Lines Written in the Days of Growing Darkness

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Mary Oliver’s “Lines Written in the Days of Growing Darkness” — a poem of love for the world in the season of autumn leaves and shorter days — arrived this morning from Canadian David Kanigan’s blog.

Every year we have been
witness to it: how the
world descends

into a rich mash, in order that
it may resume.
And therefore
who would cry out

to the petals on the ground
to stay,
knowing, as we must,
how the vivacity of what was, is married

to the vitality of what will be?
I don’t say
it’s easy, but what
else will do

if the love one claims to have for the world
be true?

So let us go on, cheerfully enough,
this and every crisping day,

though the sun be swinging east,
and the ponds be cold and black,
and the sweets of the year be doomed.

~ Mary Oliver, “Lines Written in the Days of Growing Darkness” in A Thousand Mornings 


Notes: Poem source – Thank you Karl @ Mindfulbalance. Photo via afaerytalelife

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Lightly Child, Lightly

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Earlier today we re-blogged this Lightly Child, Lightly post and promptly moved on to write a reflection it inspired. We moved too quickly. We forgot to “stick it” on Views from the Edge’s “front page”. This afternoon, we’re making amends by putting it on our front page with an apology, and with deep thanks to our friend up in Canada, David Kanigan, host of Live & Learn.

lest we would sift it down
into fractions, and facts
certainties
and what the soul is, also
I believe I will never quite know.
Though I play at the edges of knowing,
truly I know
our part is not knowing,
but looking, and touching, and loving,
which is the way I walked on,
softly,
through the pale-pink morning light.

-Mary Oliver, from “Bone” in “Why I Wake Early


Notes:

  • Photo: spanishlandia
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect here.
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

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Kurumba tribal woman of Attappadi

The weathered face and eyes of the Kurumba woman living in the interiors of the forest in Kerala, India, seems to say, “I see you. Do you see me? What do you see of me and you – I, living deep in the interior forest, and you, in whatever forest you’re living?” Thank you, Joshi Daniel, for sharing what your eyes see.

Joshi Daniel Photography

Black and white portrait of an old Kurumba tribe woman of Attappadi in Palakkad district of Kerala

Read more: Kurumba tribe

Nominate your favorite photoblogs for the Fifteenth Annual Weblog Awards: The 2015 Bloggies http://2015.bloggi.es/#photography

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Death in the Wood of Ephraim (Dennis Aubrey)

Dennis Aubrey of Via Lucis posted Death in the Wood of Ephraim (Dennis Aubrey), a one-of-a-kind reflection on the biblical David and the death of his slain rebellious son Absalom.

Dennis and PJ continually bring to the internet something very special: their thoughtful interplay between their photographs of Romanesque and Gothic architecture and commentaries on what they experience while photographing them and researching their histories.

Via Lucis is an example of the spiritual and artistic integration of external (visible) and internal (invisible) reality. This morning I left this comment for Dennis:

Dennis, this is such a profound reflection, in my view. Once again you weave the thread through the highs of joy and the depths of sin and sorrow in ways that move us beyond the separation of light and shadow/darkness that too often keeps us in spiritual and moral diapers, separating the sheep from the goats. Your note gives me hope that the time preparing for the pulpit is not in vain, especially when it is appreciated by someone who does not define himself as a practicing Christian. Friedrich Schleiermacher spent his life in conversation with “the cultured despisers” (i.e., good, rational people whose sophistication had led them to conclude that religion was a relic  that impedes the sure ascent of historical progress).  In your photography and writings I find a conversation partner who lives at the razor’s edge between belief and disbelief, joy and despair, the heights and the abyss of nothingness, and the honest search for hope and truth beyond the illusion of inevitable progress. If Romanesque architecture “induces internal experience and reflection…” – the internal experience of the external expression of Gothic – your photography and commentaries continually weave the two together to achieve a rare depth, and a balance between the seen and unseen, the external and internal. I am deeply grateful. – Gordon

If you go to Dennis’s site, please take a moment to comment. Or you may leave a comment here.

Dare to Dream

This morning PhotoBotos posted a magnificent photo by Alex Teuscher (Geneva, Switzerland) of a woman sitting at the mouth of what appears to be a cave. Click on the link http://www.photobotos.com/dare-dream-geneva-switzerland-alex-teuscher/ to see the photograph and read the commentaries by PhotoBotos and Alex, the featured photographer.

