Friday, December 20, 2013

Where do justice and peace kiss?

This became a new prayer for me last night when under some stress from various directions: A new reminder that peace isn't always passive or easy and yet the work must itself lead to peace:

In compassion

justice and peace kiss.

We have to run into peace.

What is born of God

seeks peace

and runs into peace.

The person who runs and runs,

continually running toward peace,

is a heavenly person.

Even the heavens

are continually running

and in their running

are seeking peace.

The fullest work

that God ever worked

in any creature is compassion.

Whatever God does,

the first outburst is always compassion.

The highest work that God ever works is compassion.

from Meister Eckhart via translation work by Matthew Fox in the centering book:
"Meditations with Meister Eckhart" pp 108 & 109 The front of the book has this Eckhart quote: "The path is beautiful and pleasant and joyful and familiar"

Find a related post at No More Crusades

Photo found in internet cache -- search "Jagged Rocks at Sunrise"

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The King of Time by Rainer Marie Rilke

"And God said to me, Paint:

Time is the canvas
stretched by my pain:
the wounding of woman,
the brothers’ betrayal,
the city’s sad bacchanals,
the madness of kings.

And God said to me, Go forth:

For I am king of time.
But to you I am only the shadowy one
who knows with you your loneliness
and sees through your eyes.

My eyes already touch the sunny hill.
Going far ahead of the road I have begun.

(So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp;
it has inner light, even from a distance--
and charges us, even if we do not reach it,
into something else, which, hardly sensing it,
we already are; a gesture waves us on
answering our own wave.)

Rainer Marie Rilke

René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke (German pronunciation: [ˈʁaɪnɐ maˈʁiːa ˈʁɪlkə]), better known as Rainer Maria Rilke, was a Bohemian-Austrian poet. He is considered one of the most significant poets in the German language. His haunting images focus on the difficulty of communion with the ineffable in an age of disbelief, solitude, and profound anxiety: themes that tend to position him as a transitional figure between the traditional and the modernist poets. He wrote in both verse and a highly lyrical prose. Among English-language readers, his best-known work is the Duino Elegies; his two most famous prose works are the Letters to a Young Poet and the semi-autobiographical Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge. He also wrote more than 400 poems in French, dedicated to his homeland of choice, the canton of Valais in Switzerland.

(Especially for a painter/writer/mystic soul-mate far away
and for a batik-painter soul-mate closer by.)

Image above from Judith Reeve found

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Faiz Ahmed Faiz: "When Autumn Came" (and went)

This is the way that autumn came to the trees:
it stripped them down to the skin,
left their ebony bodies naked.
It shook out their hearts, the yellow leaves,
scattered them over the ground.
Anyone at all could trample them out of shape
undisturbed by a single moan of protest.

The birds that herald dreams
were exiled from their song,
each voice torn out of its throat.
They dropped into the dust
even before the hunter struck his bow.

Oh, God of May, have mercy.
Bless these withered bodies
with the passion of your resurrection;
make their dead veins flow with blood.

Give some tree the gift of green again.
Let one bird sing.

(Translation by Naomi Lazard whom some have said did brave and lonely work p. 73,
"The True Subject: Writers on Life and Craft" Edited by Kurt Brown)

Easy to see why his poetry is still alive...(both on a personal level as well as an international level.)

Hard to figure him out...

A challenge for ALL the diverse groups whom he represented or groups he was so sure belonged to them body and soul. Yet he seemed to often challenge each and all...even when they awarded him...even in his award speech(es).

I post him here because it is the end of Autumn in America/ the beginning of Winter (in more ways
than one) and this poem has much to say to us who still call ourselves Americans of any party, race or religious affiliation -- especially we who call ourselves writers. Are we up for the challenge? Is it too late? Is it ever too late?

Despite being repeatedly accused of atheism and of being allied to various groups and leaders with feet and feat of clay, his poetry suggests a more nuanced relationship with religion, traditions and politics than may even yet be understood.

For example, he was greatly inspired by both secular poetry and South Asia's Sufi traditions.

He was publicly honored by the Pakistan Government after his literary work was publicly endorsed and posthumously honored him with nation's highest civil award, Nishan-e-Imtiaz, in 1990. Yet, he was sent to prison and also exiled for years by his nation's decisions.

While I claim no strong alliance with this poet -- in fact, I found this poem just yesterday for the first time.

I decided to post this poem of his today -- just before reading that his death anniversary was just commemorated.

Maybe others will see something in this poem which speaks to universal loss? Perhaps another who finds this poem here will also be in some way helped by such beautiful sorrow and vow once more to
help/let one bird to sing?

(Image above is Cezanne's "A Bend in the River" which is in the public domain.)

Below in comments I may attempt to offer a few practical challenges (and possible actions) for our time which in the first case has implications between Americans and Pakistanis.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Be dumbfounded

For the "in charge" people in my life:

At times we are hidden, at times revealed;

We are Muslims, Christians, Jews; of any race.

Our hearts are shaped like any human heart,

But every day we wear a different face.

#1325, from Rumi's Kolliyaat-e Shams-e Tabrizi
Edited by Badiozzaman Forouzanfar (Tehran, Amir Kabir, 1988).

Translated by Zara Houshmand

Recently, one of the most important people in my life wept for a second time when I read the poem below to him. "Zero Circle" is found several places and this version I posted was not attributed to any one "translator". (I'd love to find it in the Persian and English by a Persian translator of Rumi if anyone has that?) Some who work with Rumi, The Enneagram (see below) and with the Socio-Psychology growth and harmony of groups have assigned this poem to the number EIGHT of the Enneagram. Yet, I suppose this state of being dumbfounded and not knowing where to turn is likely to most of us some of the time.

Zero Circle

Be helpless, dumbfounded,
Unable to say yes or no.
Then a stretcher will come from grace
To gather us up.

We are too dull-eyed to see that beauty
If we say we can, we’re lying.
If we say No, we don’t see it,
That No will behead us
And shut tight our window onto spirit.

So let us rather not be sure of anything,
Besides ourselves, and only that, so
Miraculous beings come running to help.
Crazed, lying in a zero circle, mute,
We shall be saying finally,
With tremendous eloquence, Lead us.
When we have totally surrendered to that beauty,
We shall be a mighty kindness.

NOTE: I have found The Enneagram to be highly useful for transparency, peace, cooperation and understanding in various types of communities, relationships and even for the individual seeking maturity by self.

Below are a few book suggestions:

The Spirituality of the Enneagram by Rizo (a whole package with self-testing)

Anything on the Enneagram by Richard Rohr

The Enneagram in Love and Work by Helen Palmer

( The photo collection above is from: The Nature Conservancy and at )

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Poem for Writers and Readers

Readers & writers alike could be helped by reading this poem when assessing the value and benefit of a work of art:

The world stands out on either side.
No wider than the heart is wide;
Above the world is stretched the sky
No higher than the soul is high.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

So often readers are missing almost anything of value...

The writing is often skilled yet only helpful as an example of a narcissistic voice. In context this could be useful indeed...yet only in the whole of an author's work.

While I appreciated the honing in on the human and the fallible aspects of everyone there often seems to be no room for any sort of mystery, miracle or wonder as a final conclusion to many pieces I read due to as assignment or what's offered by a group.

If we as readers are incentivized by the first of a larger body of an author's work we often must needs find that mystery, wonder is also included. Problem is I am not inspired to spend precious time exploring more if this is the first view I get of a writer's work.


Elvin Daniel


From Elvin: Last October, my sister Zina was shot and killed by her abusive estranged husband, even though she had a restraining order against him.

A criminal background check would have stopped her murderer from buying a weapon, but he simply avoided one by going on the internet and finding a private seller at

Domestic abusers like my sister's murderer tend to become more dangerous after a victim leaves or seeks a protective order against them -- which is why federal law prohibits them from buying guns. But loopholes in our laws make it too easy for them to get their hands on guns -- it's time for Congress to take action to prevent this from ever happening again.

Read the letter to Congress in full and then HELP ask CONGRESS to pass common-sense gun laws that will save women's lives

Saturday, September 21, 2013

To Live is an Act of Courage By Jennifer Michael Hecht

(google images; internet cache)

We need a boot camp of the heart and of the psyche.

In "Les Miserables", Victor Hugo writes a few striking sentences about profound inner pain and our duty to bear and live through it:

"You want to die, I want that too, I who am speaking to you, but I don't want to feel the ghosts of women wringing their hands around me. Die, so be it, but don't make others die. ...Suicide is soon as it touches those next to you, the name of suicide is murder."

While people are at their lowest points they are often isolated by shame about their troubles. We need at least to know that inner pain is common and always has been.

Beginning (with excerpts and link)

Strong, fierce, smart, and talented, Ajax is one of the greatest warrior heroes in classical mythology. He wins every campaign and every battle he enters, earning the name Ajax Unconquered. Yet as Ovid tells it in the Metamorphoses, “Unconquered, he was conquered by his sorrow”: he dies when he chooses to fall on his own sword.

