Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Evening Light at the Public Gardens, Halifax

Evening Light at the Public Gardens, Halifax

I’d thought I’d had enough for my evening meal; Then this. This spectacle of indigo feasting that leaves me at the table, unable to move away.  This hour in this place is such evidence of God's delight...I'd call it magical, but I know better.  It's so much more than that, so much bigger than that...Augh...it leaves me with a feeling of such grandness and such humbleness... The words feel too heavy, yet at the same time, I longed to try...

Diaphanous radiance of evening glory
that settles the in-between spaces
of dandelion glitter.

Light that skates the sharp ache of edge
where new green meets the unbound blue
in a bold proclamation of 
Evening sun that wakes the day 
with a sea of reedy candles,
while waiting for the comets to dance.

Kimberly M. King, RSCJ

Sunday, May 27, 2018


 It is Trinity Sunday today…and it is beautiful here in this part of the Maritimes.  Stunning, really…at least, insofar as I understand that.  It is warm enough to not have a jacket on and cool enough to not get hot when you walk; the sky is nothing but a wide blue invitation; and the textures of nature are busy about shaking free from the last vestiges of dormancy and stretching their freshness toward the brilliant new day.

I knew that I wanted to go over to the Public Gardens this morning.  It is one of my favorite places, rain or shine, truth be told…though it is especially welcoming on days like this.  I wanted to go there to feel both embraced and set free; I wanted to steep in the wakening glory of its beauty; I wanted to be still and to notice, to feel, to sense, the different kinds of trinities that come together there…

Trinities of bird and branch and shadow; texture, hue, and sound; bend, path, and cradle; living and dying and waiting; apartness, a part of, and whole; azalea, tulip, dandelion; resident, tourist, wanderer; peace, letting go, and groundedness...

All of these different combinations, different qualities, aspects, appearances, working together to make a place where people gather, sit, talk, dance, sing, walk, cry, hold hands, hold canes, push chairs, skip, sip coffee, have lunch on a bench, and dribble ice cream down their front without a care in the world.  It is a space that can hold a diversity: of life; of activity; of beauty, emotion, reality.

So too--and much more--the space of faith in which I live and move and have being thanks to the Trinity that will be honored especially at Mass today; the Trinity I mark myself with, bless myself with, daily; The Trinity of mystery, grace, and challenge; The Trinity that beckons, receives, and journeys with; A Trinity of Love, of Love, of Love.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Thrilling Incompleteness of the Journey

I read a reflection by Saint Augustine this morning and he's been on my mind ever since.  While there are a multitude of worthy quotations and many writings about him—to say nothing of his own Confessions…I return time and again to the line I once heard in a class.  It was one of those ringers: a line you hear that doesn’t ever really leave you, a line with the lasting reverb of truth for you and a resonance that stays swirling in your rafters.

Our hearts are restless until they rest in you.

A funny representation of this truth is made known when I see the other two books keeping me company as I type here on the fourth floor of the public library:  Pilgrimageby Annie Leibovitz (AL) and A Writer’s Diary: Being Extracts from the Diary of Virginia Woolf (VW). Something I was reading earlier today about the color blue led me to those two books.  In flipping through them, I felt the warm dawn of sense-making. Augustine-Leibovitz-Woolf-King…yes, of course.

There is text to accompany the photos in the AL mid-size coffee table book.  For it, she traveled to the textures of life and place for the likes of Emily Dickinson, Charles Darwin, Marian Anderson, Georgia O’Keeffe, Martha Graham, and many others and saw this geographic facet of their truth through her lens—literally and figuratively both.  She wanted to be there, to see, examine, sink into…in some ways, remove the barrier.  Totally cool. And, glory, I get it.  To be so close to something that believing we might become a part of it—or perhaps already are—seems not impossible.  The desire to do that… It is an extraordinary intimacy, a longing…a longing to connect with what is most essential or fundamental…A pilgrimage. 

In her diary entry of 30 June, 1927, VW describes her experience of a solar eclipse two days prior:  
we joined them, walking out to what seemed the highest point looking over Richmond.  One light burned down there.  Vales and moors stretched slope after slope, round us.  It was like the Haworth country.  But over Richmond, where the sun was rising, was a soft grey cloud.  We could see by a gold spot where the sun way.  But is was early yet.  We had to wait, stamping to keep warm…There were thin places in the clouds and some complete holes…We saw rays coming through the bottom of the clouds.  Then, for a moment, we saw the sun, sweeping—-it seemed to be sailing at a great pace and clear in a gap; we had our smoked glasses; we saw it crescent, burning red; next moment it had sailed from fast to the cloud again; only the red streamers came from it; then only a golden haze…

 And on it wondrously goes for pages.  The detail, the intimate description in Word.  The desire to put it down in language on a page so that this nearness to something that cosmic could be experienced anew; entered into a-new…

