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

Lightly child, lightly

The leaves are turning,
one by one carried away in the crisp wind […]
Away, away, says the blue and gold day,
and no one hears it but the wind…
Sit here —…
This is heaven.
Sit. Stay.

~ Margaret Gibson, from “Heaven“ in Broken Cup: Poems


Notes:

Sunday Morning

The longer my father lived in this world the more he knew there was another to come. It was not that he thought this world beyond saving, although in darkness I suppose there was some of that, but rather that he imagined there must be a finer one where God corrected His mistakes and men and women lived in the second draft of Creation and did not know despair. My father bore a burden of impossible ambition. He wanted all things to be better than they were, beginning with himself and ending with this world. Maybe this was because he was a poet. Maybe all poets are doomed to disappointment. Maybe it comes from too much dazzlement. I don’t know yet. I don’t know if time tarnishes or polishes a human soul or if it’s true that it’s better to look down than up.

~ Niall Williams, History of the Rain.


Notes:

  • Photo by Indonesian Photographer Sukron Ma’mun.
  • Another inspiring quote from same book: “The River Shannon passes below our house on its journey to the sea. Come here, Ruthie, feel the pulse of the water, my father said, kneeling on the bank and dipping his hand, palm to current, then reaching up to take my hand in his. He put your arm into the cold river and at once it was pulled seaward like an oar. I was seven years old. I had a blue dress for summertime. Here, Ruthie, feel.”

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

if only you could see
how heaven pulls earth into its arms
and how infinitely the heart expands to claim this world,
blue vapor without end.

~ Lisel Mueller, from “Monet Refuses the Operation” in Second Language


Notes: Photo: Blue Ridge Mountains by Richard Terpolilli.  Poem: Poetry Foundation

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

Saturday Morning

In theory, for example, sleep is a negative thing, a mere cessation of life. But nothing will persuade me that sleep is not really quite positive, some mysterious pleasure which is too perfect to be remembered. It must be some drawing on our divine energies, some forgotten refreshment at the ancient fountains of life. If this is not so, why do we cling to sleep when we have already had enough of it; why does waking up always seem like descending from heaven upon earth? I believe that sleep is a sacrament; or, what is the same thing, a food.

— G.K. Chesterton, Lunacy and Letters


Quote: WhiskeyRiver. Art via Mennyfox55

David Bowie

david-bowie-charlie-brown-snoopy-linus-heaven

David Bowie 1947-2016
R.I.P.


Source: this isn’t happiness

Running With Anguilla. On Christmas Day.

palm-trees

“What are the winter months?”

The cab driver chuckled.  “You’ve not been to Anguilla Sir?”  He paused and continued.  “There are no winter months, Sir.”

Who you callin’ Sir? Aha. Old and stupid. 18° 15′ North – standing on the Equator. No seasons.

That was a week ago. It’s 6:10 am.  52° F.  We’re trudging up a severe incline at Mianus River Park in Connecticut, back to reality.  It’s Christmas Day.  391 acres. No humans, no superficial chit chat – ISTJ magic. Squirrels, Zeke and me.  He’s at my heels, the clanking of his steel tags breaking the morning silence.  He’s panting. I’m heaving.

It was a week ago.  It was 82° F, gusty, the fronds on the palm trees slapping.  Anguilla’s beach, fine white sand sifting through your toes, walking on cotton.  The sea is warm, clear, the white sand carpets the ocean floor.  I’m floating on a thick foam mattress, the tropical winds sashay the hammock.  Wispy clouds, paintings, lazily pass overhead.  If there was heaven….

That was a week ago. It’s a muddy track from the rains. Footing is sloppy.  The Sun is working to burn through the clouds. Mist is rising from the earth.  I’m over layered, overdressed and overheating during this December heat wave.  And there’s Anguilla. Ever present. But, could you live there? [Read more…]

Riding Uptown. Saving the Best For Last.

taxi-cab-new-york-city

The memory was triggered by a tune played on the car radio on a balmy December day last week. A tune I’ve played hundred’s of times since it was released in 1991. A tune that sits on top of the same playlist that has been transferred from iPod to iPod to iPod to various iPhone upgrades for almost 25 years. It’s Marc Cohn’s hit “Saving the Best for Last.