His suicide happens after the greatest warrior of them all, Achilles, is killed, and Ajax and Odysseus defy all common sense in retrieving his body from their enemies, the Trojans. Both show extraordinary valor. Ajax does most of the fighting while Odysseus grabs the body and rides away to safety. Afterward, a council decides that both deserve to inherit the magical armor Achilles had worn. Forged on Mount Olympus, the home of the gods, this armor is both extremely protective and a symbol that its wearer is the greatest warrior alive. To settle the question of who deserves it, the two heroes battle each other, but the result is a tie. At last, they make their claims in words, and because Odysseus speaks with more eloquence, the council awards him the armor. Ovid tells us that Ajax’s disappointment was what caused him to kill himself. In a play about him, Sophocles writes that Ajax is so miserable that he falls into a stupor in which he imagines a flock of sheep to be warriors, and he slays them all. When he awakes and sees what he has done, he is so ashamed that he cannot bear it, and he dies by his own hand.

The terrible irony is that all of this is about armor, yet Ajax succumbs to the foe from which no piece of armor could have protected him: his own envy, rage, shame, and regret.

Throughout history, artists and writers have depicted “the sorrowful Ajax” because the story is so heartbreaking and so very human. At times, we are all—every one of us—our own worst enemy.


Today’s military faces a tremendous crisis. We are losing more soldiers to suicide than to combat. Some of this is attributable to PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) but a recent Pentagon study covering the years 2008 through 2011 showed that some 52 percent of those who committed suicide had never been deployed to a combat zone. Last year, military personnel killed themselves at a rate of about one a day. Veterans are killing themselves at a rate of almost one every hour, about 22 a day. Recently the rise in military suicide was so extreme that it made the front page of The New York Times and the cover of Time magazine. The rate is higher this year than it was at this point last year.

The suicide rate is also escalating in the U.S. population at large: 10 years ago it shocked observers by reaching 30,000 a year. Now it is almost 40,000. Around the world and in the United States there are more suicides than murders. For those under 40 years of age, it is one of the top three killers. For older people it is one of the top 10, though their rate of suicide is the highest (other diseases begin to compete for numbers). Women attempt suicide more, but men succeed more often—probably because they have greater access to guns, which is one of the surest methods.

In the civilian population matching the demographics of the military (considering age, sex, and race), between 2002 and 2009 (the latest year for which we have reliable numbers) the suicide rate increased by 15 percent. According to Pentagon numbers, the military suicide rate in the same period increased by 80 percent. Even this disparity may understate the problem, since the Pentagon counts as active duty people who were active for only a few days in a given year, making the rate far lower than it would be if officials counted people who were active for at least six months, for instance.

The problem is not only very real, but in some ways it is also new. Ever since we started keeping track in the late 19th century, the military has shown higher suicide rates than the rest of society as a whole, but when you compare the same part of the population—considering age and sex, for instance—the military has usually had far fewer suicides than civilians. Commentators have sometimes attributed that to the screening process required to get into the military, but it persists across periods when the military is willing to accept a much broader swath of citizens. A better explanation may be that camaraderie and a sense of purpose insulate soldiers from some of the anguish of life. Across the military and the wider population, suicide usually declines during wartime. People feel united and purposeful when under a terrible outside threat.

Why haven’t our recent wars provided that protection? Some groups analyzing military suicide, such as the National Center for Veterans Studies, have suggested that military life is more isolating than it used to be: more soldiers live off base than in the past, and those on base may have their own rooms and their own televisions, instead of residing in traditional group barracks and communal rooms. It is also worth considering that the kinds of wartime consequences so common today—brain trauma and PTSD—are especially threatening to people who are already prone to depression or volatile mood swings.

But clinically depressed people are not the only ones who kill themselves. Many soldier suicides come in response to a bad situation: a broken marriage, a financial crisis, legal trouble, or some other reversal. A recent Pentagon study showed that about half of military suicides had experienced a failed marriage, frequently just months before the victims killed themselves. Another report showed that most suicides occurred in people under the age of 25. Family and friends who have lost someone to suicide often report that the person had legal or financial troubles, or both; that they were struggling with drugs or alcohol; that they came back from the war deeply changed; or that they were frustrated at not being deployed.


By and large, people kill themselves today for the same reasons Ajax does: because life can be disappointing, unfair, and painful, and we often respond by doing things that make us feel ashamed in the morning. The extent of the misery Ajax experiences is in large part because, as a great hero, he expects so much of himself. These days we expect a lot. We live in a culture that makes us all want to be special, and the math on that will never add up. We all feel terribly let down sometimes.

If someone is besieged by suicidal thoughts, it is important that he get help from a mental health professional. Talk therapy can work, bringing real insight. Antidepressants can take the edge off the pain as a person figures out her life. But we can also draw on the inner resolve of the individual, and on the history of ideas.

To save our future selves from suicide, we have to do some work now. Boot camp and additional training get a soldier ready for war. In situations where most people would freeze and give up or run away, soldiers are trained to fight the fight and try to get out alive. People do not often speak of it, but the inner life of soldiers and civilians alike can be so brutal that it too requires training in advance of a crisis. We need a boot camp of the heart and of the psyche.


Other Excerpts:

Characters in literature often tell each other not just that suicide is wrong but also that we must set our minds to struggling against it. The narrator of Herman Hesse's novel "Steppenwolf" says that some people must struggle against suicide the way a kleptomaniac must struggle against theft.

From G. K. Chesterton, the English author of the novel "The Man Who Was Thursday", wrote in "Orthodoxy", a book of Christian apologetics, that he categorically rejected suicide on moral grounds:

"In all this I found myself utterly hostile to many who called themselves liberal and humane. Not only is suicide a sin. It is the ultimate and absolute evil, the refusal to take an interest in existence; the refusal to take the oath of loyalty to life."

(On the Snowball Effect)...Suicide is so prevalent that most people know someone who has done it, and this normalizes the act as a valid way of dealing with pain. One death causes more deaths, and eventually we have a culture of death.

Staying alive is INARGUABLY a kind of heroism. To train for this future heroic act, choose now that you will not let a moment's misery murder you. Spend some time thinking about this oath of loyalty to life. If ever a thought of wanting to die flickers through your mind, do not suppress it in horror, but rather let yourself look right at it and know that it is not an option. Then if suicide is ever dangerously on your mind, you will be used to rejecting the idea. Remember that you owe it to the community to be strong, to wait it out. You also owe it to your future self.

OR Just:

Funny Strange

By Jennifer Michael Hecht

We are tender and our lives are sweet

And they are already over and we are
visiting them in some kind of endless
reprieve from oblivion, we are walking
around in them and after we shatter
with love for everything we settle in.

Thou tiger on television chowing,
thou very fact of dreams, thou majestical
roof fretted with golden fire. Thou wisdom
of the inner parts. Thou tintinnabulation.

Is it not sweet to hand over the ocean's
harvest in a single wave of fish? To bounce
a vineyard of grapes from one's apron
and into the mouth of the crowd? To scoop up
bread and offer up one's armful to the throng?

Let us live as if we were still among
the living, let our days be patterned after

Is it not marvelous to be forgetful?

(This poem originally appeared in the October 2003 issue of Poetry magazine. And read an older BIO at . You may want to go to the post
just below to see what historical (yet up-to-the-moment) challenge Jennifer Michael Hecht is writing today...)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Re-Post (My Poem to my Lover)

See the original here:


Since soon I will be returning (geographically) to the father of my precious children, my constant and encouraging supporter -- I wanted to post this poem (I wrote for my lifetime husband and lover) just one more time. Perhaps he will realize how deeply I love him by this little gesture and just maybe others will recognize their own relationship or goal in some of these lines.

My Dale is much deserving of a new poem as soon as I can get the right space and time because during these last seven months my long absence with my Mom.

Outside of the short romantic and intimate time he gave to us for our vacation (encouraged by our four amazing and supportive adult children) Dale -- and our 'long-distance' relationship -- have continued to reveal even more colors and depths.

See you soon, my dearest!

Your Connie

Compatibility of Opposites

By Connie L. Nash (for my precious and irreplaceable lover/husband, Dale) First "published" in April, 2013

Never have I experienced
the magical glory of contrasts
until this particular morning
deep inside new mountain spring
where wildwood forest gardens
await the few who venture in...

Everywhere you look you find
all manner of colors, textures, shapes
tirelessly unfolding, whirling, imploding
world within worlds.

I never noticed before
by what steady grace
the ageless y chromozone trees
stand so rooted, so content and giving...
how those guys appear without the need to prove themselves
to all the the soft and curvy hangers on -- nor do they
pose for the oogling male upstarts --
who are leaning from their newer places.

