Monday, September 27, 2004

Trust + Beauty = Faith

Ok before you go poking holes in my equation, (which I'd nontheless encourage) I just want to say I don't believe this is true for everyone. It just occurs to me, reading Chris post today about a canyon wren's song, and about a poem shared a few days back.... that for some of us maybe, there is this idea that in the face of tragedy, in the face of the impossible, in the moment of crisis, that we might be restored by a combination of a moment's attention to the glory of the crisscrossing network of veins in a leaf, and the belief that even if that leaf falls, that somewhere a tree produces another. At least that is what I described as my own path of faith to my women's circle, more than any ritual process, more than a prayer answered, more than a night of meditating, remembering to step out the door and quietly look and listen.

All day and night, music,
a quiet, bright
reedsong. If it
fades, we fade.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

"Trusting is what we do. It's based on several abilities that we bring to the task.
--Profiling people. We discern the patterns of people in terms of what they actually say and compare that to what they actually carry out.
--Reality oriented. We recognize the reality and personality constraints that play a part in carry out what we say and how they may interfere with a person's actual doing what he or she says. Being realistic in this way enables us to not be blind to personal and inter-personal reality.
--Secure vulnerability. To trust we have to open ourselves up, be receptive mentally and emotionally to someone or some thing and play with it."

From an interesting article on the nature of trust

Thursday, September 23, 2004

From the Cure at Troy,
by Seamus Heaney

Human beings suffer,
They torture one another,
They get hurt and get hard.
No poem or play or song
Can fully right a wrong
Inflicted and endured.

The innocent in gaols
Beat on their bars together.
A hunger-striker's father
Stands in the graveyard dumb.
The police widow in veils
Faints at the funeral home.

History says, Don't hope
On this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up,
And hope and history rhyme.

So hope for a great sea-change
On the far side of revenge.
Believe that a further shore
Is reachable from here.
Believe in miracles
And cures and healing wells.

Call miracle self-healing:
The utter, self-revealing
Double-take of feeling.
If there's fire on the mountain
Or lightning and storm
And a god speaks from the sky

That means someone is hearing
The outcry and the birth-cry
Of new life at its term.
(posted thinking of Sara Hensley)

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

There is a calendar on the wall,
one of those paper travel calendars with photos or maps and info about Mexico
which makes sense, because this is a Mexican restaurant
And the large block print on the calendar admonishes us:
"El futuro es hoy!"

(The calendar is dated March 2001)

I am waiting for a take-out order which was placed by phone. Upon arrival, I glance at the menu and realize that they had told me the wrong name for the type of burrito I tried to order, so I confirm with Miguel that I intended to order a pork burrito with green sauce. He assures me yes, yes, that is what I ordered, even though the burrito on the menu has enchilada sauce (which is red). It's just that the one called Expresso has guacamole, sour cream and tomatoes also. I ask if it's already made, and he explains yes, and that its cheaper! He's given me more stuff and I saved 50 cents. He heads back to the kitchen, then calls out to me that he needs just a minute to finish the order.

So I examine the possibility that in March 2001, the future is now. It's an attractive fantasy, to continue to live in a pre-9/11/2001 world. I picture the lives of those 3000 people moving along doing those things they would do in the world,
going to work, mowing the lawn, eating a burrito from their favorite Mexican restaurant. That this could continue at this moment would be a miracle but in March, 2001, I doubt any one of them realized that the simple actions of living could be so precious.

Some time later Miguel brings out the take out bag, carefully wrapped, and I leave my musings about 2001 behind. I again confirm, "this has green sauce?", and he says "of course" and sends me on my way.

I unwrap the plate at home, and it is immediately apparent that this burrito was once covered in enchilada sauce, scraped as you might scrape burned bits off the last piece of toast that has gotten a little over browned in your morning
rush, scraped of it's red sauce, of the guacamole, of the sour cream, of most of the tomatoes, and recovered in green sauce. It would be tempting to gripe about it, it would be easy for me to look at the burrito and get irritated that they didn't just make a new one if they did it wrong and realized the error. Or ask me if red sauce was ok given the mistake. But it's just a burrito. Seems like there's so many larger events where we shape the outcome to fit whatever it is they told us. El futuro es hoy. And if you don't like it, we'll just coat it with a different veneer to suit you

Cynicism doesn't make a good dinner time conversation does it?
So what do I find hopeful about this 2004 version of the future?

