Sunday Morning

The natural world is not, to me, a fabric of stuff that gleams with revelation of a singular creator god. Those moments in nature that provoke in me a sense of the divine are those in which my attention has unaccountably snagged on something small and transitory – the pattern of hailstones by my feet upon dark earth; a certain cast of light across a hillside through a break in the clouds; the face of a long-eared owl peering out at me from a hawthorn bush – things whose fugitive instances give me an overwhelming sense of how unlikely it is that in the days of my brief life I should be in the right place at the right time and possess sufficient quality of attention to see them at all. When they occur, and they do not occur often, these moments open up a giddying glimpse into the inhuman systems of the world that operate on scales too small and too large and too complex for us to apprehend.

—  Helen Macdonald, Vesper Flights (Grove Press, August 25, 2020)


Photo: Mand. “We had hail one day and I noticed that one hail stone managed to get trapped on a single web strand.”

Sunday Morning

I don’t believe in religion, but the aesthetics of Catholicism have stuck with me. I love the way church incense coats my hair and skin. It is a safe smell, like a blanket, waiting for me to curl up in it. I love stained-glass windows and religious portraits, the colours of Mary’s clothes and the bright red drops of blood on Jesus’s face. I like the Stations of the Cross. I like pausing to run my finger along an emaciated rib and wrinkle my nose at the thought of the vinegar being offered on a sponge. I like prayer cards and medallions and rosary beads. I like advent candles and Bibles edged in gold and the way the skirt over the tabernacle matches the colour of the priest’s robes. There is so much attention to detail.

I envy the faithful. There are shrines dotted around the hillsides here in Ireland, places where saints have supposedly appeared and healed the sick. There are wells of holy water and statues in the rocks, huts filled with prayer cards and gardens filled with painted stones in memory of loved ones who have passed away. I like to visit them occasionally. I sit in the stillness and observe people crying and praying and I close my eyes and try to let some of their hope get carried on the air and through my pores. I would like to believe that everything is accounted for, that there is life after this one, and that all of our decisions hold some kind of significance or moral worth. There is weight in religion. It is an anchor of sorts.

I cannot believe in the vengeful patriarch of the Catholic Church but sometimes, in the daytime, when there’s no one around, I go into the church and light a candle. I like sitting in the quiet and sensing my own insubstantiality against such old and serious things. I am learning that there is a good kind of smallness; a smallness in the face of the universe rather than a smallness in my own body. I like the ritual of prayer and reverence, even though I can’t identify with it. I like the feeling that other people believe in something.

~ Jessica Andrews, Saltwater: A Novel (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, January 14, 2020)


Photo Credit

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

The day after the waxwings appeared at my birdbath, I found one of them, its flock long gone, panting on the driveway below a corner of the house where two windows meet and form a mirage of trees and distances. When I stooped to look at the bird, it lay there quietly. Though I could see no sign of injury, I knew it must be grievously hurt to sit so still as I gently cupped my hands around it to move it to a safer place in the yard. It made a listless effort to peck at my thumb, but it didn’t struggle at all when my fingers closed around its wings, and I didn’t know what to do. So much beauty is not meant to be held in human hands.

~ Margaret Renkl, from “Masked” in Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss 


Photo: Livescience.com

Sunday Morning

One of the earliest texts on the eye—its structure, its diseases, its treatments—Ten Treatises on Ophthalmology, was written in the ninth century by the Arab physician Hunayn ibn Ishaq. The individual components of the eye, he wrote, all have their own nature and they are arranged so that they are in cosmological harmony, reflecting, in turn, the mind of God.

~ Colum McCann, Apeirogon: A Novel (Random House, February 25, 2020)


Photo: A Photographer’s Eye, Nicholas Nixon

Sunday Morning

I don’t believe in religion, but the aesthetics of Catholicism have stuck with me. I love the way church incense coats my hair and skin. It is a safe smell, like a blanket… I envy the faithful. There are shrines dotted around the hillsides here in Ireland, places where saints have supposedly appeared and healed the sick. There are wells of holy water and statues in the rocks, huts filled with prayer cards and gardens filled with painted stones in memory of loved ones who have passed away. I like to visit them occasionally. I sit in the stillness and observe people crying and praying and I close my eyes and try to let some of their hope get carried on the air and through my pores. I would like to believe that everything is accounted for, that there is life after this one, and that all of our decisions hold some kind of significance or moral worth. There is weight in religion. It is an anchor of sorts.

