Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

Softest of mornings, hello.
And what will you do today, I wonder,
to my heart?

– Mary Oliver, from “Softest of Mornings” from Long Life:  Essays and Other Writings


Notes: Poem (via litverve). Photo by nilay eren with (via Your Eyes Blaze Out)

Look at you: You are no accident.

Your face: the eyes…the line of your nose; that lickerish mouth, one moment tight with fear, overtaken the next by fountainous laughter … Always faces, tens of thousands across a career, each one made up of countless micro-expressions that register everything; more liminal than a blood test, less decisive than a lumbar puncture, but meaningful all the same…

We are skull-jumpers; there is no limit to our identificatory capacity. Your face, voice, breath continue their unfolding, each now different from the last, changed beyond recognition in the two hours since we first met. Looking: more intimate than any physical examination. The voltage switches once more, symptoms pooling between us, tributaries of some larger untold story…The intensity of neuronal activation is processed through deep limbic structures, and when intensity exceeds a genetically defined threshold it leads to activation of the autonomic nervous system, triggering unconscious automatic changes in cardiovascular and respiratory systems—readying us to fight, to flee, to freeze, to love. We are sensitive; we have no choice. Look at you: You are no accident.

~ A. K. Benjamin, from his new book titled Let Me Not Be Mad: My Story of Unraveling Mind (Dutton, June 11, 2019)


Notes:

to live as men for others

Many mentors have influenced me with their muscular Christianity, but Father Byrne’s method of shaping souls was different. He drew upon St. Francis of Assisi’s maxim: “Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.” The diminutive priest was a giant in my life but made himself small so students like me would aspire, as he did, to live as men for others.

This is the phrase—men for others—that runs through my mind this Father’s Day. It’s how men like my dad and Father Byrne lived, and I’m convinced it’s critical to being a good father; indeed, a good person. Find something meaningful that is bigger than yourself and live for it, simple as that. For seeking the good of another is more than living, it is loving.

To my many fathers and to all like them, thank you and Happy Father’s Day

~ Mike Kerrigan, from To All the Fathers in My Life, Thank You (wsj.com, June 14, 2019)


Photo Credit

It should. It should.

Whatever you want to call your god—should say Yes over and over, in cycles, in spirals, with no other reason but to hear itself exist.

Because love, at its best, repeats itself. Shouldn’t it?

~ Ocean Vuong, from his new book titled: “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous: A Novel” (Penguin Press, June 4, 2019)


Portrait of Ocean Vuong from Los Angeles Time Book Review

Sunday Morning

My son was almost 4 months old when he stopped breathing at daycare. It was his first day there, the first time I had left his side. Neither the doctors nor investigators could tell us why it happened…The question of my son’s death — the mystery of it, why he vanished — remains without answer. And so I ask the questions of life: What force grew this little child? How did those limbs form themselves from nothing inside of me? Why did I have the power to make him, but not to bring him back? Why are the things he saw on this planet so beautiful? Why did his eyes look at me the way they did? Where did love like this come from? I will never know who my child would have been, but I know his love. If there is a God, this is what he gave me.

~ Amber Scorah, Surviving the Death of My Son After the Death of My Faith (NY Times, May 31, 2019)

 


Notes: Photo by Ayla Maagdenberg titled “Grief“. Inspired by Sawsan: “Love is not a fin or a tail or an extra unnecessary tooth. It’ll be the last thing to pass through the evolutionary blades.”

 

Sunday Morning: Evolution?

Love

is

more than

evolution required.

~ David Brooks, The Second Mountain: The Quest For a Moral Life (Random House, April 16, 2019).  Revised from original: “I realized I loved her more than evolution required.”


Photography: Rachel @ 3 yrs old & Eric @ 1 yr

Time Well Spent (got jacked up on rage)

They knew us as the ones who checked the day’s euth list for the names of the dogs scheduled to be killed the next morning, who came to take the death-row dogs…for a last long walk, brought them good dinners, cleaned out their kennels, and made their beds with beach towels and bath mats and Scooby-Doo fleece blankets still warm from industrial dryers…They knew us as the ones who worked for free, who felt that an hour stroking a blanket-wrapped dog whose head never left your lap and who was killed the next morning was time well spent…The knew me as one who love in them…the patent need, the clinging, the appetite. They knew me as one who saw their souls in their faces, who had never seen eyes more expressive than theirs in colors of clover honey, root beer, riverbed… We would do anything for them – their heads and bodies crossed with scars like unlucky life lines in a human hand, yet whose tails still wagged when we reached to pet them…They knew me as one who got jacked up on rage and didn’t know what to do with it, until a dog dug a ball from the corner of his kennel and brought it to my side, as though to ask, “Have you thought of this.” …They knew me as one who saw through the windowed panel…a dog lift first one front paw and then the other, offering a paw to shake though there was no one there, doing a trick he had once been taught and praised for…They knew me as one who decoded the civic boast of a “full-service” shelter, that it means the place kills animals, that the “full service” offered is death…They knew me as one who asked another volunteer if she would mind holding Creamsicle, a young vanilla and orange pup, while I cleaned his soiled kennel and made his bed at the end of the night…We were both tired, and took turns holding the pup against our hearts. They saw this; they knew this. The ward went quiet. We took our time.

~ Amy Hempel, from “A Full-Service Shelter” in “Sing to It: New Stories” (Scribner, March 26, 2019)

 


Image Source

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

I start each day by letting in light and doing something for someone I love, in order to do what needs to be done to repair our small part of the world. Then I listen, and that listening becomes the perch from which I chance to see all we are a part of. The day unfolds and I get excited, then annoyed, then confused, and tired. I eat and sleep and do it all over again. When I get tangled in the tasks, it can seem like hell. But when the light illuminates the inside of things, like today, and the coffee is brewed, things go quiet, and there’s nothing else I could ask for.

Mark NepoThings That Join the Sea and the Sky


Notes: Nepo via Make Believe Boutique. Photo: Coffee (via Your Eyes Blaze Out)

Truth

“What I would do for wisdom,”
I cried out as a young man.
Evidently not much.
Or so it seems.
Even on walks
I follow the dog.

~ Jim Harrison, Braided Creek: A Conversation in Poetry


Source: Thank you Hammock Papers for poem. Photo: Brian Guest with a Vizsla

Flying North AA4650. With RTP.

It’s one of those moments in life when you remember exactly where you were, what you were doing, and how you felt.

In the old pre-smartphone days, it was the 3 am phone call, with the ring shattering the silence.  You fumble in darkness trying to find the handset praying…please, please, please, let it be a wrong number, and not something worse.

Today, it’s all about texting. And it was a text.

Yesterday morning.  11:00 a.m. Nashville, TN.  The first day of a 4-day conference in a large ballroom at the J.W. Marriott. The lights in the room were dimmed, the spots beamed down on the speaker on stage.

My iPhone screen lights up, flashing an iMessage notification.

“Please call me. Now. Important.” [Read more…]

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