The Fire Has Always Been Burning

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On the original collage of this, there was a little strip of text that reads, “The fire has always been burning.” It was lost in the filtering process, but the feeling has been preserved.

Gratitude List:
1. Moment of Surprise: An enormous raccoon scrambled across the road to the creek and up into the bosque just before twilight this evening.
2. William Carlos Williams Moment: So much depends on the way the sun backlights a cloud against an aquamarine sky laced with crows.
3. Dream Moment: I carried with me all day the dream of my little cat. It was so real, I could feel her soft fur again, like angel feathers.
4. Satisfaction Moment: Jon’s delicious everything stew. With habanero sauce and smoked sea salt.
5. Anticipation Moment: I just have a sense that I am going to break the insomnia cycle tonight.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gnosis

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These days when I am in the car by myself, I switch over the audio book CD from The Mark of Athena, which we listen to as a carpool on the way to and from school, to Tucker Malarkey’s Resurrection, an audio mystery book I got from the library book sale last summer. It’s an interesting slow-unraveling story about a young woman (post-WWII) who goes to settle the affairs of her archaeologist father in Egypt after his suspicious death. She discovers that he was working on finding and translating fragments of text from papyri found at Oxyrhynchus, and that someone is trying to stop the texts from becoming public. It’s entirely fiction, of course, except that it’s loosely based on some of the hype surrounding the mid-1940s discoveries of papyri fragments at Oxyrhynchus.

It makes me want to start looking again at some of the Gnostic texts and other gospels that were not included in the canon by the councils and church leaders by the time of the Synod of Hippo Regius in 393.  The novel I am reading contends that the non-canonical gospels were actively suppressed, often violently, by church leaders who were threatened by the gnosticism of many of the texts. We have Elaine Pagels’ book on Thomas: Beyond Belief, and perhaps I will start there, as well as searching through the fascinating online Nag Hammadi Library.

Gnosis has always been one of my favorite words. It rings something inside me when I hear it. I remember that even before I really knew what it meant, I was drawn to its mystery. What are the layers beneath the stories I’ve heard all my life? What are the patterns and secrets that were kept so fiercely out of the text that we read today? Who were these early followers of Jesus? I think of gnosis as gut knowledge, bones knowledge, the kind of thing you know within yourself to be right and true.

Early gnostics believed that the physical world was to be transcended in favor of spiritual realities, a primary sticking point for me. Perhaps this is how some people reach their gnosis. I think the physical world is to be entered fully, experienced profoundly, relished deeply. For me, it’s about settling into the gut, the bones, the blood, seeking the way Spirit imbues matter, not the way it transcends it.

Gratitude List:
1. William Carlos Williams Moment: so much depends on a tangerine sun rising through blue into a violet magenta cloud. Suddenly all is cerulean and indigo and golden.
2. Heart Moment: Receiving an email from one of our graduates, asking several of us to pray for him as he prepares to deploy as a medic to the Syrian border. We have a bridge between us, despite my pacifism, and I am honored to be among those praying for his safety, praying that he may be a blessing to those he serves.
3. Comfort Moment: Sitting under a feather bed, reading a fantasy novel to my boy.
4. Moment of Depth: This quotation, by Alice Walker–“Poetry is the lifeblood of rebellion, revolution, and the raising of consciousness.”
5. Pleasure Moment: Shells with spinach and peas in a creamy cheesy sauce.

May we walk in Beauty!

Break Every Chain

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Sun on aconite.

A good reminder in church today: Let’s listen more than we talk.  Or listen before we talk, perhaps. What is the pain behind the lashing out? What is the story behind the closed doors and windows? Where does that rant come from? What truth can be excavated from a bagful of raging fury?

And then: Let’s speak up more than we are silent. Although it sounds like the opposite of the first part, it’s really a good next step, isn’t it? Listen first. Find the source of pain, of confusion, of anger, of despair. Then speak up. When you see an injustice, speak out. The front of the bulletin at church today was the Martin Luther King, Jr. quote:

“We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.”

We have a new generation in the current walk toward justice. Will we need to repent again for our silence, or will we meet the challenges ahead with courage and joy, speaking up for those who are harmed by hatred of their race or country, their sexuality or gender, their religion or their class?

Courage and joy. I wish you Courage and Joy.

Gratitude List:
1. William Carlos Williams moment: So much depends on a green field dotted with white gulls in the winter rain.
2. My church congregation, who welcome students from my school to lead the service today on anti-racism, with much applause and appreciation.
3. Those young people. I learn so much from them. Constantly. They will lead us. We just need to give them the safe spaces to learn the power of their voices. And then we need to be their back-up, their safety net, their boosters. I am incredibly proud of them. Break every chain.
4. That shade of brown/salmon/ochre that is the color of the leafy forest floor seen through trees on a rainy day. You know the color I’m talking about? It’s so satisfying.
5. Listening. Speaking Up.

May we walk in Beauty!

“No Ideas but in Things”

Today’s prompt is to follow William Carlos Williams’ thought, “No ideas but in things,” and write a thing-poem. I have no wheelbarrow, no jar in Tennessee, no plums in the icebox.  I am obsessed with bowls.

Is it the way the light shines
on the concave surface of the blue bowl,
or the way the shadows gather
underneath its curving belly?

Or is it, rather, about the beach pebbles
and the shell with its iridescent green
resting in its sheltered slopes?

Perhaps it is the memory of wet clay,
the hands that scooped and stretched,
that shaped and fashioned its elegant contours.

How it settles, how it breathes in the lamplight,
how it speaks my name when I pass by.