Little things like the pictures you find if you do a google image search on "burrito". Which is where all the pictures in this post came from.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Happy Birthday Dear Beth!

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Don't yer ferget, today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day

Sunday Composite "Scherzando"

I saw a statue of Frank Zappa today
Can I convince you that this happened? It happened in daylight in the center of town
Blinking in the bright sunlight, unsure of where I am
If I cannot trust myself to see these things, how can I trust myself with anything?
I'm ready to accept any extreme claim about my home
I don't even remember to squint as I once would have done
This mad hunt for causes, for explanations
Ricocheting off the wine glasses and careening past the dishes of risotto and fish
They always look a little embarassed when they're out in the open, caught outside in their housecoats
Any attempt to extricate myself from this unfortunate position will result in my unwitting sterilization
Luckily, I possess a real mop and a real mop bucket
Clad in a style uninfluenced by Ralph Lauren illusions of the good life
And two pounds coffee, one of which was from Cuba

I do feel encouraged now
The rest of the week is when things get edgy.

Sunday Composite "Glissando"

I dreamed of a girl with lemony skin
Where my night self and my day self meet at the parting of some inchoate veil
She relents to that beast inside her heart
Throws her hands deliriously in the air
Teams with the sky and the rivers, and you can't tell any of them apart
Of all the free and joyful things, I think, light and air come first

Blog poets reprised, hopefully patient with my sport

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Today Beth at the Cassandra Pages shares her personal experiences attempting to get people involved in protest, and references some research about the efficacy of protest in the environmental movement. Good reading. I was going to respond in her comments, but it got too long, and I've already spoken out a lot on violent and non violent protest there. See.

I want to do something.
But I want to make a difference.
I want to make a difference.
But I don't want to violate my personal principles of non-violence.
I'm convinced there is a way.
But what is the way? What is MY way?

It appears that Michael Moore got frustrated enough with the conventional systems that he decided to break out of the previous molds with Fahrenheit. I was impressed. He got into a lot of people's "minds" using much of the same psychology and format that the "powers that be" are using on the right wing side of the equation. Of course, if you read interviews, he explains outright what he is up to, rather than manipulating people from the background. However, the potential there really interests me. What can I do that will, as Agnone refers to in Beth's reference, "Make a big enough disturbance"? Moore made a big disturbance.

So some other questions I'm dwelling on along these lines:
What is morally justifiable in defense of this planet, if you truly believe that Bush's environmental policies are dooming us?
For a while I feared that our administration would drive North Korea into a corner where they'd feel impelled to act against our "demands." I don't trust in the current administration's ability to navigate that situation. So what about the risk of nuclear threat? What is justified then?

I remember a theoretical question from a net discussion board about what one would do if a child was sitting on Bin Laden's lap, and to kill him, one would have to kill the child too. A didactic question, and in the end, not useful in forming my own path of action about what ends justify what means. I'm not going to face that scenario, but I am facing the scenario of an election which I believe puts my own children's future and the future of many lives at risk. Just exactly what am I willing to do? And if I am going to do anything, exactly what do I believe will make any difference? As Chris from Creek Running North points out, "Even if every avenue of expression was made freely available to every person in the US, each vote would be only 1 in 200 million or so. If you don't have a grasp of the math, that can feel pretty disempowering."

I'm pretty sure attending a concert sponsored by MoveOn will make me feel a part of something "good", but make very little actual difference. I dutifully sent off my check to the Kerry campaign, money buys elections right? But how many minutes of air time did that buy? Me against an oil company. Of course I will vote. But my Dad's vote will cancel mine out. And he's not changing his mind any more than I am. He hates Kerry. No argument, no amount of data, no rationale will shift his stance. Now we are net zero out of 200 million.

As Beth says, "I know that if every person in this country who really believed we're on the wrong course --whether on foreign policy, environmental policy, health care, you name it; voters and non-voters, establishment and dis-enfranchised alike - got out onto the streets one organized day and said "We have had it" - this government would fall." But we are so disorganized, so scattered. So little disturbance. And no one can tell me, tell us, what one thing I/we can do tomorrow that will make a difference. What ten things. Because if they did, I'd be out doing them. But the Kerry campaign office told me the only volunteering they needed were neighborhood and phone canvassers. I don't believe those two are on the list of ten. I think it's too late for that tactic to work, it's too much part of the system, and noone wants to get those phone calls during dinner and really think about the issues at stake. They talk about the undecided vote in this country, but I think the only indecisiveness is the willingness to wait for the next major media revelation. The next smear. Is it wrong to root for the smear?

