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
Crocuses and sunsets
by Joy Harjo
To pray you open your whole self
To sky, to earth, to sun, to moon
To one whole voice that is you.
And know there is more
That you can’t see, can’t hear;
Can’t know except in moments
Steadily growing, and in languages
That aren’t always sound but other
Circles of motion.
Like eagle that Sunday morning
Over Salt River. Circled in blue sky
In wind, swept our hearts clean
With sacred wings.
We see you, see ourselves and know
That we must take the utmost care
And kindness in all things.
Breathe in, knowing we are made of
All this, and breathe, knowing
We are truly blessed because we
Were born, and die soon, within a
True circle of motion,
Like eagle rounding out the morning
We pray that it will be done
~From In Mad Love and War. © Wesleyan University Press, 1990.
So much for resolutions (and a throwback Thursday)
One thing I want to be cautious of – by which I really mean refuse – are the ways we sometimes consider, for instance, gardening (or health, or healthcare, or potable water or clean air or pleasant and stable housing or decent jobs or good schools or libraries or living relatives or being unabused or having ‘free time’ or not being imprisoned or not living near a power plant or incinerator or a landfill of a million acres of corn or soybeans sprayed with toxins) a privilege, which actually obscures the fact that to be without a garden, or to be without green space, or to be without access to a park or clean water or the forest or fruit trees or birdsong or shade or a deep and abiding relationship with a tree, or to be without healthcare, and so often to be without health, is violence, it is abnormal (even if it is the norm) and it is an imposition of precarity that is not natural. All these comorbidities, all these communities more exposed to toxins, all this absence of sick pay or good pay, every day, is not simply an affliction, (Oh too bad! You landed in Cancer Alley! Or, Oh, bummer about those opioid deaths! Or, So unlucky about the lead in your water!) but an infliction. It is on purpose. And the withholding from some of the means of life, of which means there are plenty to go around, is a disprivilege. Which is to say; life, though it is a gift, is not a privilege.
And rather than indulging in the virtue signalling that simply reifies or maybe even enjoys the guilt – guilt can be titillating, let’s admit that; bathing in it oneself or dumping it on others – of so-called privilege, rather than wading around in that little impotent cess-pool of hand-wringing regret, how about instead we figure out how to get rid of disprivilege, which we could do.
Part of which includes acknowledging that, baseline, we should all be able to get into a garden or a forest or an orchard if we want. It includes acknowledging that we should all have clean drinking water and good schools and excellent healthcare and safe housing. What would happen if we acknowledged that none of this is privilege, but rather it is as it should and could be? And what if we figured out, together, in a million different ways how to make it so? Or to say it another way: rather than cursing the darkness, what if we planted some seeds?
~ Ross Gay, Inciting Joy
Continue reading “So much for resolutions (and a throwback Thursday)”
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.)
I’ve always tried to make a home for myself, but I have not felt at home in myself. I’ve worked hard at being the hero of my own life. But every time I checked the register of displaced persons, I was still on it. I didn’t know how to belong. Longing? Yes. Belonging? No.
~ Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
When you are born–what you are born into, the place, the history of the place, how that history mates with your own– stamps who you are, whatever the pundits of globalisation have to say.
~ Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
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