Tufts of silk grass circle and soften those thick old trunks.
Tri-colored ivy dance lines cup dew and last night's rain --
mirroring sunrise while they wind and hug those muscular limbs.

Tall and tiny truths line the rocky paths.
Find the starkest or quietest or most intricate of beauty
around every boulder or corner.

Just look, breathe, listen anywhere in such an intoxicating place
where undulating patterns keep repeating yet with endless variations.

Silvery birch and beach branches lift their princess like arms and sway
against a strong burst of wind. Instantly, invisible curtains open --
the sky embraces a full sunrise -- rare in these woods --
paint-brushings of deep ripe mango spread out against
purplish blue wisps and disappear -- the sun rises.

If you were here, like me, you might silent your soul
in awe of childhood memories...
little bells are quietly ringing from their mini-orchards.
Like me, you might begin to sing along...
"White coral belles upon a slender stalk,
lilies of the valley by the garden walk,"

Turning around to walk back,
you might feel yourself melting into the flat long clouds overhead --
this morning, they look like fancy wings like on cars from the fifties.
against a cumulous parade of fluffy angels and elephants...

The sun adds more dappling to the deep-down fresh exhibits...

Where is the tension between the opposites?
Where is the warring or competition?

I only sense a merging into the whole...
a submitting from, to, and in all things...
yet without any loss of who or what each particle wants or
needs to be.

Surrounding all is a fierce mercy and tender unmovable force...

Come with me and see the secret, wild gardens giving out their gems,
Every wonder-er, sick of "civility",
Come here...

(I wrote this spring 2012 and rewrote it with deep gratitude and affection just now for my husband of 41 springs -- who also loves forest places.)


CN said...
Please feel free to suggest changes since this is pretty much a first rewrite draft.
Friday, April 12, 2013 Akhtar Wasim Dar said...
Lovely, a wonderful gift for your husband, and a priceless gift for the readers, and I feel we have been deprived of this beautiful talent that you have, because you find other issues more pressing and demanding and the poet, the artist in you wait just for special occasions for manifesting!

This is a beautiful piece, very imaginative, very picturesque, highly sensuous and emotionally very touching, the sort of material that I love :) 

Saturday, April 13, 2013 robert said...

This is so very lovely. Very beautiful. I love it.

I love the line: "so rooted, so content and giving..."

All good wishes,

I cannot adequately express how important and relevant and wonderful it is to me that you know that surrounding all is a fierce mercy and tender unmovable force. Thank you for this and for the merging of opposites and the submitting from, to and in all things. You are a poet and I am a very fortunate and grateful man/husband. Dale

Saturday, April 13, 2013 CN said...
How gifted I am to receive from such dear friends encouragement as this. You have so enriched my own understanding of life and the unconditional love of the Divine with your own selves. I also appreciate -- more than I know how to let you know -- your own exquisite expressions of truth, beauty and guidance.

And how blessed beyond expressions to recognize with each new day and week and year what a truly loyal, flexible and accepting husband you continue to be to me, dear Dale.

My overwhelming gratitude as well to you for being the best of fathers with our sons and daughter. (Add to that your faithfulness with our dear sister, Deb, our precious Mom Ruby and your care for so many, many others.)

The dimensions of love are beyond the capacity of my imagination and they keep getting deeper, wider and higher. Sometimes it feels good to say so "outloud".

Sunday, April 14, 2013 Unknown said...
What a treat to read this Mom, it made me feel like I was there, on a long hike with you! I am happy to the point of silliness to have such a wonderful family and two incredible parents who love each other more every day. so proud of you and all of the "compatible opposites" of creativity, depth, giggling, insight, gravity and levity..that you have within you and that you give to everyone you meet. love you soooo much!

Sunday, April 14, 2013 Unknown said...
and I agree with Akhtar! we are so often deprived of your beautiful, beautiful poetry, yet, in a sense, what could be more pressing and healing than this?

Sunday, April 14, 2013 CN said...
Dear Daughter,

What a joy to come today to see your beautiful comments. You are such a lively healthy addition to our family -- such a peacemaker and life-bringer wherever you are.

And a real asset to the world at large. Many smiles...

You and Akhtar sahib -- along with others -- are both helping me to re-assess how I spend my moments.

Monday, April 29, 2013 Shaidi said...
Greetings dear Connie,

This is absolutely lovely!! Bless you both and thank you for sharing this with us all.

Much love,

Wednesday, May 08, 2013 CN said...
Dear Shaidi,

You and other friends and loved ones here sure are encouraging my poetic side.

So great to see you came by.

All my best for your own work as well.

Let me know whenever you do a new post. (Or any others you want me to see.)

Friday, September 6, 2013

ALL Praises to the "Incorruptible and Righteous Judge of the World..."

Posting this brief item as a blessing to our Jewish readers upon the completion of the Jewish New Year High Holy Days,


I especially like this description of one aspect of The Holy One contained in the Mussaf Prayer of Rosh HaShanah (with wisdom and reminder for ALL of Creation)

Malchiyot - Kingliness:

G-d is the incomparable King of The Universe. The destiny of humanity is to come to this realization. Whereas human kings rule in accordance with the principle of :"might makes right," G-d is the Holy King, Who is, at the same time, beyond comparison in His power, "Vas er vil, Tut er" - "Whatever He wills, He can do," yet He is also the Father of the orphan and the Judge of the widow, Who is always on the side of the powerless.

He is the Incorruptible and Righteous Judge of the World, Who favors no one, and cannot be bribed.

He is the true G-d and His word, the Torah, is true and eternal.

Monday, August 26, 2013

William Blake - Auguries of Innocence

(the part of this poem that I understand in part)

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.

A robin redbreast in a cage
Puts all heaven in a rage.

A dove-house fill'd with doves and pigeons
Shudders hell thro' all its regions.
A dog starv'd at his master's gate
Predicts the ruin of the state.

A horse misused upon the road
Calls to heaven for human blood.
Each outcry of the hunted hare
A fibre from the brain does tear.

A skylark wounded in the wing,
A cherubim does cease to sing.
The game-cock clipt and arm'd for fight
Does the rising sun affright.

The wild deer, wand'ring here and there,
Keeps the human soul from care.
The lamb misus'd breeds public strife,
And yet forgives the butcher's knife.

He who shall hurt the little wren
Shall never be belov'd by men.
He who the ox to wrath has mov'd
Shall never be by woman lov'd.

The prince's robes and beggar's rags
Are toadstools on the miser's bags.
A truth that's told with bad intent
Beats all the lies you can invent.

It is right it should be so;
Man was made for joy and woe;
And when this we rightly know,
Thro' the world we safely go.
Joy and woe are woven fine,
A clothing for the soul divine.
Under every grief and pine
Runs a joy with silken twine.

The soldier, arm'd with sword and gun,
Palsied strikes the summer's sun.
The poor man's farthing is worth more
Than all the gold on Afric's shore.

He who mocks the infant's faith
Shall be mock'd in age and death.
He who shall teach the child to doubt
The rotting grave shall ne'er get out.

He who respects the infant's faith
Triumphs over hell and death.
The child's toys and the old man's reasons
Are the fruits of the two seasons.

The questioner, who sits so sly,
Shall never know how to reply.
He who replies to words of doubt
Doth put the light of knowledge out.

When gold and gems adorn the plow,
To peaceful arts shall envy bow.
A riddle, or the cricket's cry,
Is to doubt a fit reply.

Every night and every morn
Some to misery are born,
Every morn and every night
Some are born to sweet delight.

Some are born to sweet delight,
Some are born to endless night.

We are led to believe a lie
When we see not thro' the eye,
Which was born in a night to perish in a night,
When the soul slept in beams of light.

God appears, and God is light,
To those poor souls who dwell in night;
But does a human form display
To those who dwell in realms of day.

(The above are part riddle, of course, and might be good for discussion around tea or a campfire. You may also want to visit the similar Rumi riddles in the post just below.)

RUMI on a Closeness Beyond Union

Don’t wish for union.
There’s a closeness beyond that.
This moment this love comes to rest in me,
Many beings in one being.
In one wheat-grain a thousand sheaf-stacks.
Inside the needle’s eye, a turning night of stars.

All the particles in the world
are alive and looking for lovers.
Pieces of straw tremble in the
presence of amber.

Lovers, it is time
for the taste of fire.
Let sadness and your fear of death
sit in the corner and sulk....
The sky itself reels with love.

Poet, let every word tremble its wind bell.
Saddle the horse with great anticipation.

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning, a new arrival.
...Meet each at the door laughing...
who has been sent as a guide from beyond.

