On what grounds did I fast from the daily bread of birdsong and starlight?

barbara-brown-taylor

Sixty-hour weeks were normal, hovering closer to eighty during the holidays. Since my job involved visiting parishioners in hospitals and nursing homes on top of a heavy administrative load, the to-do list was never done. More often, I simply abandoned it when I felt my mind begin to coast like a car out of gas. Walking outside of whatever building I had been in, I was often surprised by how warm the night was, or how cold.

I was so immersed in indoor human dramas that I regularly lost track of the seasons. When a fresh breeze lifted the hairs on my neck, I had to stop and think, Does that wind signal the end of spring or the beginning of autumn? What month is this? What year, for that matter? In the ICU, nurses wrote details like these on blackboards to help their dazed patients hang on to reality. Most days I could name the president of the United States, but my daily contact with creation had shrunk to the distance between my front door and the driveway. The rest of my life took place inside: inside the car, inside the church, inside my own head.

On the nights when Ed and I walked, I sometimes talked with my eyes fixed on the moving pavement for more than a mile before an owl’s cry or a chorus of cicadas brought me, literally, to my senses. Only then did I smell the honeysuckle that had been there all along or notice the ghostly blossoms on the magnolia trees that deepened the shadows on more than one front lawn. The effect was immediate, like a shot of adrenaline straight to the heart. All these earthly goods were medicine for what ailed me, evidence that the same God who had breathed the world into being was still breathing. There was so much life springing up all around me that the runoff alone was enough to revive me. When it did, I could not imagine why I had stayed away so long. Why did I seal myself off from all this freshness? On what grounds did I fast from the daily bread of birdsong and starlight?

~ Barbara Brown Taylor, Leaving Church. A Memoir of Faith.


Image Source: RNS

3:45 A.M.: Yes, all that.

night-light-window

I need solitude.
I need space.
I need air.
I need the empty fields round me;
and my legs pounding along roads;
and sleep;
and animal existence.

~ Virginia Woolf, from The Diary of Virginia Woolf


Notes: Poem – thank you Beth (again) on Alive on all Channels. Photo: Mennyfox55

 

 

Good. Now here’s what poetry can do.

photograph-butterfly-butterflies-hand,

Good. Now here’s what poetry can do.

Imagine yourself a caterpillar.
There’s an awful shrug and, suddenly,
You’re beautiful for as long as you live.

~ Stephen Dunn, from Poem For People That Are Understandably Too Busy To Read Poetry (1966)

 


Notes:

  • Post inspired by: “Butterflies are not insects,’ Captain John Sterling said soberly. ‘They are self-propelled flowers.” from Robert A. Heinlein, The Cat Who Walks Through Walls. Thank you Beth at Alive on All Channels.
  • And inspired by ZME Science: “The caterpillar’s  metamorphosis from a tree clinging, 12-legged pest into the majestic flying butterfly is one of the most used metaphors to describe a 180 transformation. It’s truly a fantastic mechanism developed by nature, yet while all my seem fantastic on the outside, this transformation looks pretty gruesome deep inside the chrysalis. In short, for a caterpillar to turn into a butterfly it digests itself using enzymes triggered by hormones, before sleeping cells similar to stem cells grow into the body parts of the future butterfly.”
  • Stephen Dunn Poem excerpt from The Vale of Soul-Making
  • Photo from We Heart It

 

 

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

passion-light-flame.jpg

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, “Self Portrait” from Fire in the Earth


Source: Poem – Whiskey River. Photo: Precious Things

Riding Metro North. And dragging it around.

train-station-light

Who are we, really? Who is dragging this body around.” (Zen Koan)

4:55 am.
Just another Hump Day in August, but less torrid, and pleasant, really.

It’s a short walk to the station. The digital counter on the wrist flashes Step # 63, a reminder of the failure to reach 6500 steps by last day’s end.

A Lady, in her early 30’s, hair still damp, rushes onto the crowded train car, steps over the gap, looks down the aisle, lets out a sigh. She sets down her bag and stands. You watch. She stands. And stands. And stands. This weekend you opened the mailbox to find junk mail inviting you to join the AARP, and flung it with disgust into the recycling bin. Hey, at least she wasn’t pregnant.

The 7:30 morning meeting is cancelled, 15 minutes before start time. The same meeting requiring you to catch the first train. You launch an e-missile punctuating the finish with an exclamation mark.  Shrapnel hits the target — its impact boomerangs in a Return To Sender. Necessary?

