Wednesday, September 02, 2015

"It is in the Shelter of Each Other That People Live"

"The present is passed over in the race for the future; the here is neglected in favor of the there; and the individual is dwarfed by the enormity of the mass. America, which has the most glorious present still existing in the world today, hardly stops to enjoy it, in her insatiable appetite for the future. Perhaps the historian or the sociologist or the philosopher would say that we are still propelled by our frontier energy, still conditioned by our pioneer pressures or our Puritan anxiety to 'do ye next thing.' Europe, on the other hand, which we think of as being enamored of the past, has since the last war, strangely enough, been forced into a new appreciation of the present. The good past is so far away and the near past is so horrible and the future is so perilous, that the present has a chance to expand into a gold eternity of here and now. Europeans today are enjoying the moment even if it means merely a walk in the country on Sunday or sipping a cup of black coffee at a sidewalk café." ~~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh, written in 1955
One has only to visit Europe to discover that Anne Morrow Lindbergh's assessment proves true. Excitement grew as I came upon these words gleaned from her book, Gift from the Sea, which I read while in England and Ireland this summer. My husband and I discussed the differences we encountered in the attitudes of the kind, generous people we met and observed. Our conclusions match Mrs. Lindbergh's.

Irish workman answers Tom's work-related questions in Dublin
While Americans are busy forming a brand new country, those in Europe are busy resting from centuries of horrid experiences including brutal invasions and wars, famine, division, political unrest. A respite cradles them in this present time, even as problems arise which, in comparison, are small, manageable. For now. There is a sense of contentment, of calm, even in the rushings of London, the vibrant artfulness of Galway, and the joyful noise of Dublin.

Irish and English hearts remind me of contented guests who know the night is coming, and with it another morning of hard work and a long week beyond. Yet, even then, the sweet and spicy aroma of traditional foods still tantalize, and yes, there is another good story or two on the moist lips of those in the flame-lit living room, and a lilting melody begs to vibrate strings and voices. So linger the guests do, while the camaraderie does last, and the senses are enlivened. Lingering, relishing, taking in the moment, this seems to be the state of the people I met, the culture I stepped into. It felt right, real, natural.

To clearly view a further distance backward down history's time line than I ever have before, while measuring that distance with the wisdom of the ages, expands my boundaries, enriches my perspectives, and energizes my understanding while at the same time balancing my equilibrium toward future distances yet to traverse. Observing past and future from a clearer European vantage point snapped the present into sharp focus for me, the present moment with its gentility, its serenity, even its wary hope.

Ireland calls me home. London invites another visit.

Soon. Soon.

This sign hangs in the beautiful Belfast City Hall

Monday, June 15, 2015

For Mom


Moist with one drop of Thy blood, my dry soul
Shall—though she now be in extreme degree
Too stony hard, and yet too fleshly—be
Freed by that drop, from being starved, hard or foul,
And life by this death abled shall control        
Death, whom Thy death slew; nor shall to me
Fear of first or last death bring misery,
If in Thy life-book my name thou enroll.
Flesh in that long sleep is not putrified,
But made that there, of which, and for which it was;        
Nor can by other means be glorified.
May then sin’s sleep and death soon from me pass,
That waked from both, I again risen may
Salute the last and everlasting day.

John Donne 

Monday, March 09, 2015

Books: Passports to Truth

There are many little ways to enlarge your child's world. Love of books is the best of all. ~~ Jacqueline Kennedy
I can attest that Jackie's perspective is quite true. Books do enlarge a child's world. Books and travel.

In my kids' case, the books have led to travel, and the travel has led to books, and art, and music, and galleries. and people, and knowledge, and foods, and God.

Perhaps this is a taste of Heaven, these delicious aspects of life? Intellectual growth, discovery, healthy new perspectives, spiritual fillings which lead to passion and poetry and prayers and other such extraordinary happenings.

It's not enough to merely read. You must savor, digest, allow yourself to be changed for the better. Then, as the better you lives and moves and carries on its very being, you change the world around you, beginning with those closest to you, whom you love and share with the most. You model your growth. It ripples outward and God is glorified.