Every work of art invites interpretation by the viewer. “Dare to Dream” was intended to create a picture of dreaming and imagination. When I saw it, I couldn’t help but think of other images that inform the picture.

Stunning! I hear echoes from “the cave”: Elijah hiding in the cave; Plato’s cave where all we humans get to see are the shadows on the walls but never the fire behind the catwalk whose light produces the shadows; the dark nights of the soul – depression, sorrow, loneliness, hopelessness, grief – all sitting there inside the cave when there is such splendor all around it.

This picture is different. It sings a different song. The beauty of this piece is that the woman (it strikes me as a young woman, although I suppose it could be John Lennon ) is serene, at one with the beauty and brilliance of the natural world. Freed from the chains that would keep her deep within the cave.  And…she’s not talking on a cell phone or texting! She’s fully present to the beauty. Even the walls of the cave are bathed in the light. This deserves a wider audience. Wonderful.

Drop a comment here to share with others what you see and how it strikes you. And be sure and follow PhotoBotos.com and Via Lucis, two of my favorite sites for meditation.

Heaven on the Bridge at Big Sur

Sometimes the present is heavenly. Click HERE for one of those times. This photo of the Bixby Bridge, Big Sur, California, by Max Granz posted on Photobotos.com is ethereal…and Eartlhy real. Leave the photo up for a few minutes to relax your day…or bring calm to your night.

You cover Yourself with a garment,

who has stretched out the heavens like a tent,

who has laid the beams of Your chambers on the waters    …who makes the winds Your messengers,

fire and flame (and headlights?) Your ministers.”

– Psalm 104

Leave a comment here or on the Photobotos site, as I did, to appreciate the photograph and to thank the patient photographer.

The stones are singing

Sometimes things just seem to come together all of a sudden. This was one of those moments.

This sermon created itself when four texts converged. “But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water” (Gospel of John 19:34).  “She has done a beautiful thing to me. … Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her” (Gospel of Matthew 26:10, 13). “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out” (Gospel of Luke 19:40). And, last but by no means least, the piece that pulled them all together: “Elle Chante, Pere” (Dennis Aubrey, Via Lucis Photography), used with permission of Dennis Aubrey. Yesterday, Good Friday, Via Lucis re-posted the sermon. CLICK HERE for Denniis’s comments and those of others on Via Lucis.

Click the title to hear and see

 “THE STONES ARE SINGING

Albert Camus once said that your life is “the slow trek to recover the two or three simple images in whose presence [your] heart first moved.”

Sebastian Moore recovered one of those images after he had wandered into church at vespers on the Feast of the Sacred Heart.

In his book, The Inner Loneliness, he describes that moment of awakening. It came one evening after lots of pasta, a lot of spaghetti, and a lot of wine. “As I entered the church, I heard the familiar words [in Latin] ‘One of the soldiers opened his side with a spear, and immediately there came forth blood and water.’ And I had what can only describe as a sense of fullness of truth. Somehow, everything that was to be said about life and its renewing was in those words. Somehow my life, my destiny, was in those words.”

The image that moved his heart became one to which he returns daily, as do I. For the piercing of the side of the helpless man hanging on the cross happened not just then and there at Golgotha; it happens here and there and everywhere that torture own souls and the souls of others because we, or they, have failed to measure up to what we expected.  Strangely, it is in the piercing that brings blood that we are cleansed by the living water that pours from his side.

Do you see your life in the words and in the image of the spearing of his side, in the blood, but also the water that heals, restores and renews, flowing from his pierced side?

A second image came to me this week on a photography blog of religious architecture by Dennis Aubrey.

“There are sights impossible to forget,” writes a blogger I’ve been following, a photographer. His name is Dennis Aubrey. He takes magnificent photographs of great church architecture and accompanies his images with equally spell-binding words describing his experience sitting in those sacred spaces.

Dennis Aubrey tells the story of walking into a basilica. It’s the Basilica of the Magdalene – dedicated to Mary Magdalene, who is thought to be the woman in the Gospel stories who poured out the expensive ointment on Jesus and then wiped his feet with her hair. The scene for the photograph and the writing that describes his experience is the Basilica of Mary Magdalene in Vézelay, France.

”There are sights impossible to forget,” he writes, “the first glimpse of your child, or the look on the face of a your beloved at a moment of perfect happiness. My first sight of Vézelay[i] was such a moment of perfection for me, a small medieval town clustered on a steep hill with a single narrow road winding its way to the top of the rise where stands the Basilica of Mary Magdalene.

