Gotta have these boots. Now. Right Now.

Dianne Alfaro sat in a pew in the back of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan, her head bowed during Mass on Sunday morning. She cast her eyes down as the hymn “Jerusalem My Happy Home” swelled around her.

As the words “Hosanna in the highest!” echoed in the cathedral, she never looked up. That is, until she finished buying a pair of black boots off the internet on her iPhone.

“At some point, the priest during the Mass says, ‘Lift up your hearts.’ He does not say, ‘Lift up your cellphones to take pictures,’” Pope Francis said last week during a general audience at St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City, where he urged Catholics to leave their phones home.

But during Sunday Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, it seemed either the pontiff’s message had not yet reached across the Atlantic or the churchgoers were not listening.

Beside a font of holy water, tourists took in the Mass via the screens of their phones, some mounted on selfie sticks. By the entrance, devotees stood praying, but every so often phone-holding hands would pop up above the crowd to snap a picture. One man stood in the back, hunched in what appeared to be deep devotion — to select the perfect photo filter for his picture of the cathedral’s eaves.

In the pews, most people pored over the missals. But a surreptitious few checked email, planting their phone between the pages of the Psalms. One woman strode boldly through the nave as the organ played, her earbuds in, video chatting all the while.

“It’s probably a trend they should embrace,” said Edward Zhong, 25, a doctor visiting from Australia with his brother Mark, 21, who spent much of the homily taking pictures. Dr. Zhong suggested the church might go so far as create an app for use during Mass. “They probably could access a greater demographic — people who are born with an iPhone in their hand.”

Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York, said that some churches already offer apps, a trend he does not approve. “There are enough occasions for our mind to wander during Mass; we shouldn’t be using these artificial things that take us away,” he said. […]

But as the Mass ended, Ms. Alfaro, shoes newly purchased, was unrepentant. She finds her connection with God, she said, on her own time, in her own way. And as for internet shopping in the pew, she added, “It’s not a sin.”

~ Sarah Maslin Nir, excerpts from Pope Says No Phones in Church. Parishioners Keep Scrolling. (NY Times, Nov 12, 2017)


Notes:

  • Post Inspiration: Thank you Karl Duffy via Mindfulbalance: “How much does a person lack in him or herself who must have many things?” by Sen no Rikyū (1522 – 1591)
  • Photo: Nordstrom

Sunday Morning

A few days ago I spent a couple of minutes in St. Mary’s Basilica—it was a weekday—where perhaps a dozen people were kneeling in prayer.

Every now and then someone’s cell phone rang.

Horizontal communication refused to surrender, it kept on battling its vertical counterpart.

~ Adam Zagajewski, Slight Exaggeration: An Essay


Notes:

Sunday Morning

 

Thank you, Creator, that you created pigs and elephants with long snouts, that you shredded leaves and hearts, that you gave beets their sweetness. Thank you for nightingales and bedbugs. That girls have breasts, that fish breathe air, that we have lightning and cherries. That you commanded us to multiply in most eccentric ways, that you gave thought to stones, seas, and people.

~ Anna Kamienska, from A Nest of Quiet: A Notebook


Photo: © Patrick Gonzalès )via Newthom)

Sunday Morning

And visitors, how should they treat the cathedral? Here’s what I think: You need to take your time in Chartres Cathedral, you can’t hurry, like the tourist groups; you should take a seat, study the windows, then stand up and stroll around, forget that you’re in a cathedral, then remember again, and after a while you’ll sense something undescribed in any guidebook, a kind of strong longing or desire that isn’t contained within the cathedral’s walls or its windows, it’s in the air, in its very lungs. After some time, after you’ve circled the cathedral several times, crossing its zones of light and shade, purely visual impressions recede while this ever-growing desire comes into focus. We don’t know why the cathedral inspires such longing. Why its dark interior gives rise to longing.

~ Adam Zagajewski, Slight Exaggeration: An Essay


Notes:

  • Photo: Chartres Cathedral, France. The first Gothic cathedral ever built, Chartres Cathedral has stood for over 800 years. With its soaring arches and unmatched stained glass windows, to enter Chartres is to have a spiritual experience. Photographer: Michael Brewer.
  • Related Posts: Adam Zagajewski

Flying over I-40 W. With Orange Sticks and Ashes.

6:15 a.m. But for two rows of ambient lights lining the aisle, the cabin is dark and quiet.

A few minutes earlier, the flight attendant completes her routine: “You are seated in the emergency-exit row of this aircraft. Are you ready, willing and able to open the exit hatch if needed?” It’s the right of passage for extra legroom. 11 of us mumble “yes.”

She’s Asian. Japanese, actually. I see two of her colleagues down the aisle, Japanese too.  Kermit the frog on Sesame Street: Today, I’m going to tell you about the word ‘Same.’ 3 flight attendants. All female. All Asian. All Japanese. All ~ 5’5″. Blue skirts. Dark navy pumps. Silver wings on lapel. Hair down, long, dark. Red lipstick applied just so, no coloring outside the lines. Robert Palmer’s hits come flashing in Simply Irresistible and Addicted to Love. Ladies, cloned, playing guitars, dancing.