Through good books.
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. ~~ Philippians 4:8

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Hesitantly Going Where I've Never Gone Before

Nag nag nag.

"You should write a book!"

"You're wasting your talent!"

"If you don't write it soon there are people who won't get to read it!"

But what would I write about? Who cares what I have to say? Who am I, anyway?

Excuses whisper. Sitting is the last thing I need to increase. It's right up there with being on the computer and snacking. I mean, I should be moving more not less. There is nothing I have to say that hasn't already been said, and better. I have so many other things I find more interesting such as my French and Italian language studies, herb gardening, recipes I want to try, friends I want to connect with, a huge stack of books to read, weight to lose, trips to take, and life to live! Who has time to write!

And yet there is this nagging nagging nagging voice in my head telling me I ought to at least try.

I tried to silence the voice, 'ignore it and it will go away.' Right? I played a bunch of tennis with my husband, then went to a Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory with my daughters. I juiced the softening leftover apples from autumn's harvest. I even cleaned off all the shelves in the laundry room combining duplicate bottles of bleach, Woolite, and Pine Sol. I weeded my twelve herb-growing flower pots which show life after winter's chill, I washed the living room curtains, and I made my very first batch of French Onion Soup using my daughter's homemade artisan bread for the croutons that float on top. I cleaned out my clothes closet, and my book shelves, and that catch-all drawer in the kitchen.

Still, it nags.

Deep in my brain.

The moment I've dreaded is here.

I have to try to write a book.

Then, it dawned on me: I've already begun a book. My blogs are full of writings, nine years worth!

A start.

Compilation has begun.

A surprising eagerness ensues, and the voice is hushed.

For now.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Remembering with Delight

 "Happy is it, indeed, for me that my heart is capable of feeling the same simple and innocent pleasure as the peasant whose table is covered with food of his own rearing, and who not only enjoys his meal, but remembers with delight the happy days and sunny mornings when he planted it, the soft evenings when he watered it, and the pleasure he experienced in watching its daily growth." ~~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, The Sorrows of Young Werther 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Tibetan Perspective on Western Laziness

"There are different species of laziness: Eastern and Western. The Eastern style is like the one practiced to perfection in India. It consists of hanging out all day in the sun, doing nothing, avoiding any kind of work or useful activity, drinking cups of tea, listening to Hindi film music blaring on the radio, and gossiping with friends. Western laziness is quite different. It consists of cramming our lives with compulsive activity, so that there is no time at all to confront the real issues...We tell ourselves we want to spend time on the important things of life, but there never is any time...Our lives seem to live us, to possess their own bizarre momentum, to carry us away; in the end we feel we have no choice or control over them. Of course we feel bad about this sometimes, we have nightmares and wake up in a sweat, wondering; 'What am I doing with my life?' But our fears only last until breakfast time; out comes the briefcase, and back we go to where we started."

"In the modern world, we have to work and earn our living, but we should not get entangled in a nine-to-five existence, where we live without any view of the deeper meaning of life. Our task is to strike a balance, to find a middle way, to learn not to overstretch ourselves with extraneous activities and preoccupations, but to simplify our lives more and more. The key to finding a happy balance in modern lives is simplicity. Peace of mind will come from this. You will have more time to pursue the things of the spirit and the knowledge that only spiritual truth can bring, which can help you face death. Sadly, this is something that few of us do. Maybe we should ask ourselves the question now: 'What have I really achieved in my life?' By that I mean, how much have we really understood about life and death?'"

The above quotes come from The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, by Sogyal Rinpoche.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Morning Sun

"The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day."

~~ Proverbs 4:18


Satan's enticing traps are littered not only with wicked hearts, but with degraded, unguarded hearts of the defiled redeemed, those liberally splattered with the excrement of a thousand compromises, unaware of odors putrid, offenses cringing, and oblivion searing from the selling of refining sensitivity for thirty pieces of acceptance from a world gone dark.

"Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you: love her, and she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Cherish her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. She will be a garland to grace your head and present you with a glorious crown." ~~ Proverbs 4: 6 - 10