Rumi ~ The Alchemy of Love

You come to us from another world;
From beyond the stars and a void of space
Transcendent, pure – of unimaginable beauty.
Bringing with You the essence of Love.
You transform all who are touched by You -
Mundane concerns, troubles and sorrows dissolve in Your presence
Bringing joy to ruler & ruled, to peasants and kings.
You bewilder us with Your grace;
All evil is transformed into goodness.
You are the Master Alchemist!
You light the fire of Love in earth & sky,
In heart & soul of every being.
Through Your loving, existence & non-existence merge -
All opposites unite -
All that is profane becomes sacred again.


searched for "Beautiful Stars" & found the above photo on internet cache

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Dorothy Day: Saint or Trouble-maker?

Icon Credit DDIconByTsai-sm

This post is a very rough draft. I am sending it out to some friends who knew Dorothy Day (or of her) for personal reflections, quotes and stories. (Yet other readers are welcome to add comments.)

My plan is soon to revise this post (perhaps into a series). Please disregard the unpolished quality here and come back in a week or so for a profile more honoring to a woman who still speaks to us as we walk our own streets where the "landed" and the "desperate" and everyone else in-between aimlessly wander looking for true light.

Dorothy Day has LONG been a part of my life: perhaps she's somehow been with me ALL my life -- ever since I met her decades ago at Jubilee Partners Refugee Community in Comer, Georgia. I met her in the book she wrote years before that: "Loaves and Fishes". Somehow she's been with me even when I was not aware at times of her presence. Her heart has remained sometimes in the shadows of my life. She has fueled my own much weaker one with her passion for peace and her love for those on the outskirts of "usual life". She haunts me when my unsteady feet get out of order with her steps.

Most of all, I can't refuse to see in her eyes, her life and her energy the Love for her Lord and for her Lord's Father. Her life and writings have a way of ordering our steps in the steps of God's word to us in His Son, Jesus.
I can't forget her love for the poorest of the poor as friends. She was was born in the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, and raised in San Francisco and Chicago. These are the places which helped shape her life and vision.

Prayer For The Canonization
of Servant of God
Dorothy Day

Merciful God, you called your servant
Dorothy Day to show us the face of
Jesus in the poor and forsaken.
By constant practice
of the works of mercy,
she embraced poverty and witnessed
steadfastly to justice and peace.
Count her among your saints
and lead us all to become friends of
the poor ones of the earth,
and to recognize you in them.
We ask this through your Son
Jesus Christ, bringer of good news
to the poor. Amen

Distributed by Claretian Publications
205 W. Monroe St., Chicago, IL 60606
312-236-7782 ext. 474
Dorothy Day Library

Find items below on The Catholic Worker Library:

"The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us?"

This post and the references below are devoted to the writings and life of Dorothy Day who co-founded the Catholic Worker Movement with Peter Maurin in 1933.

US bishops currently endorse the sainthood cause of Catholic Worker's Dorothy Day


"Saint Dorothy?"
from Dorothy Day - Saint and Troublemaker By


If Dorothy Day is ever canonized, she will be the patron saint not only of homeless people and those who try to care for them but also of people who lose their temper.

If Dorothy Day is ever canonized, the record of who she was, what she was like and what she did is too complete and accessible for her to be hidden in wedding cake icing. She will be the patron saint not only of homeless people and those who try to care for them but also of people who lose their temper. Dorothy Day was certainly not without her rough edges.

To someone who told her she was too hot-headed, she replied, “I hold more temper in one minute than you will hold in your entire life.” To a college student who asked a sarcastic question about her recipe for soup, she responded, “You cut the vegetables until your fingers bleed.” To a journalist who told her it was the first time he had interviewed a saint, she replied, “Don’t call me a saint — I don’t want to be dismissed that easily.”

I was 20 years old the first time I saw her. She was ancient, that is to say 62 years old — seven years older than I am today. This means for 35 years she has been scolding and encouraging me on a daily basis. The mere fact of her having died 17 years ago doesn’t seem to get in the way.

I met her at the Catholic Worker Farm on Staten Island in the days when the island still had rural areas, its only link to the rest of New York City being the ferry. People sometimes think of her as the personification of the simple life, but in reality her days tended to be busy, complicated, and stressful. Often she was away traveling — visiting other Catholic Worker communities, speaking at colleges, seminaries, local parishes, getting around by bus or a used car on its last spark plugs.

Her basic message was stunningly simple: we are called by God to love one another as He loves us. If “God” was one key word, “hospitality” was another. She repeated again and again a saying from the early Church, “Every home should have a Christ room in it, so that hospitality may be practiced.” Hospitality, she explained, is simply practicing God’s mercy with those around us. Christ is in the stranger, in the person who has nowhere to go and no one to welcome him. “Those who cannot see the face of Christ in the poor are atheists indeed,” she often said.

A day never passed without Dorothy speaking of the works of mercy: feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, giving shelter to the homeless, caring for sick, visiting prisoners, burying the dead, admonishing the sinner, instructing the ignorant, counseling the doubtful, comforting the sorrowful, bearing wrongs patiently, forgiving all injuries, praying for the living and the dead. She helped us understand a merciful life has many levels: there is hunger not only for food but also for faith, not only for a place at the table but also for a real welcome, not only for assistance but also for listening, not only for kind words but also for truthful words. There is not only hospitality of the door but also hospitality of the face and heart. As she said, “We are here to celebrate Him through these works of mercy.”

For all her traveling, most of Dorothy’s life was spent in New York City. Before her conversion, in 1924 when she was 28 years old, she had bought a small beach house on Staten Island that remained part of her life until she too weak to make the trip any more. It was a simple structure with a few plain rooms and a cast iron stove. Walking on the beach or to the post office, rosary in hand, she prayed her way through an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, prayed her way through the Baltimore Catechism, prayed her way to her daughter Tamar’s baptism in a nearby Catholic parish, prayed her way through the collapse of a common-law marriage and to her own baptism, prayed her way through the incomprehension of her atheist friends who regarded all religion as snake oil. Years later it was mainly in the beach house that she found the peace and quiet to write her autobiography, The Long Loneliness.

If she was one of the freest persons alive, she was also one of the most disciplined. This was most notable in her religious life. Whether traveling or home, it was a rare day when Dorothy didn’t go to Mass, while on Saturday evenings she went to confession. Sacramental life was the rockbed of her existence. She never obliged anyone to follow her example, but God knows she gave an example. When I think of her, the first image that comes to mind is Dorothy on her knees praying before the Blessed Sacrament either in the chapel at the farm or in one of several urban parish churches near the Catholic Worker. One day, looking into the Bible and Missal she had left behind when summoned for a phone call, I found long lists of people, living and dead, whom she prayed for daily.

Occasionally she spoke of her “prayings”: “We feed the hungry, yes. We try to shelter the homeless and give them clothes, but there is strong faith at work; we pray. If an outsider who comes to visit us doesn’t pay attention to our prayings and what that means, then he’ll miss the whole point.”

She was attentive to fast days and fast seasons. It was in that connection she told me a story about prayer. For many years, she said, she had been a heavy smoker. Her day began with lighting up a cigarette. Her big sacrifice every Lent was giving up smoking, but having to get by without a cigarette made her increasingly irritable as the days passed, until the rest of the community was praying she would light up a smoke. One year, as Lent approached, the priest who ordinarily heard her confessions urged her not to give up cigarettes that year but instead to pray daily, “Dear God, help me stop smoking.” She used that prayer for several years without it having any impact on her addiction. Then one morning she woke up, reached for a cigarette, and realized she didn’t want it — and never smoked another.

Dorothy was never “too polite” to speak about God. Nothing we achieved was ever our doing, it was only God’s mercy passing through us. Our own love wasn’t our love. If we experienced love for another person, whether wife or child or friend or enemy, it was God’s love. “If I have accomplished anything in my life,” she said late in her life, “it is because I wasn’t embarrassed to talk about God.”

People sometimes tell me how lucky I am to have been part of the same community that Dorothy Day belonged to. They picture a group of more or less saintly people having a wonderful time doing good works. In reality Catholic Worker community life in Manhattan in the early sixties had much in common with purgatory. The “staff” was made up of people with very different backgrounds, interests, temperaments and convictions. We ranged from the gregarious to the permanently furious.

Not everyone was all thorns but agreement within the staff was as rare as visits by the President of the United States. The most bitter dispute I experienced had to do with how best to use the small amounts of eggs, butter and other treats that sometimes were given to us — use them for “the line” (people we often didn’t know by name who lined up for meals) or the “family,” as had been the custom? Though we worked side by side, saw each other daily, and prayed together, staff tension had become too acute for staff meetings. The final authority was Dorothy Day, not a responsibility she enjoyed, but no one else could make a final decision that would be respected by the entire staff. In this case, when Dorothy returned from a cross-country speaking trip she told the two people running the kitchen that the butter and eggs should go to the family, which led to their resigning from kitchen work and soon after leaving the community trailing black smoke, convinced that Dorothy Day wasn’t living up to the writings of Dorothy Day.

