There is no proof of the soul.
But isn’t the return of spring
and how it springs up in our hearts
a pretty good hint?
“Pray for me.”
Soft spoken and gentle, he leans into a man and his child amid the throng on the streets of DC.
“Please pray for me.”
I ponder that for a moment. And, I keep walking.
Barricades are coming up. Husky NYPD officers are manning their stations. NYPD Commissioner Bratton quipped that the pontiff will have “6,000 guardian angels watching him.” He means “Six thousand police officers, 1,173 police cars, 818 tons of concrete barriers and 39 miles of metal and wood barricades are what is needed to help protect Pope Francis on his visit to NYC.”
6000 Guardian Angels. 818 tons of concrete. 39 miles of metal and wood barricades.
The flock is amassing.
Man with Gramophone stands in front of Madison Square Garden warning of Armageddon. [Read more…]
Perhaps we wouldn’t need chapels if our lives were already clear and calm (a saint or a Jesus may never need to go into a church; he’s always carrying one inside himself). Chapels are emergency rooms for the soul. They are the one place we can reliably go to find who we are and what we should be doing with our own lives—usually by finding all we aren’t, and what is much greater than us, to which we can only give ourselves up.
“I like the silent church,” Emerson wrote, “before the service begins.”
~ Pico Iyer, Where Silence is Sacred
It’s Tuesday. 6 am.
The Metro-North train arrives at Grand Central.
I’m walking across town.
Today. It’s back.
The energy geyser bursting from the Center.
The Possibilities? Endless.
Hope? Springs eternal.
Mystery source? Soul. Powered. Soulerpowered.*
The cauldron bubbles.
The witches’ brew stews.
Lethargy. Worry. Anxiety. Fatigue. Doubt.
Fully Present, in a Civil War of One.
It? It’s just not there.
William James had a bead on it. The Human energizing. The sum-total of activities. Some outer. Some inner. Some muscular. Some emotional. Some moral. Some spiritual. The waxing and waning in himself he is at times so well aware. How to keep it an appreciable maximum? How not to let the level lapse? That is the great problem.
I feel this lapsing.
Mr. Miyagi’s Wax On, Wax off. [Read more…]
The morning ritual is…
GET to the office.
GET to the desk.
Fire up the PC.
GET a jump on the day.
Same. Same. Same.
I exit Grand Central,
and head West.
As the crow flies,
it’s a straight shot, on foot, cross-town, to the office on 48th street.
Speed traps are meted out by flashing Don’t Walk! signs and traffic,
as jaywalking is a cultural norm in Gotham.
I couldn’t tell you what triggered it.
It could have been a car horn.
A driver shouting at another.
Or perhaps more subtle,
a bird call amidst the gray, inert skyscrapers,
or a unusually, warm early morning wind gust from my left.
At this moment, there must be more raindrops falling on the surface of the island than there are humans on earth, perhaps more than all the humans who ever lived. I’ve thought of raindrops as tiny and insignificant things, but against the scale of earth itself, they’re scarcely smaller than I am. On what basis, then, can I consider myself more important? Koyukon elders say that each kind of weather, including rain, has its own spirit and consciousness. If this is true, there must be a spirit within every raindrop, as in all else that inhabits the earth. In this sense, we are two equal forms of being who stand in mutual regard. I bend down to look at a crystal droplet hanging from a hemlock needle and know my own image is trapped inside. It’s humbling to think of myself this way. In the broader perspective of earth, I am nothing more than a face in a raindrop.
~ Richard Nelson, The Island Within
I lie awake,
wishing I had faith of some kind.
I’ve caught glimpses of it now and then,
I can even conjure it up for a second or two,
but it fades.
It’s a stillness,
the polar opposite of worry.
It isn’t hope;
hope has too much energy,
requires constant renewal;
faith (if I had it) would just be there.
~ Abigail Thomas, Safekeeping: Some True Stories From a Life
Most of us do not live a life of monastic rigor. Our days are full of jagged edges and jangling moments. But most of us do have quiet routines that inform our lives. We rise each morning and greet our day in the same fashion. A first cup of coffee, a glance at the paper, a certain way we bathe and prepare for our entry into the day — these do not change. They are the rituals by which we shape our days. But we do not value them as rituals. To us they are the ordinary — sometimes comforting, sometimes mind-deadening — activities that give a familiar sameness to our life. Far from honoring them, we pay them no heed. We see them as routines, not as paths to awareness. My time in the monastery taught me otherwise. To be sure, the monks lived a life of deep sacramentality and prayer, and that was the true source of their spiritual vision. But the mindful practice of their spiritual exercises spilled over into the way they carried on their daily affairs. They were present to nuance, aware of the space around events. A cup of tea, a meal partaken, a moment shared with another — all commanded their absolute focus. They had tuned their spirits to a fine and subtle sensitivity, and nothing passed unnoticed or unhonored.
~ Kent Nerburn, Of Coffee Mugs and Monks in Small Graces: The Quiet Gifts of Everyday Life (New World Library. 2010)