And then there is the conversation I had the other day with someone about “The More” of Saint Ignatius.  To seek it, long for it… Part of the conversation—at least internally—I honestly can’t remember if I spoke this aloud—was me thinking about how that longing for the More has elements of both here and now and there and tomorrow. Sometimes we need to go to find it, sometimes we need to stay and learn to see the fulfillment of our longing exactly where we are.   That there is More, however…no doubt.  That there is within me an insatiable curiosity, wonder, desire, for that bigger image of God…oh my soul, YES.  Do I long for that fullness of knowledge, being, and glory?  More than anything, yes…   
In the thrilling incompleteness of the journey, I reach…for others, for lens, for pen, for art, for work, for listening, for learning, for ways of growing in freedom and grace, for sharing, for love…as ways of drawing that much closer…to the Heart of all, to the Centre, to the Essential Inspiration,  the Origin and End, that is You.   Yes, my Heart will be restless and longing…until it rests in you.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

This Common Humanity

This absolutely fills me with joy.  This has me thinking about the Spirit and its different images/manifestations.  It’s like our best, deepest, greatest, inspired  humanity…flowing in harmonic waves and making music.  And it is happening Together.  Not alone…it’s not about my humanity…but Together…and it is a witness to Our Humanity.   

It seems to me that we are organically wired to respond to Bobby McFerrin’s invitation. We are creatures of pattern and rhythm…eyeblink, footfall, heartbeat……and we respond to each other in pattern and rhythm as well…finishing one another’s sentences among friends; the comforting recognition of the footfall of someone we love; breathing in time; reading aloud en masse—who teaches us to do these things?  

When we hear the traditional beginning to a story...whatever that beginning might be…Once upon a time…Había una vez…we ready ourselves to hear something that follows the dramatic curve.  Intro…rising action…climax…resolution.  It’s the pattern we know.  Around the world.

We listen for and follow the inherent rhythms and contours of language;  Everything from limericks and haiku to hip-hop depend on this.  So do leaders of protests, cheerleaders, and advertising departments.

We follow physical patterns and rhythms.  Someone on the street looks up, what do others start to do?  Just the other day, I was talking with someone about soldiers marching in step and how when they cross a bridge, they are to break step lest the power of the waves created by walking in rhythm with each other cause the bridge to collapse. (Engineers claim that modern construction techniques render this unnecessary.)

We are creatures of pattern and rhythm.

When watching this video, I am in awe of how Bobby McFerrin reminds us that we know this about ourselves.  He reminds us that we know this, interprets knowledge into notes, and he says “Enjoy it with me!” Enjoy this common humanity…let it become music.  Let us become music.  Together.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Ascension Thursday, 2018

High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, --and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of --Wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air...
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark or even eagle flew --
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

It was as a part of a poetry unit that I first read this poem with a classroom of  fifth graders. The memory of our conversation, however, comes back in gratitude and wonder as I read the readings for today’s Feast of the Ascension.  

We’d watched YouTube clips of how network television would close out the day’s broadcasting by showing a jet soaring in the sky while a voice-over read Canadian RAF pilot John Magee’s words. We looked at the verbs, the descriptions, picked favorites…spoke of some of the hundred things we’d done that we had not dreamed of…  The kids LOVED his use of language and the imagery worked equally with boys and girls.

Then, in a moment of educational fervor, I quoted the last two lines and asked a room full of ten/eleven year olds— How many of you have done that?  How many of you have put out your hand and touched the face of God??

The hand of nearly every kid was raised. And we spent the rest of class telling those stories… Many of them were moments of beholding natural beauty, some were feelings of “just-right-ness” like running across the soccer field and royally whacking the ball…

It makes me well-up still, remembering that conversation with them.  I thought…You are ten.  You are eleven… and you walk around with experiences you consider to be “reaching out and touching the face of God.”  You believe not only that it is possible to touch God’s face, but that you have partaken of the possibility.  We are not so removed from that glory…Oh, please remember that you know that. 

I bring their faces to light in my memory again this morning and a multitude of others are in the crowd surrounding them…the faces of so many students I have taught and the faculties of schools where I have been; the regulars on each corner of Spring Garden Road; those people who get “the lonelies”; those in hospital with no one to visit them; shopkeepers; the children who have known only war; the women and men who have had no choice; poets, scientists, dreamers…they are all in my heart. I bring to mind their faces  and want to add… Especially in this world of ours….As Frederick Buechner wrote:  ~Here is the world.  Beautiful and Terrible things will happen.  Do not be afraid.~   Reach out and touch the face of God.

~Brothers and sisters: May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a Spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of him. May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call, what are the riches of glory in his inheritance among the holy ones, and what is the surpassing greatness of his power for us who believe, in accord with the exercise of his great might, which he worked in Christ, raising him from the dead and seating him at his right hand in the heavens, far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion, and every name that is named not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things beneath his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way.~

-Ephesians 1:17-23-