 from Good Line on Vimeo.


Related Posts:

Which followers are most fanatical?


Related Posts:

  1. The Big Apple (aka Apple, Inc.)
  2. Oh Wow. Oh Wow. Oh Wow.
  3. Two Rules For Success
  4. Book Review: I Steve Jobs, Steve Jobs In His Own Words
  5. In Memory of Steve Jobs

The Way: You don’t choose a life Dad, you live one…

I recommend “The Way” for anyone looking for a light, funny, feel-good movie on a rainy Sunday. Basic no-surprise plot. Good casting buckled with very good soundtrack, humor, captivating vistas and mouth watering food scenes. And the lead character (Martin Sheen) is, like me, an acknowledged “Believer of Convenience” (Easter, Christmas) so the flick resonated with me.  The 2-minute trailer captures the plot nicely.

Quick recap and highlights:

[Read more...]

The Believer of Convenience.

Scene: Sunday, April 17, 2012.  Beautiful sunny day in Chestnut Hill, MA.  Home of Boston College. (BC Alums, did I get your colors, right?)

This was a Father and Son day trip where we were joined by 1000+ other incoming freshman and their expectant parents – some like Eric, who were trying to decide if BC was going to be their home for the next four years.

Father Jeremy Clark (b. Australia; Chinese History specialist; Rugby enthusiast) kicked off his remarks by sharing some background on the Jesuits and their foundation which I recap like this: Pursuit of education and knowledge.  Integration of education with Religion and one’s pursuit of their highest personal calling.  Embracing character, community and service.  And, AND, their belief that “God is in All Things.”  More on this later.

Roll past a 45-minute briefing session in Biology and another 45 minutes in Chemistry (and I’m ready for therapy – Can I be the most clueless parent in the room?  Why are most of the parents taking notes?  Should I be taking notes?  On What?  Maybe I’ll doodle.  Ahh, I forgot my pen.  And I have no paper.  Isn’t the time up yet?  Why can’t I get an iPhone signal in here to check my emails?  Isn’t it hot in here?  I glance over at Eric.  He’s intently focused on the Professor. At least someone has it together. Could he be adopted? Or Worse?).  We moved on to the last of the formal classroom sessions which was hosted by four BC seniors sharing their thoughts on the BC experience.  It was standing room only.  No air in this room.  Or, perhaps I’m still hyperventilating from the last Chem session.  (What is wrong with me?)  During the end of the Q&A, a parent asks how invasive the religious requirements are at Boston College.  You could only hear crickets.  The Believers, shifting (squirming) uncomfortably in their chairs.  Gritting their teeth I’m sure.  The non-Catholic/non-Jesuit/”Other” parents and students sitting up at attention waiting for the response.  And me, I’m standing up against the wall…behind my son who sitting in front of me…I plant my feet…lean up against the wall…I squeeze his shoulders…I feel woozy.  (Get a grip man!)

[Read more...]

Life…

Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is bliss, taste it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is a promise, fulfill it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
Life is life, fight for it.

Mother Teresa

 

 


Image Credit: Thank you lori-rocks

A chance in the world…

My Son knows his Mother.  His Father.  His Sister.  He is loved unconditionally.  He sleeps in a warm, clean bed.  He has not experienced hunger.  Real hunger.  Yet, some (many) others in this world…”not so much.”

Part 1 of this book is called “An Orphan Boy.”  Beginning at 3 years old, Stephen Pemberton, is bounced from one foster family (who neglects him) to another – – The Robinsons…who can best be described as monstrous.   He’s subjected to merciless beatings – – deliberate attempts to thwart his academic progress — and he’s hungry, always hungry.  He’s not permitted to open the refrigerator – ever.  He’s required to adhere to a series of Robinson Rules which include #1-You are to never tell anyone outside this house about what goes on here.  #2-We aren’t your mother and father. You call us ma’am and sir.  #4-You are dumb, and ugly.  Something about you isn’t right.  Everybody knows this.  #7-We can beat you at any moment.  #8-No one wants you, especially your own mother and father.  Young Pemberton finds refuge in books.  He is a reader.  A kind soul, a neighbor, who sees a spark in this child – gifts him books.  He’s forced to read in a cold, dank basement.

I came to live not just in fear but abject terror, the kind that rises up and takes over every sense of your being.  Years later, long after the hunger and beatings were no longer residents of my mind, it would be that fear that would be that last to leave. [Read more...]