Got into a cab in New York City 
Was an Oriental man behind the wheel 

It wasn’t an Oriental man behind the wheel. It was a cab in New York City.  He was in his 60’s.  He didn’t do much talking, and certainly not about mansions in heaven.

Started talking about heaven 
Like it was real 
Said “They got mansions in heaven” 
Yeah the angels are building one for me right now…

It was July. The midday heat exploded, and like a desert mirage, the waves were radiating off the Manhattan asphalt.  All four windows in the cab were down, hot air was gushing in. I took my jacket off, and loosened my tie.

I couldn’t get the words out: “Can you please turn on the A/C?”  It was as if my tongue was jacked with Novocain.  A/C Broken or conserving petrol?

We’d lock eyes in his rear view mirror. A Suit staring into the deep dark eye of an elephant, with its leg chained to steel spike.

And I know…
They’re saving the best for last 
Look around this town 
And tell me that it ain’t so 
They’re saving the best for last 
Don’t ask me how I know 
‘Cause it must be 
Saving the best for last for me

There was a 34 oz plastic bottle resting in the console, the Polish Spring label worn from the refilling, the hundreds of grips and re-grips, and the punishing heat magnified through the front window.

Classified ads sit on the passenger seat, folded neatly. A black Bic is clipped to the top left, the plastic cap marked with deep chew marks. [Read more…]

I wonder what she prays for, and if you hear her.

feet-souls

[…]

When I got to the waiting room I saw your mother perched there with her incurable stare. She was in that place where the high probability of failure intersects with a two percent chance of success. Hope at its most corrosive. […]

How is your boy

She didn’t move or look at me, but there was graciousness in her tone when she said

He’s just not so good

When I returned the next day I peeked in to see my dad and then I darted over to look for those feet of yours. When I didn’t see them I stopped a nurse and said, the boy, the tall one, where is he? It was a nurse I didn’t recognize and she clearly didn’t know that you were supposed to be a big basketball star and live to be eighty, she clearly knew none of that because she did not look up and said flatly that they had taken your body away.

That day was over twenty years ago. I’ve been witness to great tragedy since but I’ve never forgotten you. I created different details to your narrative to go along with what I knew and it never seems like what I assume is inaccurate. I feel like by having some understanding of your latitude I can deduce your center, like quantum gravity, which I can comprehend about as much as I can a mother burying her son, but if certain scientists are correct and it becomes possible to bend time, then I’ll be able to ask you if any of my assumptions were correct. I don’t need answers until then, unless the idea of God becomes willing to explain itself, in which case I am up for that Q& A. Where your story intersects mine is at my refusal to accept things too sad for me to process; my reimagining endings that haunt me. It’s hard to reconcile that God is either entirely too secretive or has a totally deficient ability to prioritize. I hear people say, “It happened for a reason,” or “It’s part of God’s plan,” and I wish that made sense to me but it doesn’t. I carry you around still and who knows why. Perhaps there are no answers for us poor humans, but we know a handful of things. We know there exists a planet with four thousand versions of songbirds. Because that is possible and because on that same planet can exist sentient beings made up almost entirely of stardust, and because bonafide poetry erupts mightily from some of those beings, and there is music, sex, and babies that laugh in their sleep; because we are roaming a universe that may be a hologram, with another dimension consecutively projecting itself outside this construct of relativity and gravity; because of all that, there is no reason why my prayers shouldn’t be able to reach your mother whose name I didn’t even know. There is no reason why not, when nothing is completely harmonious with its description, not really, and there is a flaw in every theory of time and space.

From time to time I picture it. I see her watching while you go flying down that court. I see her shoulders moving almost imperceptibly to mimic your bobs and weaves around the other players. She is going where you go without thinking about it, tied to you, following and winning when you win, until you turn to wave and that puts her on her feet and beaming. I do know that if your mother is alive today she is thinking of you right this minute. I wonder what she prays for, and if you hear her.

~ Mary-Louise Parker, “Dear Mr. Big Feet” from Dear You 


Photo: derrosenkavalier titled Feet part ten

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