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)

Lightly Child, Lightly.

“I can tell you that solitude
Is not all exaltation, inner space
Where the soul breathes and work can be done.
Solitude exposes the nerve,
Raises up ghosts.
The past, never at rest, flows through it.”

May Sarton, from “Gestalt at Sixty: Part 1″, in A Durable Fire: Poems

 


Notes:

  • Photo: (via Your Eyes Blaze Out) Poem: Thank you Beth @ Alive on All Channels
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect here.
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

 

Riding Metro North. With Four.

5:40 am train.

Full.  How can this be possible?

I stand in the vestibule, irritated, and then remember that the 5:40 am train is a Peak train, and further remember that I’m paying a Peak Fare rate to Stand. Irritated.

I set my bag down on the muddy floor, irritated, and wait, hoping for someone to get off at the one and only stop on the express train to Grand Central.

I see a commuter to my right zipping up his backpack. I grab my briefcase, block the aisle (and the commuter who is waiting on the other side of the vestibule) and grab the open seat.  Commuter code: You snooze, you lose. Smiling. I’ve become a New Yorker.

I pull down the bench, a handicapped seat which flips up.  There’s an awkward shifting of knees and legs to avoid all contact. There will be no man-touching.

Two men across from me. Two men to my right. And me.

  • Sleeping. Reading. Reading. Sleeping. Reading.
  • iPhone. iPhone. iPhone. Not visible. iPhone.
  • Earbuds. Earbuds. None. None. None.
  • Sneakers. Loafers. Lace up. Sneakers. Lace up.
  • Baseball cap. Balding. Full head of hair. Hoodie. Balding.
  • Backpack. None.  Backpack. Backpack. Briefcase.
  • No watch. No watch. Wristwatch. Unknown. Smartwatch.
  • T-shirt. Business casual. Suit. Jeans. Suit.
  • Nails (grimy). Nail biter. Manicured. Unknown. Nail biter.

The train car is silent but for the rocking of the car on rails.

We pull into Grand Central and exit without an acknowledgement of the other.

4 head right. I head left.

I walk alone, down the tunnels, with the sound of my footfall on concrete and with Patricia Hampl (again).

“There may be no more solitary location in America than a New York subway—take a look at the faces of those commuters, their heads bent to their open books like monks at their breviaries, little glowing screens casting an otherworldly aura onto their intent faces. They are elsewhere. They are alone. Alone with words as much as any writer at a notebook or screen.”


Notes:

Lightly Child, Lightly.

Let me seek then,
the gift of silence and solitude,
where everything I touch is turned into a prayer:
where the sky is my prayer,
the birds are my prayer,if
the wind in the trees is my prayer…

Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude


Notes:

  • Quote: Thank you Beth @ Alive on All Channels. Photograph Gif: via Nini Poppins
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect here.
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

It’s been a long day

I find my heart beating in a four-way tempo
and dig behind my ribs to figure out what’s wrong.
Just the same–
it’s forgotten how to do things the easy way.

~ Elisabeth Hewer, from “The Easy Way” in Wishing for Birds 


Notes:

 

Monday Morning

You, Michael, always said that it was immoral to invest thousands of shekels in a bathroom. What does a bathroom need except running water, you’d say, adding another two-word phrase (in your verdicts, you also liked to use two-word phrases to express loathing): Outrageous waste. Pure ostentation. Revolting hedonism. After showering in Avner Ashdot’s computerized bathroom, I want to add to the list, if you will permit me, another two-word phrase: pure pleasure. Buttons that regulate heat, cold, and water pressure in such a way that you can adjust them exactly, not approximately, to what you want. A steam hood that keeps too much steam from accumulating. Shelves overflowing with the best toiletries, including bath oils and natural soaps. Scented candles. Buttons you press that change the color of the water by activating underwater colored lighting. Velvety soft towels. I know that you couldn’t care less about all of this. It’s clear to me that you consider these technical specifications irrelevant. But I really want you to understand, Michael, not only how much I enjoyed that shower—so much that I forgot I was supposed to step out of it at some point—but also why, for days after it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it with longing. Actually yearning for it.

~ Eshkol Nevo, Three Floors Up


Photo via Your Eyes Blaze Out

Tuesday Morning

Rain to come – the sky lies gray-silver behind
soft clouds of a darker gray.  The trees are quiet,
their colors dark and heavy.  So one enters the morning
softly as if taking off one’s hat in church.  Now comes
the cathedral of rain, – gothic, tall, severe – intense.
We worship the god of inwardness.

Nils Peterson, “Rain to Come” in A Walk to the Center of Things


Notes: Poem: via 3quarksdaily.com. Photo by Susan Kanigan, Long Island Sound (January 2018)

It’s been a long day

luci d'inverno

The blue river is grey at morning
and evening. There is twilight
at dawn and dusk. I lie in the dark
wondering if this quiet in me now
is a beginning or an end.

~ Jack Gilbert, “Waking at Night” (The Greensboro Review, Fall 2008)


Notes:

 

It’s been a long day

Or was Mill concerned that, in a perfect world, with nothing more to strive for, we might simply grow bored? As the 19th century German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer once upliftingly put it, “life swings back and forth like a pendulum between pain and boredom.” When we are not consumed by the desire to achieve something (food, shelter, companionship, wealth, career, status, social reform, etc.), we are tortured by boredom…

The answer, he discovered through reading Wordsworth, is to take refuge in a capacity to be moved by beauty — a capacity to take joy in the quiet contemplation of delicate thoughts, sights, sounds, and feelings, not just titanic struggles…

I hope, and suspect, that Mill is right about this: that we all have the ability to find some durable joy in quietude, normalcy and contemplation. In our personal lives, and in our political lives too, it would be nice if we could escape Schopenhauer’s pendulum:

to simply enjoy where we are, at times; to find some peace in the cessation of motion…

~ Adam Etinson, from Is a Life Without Struggle Worth Living? (NY Times, October 2, 2017)


Notes: Photo: via bea’titudeRelated Posts: It’s been a long day

 

Saturday Morning

110.
Persons who live in noise are like dust swept along by the wind.
On the other hand, those who love silence and solitude walk step by step…
they know how to break the vicious circles of noise,
like animal tamers who manage to calm roaring lions.

~ Cardinal Robert Sarah, from “The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise” (April, 2017).


Notes:

  • Photo: Arno Rafael Minkkinen (via My Modern Met). “Using his own naked body, Finnish-born artist Arno Rafael Minkkinen interacts with the outdoors, providing us with curiously interesting photos that are both humorous and inspiring. These unmanipulated photos show us that you don’t always need Photoshop to create surprising, surreal-like images. All you need is a little imagination.”
  • Related Posts: Cardinal Robert Sarah
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