It is touch I go by,
the boat like a hand feeling
through shoals and among
dead trees, over the boulders
lifting unseen, layer
on layer of drowned time falling away.
This is how I learned to steer
through darkness by no stars.
To be lost is only a failure of memory.
—Margaret Atwood, closing line to “A Boat,” Selected Poems II: 1976-1986 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1987)
If it’s true that every seven years each cell in your body dies and is replaced, then I have truly inherited my life from a dead man; and the misdeeds of those times have been forgiven, and are buried with his bones.
Neil Gaiman, from “Murder Mysteries”
From Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions
A lovely listen this morning, though sad… Mary Gauthier, Oh Soul. Sums up this week in some ways. There have been many vigils this week, not just the obvious ones. Some are closer to home.
Where the music is lovely, the story is sad.
The theology of progress forces us to act before we are ready. We speak before we know what to say. We respond before we feel the truth of what we know. In the process, we inadvertently create suffering, heaping imprecision upon inaccuracy, until we are all buried under a mountain of misperception. But Sabbath says, Be still. Stop. There is no rush to get to the end, because we are never finished. Take time to rest, and eat, and drink, and be refreshed. And in the gentle rhythm of that refreshment, listen to the sound the heart makes as it speaks the quiet truth of what is needed.
It is not difficult to keep faith with a God of justice when the freedom movements are successful. But it is when the revolution fails, despair sets in, and the dreams are shattered—and, on a personal level, when people have to face a future of unemployment, poverty, and isolated caring for severely disabled dependents—that the discovery of a God who suffers with us, who becomes vulnerable with us, is what sustains our hope.
Source: The Outrageous Pursuit of Hope
Music Is In The Piano Only When It Is Played
We are not one with this world. We are not
the complexity our body is, nor the summer air
idling in the big maple without purpose.
We are a shape the wind makes in these leaves
as it passes through. We are not the wood
any more than the fire, but the heat which is a marriage
between the two. We are certainly not the lake
nor the fish in it, but the something that is
pleased by them. We are the stillness when
a mighty Mediterranean noon subtracts even the voices of
insects by the broken farmhouse. We are evident
when the orchestra plays, and yet are not part
of the strings or brass. Like the song that exists
only in the singing, and is not the singer.
God does not live among the church bells
but is briefly resident there. We are occasional
like that. A lifetime of easy happiness mixed
with pain and loss, trying always to name and hold
on to the enterprise under way in our chest.
Reality is not what we marry as a feeling. It is what
walks up the dirt path, through the excessive heat
and giant sky, the sea stretching away.
He continues past the nunnery to the old villa
where he will sit on the terrace with her, their sides
touching. In the quiet that is the music of that place,
which is the difference between silence and windlessness.
As something is breaking, somewhere
something is being joined. As something
is joining, somewhere something is breaking.
As something closes, something opens. As
something opens, something closes. Where
there is dark, somewhere there is light. And
where there is light, somewhere there is dark.
When things go clear, somewhere things are
thickening into confusion. And when people
are agitated, others are calm. I don’t understand
this. But as something is taken, something is given.
As something is given, something is taken. As some-
one is cruel, someone is kind. And when kindness
appears, somewhere something cruel is poised to
sting. Then someone is lost, as another is finally
at home. And some are aware of this, while others
are not. The way things break and join at once, the
way people are cruel and kind at once, the way life
constantly opens and closes, how there is light and
dark in every soul, how we’re clear and confused
just behind our heart, and lost and at home in
every breath—This is the river we’re born into,
turbulent at the surface, swift in the deep. This
is what we try to make sense of and live through,
feeling it’s all too much but needing more. So lift
your head and steady your heart, knowing, as you’re
swept along, that Experience is the face of God.