You interrupt another mid sentence, again and again, to steer the discussion and to drive the pace. What is it that is so unsettling that flows in your blood? [Read more…]

Morning Meditation: Be ignited, or be gone

meditation-mist

Meditation is old and honorable, so why should I
not sit, every morning of my life, on the hillside,
looking into the shining world? Because, properly
attended to, delight, as well as havoc, is suggestion.
Can one be passionate about the just, the
ideal, the sublime, and the holy, and yet commit
to no labor in its cause? I don’t think so.

All summations have a beginning, all effect has a
story, all kindness begins with the sown seed.
Thought buds toward radiance. The gospel of
light is the crossroads of — indolence, or action.

Be ignited, or be gone.

~ Mary Oliver, “What I Have Learned So Far” from New and Selected Poems Vol. 2


Sources:

Start Me Up

mick-jagger-rolling-stones


Notes: Mick Jagger Portrait by David Bailey (via Precious Things). Post title from The Rolling Stones’ “Start Me Up” – music video here. “If you start me up, if you start me up, I’ll never stop. You can start me up, You can start me up, I’ll never stop, I’ve been running hot…”

Miracle (Man-Made)

carl-spackler-funny-caddy-shack

DK: How much for the bird seed?
SK:  $40.
DK: $40? Per bag?
SK: Yes.
DK: How many bags a month?
SK: Two.

I do the math: (# bags) x (months in a season) x ($40) x (10 years) = blood pressure increase.  And the torment was first recorded here in this post: Squirrels. Cardinals. Bumble Bees. And Me.

Pick any spring.
Or any summer, or any fall for that matter.
Or any year, for the past 10 years that we’ve lived in this house.
The picture: Same.

I’m sitting, reading in the backyard, transported to C.S. Lewis‘ world of becoming of a thousand men and yet remaining myself…seeing with a myriad of eyes, but it is still I who see.  But, what I see, damn it, is Vermin.

Interrupting my bliss is their rustling. Their relentless rattling of aluminum, scratching and clawing at seed. Hanging upside down, these ravenous beady eyed creatures work to empty the bird feeders one by one – frightening off the intended recipients, who flutter up to the leafy branches overhead until the insatiable keel over from exhaustion.

[Read more…]

RIP: Mr. Everything

Gordie-howe-hockey-canada

Gordie Howe, known as “Mr. Hockey,” had died at 88 this afternoon. Howe was also referred to during his career as Power, Mr. Everything, Mr. All-Star, The Most, The Great Gordie, The King of Hockey, The Legend, The Man, No. 9, and “Mr. Elbows”. Here’s some excerpts from terrific tribute by Adam Gopnik from the New Yorker:

“Gordie Howe, who died today, was so much a legend—Mr. Hockey!—and so often referenced as the greatest player of all time, even lending his Number 9 to Wayne Gretzky (who turned it into his own 99), that it is surprisingly hard to put his achievements into clear relief. His persistence was such that, in memory, it overwhelms his peculiar excellence. The persistence was pretty startling. He played until he was fifty-two, long enough to skate professionally alongside his own sons. His accumulated stats include 2,421 games, 1,071 goals, 1,518 assists, 2,589 points, and 2,418 penalty minutes…He seemed to play forever, and he forever played well, winning six M.V.P. awards and six scoring championships, too…

Some of Howe’s peculiar greatness is summed up in the still-current “Gordie Howe hat trick,” which is when a player has a goal, an assist, and a fight all in one game. Howe was tough—and, by all accounts, mean…

Above all, he was a representative—the perfect representative—of a certain kind of Canadianness, reflected, as it was bound to be, in a hockey player, as perhaps Lou Gehrig or Stan Musial, other Iron Men, were representative of similar, American baseball values, now largely lost. A product of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, the most Canadian of Canadian places, Howe might have had the Canadian fault of being a touch too trusting, easily and even brutally exploited by the Red Wings owner Bruce Norris. He nonetheless made the Canadian virtues of modesty, persistence, and family-above-all-else part of the heritage of hockey. He didn’t just play with his sons; he played well with his sons—while his wife, Colleen, a Detroit girl, was always surprisingly visible, in a way few athletes’ wives were at the time. He even got to play in the now mostly—and unfairly—forgotten 1974 Summit Series, when the World Hockey Association’s stars took on the Soviets. He was old, but still the leader.

~ Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker: Gordie Howe Was the Ideal Canadian Athlete


Photo: Amazon – Mr. Hockey: My Story. By Gordie Howe

 

 

 

The DroneScape: Outback SA

outback-south-australia

Drone shot over the Outback in South Australia.

Don’t miss Gabriel Scanu’s other amazing shots at Fubiz Media: Amazing Drone Landscape Photography.

Find his website here: Gabe. And his Instagram site here: Gab Scanu


Source: This Isn’t Happiness

 

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