Walking. With Airborne Droplets.

2:30 am. I flick open Sleep app. 4 h 25 m.  Hmmmm. Dale-like. How does she do it? Lori’s magnesium? Something. Something.

Morning papers. COVID-19. Masks. No masks. Airborne Droplets. Transmission. Virus is a hoax? Monty Python and the Holy Grail: “Bring out your dead!

4:50 am.  I pack my sling…phone, camera, earbuds, water…and I’m out the door. This unknown life force pulls me forward.

57° F.  Special Alert: Dense Fog. Exactly how my head feels. Dense fog.

I walk.

Dark.

Walking under street lamps to Cove Island Park.

Infinitesimal droplets fall on my face. Airborne droplets.

I roll up my sleeves, first right, and then left.  Droplets land on the inside of my forearms, and they tingle.

“Hey you, Agnostic!”

“You talking to me?”

“See anyone else?”

“Can you feel that?

“I’m feeling Something. Something.”

Droplets stop. Infinitesimal, ephemeral, and gone.

Gull cries overhead.

They trigger David Gray’s tune “Gulls.” I search and play it on a loop:

This land belongs to the gulls
And the gulls to their cry
And their cry to the wind
And the wind belongs to no one…
Toward the sea that god sewn
Toward the sea that god sewn

And I walk, looking out over Long Island Sound, fog beginning to lift.

Feelin’ something…


Notes: Photo mine. Weed Avenue, Stamford, CT. This morning.

Sunday Morning

Belief is tricky. One day I do. One day I don’t. Believe. But there are things I believe that have never wavered. My belief in God is not one of those. Not long ago, I made a list, my attempt to address this question: “Do I believe in God?” It went like this:

God as an old white man with a beard—No

God as a human—No

God as a being—No

God as energy—Yes

God as consequential—Don’t know

God without definition—Yes

God as a creative force in the Universe—Yes

God as natural processes in motion—Yes

God as evolution—Yes

God as gravity—Yes

God as love—Yes

God as forgiveness—Yes

God as beauty—Yes

God as a no and a yes—Maybe

God as wrathful and merciful—Perhaps—This one scares me.

God as Mystery—Most certainly

I realized through my Q & A exercise that my problem is with the word “God,” for all the limitations it has placed on my imagination, such as “God the Father.” This was the beginning of my erosion with Mormonism in particular and religion in general. It happened early. I watched birds and studied them. If I dreamed of a great horned owl and saw one the next day, that was normal, to be expected. If a yellow warbler came into my mind, it was not unusual for me to hear one. As a child, I came to understand my relationship to nature was reciprocal and that nature had a relationship with me. We called to one another. We called one another into being. What I mean by that is we have evolved together. I still have a tailbone. I trust what I see and I believe what I feel. Trusting direct experience is the open door to revelation. This was my foundation for faith. It still is.

~ Terry Tempest Williams, Erosion: Essays of Undoing (Sarah Crichton Books, October 8, 2019)


Portrait of Terry Tempest Williams by Cheryl Himmelstein

Sunday Morning: Perhaps, that is enough.

While not a believer himself, Mr. Ruse harbors a great deal of sympathy for those who find ultimate meaning in the universe and their lives through worship. Taking his cue from his own Quaker upbringing, he argues that three things remain deeply satisfying in life, even if philosophically one ends up on the side of Epicurus and his denial of design: family; a life of service to others; and, not surprisingly for a philosopher, the life of the mind. For many people, there is indeed purpose in each of these, and perhaps, Mr. Ruse suggests, that is enough.

~ John Farrell, from his “Review: To What End is All This?” where Farrell reviews ‘On Purpose’ by Michael Ruse


 

Photo of Dr. Michael Ruse via Strange Notions

I am always wondering if there’s something holy between people, a formless thing, something that can’t be bruised

Monique Passion, Secret

I keep wondering what, in me, might be constant. I catch myself looking for that remainder, retracing my steps as if in search of lost keys. I am always wondering if there’s something holy between people, a formless thing, something that can’t be bruised… But maybe I really did sense something vague and holy in others’ eyes, something sacred in crowds, in a bus of people staring out their windows, watching life. There should be a middle ground between believing in a certain god and believing that some mysterious third substance was between people. Like churches, I thought, there should be a place for people who just weren’t sure. There should be a place for people who see something but won’t dare say what it is. Maybe there’s something, something between people that is more than air and empty space, something holy in that nothing between one face and another.