One of the miracles of Dorothy’s life is that she remained part of a conflict-torn community for nearly half a century. Still more remarkable, she remained a person of hope and gratitude to the end.

Dorothy was and remains a controversial lady. There was hardly anything she did which didn’t attract criticism. Even hospitality scandalizes some people. We were blamed for making people worse, not better, because we were doing nothing to “reform them.” A social worker asked Dorothy one day how long the down-and-out were permitted to stay. “We let them stay forever,” Dorothy answered. “They live with us, they die with us, and we give them a Christian burial. We pray for them after they are dead. Once they are taken in, they become members of the family. Or rather they always were members of the family. They are our brothers and sisters in Christ.”

What got her in the most hot water was her sharp social criticism. She pointed out that patriotism was a more powerful force in most people’s lives than the Gospel. While she hated every kind tyranny and never ceased to be thankful for America having taken in so many people fleeing poverty and repression, she was fierce in her criticism of capitalism and consumerism. She said America had a tendency to treat people like Kleenex — use them, and throw them away. “Our problems stem,” she said, “from our acceptance of this filthy, rotten system.”

She had no kind words for war or anything having to do with it — war was simply murder wrapped in flags. She was convinced Jesus had disarmed all his followers when he said to Peter, “Put away your sword, for whoever lives by the sword will perish by the sword.” A way of life based on love, including love of enemies, left no room for killing. You couldn’t practice the works of mercy with one hand and the works of vengeance with the other.

No stranger to prison, she was first locked up as a young woman protesting with Suffragettes in front of the White House during World War I and was last jailed in her seventies for picketing with farm workers. She took pride in the young men of the Catholic Worker who went to prison rather than be drafted — “a good way to visit the prisoner,” she pointed out. Yet she also welcomed back others who had left Catholic Worker communities in fight in the Second World War. They might disagree about the best way to fight Nazism, but — as she often said — “there is no ‘party line’ in the Catholic Worker movement.”

Dorothy was sometimes criticized for being too devout a Catholic. How could she be so radical about social matters and so conservative about her Church? While she occasionally deplored statements or actions by members of the hierarchy, she was by no means an opponent of the bishops or someone campaigning for structural changes in the Church. What was needed, she said, wasn’t new doctrine but our living the existing doctrine.

Pleased as she was when home Masses were allowed and the Liturgy translated into English, she didn’t take kindly to smudging the border between the sacred and mundane. When a priest close to the community used a coffee cup for a chalice at a Mass celebrated in the soup kitchen on First Street, she afterward took the cup, kissed it, and buried it in the back yard. It was no longer suited for coffee — it had held the Blood of Christ. I learned more about the Eucharist that day than I had from any book or sermon. It was a learning experience for the priest as well — thereafter he used a chalice.

Dorothy Day’s main achievement is that she taught us the “Little Way” of love, which it so happens involves cutting up a great many onions. The path to heaven, it seems, is marked by open doors and the smell of onions. “All the way to heaven is heaven,” she so often said, quoting Saint Catherine of Siena, “because He said, ‘I am the Way’.”

It was chiefly through the writings of Saint Therese of Lisieux that Dorothy had been drawn to the “Little Way.” No term, in her mind, better described the ideal Christian way of doing things. As she once put it, “Paper work, cleaning the house, dealing with the innumerable visitors who come all through the day, answering the phone, keeping patience and acting intelligently, which is to find some meaning in all that happens — these things, too, are the works of peace, and often seem like a very little way.”

It’s a century since Dorothy Day was born and nearly twenty years since she died, but she continues to touch our lives, not only as a person we remember with gratitude, but also as a saint — if by the word “saint” we mean a person who helps us see what it means to follow Christ.

“It is the living from day to day,” she once said, “taking no thought for the morrow, seeing Christ in all who come to us, and trying literally to follow the Gospel that resulted in this work.”


Forest, Jim. “Dorothy Day — Saint and Troublemaker.” Canticle Magazine (Winter, 1998).

Reprinted with permission of Canticle Magazine.

Canticle: The Voice of Today’s Catholic Woman is published quarterly by Urbi et Orbi Communications. For subscription information visit their web site at or call 1.800.789-9494.


Jim Forest wrote Love is the Measure, a biography of Dorothy Day and, with Tom Cornell and Robert Ellsberg, co-edited A Penny a Copy: Readings from the Catholic Worker. His most recent book is Praying With Icons. (Orbis). He is secretary of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship and editor of its quarterly journal, “In Communion,” and lives in the Netherlands.

Copyright © 1998 Canticle

Also see:

"Don't Call Me a Saint"--James Martin's reflection on bishops endorsement of Day's cause

Dorothy Day - Catholic Worker‎

Dorothy Day, Servant of God. Almost immediately after her death in 1980 controversy arose about whether Dorothy Day should be canonized a Saint. For more on her life, work and this controversy go to references to follow:

Dorothy Day - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia‎

Dorothy Day: Dorothy Day Guild - The Cause for Canonization‎ (Official Dorothy Day website. The Dorothy Day Guild of the Archdiocese of New York. Dorothy Day)

Saint Dorothy Day? Controversial, Yes, But Bishops Push For the same ... ( saint-dorothy-day-controv_n_2133584.htm )‎

Nov 14, 2012 - Born in Brooklyn in 1897, Day lived a bohemian life in New York City in the ....See:
"Dorothy Day Documentary: Don't Call Me a Saint" May be found on - YouTube.

Catholic 'Hero' Dorothy Day's Road To Sainthood : NPR See Dorothy Day at › News › Religion

Dec 1, 2012 - James Martin about the push for the canonization and eventual sainthood of Dorothy Day, the American-born mother of the Catholic Worker

Let's canonize Dorothy Day - Salt of the Earth - Claretian Publications‎

Let's canonize Dorothy Day

From September 1983 See references to following church leaders: Father Henry Fehren Linus, Cletus, Clement, Sixtus, Cornelius, Cypnan, Lawrence, Chrysogonus

Activist Catholic Dorothy Day Considered for Sainthood

See (for dorothy-day) /1562055.html‎

Dec 10, 2012 - Dorothy Day is not a familiar name in the United States or around the world. ... U.S. bishops hope to have Day, who died in 1980, canonized.

Dorothy Day teaches us about the human person, archbishop says, ...1 day ago, He then pointed to Dorothy Day, whose cause for canonization is open. (He spoke of her understanding of herself as a person created by God in his image..‎

If Dorothy Day is ever canonized, she will be the patron saint not only of homeless people and those who try to care for them but also of people who lose their way (and sometimes these two categories of persons are one and the same)...

The following searches relate to the canonization of dorothy day

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•The Life of Dorothy Day (video)
•All Is Grace: A Biography of Dorothy Day by Jim Forest.
•Guild for Dorothy Day website
•The Diaries of Dorthy Day Now Published
•An icon of Dorothy Day by Nicholas Tsai

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

CRY THE BELOVED COUNTRY: Alan Paton and his masterpiece is still alive today

The following is from internet site: "Cry, the Beloved Country Quotes" from the book by Alan Paton, written 1946-1947, published 1948 (Also see the film by the same name.) The book is a search for justice in a land where injustices kill. The book is a search for forgiveness, a search for a way to go on despite the pain and suffering, despite the fear.

"The book is a search for understanding, a way of coping with reality that a man accused of murder could have been the same person who was once "a child afraid of the dark."

'The book is a search for hope, realizing that hope seems far away--in another country or another world. But, if there is universality to the book, and if there is hope for humanity, there must be a bit left for every part. As for injustice, hate, and evil of all sorts, the book makes us believe that we are not beyond hope. The fragments of the past and the present can be picked up, perhaps rearranged a bit, and they can play a part in a future... The dawn is just making its way over the horizon."

Film reviews here:‎‎

* See more on Paton and this novel at the end of post...

Here are some select quotes:

“What broke in a man when he could bring himself to kill another? What broke when he could bring himself to thrust down the knife into the warm flesh, to bring down the axe on the living head, to cleave down between the seeing eyes, to shoot the gun that would drive death into the beating heart?”

“The tragedy is not that things are broken. The tragedy is that things are not mended again.”

“But there is only one thing that has power completely, and this is love. Because when a man loves, he seeks no power, and therefore he has power.”

“Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that's the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply. Let him not laugh too gladly when the water runs through his fingers, nor stand too silent when the setting sun makes red the veld with fire. Let him not be too moved when the birds of his land are singing. Nor give too much of his heart to a mountain or a valley. For fear will rob him if he gives too much.”

“ — This world is full of trouble, umfundisi.
— Who knows it better?
— Yet you believe?
Kumalo looked at him under the light of the lamp. I believe, he said, but I have learned that it is a secret. Pain and suffering, they are a secret. Kindness and love, they are a secret. But I have learned that kindness and love can pay for pain and suffering."