~ Jessica Andrews, Saltwater: A Novel (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, January 14, 2020)


Notes: Photo: Patryk Sadowski with Church of Ireland

Driving I-95 S. With Kerouac.

Yesterday, Sunday afternoon.

No rush hour traffic. No meetings. No conference calls. No deadlines to hit. No work tomorrow.

No lower back pain. No shoulder pain. No bite from cervical spondylosis. Body at peace.

I exit down the ramp onto I-95 South and head home from running an errand.

I’m driving directly into the sunset.  It is of such indescribable beauty that it triggers Mind to think of God. And then, No God. And then, Heaven. And then, no Heaven. And then, my late Brother.  At which point, I kill the heat and lower the window to let the late winter chill fill the cabin. Need to feel alive.

Lori introduced me to “e·phem·er·al” (adj.) /əˈfem(ə)rəl/. Lasting for a very short time. Fleeting. Passing. Short-lived.

And to “e·the·re·al” (adj) /əˈTHirēəl/. Extremely delicate and light in a way that seems too perfect for this world. Beautiful. Graceful. Delicate.

And I reflect on how few of these moments, I have. Not chasing. Not rushing. Not anxious. Not obsessed by Next.

And Lori again, this time with “epiph·​a·​ny” (n) /i-ˈpi-fə-nē/.  An illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure.

Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have understood what Kerouac meant.  It wouldn’t have registered. But here it is, slowly seeping in.

Bless and sit down…and you will realize you’re already in heaven now. That’s the story. That’s the message.”


Notes:

  • Photo: I-95 S. near Exit 10. Feb 16, 2020. My shot.
  • Post Inspiration: “I used to think it was great to disregard happiness, to press on to a high goal…But now I see that there is nothing so great as to be capable of happiness; to pluck it out of “each moment and whatever happens.” ~ Anne Gilchrist, The Letters of Anne Gilchrist and Walt Whitman (Source: Brainpickings)
  • Post Inspiration:  “To love beauty is to see light.” — Victor Hugo
  • Kerouac quote: Thank you Whiskey River.

 

Sunday Morning (Feels like 21° F)

Q: How is the goodness of God manifested even in the clothing of birds and beasts?

A: Small birds, which are the most delicate, have more feathers than those that are hardier. Beasts that live in the icy regions have thicker, coarser coats than those that dwell in the tropical heat.

~ Jenny Offill, Weather: A Novel (Knopf, February 11, 2020)


Photo: European Starling by Ostdrossel

Sunday Morning

You are the doubter and the doubt,
worshipping a book you can’t read.

The awful quiet in your heart
is not the peace you were promised,

not the trembling hush before a revelation,
not a prelude to an earthquake,

not God’s silence, but his breathlessness.

~ Traci Brimhall, from “Gnostic Fugue,”  from Our Lady of the Ruins

 


Photo: Noell Oszvald.  Post inspired by quote from Mindfulbalance: “In our own lives the voice of God speaks slowly, a syllable at a time. Reaching the peak of years, dispelling some of our intimate illusions and learning how to spell the meaning of life-experiences backwards, some of us discover how the scattered syllables form a single phrase.” ~ Rabbi Joshua Herschel, Between God and Man.

 

Miracle. All of It.

 Human beings are creations more profound than human beings can fathom…

That’s one of the proofs of God…

there’s no other explanation.

Niall Williams, “This Is Happiness” (Bloomsbury Publishing; December 3, 2019)


Notes:

  • Art.  Finger painter (by default). Artist Mary Jane Q Cross (New Hampshire) with “Breath of Heaven” (via Mennyfox55)
  • Post title Inspired by Albert Einstein’s quote: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
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