“To appreciate Vézelay is to watch sunlight move like a living thing across walls of stone, then suddenly create a vision of indescribable, aching beauty. It is to watch shadows deepen around a priest sitting solitary in a side chapel waiting patiently for a penitent to come for confession. It is to hear the songs of nuns echo off the vaulted ceiling and ring like bells in the human soul. David sang in the Psalms, ‘You, O Lord, will be my light; by you, my God, the dark will be made bright for me,’ and in Vézelay this is palpable.

“So many days PJ and I have brought camera equipment into the church and have seen and captured images that make me wonder if it is even us taking the pictures. It is enough to sit and watch and wait, and suddenly the shot appears, as if summoned by the Magdalene herself. It has never failed to occur, and I don’t imagine that it ever will. In September 2008, at the end of two full days of shooting in the church, I sat on the stone wall leading down to the crypt where Mary’s relics have been kept for so long, venerated by so many. The originals were destroyed in the paroxysm of the French Revolution, but new ones have been placed in this crypt and are visited to this day. I was quiet and trying to remain inconspicuous because the priest was in the side chapel of Saint Teresa of Ávila hearing confession. Every once in a while, a young man or an elderly woman would come and sit next to him on a small wooden stool. With heads huddled together they would murmur quiet words of repentance and forgiveness. At the end, a sign of blessing and then footsteps echoed on the flagstones. It seemed to me, sitting near, the church was silent and reverent, fulfilling its very purpose even if it was only a single person seeking the expiation of sins.

“In this silence, a new thought entered my consciousness, something never expressed before. With this thought came a tumult of emotions, a release of waves of images and thoughts and feelings. I suddenly understood the need for God; even if I did not acknowledge that need for myself, I knew with certainty that it existed. It was a terrifying moment, unsettling and disturbing. I struggled to lock this transient understanding firmly in my mind so as not to forget, so that it did not turn into a mere anecdote. After some time a sound entered my consciousness, emanating from the pillars, the walls, arches, from the blocks
of granite themselves. I don’t know how long I sat there, rapt, listening, as the flow coursed through me in a flood that grew in intensity. And all the while, this faint sound of music.

“Eventually, I became aware of being watched, of not being alone in my thoughts. I turned to see a strong young priest standing next to me, with a small and knowing smile.

“’Elle chante, Pere,’ I said, ‘elle chante aujourd ’hui‘(‘She sings, Father, she sings today.’) His smile broadened, he nodded, and he went off down the aisle, leaving me with my thoughts. And on this day, Magdalene was singing, her very stones ringing with song.”

On this day – on the way to his death –  when they told him to silence his disciples, Jesus replied, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones will sing out” – and they still do!


[i} After Note: A bit of history from Dennis Aubrey: “On Easter Sunday 1146, on the great open hillside to the north of the basilica, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux preached the Second Crusade to an enormous multitude gathered to hear him — King Louis VII, princes and peasants, clergy and laity. A few years later, two kings, Phillipe Augustus of France and Richard the Lion-hearted of England, assembled their forces here to begin the Third Crusade.

“Vézelay was also the site of a violent century-long social and political struggle among several parties — the monks and abbots of the abbey of Vézelay, the great abbots of Cluny, the Count of Nevers, and the merchants of Vézelay. The disputes over control of the fees and the rights of the various parties escalated to such heights that in 1106 the Abbot Artaud of Vézelay was murdered by townspeople. Three popes and two French kings tried to mediate a settlement, but the forces of history were in opposition, not just the rights of the nobility, the Church, or an emerging mercantile class.

“Eventually the power of the abbey waned, the legitimacy of the relics of Mary Magdalene was disputed by monks in Provence, and a pope eventually denied their authenticity. The pilgrims stopped visiting and the economy suffered. With the Renaissance, things human replaced things divine, and Vézelay sank into oblivion, a silent monument to the glories of the Romanesque revival in France.”

Sometimes I feel blue

Purple-yellow iris (Kay Stewart photography). Poem by you know who.

Purple-Yellow Iris

Sometimes I feel all blue

Sad      Sorry      Down

Like the Blues

A Rhapsody in Blue

 

Sometimes

When the Blues

Begin to play in me,

It happens –

 

Blue bursts into purple

Leaping into joy

And a burst of sun-burst yellow

Comes crashing through the blues

I feel all clean

All wet    All  up

Like a hymn

An ode to purple-yellow joy