“I have one great fear in my heart, that one day when they are turned to loving, they will find that we are turned to hating.”

“Happy the eyes that can close”

“We do not know, we do not know. We shall live from day to day, and put more locks on the doors, and get a fine fierce dog when the fine fierce bitch next door has pups, and hold on to our handbags more tenaciously; and the beauty of the trees by night, and the raptures of lovers under the stars, these things we shall forego. We shall forego the coming home drunken through the midnight streets, and the evening walk over the star-lit veld. We shall be careful, and knock this off our lives, and knock that off our lives, and hedge ourselves about with safety and precaution. And our lives will shrink, but they shall be the lives of superior beings; and we shall live with fear, but at least it will not be a fear of the unknown. And the conscience shall be thrust down; the light of life shall not be extinguished, but be put under a bushel, to be preserved for a generation that will live by it again, in some day not yet come; and how it will come, and when it will come, we shall not think about at all.”

“The truth is, our civilization is not Christian; it is a tragic compound of great ideal and fearful practice, of loving charity and fearful clutching of possessions.”

“The Judge does not make the law. It is people that make the law. Therefore if a law is unjust, and if the Judge judges according to the law, that is justice, even if it is not just.”

“Who indeed knows the secret of the earthly pilgrimage? Who indeed knows why there can be comfort in a world of desolation? Now God be thanked that there is a Beloved One who can lift up the heart in suffering, that one can play with a child in the face of such misery. Now God be thanked that the name of a hill is such music, that the name of a river can heal. Aye, even the name of a river that runs no more.

Who indeed knows the secret of the earthly pilgrimage? Who knows for what we live, and struggle and die? Who knows what keeps us living and struggling, while all things break about us? Who knows why the warm flesh of a child is such comfort, when one's own child is lost and cannot be recovered? Wise men write many books, in words too hard to understand. But this, the purpose of our lives, the end of all our struggle, is beyond all human wisdom.”

“There is not much talking now. A silence falls upon them all. This is no time to talk of hedges and fields, or the beauties of any country. Sadness and fear and hate, how they well up in the heart and mind, whenever one opens pages of these messengers of doom. Cry for the broken tribe, for the law and the custom that is gone. Aye, and cry aloud for the man who is dead, for the woman and children bereaved. Cry, the beloved country, these things are not yet at an end. The sun pours down on the earth, on the lovely land that man cannot enjoy. He knows only the fear of his heart.”

“There is a man sleeping in the grass. And over him is gathering the greatest storm of all his days. Such lightening and thunder will come there has never been seen before, bringing death and destruction. People hurry home past him, to places safe from danger. And whether they do not see him there in the grass, or whether they fear to halt even a moment, but they do not wake him, they let him be.”

“For it is the dawn that has come, as it has come for a thousand centuries, never failing.”

“What broke in a man when he could bring himself to kill another? What broke when he could bring himself to thrust down the knife into the warm flesh, to bring down the axe on the living head, to cleave down between the seeing eyes, to shoot the gun that would drive death into the beating heart?”

“because life slips away, and because I need for the rest of my journey a star that will not play false to me, a compass that will not lie.”

“It is not permissible for us to go on destroying the family life when we know that we are destroying it.”

In the deserted harbour there is yet water that laps against the quays. In the dark and silent forest there is a leaf that falls. Behind the polished panelling the white ant eats away the wood. Nothing is ever quiet, except for fools.”

“We do not work for men. We work for the land and the people. We do not even work for money.”

“For mines are for men, not for money. And money is not something to go mad about, and throw your hat into the air for. Money is for food and clothes and comfort, and a visit to the pictures. Money is to make happy the lives of children. Money is for security, and for dreams, and for hopes, and for purposes. Money is for buying the fruits of the earth, of the land where you were born.”

“Sorrow is better than fear. Fear is a journey,a terrible journey, but sorrow is at least an arrival.

When the storm threatens, a man is afraid for his house. But when the house is destroyed, there is something to do. About a storm he can do nothing, but he can rebuild a house.”

“One thing is about to be finished, but here is something that is only begun. And while I live it will continue”

“Would age now swiftly overtake him? Would this terrible nodding last now for all his days, so that men said aloud in his presence, it is nothing, he is old and does nothing but forget? And would he nod as though he too were saying, Yes, it is nothing, I am old and do nothing but forget? But who would know that he said, I do nothing but remember?”

“They were your friends?"

"Yes, they were my friends."

"And they will leave you to suffer alone?"

"Now I see it."

"And until this, were they friends you could trust?"

"I could trust them."

"I see what you mean. You mean they were the kind of friends that a good man could choose, upright, hard-working, obeying the law?

Tell me, were they such friends?

And now they leave you alone?

Did you not see it before?"

"I saw it.”


"Cry, the Beloved Country is a novel by South African author Alan Paton. It was first published in New York City in 1948 by Charles Scribner's Sons and in London by Jonathan Cape. The protagonist is Stephen Kumalo, a black Anglican priest from a rural Natal town, who is searching for his son Absalom in the city of Johannesburg.
The American publisher Bennett Cerf remarked at that year's meeting of the American Booksellers Association that there had been "only three novels published since the first of the year that were worth reading ... Cry, The Beloved Country, The Ides of March, and The Naked and the Dead."

Two cinema adaptations of the book have been made, the first in 1951 and the second in 1995. The novel was also adapted as a musical called Lost in the Stars (1949), with a book by the American writer Maxwell Anderson and music composed by the German emigre, Kurt Weill. It was recently produced by the Glimmerglass Opera of New York in 2012, directed by Tazewell Thompson.

(The notes at top and here at end of post were found: at wikipedia/general internet cache. The painting at top is from: Small Impressions: California Hills--Landscape Oil Painting This is how I visualized some of the description in Paton's novel. )

Advice for new writers (old ones too) By Ron Koertge

Do You Have Any Advice For Those of Us Just Starting Out?"

Ron Koertge

Give up sitting dutifully at your desk. Leave
your house or apartment. Go out into the world.

It's all right to carry a notebook but a cheap
one is best, with pages the color of weak tea
and on the front a kitten or a space ship.

Avoid any enclosed space where more than
three people are wearing turtlenecks. Beware
any snow-covered chalet with deer tracks
across the muffled tennis courts.

Not surprisingly, libraries are a good place to write.
And the perfect place in a library is near an aisle
where a child a year or two old is playing as his
mother browses the ranks of the dead.

Often he will pull books from the bottom shelf.
The title, the author's name, the brooding photo
on the flap mean nothing. Red book on black, gray
book on brown, he builds a tower. And the higher
it gets, the wider he grins.

You who asked for advice, listen: When the tower
falls, be like that child. Laugh so loud everybody
in the world frowns and says, "Shhhh."

Then start again.

Friday, August 16, 2013

On Joy and Sorrow

Ralph Waldo Emerson said:

"There is no beautifier of complexion, or form, or behavior,
like the wish to scatter joy and not pain around us."

From Kahlil Gibran:

Then a woman said, "Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow."
And he answered:
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises
was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that hold your wine the very cup
that was burned in the potter's oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit,
the very wood that was hollowed with knives?

When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is
only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart,
and you shall see that in truth you are weeping
for that which has been your delight.

Some of you say, "Joy is greater than sorrow,"
and others say, "Nay, sorrow is the greater."
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board,
remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver,
needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The King of Time Knows

For my choice of a photo go here:

From Rainer Marie Rilke

(Especially for Sisters and Brothers of my Deepest Heart during Ramzan/Ramadan)

From Rilke's Book of Hours:  Love Poems From God

"And God said to me, Paint:

Time is the canvas
stretched by my pain:
the wounding of woman,
the brothers’ betrayal,
the city’s sad bacchanals,
the madness of kings.

And God said to me, Go forth:

For I am king of time.
But to you I am only the shadowy one who knows with you your loneliness and sees through your eyes. "   

I am too alone in the world, and yet not alone enough
to make every hour holy.
I am too small in the world, and yet not tiny enough
just to stand before you like a thing,
dark and shrewd.
I want my will, and I want to be with my will
as it moves towards deed;
and in those quiet, somehow hesitating times,
when something is approaching,
I want to be with those who are wise
or else alone.
I want always to be a mirror that reflects your whole being,
and never to be too blind or too old
to hold your heavy, swaying image.
I want to unfold.
Nowhere do I want to remain folded,
because where I am bent and folded, there I am lie.
And I want my meaning
true for you. I want to describe myself
like a painting that I studied
closely for a long, long time,
like a word I finally understood,
like the pitcher of water I use every day ,
like the face of my mother,
like a ship
that carried me
through the deadliest storm of all.

A Walk
My eyes already touch the sunny hill.
going far ahead of the road I have begun.
So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp;
it has inner light, even from a distance-

and charges us, even if we do not reach it,
into something else, which, hardly sensing it,
we already are; a gesture waves us on
answering our own wave...
but what we feel is the wind in our faces.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

"When heaven pulls earth into its arms..."

