Angels are wonderful but they are so, well, aloof.
It’s what I sense in the mud and the roots of the
trees, or the well, or the barn, or the rock with
its citron map of lichen that halts my feet and
makes my eyes flare, feeling the presence of some spirit,
some small god, who abides there.
If I were a perfect person, I would be bowing
I’m not, though I pause wherever I feel this
holiness, which is why I’m so often late coming
back from wherever I went.
~ Mary Oliver
In the light of morning
Everything the Power of the World does is done in a circle. The sky is round, and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball, and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power whirls. Birds make their nest in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours. The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle. The moon does the same and both are round. Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back again to where they were. The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves. Our tepees were round like the nests of birds, and these were always set in a circle, the nation’s hoop.
~ From “Black Elk Speaks: being the story of a holy man of the Ogalala Sioux” (1961, as told to John Neihardt)
We are the algorithm
This is the time
For you to deeply compute the impossibility
That there is anything
Now is the season to know
That everything you do
Your tears keep alive a desire for change… Guess who doesn’t want you to feel that grief? Guess who wants you to accept your new reality and surrender to it forever? Guess who wants you to put on a happy face in public? Guess who wants to defeat you into emotional numbness rather than emotional aliveness? Your oppressors, those who profit from your compliance, those who want you to be happy and well-adjusted drones in their system. They don’t want you to feel your own pain.
Think of the prophets of recent decades: Rachel Carson warning of a silent spring, Dr. King warning of America’s unpaid promissory note coming due, César Chávez calling us to stop oppressing and exploiting farmworkers, Pope Francis warning us to hear the cries of the earth and the cries of the poor, Bishop Gene Robinson calling us to see every LGBTQ+ person as God’s beloved child, Dr. William Barber warning us that our national heart needs a moral defibrillator to shock us out of our coma, and Greta Thunberg warning us that the earth is on fire. The prophets warn us, and too few listen; when the inevitable consequences come, the prophets invite us not to let our opportunity pass by without being named, mourned, and lamented.
Father Richard often defines contemplation as meeting all the reality we can bear. To help us meet and bear reality, the prophets say, mourn privately and lament publicly.… Feel the surge of divine grief, the groaning of the Holy Spirit deep within you, and let those groans of loss become the groans of labor so a better world can be born from our failure, beginning with a better you who is still capable of seeing, and feeling, and meeting all the reality we can bear.
~ from Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditations
Joy in the body
Winter: Tonight: Sunset
by David Budbill
Tonight at sunset walking on the snowy road,
my shoes crunching on the frozen gravel, first
through the woods, then out into the open fields
past a couple of trailers and some pickup trucks, I stop
and look at the sky. Suddenly: orange, red, pink, blue,
green, purple, yellow, gray, all at once and everywhere.
I pause in this moment at the beginning of my old age
and I say a prayer of gratitude for getting to this evening
a prayer for being here, today, now, alive
in this life, in this evening, under this sky.
(“Winter: Tonight: Sunset” by David Budbill, from While We’ve Still Got Feet. © Copper Canyon Press, 2005.)
Nothing can be loved at speed, and I think we might be looking at the loss of love in the world due to the increased velocity of ordinary life; the loss of care, skill and attention enough to ensure the health and happiness of each other and the planet earth. It is a baffling problem and governments seem unable to recognize it, or do much about it at present. To put it as a bleak modern metaphor, there may be moments when we feel we are all aboard an airliner being flown into a mountainside by the unstoppable forces of an incomprehensible madness. Now seems like a good time to talk about spirituality, art and innocence.
~ Michael Leunig, When I Talk to You
Before the fall
by David Wagoner
Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.
A Monday meander: What does it mean to be human?
…And, gratitude is the same thing as not taking for granted. Really it’s all part of the via positiva that the mystics talk about. Awe, wonder, gratitude. And, I think we as a species today, we have to ingest this in a deeper way. I think during previous moments in history or eras of history, we were more grateful. I think our secularizing of life has taken things for granted. However, science and the new creation story from science — I mean, 13.8 billion years has brought us here, each of us and all the species that we know — ups the ante on gratitude to know that this is a pretty surprising event that we call the Earth, and the human species, and the rest.
So, yeah, I think when that really seeps in, the new creation story from science, I think a lot of awe, wonder, and gratitude will rise. But we don’t have much time for that seeping to happen. So I think that’s part of the rattling of the cages we have to do today is to take in the new creation story and then draw conclusions from that about how fragile and special this Earth is and our species is.
~ Matthew Fox
Continue reading “A Monday meander: What does it mean to be human?”