You can’t sleep, you can’t eat
There’s no doubt, you’re in deep
Your throat is tight, you can’t breathe

I dip my hand in my pocket to check my boarding pass. Dallas. Yes. Tokyo. No.

I steal a glance at my seat mate. There’s a soft cover book on his lap:  “Thy Kingdom Come: Tracing God’s Kingdom Program” by J. Dwight Pentecost. He’s attentive. She walks through the FAA regulatory requirements…”Life vests are located beneath, or between your seats. Remove the vest from the pouch by pulling on the tab. Place the vest over your head, and fasten the straps to the front of the vest. Adjust the straps loosely around your waist. As you leave the aircraft, inflate the vest by pulling down on the red tabs, or manually inflate by blowing into the tubes on either side…”

His finger runs down the multi-fold laminated instructional card on emergency evacuations, his lips twitching as he follows along. No, no, not twitching, He’s Praying. JesusHe closes his eyes, both hands grip the arm rests.

[Read more…]

Sunday Morning

Except for Aunt Maria. Unlike her father, my grandfather, she belonged not among the Enlightenment’s disciples, but with the deeply religious, the deeply silent. I know she read serious works on theology, I would guess that she knew how to pray (an ability far rarer than it seems), but she was a quiet person, like all in my family…Aunt Maria’s silence, it seems to me, grew from her religion—I sensed her conviction that things linked to faith must be left unexpressed, that they’re lost when spoken, they become banalities. I admired her for being different, for the deep devotion that she wouldn’t, couldn’t share with us—she was the opposite of those pious hypocrites who place their religious fervor on public display…Maria kept silent for different reasons. Perhaps those who pray truly and deeply inevitably watch their words around others.

~ Adam Zagajewski, Slight Exaggeration: An Essay (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, April 4, 2017)


Notes: Image – Farm Hands, via Mennyfox55

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)

Walking Cross-Town. Or, on the Highway to Hell?

It’s late evening, the sun is setting, the end of a long day. I’m sitting in a Metro North train car on my commute home reflecting on the day. Cool air streams down from the overhead vents.

Summer has arrived in Manhattan, and despite this 23 square mile piece of land being surrounded on all sides by water, the Island can be 10-20° F hotter than it is at home in the suburbs – billions of tons of concrete, steel and asphalt broiling under the late day Sun.

I had read his essay the prior week, and it was still rooting its way into my core, into the marrow of my bones.  I flip open my e-reader to re-read the passages that I have highlighted in George Yancy’s “Is Your God Dead?” where he speaks to leaving our God in our places of worship or in our good intentions.  [Read more…]

Lightly child, lightly.

This question is addressed not to Muslims, not to Arabs, but to all the children of Adam and Eve. […] There is no need to “acquire” religious knowledge. There’s only the need to let it go: let go of the egoism, the sexism, the nationalism, the tribalism. Then the inner jewel of our hearts will shine. […] Let us also answer yes. Let us also recover these jewels in our hearts and in our traditions. Here’s the challenge we find ourselves in. All of us have to drink from waters that run deep. And we have to also engage and purify the very fountains that we are drinking from. Let us dedicate ourselves to cleansing these ancient fountains.

Yes, there are real jewels in each of our traditions. And they are all covered in filth and junk that is centuries old. In some ways, the jewels shine today as they have always shone. There is a light that’s too bright to be put out. At the very same time, the filth and shit of racism, tribalism, nationalism, colonialism, classism continues to cover the jewels. There is a jewel inside our own hearts. That jewel, the inner divine knowledge, also shines so bright. It too has to be purified from the filth of egoism, sexism, and greed.

Let us wash these jewels,
you and I.

Let us rinse these jewels,
you and I.

Let us polish these jewels,
you and I.

Let us be in awe of our own inner light,
you and I.

We dive, and keep diving, into these oceans, picking out dirty jewels.

We curate these jewels and think about which jewels, which stories, which teachings, which practices are worth passing on to our children. So many are. Not all of them are.

There will be a polishing that our own children will have to do. We may be too deeply immersed in some of the filth to see it.

Let us be divers after pearls, friends.

Let us cleanse the fountains we drink from.

And then we will be able to sing together:

This little light of mine,
I am gonna let it shine.
This little light of mine,
I am gonna let it shine.

~ Omid Safi, from Our Traditions Are Gems Covered in Centuries of Junk (Onbeing.org, June 14, 2017)


Notes:

  • Photo: gosia janik (Madrid, Spain) with “I co teraz?” via mennyfox55
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect here.
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

What was He (She?) doing before He made heaven and earth?

Augustine is frank about his ignorance of the divine and natural order and dogged in his pursuit of clarity. His conclusions and his introspective method would inform centuries of subsequent philosophers, from Descartes (whose cogito ergo sum—I think therefore I am—is a direct echo of Augustine’s dubito ergo sum, I doubt therefore I am) to Heidegger to Wittgenstein. He grapples with the Beginning: “I will set about replying to the questioner who asks, ‘What was God doing before he made heaven and earth?’ But I will not respond with that joke someone is said to have made: ‘He is getting hell ready for people who inquisitively peer into deep matters.’

~ Alan Burdick, “Why Time Flies: A Mostly Scientific Investigation” (Simon & Schuster, January 24, 2017)


Photo: via Mennyfox55

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