This blogsite is dedicated to my dear friends:  N (who's name has to do with light), AWD and RW (also for his artist daughter, Summer)

"soliel levant" by Monet

Monet Refuses The Operation

by Lisel Mueller

Doctor, you say there are no halos

around the streetlights of Paris

and what I see is an aberration

caused by old age, an affliction.

I tell you it has taken me all my life

to arrive at the vision of gas lamps as angels,

to soften and blur and finally banish

the edges you regret I don’t see,

to learn that the line I called the horizon

does not exist and sky and water,

so long apart, are the same state of being.

Fifty-four years before I could see

Rouen cathedral is built

of parallel shafts of sun,

and now you want to restore

my youthful errors: fixed

notions of top and bottom,

the illusion of three-dimensional space,

wisteria separate

from the bridge it covers.

What can I say to convince you

the Houses of Parliament dissolve

night after night to become

the fluid dream of the Thames?

I will not return to a universe

of objects that don’t know each other,

as if islands were not the lost children

of one great continent. The world

is flux, and light becomes what it touches,

becomes water, lilies on water,

above and below water,

becomes lilac and mauve and yellow

and white and cerulean lamps,

small fists passing sunlight

so quickly to one another

that it would take long, streaming hair

inside my brush to catch it.

To paint the speed of light!

Our weighted shapes, these verticals,

burn to mix with air

and change our bones, skin, clothes

to gases. Doctor,

if only you could see

how heaven pulls earth into its arms

and how infinitely the heart expands

to claim this world, blue vapor without end.

The painting which gave rise to the Impressionist movement is now in the public domain.
This photo from Sindh, Karachi here seems to me to lends itself to a monet-like painting if the artist
had the right eye and soul.  Hint, hint :-)

Various websites suggest how to copy Monet's technique or provide critique/opinions/analysis -- yet in some ways these may limit the free expression of someone who may come to this blogsite.  This someone may easily feel the beginning from within of a one of a kind impression.  Perhaps there is another sunrise, sunset, view of streetlamps or angels or beautiful vision of light in need of a poem, painting, photo, wall, letter or journalistic expression?

Is there a possibility you are the one to provide the freedom to "that" particular vision?

Credit for the 2nd photo of a sunrise goes to:


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

How Rich One Day Can Be

I awoke this am soon getting on my knees.  Upon standing there was a depth of knowing within that this was/is on a new trek in my prayer life. The essence is that relating to God/Allah via prayer is so much more significant/real/important than ever before.  This feels/is more real than any of my other
relationships.  This is a visceral/mental/spiritual/psychological experience.

When checking emails I find the joy, breeze and light in a note from a young friend.  Her inner beauty, honesty and enthusiasm increase my own energy and motivation.  How lovely an intergenerational/international correspondence can be.

There is a new person in my life -- a lovely woman who is so childlike and so needy that I tend to try
to limit my time with her.  Today we go to excercise class together.  Then to a coffee shop.  We talk about her difficulty with her college-educated daughter.  And we thank God together that this is going better this week.  We are also thankful together that she still has her small job when she thought she had lost this.  She grabs on to my use of dignified in reference to her new attitude.

Each time I am with her I marvel at how grateful she is for the smallest gesture of friendship.   I recognize how little is asked of me when someone like this Jamaican woman -- who's been through hell and back -- reflects to me such a rare willingness to learn what she has not had the opportunity to learn thus far.  I am rewarded a hundred times over for such a small amount of time and energy the few times we meet.

Today several quotes engraved on the walls near where I drink my coffee almost look like they have lights behind them:

"What would be the good of learning without Love?  That would puff us up.  And Love without learning would go astray."   Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

Here is the way I suddenly substituted the word 'writing' for 'learning' in this quote:

What is the benefit of writing without Love?  And what is Love (for the writer) without writing?
Perhaps Love (for me as a writer) could then go astray.  (In part).

So I am taking notice that since I am a writer at heart who is only partially realized in this calling --
I am perhaps actually losing Love energy by not applying myself to the same?

There is another part of me who also looks for truth.  This part is alive indeed as well as the writer-part.  So today in my extra prayerful mode I notice this quote almost the same time as the one above:

Numbers 15:15-16  From the Bible (Old Testament)

The community is to have the same rules for you and for the foreigner residing among you;  this is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come.  You and the foreigner shall be the same before the Lord:  The same laws and regulations will apply both to you and to the foreigner residing among you.

My dear friend Barbara practices this daily for years with her originally immigrant friends and teachers of the displaced from all over the world.   She knows these seven below named wonderfully gifted young people and called about a week ago to ask for prayer for these students who just graduated.  There was some concern that  this article/interview might stir up trauma.  As things turned out -- my friend felt quite relieved about this article:

This may seem out of place yet I needed one more event that might happen on one day so I decided
to put this from The Indian Express as a tribute to World Environment day.  These artists are remembering
this special day although their town is one of the most polluted in the world.  This too makes each day and place a space of ongoing co-creation with the Divine.

What an interesting way to go through a day.  What might occur during this dialogue with the Divine during the evening?  As I get ready for interacting with my incredibly courageous Mother I am so glad to have such riches to share with her.

Link and credit for first photo:

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Endless Heart of Spring

Today is a day of birch bark peeling back, opening, making a place for sunlight to land;

A day for the dance of memory -- for Ruminating
          while settling back
                        into the warm, hard sycamore.

This is a place for gazing at frosted mountain tops
           on the first Monday of Spring.

This is the right place for hearing
           the whirring of birds taking flight...

This day is a book of hours -- with the feel of other sacred moments multiplied --
Time melts into itself yet doesn't disappear.

Here is when all seasons
            and worlds
                          and human loves
                                       (whether steady, wild, or winged)
                                                                         into the endless encircling heart...

O God...make of me...
                        Your breath...
                                               Your flute...

(Written during a time of months with my Mother Ruby Shelman's -- upon the beautiful event of receiving
a gift of poetry which has been most helpful throughout this journey.)

My Mother is a musician and the following also feels just right to add the RUMI poem to mine:

The Music We Are

Did you hear that winter’s over? The basil

and the carnations cannot control their

laughter. The nightingale, back from his

wandering, has been made singing master

over the birds. The trees reach out their

congratulations. The soul goes dancing

through the king’s doorway. Anemones blush

because they have seen the rose naked.

Spring, the only fair judge, walks in the

courtroom, and several December thieves steal

away, Last year’s miracles will soon be

forgotten. New creatures whirl in from non-

existence, galaxies scattered around their

feet. Have you met them? Do you hear the

bud of Jesus crooning in the cradle? ...

A feast is set...
Love used to hide

inside images: no more! The orchard hangs

out its lanterns....

Nothing can stay bound or be


Even poems are rough notations

for the music we are.

Mother's Day began with a Non-Violent Vision

At first glance, Mother's Day appears a quaint and conservative holiday, a sort of greeting card moment, honoring 1950s values, a historical throw back to old-fashioned notions of hearth and home.
Let's correct that impression by saying: Happy Radical Mother's Day.
In May 1907, Anna Jarvis, a member of a Methodist congregation in Grafton, West Virginia, passed out 500 white carnations in church to commemorate the life of her mother. One year later, the same Methodist church created a special service to honor mothers. Many progressive and liberal Christian organizations--like the YMCA and the World Sunday School Association--picked up the cause and lobbied Congress to make Mother's Day a national holiday. And, in 1914, Democratic President Woodrow Wilson made it official and signed Mother's Day into law. Thus began the modern celebration of Mother's Day in the United States.
For some years, radical Protestant women had been agitating for a national Mother's Day hoping that it would further a progressive political agenda that favored issues related to women's lives. In the late 19th century, Julia Ward Howe (better know for the "Battle Hymn of the Republic") expressed this hope in her 1870 prose-poem, "A Mother's Day Proclamation" calling women to pacifism and political resistance:
Arise then...women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts! Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly...
"Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe our dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
At the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace...
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar, But of God -

Years later, Anna Jarvis intended the new holiday to honor all mothers beginning with her own--Anna Reeves Jarvis, who had died in 1905. Although now largely forgotten, Anna Reeves Jarvis was a social activist and community organizer who shared the political views of other progressive women like Julia Ward Howe.
In 1858, Anna Reeves Jarvis organized poor women in West Virginia into "Mothers' Work Day Clubs" to raise the issue of clean water and sanitation in relation to the lives of women and children. She also worked for universal access to medicine for the poor. Reeves Jarvis was also a pacifist who served both sides in the Civil War by working for camp sanitation and medical care for soldiers of the North and the South.
Although I've never seen it on a pastel flowered greeting card, Mother's Day honors a progressive feminist, inclusive, non-violent vision for world community--born in the imagination of women who devoted themselves to God, not Caesar.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

