Walking. Walking it down the cheek.

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1:32 am.

Halldór’s nightlessness and insomnia in all directions.

A new routine, and I’ve grooved it. To bed early, wake early, read to exhaustion, and back to sleep until sunrise.

I flick on the iPad, illuminating the dark. I get after it. The Journal. The Times. Apple News. Blog posts. RSS feeds in Feedly. A few late night incoming emails. And then to dessert, a chapter or two on Kindle, half-way through Lebedev’s Oblivion.  It’s 3:15 am, I’m turning pages on a title called Oblivion, now that’s something. You must sleep, or you will pay dearly.

I set the e-gear down, turn on the left side, and pull up the covers. Fragments of news, pages, posts, emails and today’s full day calendar are flitting by, churning, the mind workin’, workin’. Anxiety…A piece rises to the top. Begley: “A compulsion is at once psychological balm and curse, surface madness and profound relief…The ability of compulsive behaviors to quiet anxieties great and small is one of the greatest gifts our brains can give us.”

I pause, close my eyes, and marinate in this…if this is the greatest gift our brains can give us, I am fully gifted, fully loaded. FULL UP.

And, then, it stopped. The churning stopped. [Read more…]

Sunday Morning

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Birds are
God’s handwriting.

~ Jorge Carrera Andrade, “Alphabet,” in Micrograms

 


Notes:

Small Gods

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My hope is that this minuscule prayer
will reach out to the god unknown I just sensed
passing in the rivulet of breeze above the mere rivulet
of water in this small arroyo. To the skittering insect
this place is as large as the Sea of Galilee.
In prayer I’m a complicated insect, moving
this way and that. The insect before me puzzles
over its current god, my dog Zilpha, who watches
with furrowed brow and thinks, “Should I paw
at this bug in this shallow pool, bite it, roll
on it in this tiny creek in the late afternoon heat,
or perhaps take another nap?” She looks at her god,
which is me, understanding as her eyes close
that the gods make up their minds as they go.
They are as patient as the water in which they live,
and won’t be surprised when they reach the sea
with their vast collection of reflections, the man, the dog,
the stars and moon and clouds, the javelina and countless
birds, bugs and minnows, the delicate sips of rattlers,
the boughs of mesquite, the carapace of the desert tortoise,
the heron footprints, the water’s memories of earth.

~ Jim Harrison, “Small Gods” from In Search of Small Gods

 


Photograph: meditation by carlos.odeh (via newthom)

It happened on Christmas Eve, 48 years ago.

earth

It happened on Christmas Eve, 48 years ago. Three men took turns reading from the first 10 verses of the Book of Genesis. They were nearly 250,000 miles away from Bethlehem, but since it was the night before Christmas, and there was no chimney from which to hang their stockings, the three astronauts inside the Apollo 8 capsule orbiting the moon thought it would be appropriate. So as Jim Lovell, Frank Borman and Bill Anders looked at the faraway Earth through the small window of the spacecraft, they read the verses: “In the beginning, God made the heavens and the Earth.”

Their distant-sounding voices from far beyond our atmosphere were broadcast live to the whole planet that night over radio and television. It was one of those moments that brought the world together, that helped us to see our common humanity…

~ Eric Metaxas, from Christmas Eve in Space and Communion on the Moon (wsj.com, Dec, 24, 2016)

 


Photo: Earth (Great Lakes). Canadian Space Agency/Chris Hadfield via Space.com

Walking Cross-Town. With a Tin Cup.

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The moment, seconds really, should have degraded into an inkblot, edges fraying, burrowing to lose itself among the billions of other moments, stored for retrieval at a later date when a similar moment showed up. Aha, I remember that.

But No.

This one Rises, floats on Top, bobbing up and down, making sure it isn’t lost. Remember this, it seems to say. Don’t forget this, it needs to say.

I’m walking Cross-Town on 47th. It’s dark. It’s early, 6:23 am. And, it’s Cold – sub 35° F, with winds gusting. Feels like 26° F. Biting.

I’m wearing a trench coat, knee length, its heavy lining leaning in on my shoulders. It’s zipped to the throat.

The fur lined leather gloves keep the hands and fingers toasty. I grip my case with one, and swing the other, the motion pulling me forward, the pace quick, the blood and bones warming from the movement.

And there he was.