~ Catherine Lacey, from “The Answers: A Novel” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, June 6, 2017)


Art: Monique Passicot, “Whispers“, 1991, colored pencil / graphite, 10x7in (via Hidden Sanctuary)

I need a belief system

sleep-rest-light-sun-woman

Heather Havrilesky, Like a Prayer:

I don’t believe in God, but I need some kind of a prayer to repeat when things go haywire. I need a prayer because, as a writer with several unruly dependents under my roof, each day is a rollercoaster, a crapshoot, an exercise in uncertainty.

[…]

See how the tiniest events can shift the barometer just enough to stir up a storm? My buoyant mood sinks. The day that felt so full of promise sags, landing in a haze of exhaustion and niggling worries by the time I crawl into bed.

I need a belief system. I need a morning ritual. I need to say some bold and glorious words out loud at the start of the day, to remind myself who I am and what I’m doing and what the point of it all is. Unfortunately, I don’t like saying bold and glorious words out loud. So I need a prayer that’s not too prayer-like. I need a belief system that doesn’t require me to suspend my disbelief.

[…]

So instead, I just lay in bed and tried to think of every member of my family and every one of my closest friends. I started with my husband, my kids, my mother, my sisters, my brother, their spouses and kids, my aunts, and my father, who’s been dead for 19 years. Then I listed my close friends. I put them in alphabetical order so they were easier to remember.

The next day, it was much easier to remember everyone, even though it had been hard the first time.

And by the third day, the names felt almost like a prayer.

It’s been a month, and now every morning I just say my prayer of names. Doing that makes me realise that I do have a belief system: almost everything is superfluous, except people. People matter. And there’s a strange emancipation that comes from acknowledging the people you love, and giving them your love, even when you know they can’t always understand you, accept you or love you back. People are flawed. But people will surprise you.

We aren’t on this Earth to improve endlessly, forever approaching infinite perfection but never quite getting there. We are here to notice the enormity and beauty of everything around us, and to notice each other – to notice how flawed we all are, and feel connected anyway.

Read entire essay by Heather Havrilesky at Aeon Magazine @ Like a Prayer.


Image Credit: Tanya Moss

Let’s hope so.

religion,doubt,

Doubt As a Sign of Faith by Julia Baird in NY Times:

When the Most Rev. Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, said recently that at times he questioned if God was really there, much of the reaction was predictably juvenile: Even God’s earthly emissary isn’t sure if the whole thing is made up! The International Business Times called it “the doubt of the century.”

…He told an audience at Bristol Cathedral that there were moments where he wondered, “Is there a God? Where is God?” Then, asked specifically if he harbored doubts, he responded, “It is a really good question. … The other day I was praying over something as I was running, and I ended up saying to God, ‘Look, this is all very well, but isn’t it about time you did something, if you’re there?’ Which is probably not what the archbishop of Canterbury should say.”

…But Archbishop Welby’s candor only makes him human. He may lead 80 million Anglicans worldwide, but he is also a man who knows anguish, rage, incomprehension and the cold bareness of grief. He lost his firstborn child, Johanna, a 7-month-old baby girl, in a car accident in 1983, a period he has described as “utter agony.” As a teenager he cared for an alcoholic father…

Faith cannot block out darkness, or doubt…Just as courage is persisting in the face of fear, so faith is persisting in the presence of doubt. Faith becomes then a commitment, a practice and a pact that is usually sustained by belief. But doubt is not just a roiling, or a vulnerability; it can also be a strength. Doubt acknowledges our own limitations and confirms — or challenges — fundamental beliefs, and is not a detractor of belief but a crucial part of it.

…The Southern writer Flannery O’Connor said there was “no suffering greater than what is caused by the doubts of those who want to believe,” but for her, these torments were “the process by which faith is deepened.”

My local pastor, Tim Giovanelli, a Baptist whose ocean-swimming prowess has lassoed scores of surfers and swimmers into his church, puts it simply: “For Welby, myself and many others, it is not that we have certainty but have seen the plausibility of faith and positive impact it can make. In a broken world, that can be enough.”

Don’t miss the full op-ed article here: Doubt As a Sign of Faith


Image: StepsOnMySunLitFloor. Related Post: The Believer of Convenience.

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

 

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

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