From Gitmo: Sufi Man of Peace Speaks Out

From Guantánamo, Younus Chekhouri Speaks About the Prison Clampdown: “Everyone is Traumatized by What Happened”

Three weeks ago, as part of my ongoing coverage of the prison-wide hunger strike at Guantánamo, which is now in its fourth month, I published an account by Clive Stafford Smith, the director of the London-based legal action charity Reprieve, with one of the men that Reprieve’s lawyers represent in Guantánamo — Younus Chekhouri (also identified as Younous Chekkouri), a Moroccan, a Sufi Muslim, and one of the 86 prisoners cleared for release from Guantánamo as a result of the deliberations of a task force appointed by President Obama in 2009.
As I explained at the time, Younus’s story “has long fascinated me, as he has always been one of the most peaceful prisoners in Guantánamo, and has always categorically refuted all the allegations against him that relate to terrorism and military activity.” I also explained how “I found his testimony from Guantánamo, in the tribunals and review boards that took place under President Bush, to be both compelling and credible.”
Below is the description of him that I included in a series of articles about the remaining prisoners in Guantánamo back in 2010, which I posted previously but am posting again because it explains who he is, rather than who the US authorities thought he was:
Chekhouri is accused of being a founder member of the Moroccan Islamic Fighting Group (or GICM, the Groupe Islamique Combattant Marocain), who had a training camp near Kabul, but he has always maintained that he traveled to Afghanistan in 2001, with his Algerian wife, after six years in Pakistan, where he had first traveled in search of work and education, and has stated that they lived on the outskirts of Kabul, working for a charity that ran a guest house and helped young Moroccan immigrants, and had no involvement whatsoever in the country’s conflicts. He has also repeatedly explained that he was profoundly disillusioned by the fighting amongst Muslims that has plagued Afghanistan’s recent history, and he has also expressed his implacable opposition to the havoc wreaked on the country by Osama bin Laden, describing him as “a crazy person,” and adding that “what he does is bad for Islam.”
Below I’m publishing an account by one of Reprieve’s lawyers of a phone call with Younus that took place on April 18, shortly after a violent early morning raid on April 13 that was initiated by the authorities — ostensibly to break the hunger strike, but in fact to restore order in the prison with no regard for why the prisoners are on a hunger strike — not to cause trouble for its own sake, but because all of them, even the men cleared for release, despair of ever being released, having been abandoned by all three branches of the US government.
The raid took place in Camp 6, where the majority of the prisoners are held, and where they had been able to spend much of their time living communally until the raid, when they were locked up in solitary confinement — an act of enormous cruelty  given the men’s desperation.
Younus’s words shed new light on the raid, which I previously reported here, and, as Clive Stafford Smith stated when a short version of Younus’s account was made available last week, “We all should have learned the danger of a secret prison from the Soviets. Unfortunately the US military has been dissembling again. The prisoners did not start this. The US military went in there with guns literally blazing at 5.10am in the morning, as detainees prepared for morning prayer, immediately after the Red Cross left the base, so there would be no independent observers. Sad to say, torture and abuse continue in Guantánamo Bay and the US is throwing away yet more of its dwindling moral authority.”
As ever, if you appreciate Younus’s story, please publicize it as widely as possible. Despite President Obama’s fine words about the horrors of Guantánamo last week, he made no promises about what he would do to free cleared prisoners and initiate reviews for the other 80 men, or what he would do to revisit his promise to close the prison, beyond vague promises to call on Congress to work with him.
We need to keep Guantánamo in the public eye, and to remind people that the men held are human beings and not mere statistics, or “the worst of the worst” as the Bush administration called them when the prison opened.
If you have not done so, please also sign and share the petition to President Obama on, launched by Col. Morris Davis, which has secured over 185,000 signatures in just over a week!

Notes from a phone call with Younus Chekhouri, April 18, 2013

“What has happened here now is real nightmare. Nobody dreamed that what has happened would happen. After our peaceful demonstration, on Sunday morning the guards came in with guns. They used shotguns and three people were injured. Used gun with small bullets.”
“The guards came in, closed all of our cells, [removed us from our cells and] told us to get on the ground. We lay there on our belly for three hours or more. They took everything. Cells empty, nothing left. They moved us into another empty block and after a while they gave us blanket and that is all. They said it’s punishment.”
“History repeats itself, like it was seven years ago. [All we can have now are] blankets and clothes [on our backs]. [The cell I am in now] is really cold.”
Younus said he is now in pain as a result of having to sleep on the concrete floor: “Pain starts immediately when I’m on the floor. Pain in my neck, pain in my chest. No pillow. Punishment for everybody. Punishment because we hide cameras in cell and so this is what happened. They took everything, left cell empty.”
Younus is still not eating. He has Ensure and Metamucil but that is it. He said others who are worse off than him are getting nothing at all.
When asked to give a chronology of how things happened on Sunday, Younus said: “I was sleeping on Sunday. At almost 5am guards came in with shotguns. There was no confrontation that prompted it. When I woke up I heard them using guns on the detainees in the block next door. The detainees didn’t have anything. The guards used force to control some of the detainees, to force them out of the cells. Used tear gas [as well]. 5-6 ERF team would come in and throw detainees to the floor.” [Note: ERF is a reference to the Extreme Reaction Force, an armoured five-man team responsible for punishing infringements of the rules -- or perceived infringements of the rules].
“[For hours on Sunday morning the detainees were forced to lay on their stomachs]. We had no right to move, no right to go to the bathroom.”
They shackled detainees’ hands and feet and moved them into individual isolation cells. “Finally at night they gave blankets. It was very cold in the empty cells.”
In terms of the number of guards that “invaded” the block: “More than 50 came in on my block and there were only 13 detainees on my block. Nobody [no detainees] thought to fight. What do we have to fight with? [Plus] we were outnumbered. Guards were scary, they were ready to use guns, use force. It was very scary.”
More about how Younus was awoken on Sunday: “Sunday I was sleeping. I heard people yelling outside, so I came outside of cell. Then I saw guards closing outside doors and the guards with guns. They used tear gas to keep detainees away. Heard sound of gun next door. Said three were injured: one on belly, one on hand, one on body. They were taken to hospital. Not sure how they are doing. Everyone is traumatized by what happened.”
“To be treated this way after 11 years is not right. They are using the same rules as first day of opening Gitmo.”
“Water now is privilege. There is no right to have water and they tell you that they can cut it at any time. I suffer all day. We don’t know when this will end. They said this is just the beginning. We were calling for things to get better, but things are worse.”
Younus is still in Camp 6, but in isolation.
“Nightmare has started again. I feel distress, anxiety, disease, anger. In the future no one knows what could happen, what to expect now that this has happened. Camp 6 now isolation. Everyone in his cell. Only 2 detainees can have rec at a time. Same rules as when Camp 6 was opened for first time in 2007. It’s like we are starting again from the beginning, like a game.”
Younus would like to “thank everyone who can save me from this hell. I have German connection. I would be grateful for them to help me be free. I am in a helpless place, I have lost hope in the democracy of the United States. I thought my torture had ended, but what is happening now is horrible. I feel like a slave in Gitmo. Thank anyone who can do anything to help people in Gitmo. I really need your help. My wish is that nice people around the world can help.”
On conditions now in camp 6: Younus is sleeping on “concrete, hard floor, very cold. Knees, head, body hurts. No pillows, hard to sleep. My shoes are my pillows. Pains in back. Cannot move, cannot pray, cannot get to toilet because I am in pain.”
“My dream is one day I will leave this place.” Younus seemed very anxious because of what happened Sunday and said that he’s “afraid that I will be punished and they will take everything I have now.” A blanket is all he has.
They have gone “back to 2002-2003.” Younus believes they did this so that detainees would “stop complaining or requesting things to be better.” He said they said: “You have no right to ask for your release and better treatment.”
Younus knew they were using the detainees blocking the cameras as a so-called justification for the raid because “when they invaded the block, they told us get on floor, lay on belly, don’t cover camera. Now using old rules, start practicing old rules. When you ask why, they say it’s because people were hiding cameras. They say they don’t know when things will get better.”
“No one [guards] will give answers why this [Sunday’s raid and loss of everything] has happened. Will it stay forever, or short time? No one says anything, just that this is punishment for hiding cameras. No way to negotiate now, we just have to obey.”
“People are old, sick and they cannot deal with this.” He said in many ways it’s worse now than when these same tactics were used 11 years ago because the men have aged and have been through hell in Gitmo all these years. “Unfair that they are back to treating us like animals.”
Younus has “now lost 35 lbs. Going down. Taking Ensure but weight is still going down.” He will continue to take Ensure himself because he “doesn’t want tubes in nose.”
Again, before the call ended, Younus wanted to “please say thank you to everyone out there.”
Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer and film-maker. He is the co-founder of the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon.)