March 3rd, 2008

california poppy

reception -

Each morning I receive a poem by email from Panhala.  This is the poem for today.

I like the timing.  I was thinking of my grandmother this morning, the mother of my mother, the grandmother I shared with Greg who died this last week, at the age of 57.   I was remembering how my grandmother and I would cut out paper dolls together.  I loved paper dolls as a child and real dolls too.  I loved to play in and with my imagination.  My cuts would be a little sloppy.  I would be in a hurry, but my grandmother would say, "Anything worth doing is worth doing well."   I think of it in these days of multi-tasking and rushing.  When one is in the flow, all goes well, and efficiency is the rule, but when one is out of that flow, it seems there can be a great deal of wasted steps, and then time spent cleaning up the mess.    I am on the receiving end of that right now, and so it is for me to adjust and recalibrate my level of presence and honoring of what is mine to do.   This poem offers support.

(After Derek Mahon)
Your great mistake is to act the drama
as if you were alone.  As if life
were a progressive and cunning crime
with no witness to the tiny hidden
transgressions.  To feel abandoned is to deny
the intimacy of your surroundings.  Surely,
even you, at times, have felt the grand array;
the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding
out your solo voice.  You must note
the way the soap dish enables you,
or the window latch grants you freedom.
Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
The stairs are your mentor of things
to come, the doors have always been there
to frighten you and invite you,
and the tiny speaker in the phone
is your dream-ladder to divinity.
Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into
the conversation.  The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last.  All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves.  Everything is waiting for you.
~ David Whyte ~
(Everything is Waiting for You)


The Merton Institute -

This comes from the Merton Institute today.  Thomas Merton's use of the word "Negro" reminds me of Dick Gregory, who did not seem to have a problem with the word.  He is also astonished that in his lifetime, 75 years, a Black man may be president.  It clearly is something he never considered as to possibility in his growing up as a Black in the south.

Thomas Merton:

Was in Louisville today and had dinner at the Little Sisters of the Poor.

The moral beauty of the place, the authentic beauty of Christianity which has no equal. The beauty of the Church is the charity of her daughters.

The Good Mother, whom I shall never forget: her transparency, unearthliness, simplicity, of no age, a child, a mother, like the Blessed Virgin--as if no name could apply to her, that is, no name known to anyone but God. Yet more real than all the unreal people in the rest of the world.

The old people. The old man playing the piano and the old man dancing--or rather turning about stamping the floor with one foot, unaware that he was no longer able to move the muscles that would make for tap- dancing. And the old man at the piano after all playing something far more alive than rock 'n roll (though all askew).

The old negro people: the sweet, dignified negro lady who had worked for Father Greenwell; the old, beat, heavy negro lady with wisps of white beard sunk in her dream, her blankness, slowly coming out of it when spoken to. The lady who had both legs cut off. The little girl lady who made the speech in the dining room; the old lady with the visor cap on. And the golden wedding couple.

The sisters above all and the little girls in blue and white uniforms, the "auxiliaries" and their song about playing the piano, the viola and the triangle. The dark eyes of the girl going Thursday to be a postulant in Baltimore. Sweet, good people.

Thomas Merton. Turning Toward the World. Edited by Victor A. Kramer (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1997): 31-32.

Thought for the Day

Now I have the prayers of the poor, the strong, merciful, invincible prayers of the poor behind me, and in me, changing my whole life and my whole outlook on life.

Turning Toward the World: 32.




Letting go -

Joyce reminds me of this poem as comfort with death.

In Blackwater Woods

    by Mary Oliver

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinammon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

Ah, and sometimes the letting go, hurts.  I feel like I want to pick scabs off wounds today, and yet, I must wait and let them fall.   Stay with the pain, and let it go.   Let it go!

Book Cover

Buying a tank -

Have you ever thought of owning your own tank?   Joe Sherman, yes, the name is ironic, has an article on How to Buy a Tank.  You need to go to central Europe and getting it home might be a problem, but the price is amazingly low.  A fixer-upper, a tank, as is, is $60,000 but a complete rebuild is $105,000.   It is not roomy inside, and, as Sherman says, "In Vermont, where I live, owning a tank would be beyond politically incorrect.  If I parked a T-72 by the brook behind my house, aimed the cannon toward Quebec, and muttered something about protecting my village from an invasion, the police would show up and probably haul me away, even if the cannon was spiked."

I suppose one could say that we taxpayers do own a tiny portion of more tanks than we want to know, and yet, I never thought of them as available for purchase for use as a garden accessory.  Of course I have never even desired a gnome.

"A Czech dad drove his kids not long ago in his tank, causing a ruckus, but he wasn't even arrested."   Joe Sherman says, "Forget your Hummers and your Smarts. Hummers are so over, and Smarts are just too cute."

I read recently that the production of pink lawn flamingos has stopped.   Why have a pink flamingo making a statement when you can have a tank protecting your front yard?

Pleo -

I read an article on Pleo, the new robotic dinosaur that can be purchased for $349.00.  It can "play tricks, roam the house, sleep when bored and tug on a fake leaf to simulate hunger."   (I wonder how it knows when it is bored.)

We have probably all felt attachment to an animated figure in a movie, and most of us are attached to a great deal of inanimate objects, and yet, I must say I can't imagine replacing Tiger and Bella with Pleo.  On the other hand, it would be cheaper and easier, and, .... I think their presence in this house is safe and secure.  I won't hide the article from their eyes.