Sunday Morning

My cousin’s last day was spent out on his bike, a seventy-mile ride on a Saturday morning. He did the ride alone, and nobody had any contact with him after that. At some time in the next twenty-four hours he died, and his body was found by the police on Monday morning when his employer called them, worried because he hadn’t turned up for work. He always turned up for work.

I would wish for my last day to involve an act of freedom–a walk by the ocean, a long bike ride, something I love. I hope that the walk and the bike ride were suffused with joy, with pleasure, for my stepdad and my cousin. Neither knew it was their last time to do that thing. If they’d known, would they have enjoyed it more or less? Eventually, everything has to be done for the final time. There must be many things that, without our realising it, already fall into that category for all of us.

Final acts acquire holiness. My stepdad’s walk that day has. When we go to Ireland we almost always take the same route. We look out on the sea because it’s the last sea he saw. We write his name in the sand. We reflect, each of us inwardly, that one day we will never see this place again either. It’s a dull shock.

If finality makes something holy then every moment is holy, because every moment could be the last. That’s a thought we spend too cheaply. Live each day as if it’s your last, we think, and then we don’t. Everything is holy. It’s only when we die that the holiness is called up. But it was always holy, all along.

Samantha Harvey, The Shapeless Unease: A Year of Not Sleeping (Grove Press; May 12, 2020)


Photo: Mine. 5:23 a.m. A Holy Moment, on Sunday, a Holy Day. Cove Island Park Stamford, CT.

Catholic, Non-Catholic. Believe. Don’t Believe. But Watch.

Of course I have sinned….
As a child, I have failed you first by not having the courage to taste of life itself.
Instead, I hid away in books, and then study.
I know now this left me empty and void of the world.

Anthony Hopkins as Pope Benedict XVI in The Two Popes (Netflix, 2019)


If you’re going to make a movie about what’s holy, it had better be outstanding — and this drama rises to the occasion.” ~ Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media

Sunday Morning

When one is alone and lonely, the body
gladly lingers in the wind or the rain,
or splashes into the cold river, or
pushes through the ice-crusted snow.

Anything that touches.

God, or the gods, are invisible, quite
understandable. But holiness is visible,
entirely…

~ Mary Oliver, from “Leaves and Blossoms Along the Way” in Felicity.


Notes: Poem via Schonwieder. Photos via Aberrant Beauty

whereon thou standest is holy ground

One viewer who did not dismiss Millet was Vincent van Gogh. In 1875, he visited a large auction show of the artist’s late pastels. Van Gogh, who had not yet fully embraced his own artistic vocation, was smitten. When he entered the room, he later wrote his brother Theo, “I felt something akin to: Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.”

Van Gogh was not alone in his reaction. Millet’s pursuit of humble subject matter and his skill as a draftsman would influence artists for decades. Pastels facilitated his innovations with perspective. Requiring no drying time, they were easy to rework, encouraging spontaneous expression. They also made him a virtuoso of green. “Path Through the Wheat” (c. 1867) abounds in sunlit grassy hues. Forest tones anchor two companion pieces, “Primroses” and “Dandelions” (both 1867-68), which Millet seems to have composed while lying on his stomach in the shade.

~ M.J. Anderson, from ‘French Pastels: Treasures From the Vault’ Review: Delicate and Delightful. Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts presents works by Degas, Millet and others, rarely shown due to the fragility of their powdered surfaces. (wsj.com, July 14, 2018)


Notes:

  • Photo 1: ‘Path Through the Wheat’ (c. 1867), by Jean-François Millet
  • Photo 2: ‘Primroses’ (1867-68), by Jean-François Millet
  • Photo 3: ‘Dandelions’ (1867-68), by Jean-François Millet

Sunday Morning

Holy silence is spacious and inviting. You can drink it down. We offer it to ourselves when we work, rest, meditate, bike, read. When we hike by ourselves, we hear a silence still pristine with crunching leaves and birdsong…During congregational silences, in meditation rooms or halls, in prison cells and meeting rooms, in silent confession at church, all these screwed-up people like us, with tangled lives and minds, find their hearts opening through quiet focus. In unfolding, we are enfolded, and there is a melding of spirits, a melding of times, eternal, yesterday morning, the now, the ancient, even as we meet beneath a digital clock on the wall, flipping its numbers keeping ordinary time in all that timelessness.

~ Anne LamottHallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy


Notes: Quote – Thank you Make Believe Boutique. Photo: Franziska Korries (via Newthom)

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)

Morning Meditation: Be ignited, or be gone

meditation-mist

Meditation is old and honorable, so why should I
not sit, every morning of my life, on the hillside,
looking into the shining world? Because, properly
attended to, delight, as well as havoc, is suggestion.
Can one be passionate about the just, the
ideal, the sublime, and the holy, and yet commit
to no labor in its cause? I don’t think so.

All summations have a beginning, all effect has a
story, all kindness begins with the sown seed.
Thought buds toward radiance. The gospel of
light is the crossroads of — indolence, or action.

Be ignited, or be gone.

~ Mary Oliver, “What I Have Learned So Far” from New and Selected Poems Vol. 2


Sources:

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