Joshi Daniel’s portraits often capture the joy we wish for others and ourselves. This portrait of a smiling man from Trivandrum brings a smile. Joshi and I knew each other years ago at The College of Wooster. So blessed by your wonderful work, Joshi. Thank you for the gift.
- Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, April 3, 2018
Celebrating International Women’s Day we celebrate two artists whose female identity was kept in the shadows because only men were published.
So far as the general public knew, Mel Bonis was a guy, another Mel like Mel Brooks and Mel Torme. Only later did it become known that Mel was a woman, Mélanie Hélène Bonis (1853-1937), composer of more than 300 compositions, who had shared the piano bench with Claude Debussy at the Paris Conservatoire.
Then there was the poet Lydia H. Sigourney (1791-1865) who first published as L.H. Sigourney before she “came out” as a woman. Lydia did unthinkable. She started a seminary for women.
Her poem “To the Ocean” are the very first words on page one of Be Still! Departure from Collective Madness.
Therefore, I bend to thy resounding tides,
And list the echo of they countless waves,
A lone disciple, if perchance, my soul
That poor shell-gatherer, on the shores of time,
May by thy lore instructed, learn of God
- L. H. Sigourney (1850)
Thanks for dropping by on International Women’s Day.
- Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, March 8, 2018
There are shutdowns that make us cringe and there are shutdowns that bring us to our better selves. This year the two kinds overlapped. Both shutdowns are about economics, i.e., how we live together in the one house in which we all dwell for a speck of time on a small planet in a vast universe. The English words ‘economy’ and ‘economics’ derive from the Greek word for ‘house’ and the management, or governance, of the one house in which we live.
In previous essays on Views from the Edge and chapters of Be Still! Departure from Collective Madness, we have sought to point to this saner view of life together in the nation and the planet. Saying it again feels like banging my head against a wall, but the coalescence of the government shutdown date and the Jewish Sabbath commandment to shut everything down — Shabbat — prompts this reflection.
The Hebrew word ‘Shabbat’ comes from the root Shin-Beit-Tav, meaning to cease, to end, or to rest. The shutdown in Washington, D.C. and the Fourth Commandment shutdown could not be more different. The one is a product of control; the latter is about ending the illusions that come from production.
“Remember the day, Shabbat, to set it apart for God. You have six days to labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Shabbat for Adonai your God. On it, you are not to do any kind of work — not you, your son or your daughter, not your male or female slave, not your livestock, and not the foreigner staying with you inside the gates to your property. For in six days, Adonai made heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. This is why Adonai blessed the day, Shabbat, and separated it for himself.” — Exodus 20:8-11 [Complete Jewish Bible].
You don’t have to be a seven-day creationist to “get” the meaning of the Hebrew Scripture’s call to stop and think. Step back. Pause. Respect your son, your daughter, your workers, the animals, and the foreigners within your national borders. Shabbat is not just the owners of the means of production but for ALL who labor under the yoke — an enduring sign and call of a better household management (economics) yet to come in the one house (the economy) in which we all live.
Practicing his Jewish faith, Jesus of Nazareth kept Shabbat and aligned himself with the laborers when he invited would be followers to join him in a kind of revolution that would turn the tables on the money-changers and lift up the have nots: “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Jesus was comparing the landless poor to oxen in the the fields of production, driven hard under a yoke that chafes and cuts into the oxen’s neck and shoulder, the yoke of economic cruelty and the burden that is anything but light. Rabbi Jesus was invoking the substance of the Fourth Commandment: the vision and practice of Shabbat economics.
Could the juxtaposition of the different shutdowns be clearer than when they are invoked on the same day of the week?
Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, January 22, 2018
The word ‘awe’ has fallen into disrepair in the English vocabulary of North America. David Kanigan’s lovely post featuring the picture of a naked infant and Arthur Powers’ poem out awe in Juarez, gives hope that the lapsed vocabulary is temporary and that the children, and our love for them, may yet lead us.
- Grandpa Gordon, Chaska, MN, Jan. 22, 2018
some foreign place,
to a large woman,
crawling bare assed
on the dirt floor,
and about the way
an adobe wall,
try to write it down
in a letter to a friend,
in English –
try to catch
as she said them
until you recognize
there is no way
– no way at all –
to do it
except to take
your friend by the hand,
returning to Juarez,
and go to the woman,
the laughing woman,
Notes: Poem Source – 3quarksdaily.com. Photo: George Marks
A kite flying above the Illinois prairie invites the viewer to hear the Sound of Silence.
