Sunday Morning

My spirituality has always been given to contemplation, even before anyone articulated for me exactly what “the contemplative” was. I was not raised in an overtly religious home; my spiritual formation now comes to me in memories—not creeds or doctrine, but the air we breathed, stories, myth, and a kind of attentiveness. From a young age, my siblings and I were allowed to travel deep into our interior worlds to become aware of ourselves, our loves, our beliefs. And still, my father demanded an unflinching awareness of our exterior worlds. Where is home from here? What was the waitress’s name? Where do we look when we’re walking? If a single phrase could be considered the mantra of our family, it would be Pay attention.

—  Cole Arthur Riley, This Here Flesh: Spirituality, Liberation, and the Stories That Make Us (Convergent Books, February 22, 2022)

 

The clamor of the world, that is outside and inside, needs to be quelled sometimes to breathe.


Notes:

  • Cartoon Source
  • Post Title from: Fred D’Aguiar, “Year of Plagues: A Memoir of 2020“: “The clamor of the world, that is outside and inside, needs to be quelled sometimes for poetry to breathe.”

This … or That?

THIS…

Excerpts from A Starry Night Crowded With Selfies by Francis X. Clines (NY Times, 9/23/17):

“This is the scene in front of Vincent van Gogh’s “The Starry Night” at the Museum of Modern Art earlier this month.  The city’s summer tourist season is ending, but visitors still crowd four and five deep in neck-craning hubbubs, brandishing phones to take close-ups and grinning selfies and somehow partake of “Starry Night,” the van Gogh masterpiece at the Museum of Modern Art. The crowds were ceaseless all summer, as they are much of the year — bobbing, weaving, snapping away, denying quiet contemplation. They puzzle no less an art lover than Ann Temkin, the chief curator of painting and sculpture, who has watched the “crazy magnetism” of the painting and her beloved Vincent grow ever since cameras first appeared on phones. “It’s as if taking a photo of a work in a museum means ‘seeing’ it to a viewer, even though someone like me worries that taking the photo replaces seeing it in the slow and thoughtful way I would ideally wish,” Ms. Temkin ruefully concedes at the bustling museum. “And the problem with all the photo-takers is that they make it impossible for someone who wants to do that kind of looking to do so.” […]  As a curator, Ms. Temkin has decided nothing can be done about ravenous phone photographers in museums. “I used to be more judgmental about it, really disapprove,” she says. Lately she sees how audiences at public events watch a big video screen image rather than the actual person in the picture speaking live right there on stage. Something’s happening; she notices celebrity chefs preparing dishes for their photogenic possibilities. She suspects artists are inevitably crafting work with similar nods to the overwhelming social media culture, with all its likes and retweets. “It’s utterly impossible to wrap one’s mind around van Gogh, seeing this going on,” the curator notes affectionately. “Maybe God is good and will let him know he’s beloved,” she says. “But beyond that, he’s not allowed to look,” she advises, protecting Vincent from the madding crowd.

OR THAT…?

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Killing Jesus

bench, solitude,thinking,black and white, photography

I’m on the 5:01 a.m. train to Grand Central.

I’m riffling through two days of morning papers. Without breaking stride, I shift to chopping through a small mountain of emails. I pause. I can feel my pulse accelerating. Work mode. Game time and it’s only 5:45 am.

The train moves through the tunnel. Internet connection is lost. I close my eyes for a moment looking for a few minutes of rest. But it’s not rest I find, it’s restless.

I shift to Kindle.

Elise sent me a link to a book over the weekend. I’m a few pages in. My mind drifts. I worked with her, could it be 9 years ago? Where does the time go?

Describe her in 5 words: Centered. Gentle. Peaceful. Kind. Goodness.

I get off the train. I’m walking briskly down 42th street. City is alive at 6 am. I cross Park. Madison. Fifth. Avenue of the Americas. Times Square. ABC’s Good Morning America is setting up outside on Broadway and 44th street…crowd milling.

I let her down. I remember the look in her eyes. I couldn’t have been more than a three minute conversation 9 years ago, and it’s a piercing tattoo etched in my mind. Thoughtless, wrong, self-serving.

[Read more…]

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