Alone. [Read more…]

(Early) Saturday Morning

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The mind cannot fall asleep as long as it watches itself. Only when the mind moves unwatched and becomes absorbed in images that tug it as it were to one side does self-consciousness dissolve and sleep with its healing, brilliantly detailed fictions pour in upon the jittery spirit. Falling asleep is a study in trust. Likewise, religion tries to put us at ease with the world. Being human cannot be borne alone. We need other presences. We need soft night noises – a mother speaking downstairs. We need the little clicks and sighs of a sustaining otherness. We need the gods.

– John Updike, Self-Consciousness: Memoirs

 


Notes: Quote – Thank you Whiskey River.  Photo: Paul Maria Schneggenburger with his long exposure photography with series titled “Sleep of the Beloved” (via beautifuldecay.com)

Running. A Blossom Rupturing.

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It’s dark, I grope, I grip the wooden arm of the bannister at the top of the stairs. I’m about to take the first step down and here it comes. Not just one morning, every morning.

Must be Mandelstam’s Blossom. It hovers. It hammers. It is now.  It is not. It ruptures and raptures. I try to turn, to turn away to Light. Yet and yet and yet, it pulls me back. A beckoning for what? To what?

55° F. Saturday morning. I’m on the front porch. Rain is spitting Autumn, the season has turned.

Mile 2:
I look down. Gray shirt. Gray shorts.  Gray water bottle.  Gray and Blue shoes. I look up, Gray skies. Synchronicity – cosmic alignment. [Read more…]

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

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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

Zeke. Post Mortem. Did you cry then?

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I ran the morning of his “expiration.” Same route. There was no rustling, no reason to turn, but my attention is pulled hard right to the other side of the highway.  A doe, large, silent, and frozen in spot, stares. Our eyes lock. Go ahead Girl, speak to me. I’m listening.

Two hours “before”, I’m watching The Man Who Knew Infinity, an inspiring flick about Srinivasa Ramanujan, a self-taught Indian genius who forged a bond with his math professor, G.H. Hardy, while fighting an institution that refused to acknowledge his achievements (racism, jealousy, fear). Here’s Hardy, an atheist and his mentor, in a speech to a skeptical decisioning board:  “So, now we see the enormous breakthrough that he has achieved…Mr. Ramanujan told me that an equation had no meaning unless it expressed a thought of God…Well, despite everything in my being set to the contrary, perhaps he is right…So, in the end, I have been forced to consider, who are we to question Ramanujan, let alone God.” Just as Hardy finishes his impassioned plea, Zeke, prostrate on the hard wood floor, starts choking, unable to catch his breath, the tumor working its devilish deed. Why now? Why so soon? Who am I to question…?

Minutes “after“, I look in his water dish, peanut shells float in lukewarm water, undigested remains and backwash from his lock jaw. We need to remove the water dish, his food dish, his crate, his toys and everything else.  Yet, while all physical remnants have been cleared, the silence from the absence of his footsteps, his swishing tail, his presence, all Thunder in this empty house.

Vizsla’s are “velcro” dogs, restless, following you everywhere, all the time. What happens when your shadow of eight years, is no longer there, no longer anywhere but in your head. You continuously look over your shoulder feeling something, yet there’s nothing there. With the velcro detached, when do You become detached, unstuck, unhinged? [Read more…]

Running. With a Mystical Moment.

parec simon

The eyes pan the green carpet of the unmarked plots at the Spring Grove Cemetery. Geese feed silently, showing their respect. The Police station is to my left. The Public Library in front. And there’s four miles of track ahead.

I slow my pace.

The eyes are drawn to the flock of Canada Geese.  It’s a large flock, fifty or so.

The eyes spot a difference. I’m awed at how the eyes can hone in so quickly on “what’s off.” I begin to hum the Sesame Street jingle: “One of these things (is Not like the others).” (Your mind works in mysterious ways, friend. Wow.)

She’s limping, badly. Her children, late season goslings, furry now, trail behind her.  Their necks are all down, pecking at seeds, the grass.

It’s been a week now and the image remains fresh.

Was it a car that hit her?  Or was it a scar from fleeing from the clutches of a predator? A hunter’s bullet grazing her webbed foot?  Or was she simply born lame? There’s no emergency room for repair. No splint or cast to heal.  No morphine to cut the edge. She limps. She lives. She protects her family.

And it’s Sunday. And your morning sermon doesn’t come from the inside of a Church, or from a person of Cloth, but from a Book.  This Agnostic is deep into his readings of Thomas Moore and his teachings of creating a personal religion. It’s as if he opened this chapter speaking to me: [Read more…]

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