Steve Shoemaker, the 6’8″ kite-flying poet whose poetry blessed Views from the Edge readers, shared this photo from the Shoemaker prairie home near Urbana, Illinois in 2014.
Steve didn’t live to see the changing of the guard one year ago today. On the anniversary of the 2017 inauguration, pancreatic cancer has silenced Steve’s Views from the Edge posts, but his poetry and “Visual Poetry,” as he called this photograph, still speak clearly. Like the kite in the photograph and the photo of Steve towering over President Bill Clinton, Steve still invites us to “go fly a kite” for a better time. RIP.
- Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, January 20, 2018.
Sometimes I feel like a speck in the sand. My insignificance to the shifting sands of time once led me to despair. But the shifting sands of later years have turned the sense of smallness into awe and gratitude. Joshi Daniel’s photo “A Speck in the Sand” inspires a joyful meditation.
Joshi and I met at The College of Wooster. My recollection is that Joshi cleverly disguised himself as an empty pew while I was in the pulpit in McGaw Chapel. Just two specks in the sand temporarily shifted to India and Minnesota.
— Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, January 16, 2018
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: Only love can do that.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.
The photo of the Haitian immigrant’s son graduating at West Point is worth a thousand words, but the words place the tears in context on Martin Luther King Day. “Only love can do that.”
As 2nd Lt. Alix Schoelcher Idrache stood at attention during the commencement ceremony at West Point, N.Y., he was overcome with emotion. Tears rolled down both cheeks, but his gloved left hand held firm on his white, gold and black “cover,” the dress headgear that Army cadets wear.
He worked his way through one of the nation’s most prestigious military schools after immigrating to the United States from Haiti, earning his citizenship and serving for two years as an enlisted soldier.
“I am humbled and shocked at the same time. Thank you for giving me a shot at the American Dream and may God bless America, the greatest country on earth.”
“I am from Haiti and never did I imagine that such honor would be one day bestowed on me.
“Knowing that one day I will be a pilot is humbling beyond words,” Idrache wrote. “I could not help but…
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This piece opened my day. Maybe it will open yours — and your sense of joy — also. Its sensibility is akin to watching the Manatees in “Stillness at Blue Spring” (Be Still! Departure from Collective Madness, p. 3-4). Thanks to Kay and her friend Mary for bringing it to my attention. It’s pure joy!
A few years ago in a forest in northeast India, I heard and then began to feel, in my chest, a deep rhythmic whooshing. It sounded meteorological, but it was the wingbeats of a pair of great hornbills flying in to land in a fruiting tree. They had massive yellow bills and hefty white thighs; they looked like a cross between a toucan and a giant panda. As they clambered around in the tree, placidly eating fruit, I found myself crying out with the rarest of all emotions: pure joy. It had nothing to do with what I wanted or what I possessed. It was the sheer gorgeous fact of the great hornbill, which couldn’t have cared less about me.
The radical otherness of birds is integral to their beauty and their value. They are always among us but never of us. They’re the other world-dominating animals that evolution has…
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An email from Joshi Daniel Photography arrived today, the first anniversary of the publication of 40,000 words. Searching back into the site’s archives, Joshi’s self-portrait “Living on the Edge” seemed to capture the sense of the 40,000 words of Be Still! in one photograph. Joshi and I share a heritage. We are both preacher’s kids who met at The College of Wooster where Joshi was a student. Joshi perched himself on the rock at arms length from my perch on the pulpit of McCaw Chapel. All these years later, Joshi’s still living on the edge with photographs worth a thousand words.
Thom Hickey’s The Immortal Jukebox is like no other jukebox. Tune out the noise and turn up the volume. Enjoy this gift for the season from a blogger in Surrey, England. Click the link at the bottom for all the music of this lovely post.
And breathe! To initiate the contemplative mood I turn to the contemporary Estonian Composer, Arvo Part with his luminous, liminal setting of Mary’s eternal prayer, ‘The Magnificat’. Part has been labelled a Minimalist and a retro Medievalist. I prefer to think of him as having the gift to make time past, time present and time […]