On a very local scale, I keep thinking about all those political signs going up in the yards of my neighbors, and the deepening schism being driven right in my backyard, where we are pushed into "camps." My kids keep score by counting signs. I keep score of how many more neighbors I feel estranged from. I'm tempted to drive through and take ALL the signs down late some night. Think globally, act locally right? If I believe the heart of the matter is the division, what can I do to bring us back together in a radical way? Hold a neighborhood dialogue?

My co-worker commented today that the division reflected in the lawn signs would last long past the election, regardless of the outcome. A permanent structure on our cultural landscape, a widening gulf. But systems of instability swing back to some sort of center don't they? Is there some action I could instigate that would hasten a swing back towards our common ground, our tolerance, our mutual trust?

Will someone please tell me?

Again, a quote on the subject of writing and what it accomplishes, this time by Kim Stafford, from the Northwest Writing Institute newsletter for August 2004:

"In school, I realized, there was this idea that knowledge came first. When you had enough, you moved up through grades toward the grown-up world. But Guthrie turned this around. In his schema, as I understood it, life would thrust you into a predicament that would force you to grow. Then, if you knew how to lead a reflective life, you would distill this growth into understanding. Pain first, then growth, then understanding, and only then knowledge of how the world works. Knowledge to serve the world.

If you love, pain will come. No question. In time, what you love will be threatened, hurt, even destroyed. And, helplessly, you will grow. But the distillation of this suffering and this growth into knowledge-in my experience this distillation happens by writing and sharing with engaged friends what the writing brings. Guthrie had given me a new way to see what we do. By writing, we turn half-understood episodes of transformation into stories, poems, and essays."

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

A quote in honor of Kurt's birthday September 15.
I have procreated unless writing studies the image and no more.

-----O. Brouman and T. Begley from "Sappho's Gymnasium"

Go on over and wish him many happy returns.

And if you happened to miss Leslee's on the 11th, do the same for her!

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Tangle of cornflower down,
Plump pillows, honeyed sheets, willow fleece
Trio of felines are
Nestled heaths of slumber
Upon a soft moor of bliss
Purr rises against the early fall chill
My bed was not made today
A sacrifice to the altar of Bast

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Don't say what is the use
of me alone being peaceful
......when everyone is fighting

You're not one
you're a thousand
just light your lantern

Since one live flame
is better than
......a thousand dead souls

~~ Rumi from ghazal number 1197

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Backlit by my glowing flat screen
Tiny curtain of strands
Dotted with a chorus line of dancing araneina
Legs waving their decent into the waking world
Of desks, drafts and parachute entrances
Their genesis less heralded
But no less mysterious
Than the solar winds from space
Start here to unravel the web of life

Richard Butler Dies at age of 86
Now there is one man this planet will be better off without.
You might label this comment disrespectful of the recently deceased, if you weren't aware he was the founder of the Aryan Nations and a leading proponent of the hate movement in this country...

which has been very effectively challenged by the ongoing efforts of The Southern Poverty Law Center

One less murderer for them to keep watch over. It's men like Butler who make me wish I believed in a day of reckoning at the gates of heaven.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

A sobering article discussing the "civil war" in the Islamic world, and it's ramifications. From Time magazine: Struggle for the Soul of Islam

If you could do one thing (personally) to make a difference in this war, what would it be?


I love the internet, the strange way you can type in "Croque Monsieur" and arrive here completely off topic but amusing enough to share.

I'm sorry I can't give the author proper credit, but thanks to Gordon, last-nameless contributor to the Sinister mailing list. Which seems to have nothing to do with the content of this treatise. *grin*

Sunday, September 05, 2004

On Friday my kids and I spent the day sleeping late, having a home cooked breakfast, going to a high desert museum/zoo, swimming, going to an art gallery walk, having dinner at a Mexican restaurant, and falling into bed at 10:30PM exhausted.

On Friday over a hundred children were lost in an incredibly tragic fashion in Russia.

How am I supposed to feel? Siona was right, in my comment below, futility isn't the right word for it. Although for the rest of the day after reading that headline, I felt like the world was ending and that anything I was doing in my life was futile if it didn't make a concrete difference to decrease the chaos of hatred induced violence. And yet, this is what I do in my job, in a small way, what I do when I talk to kids in schools about hatred, in what I try and teach my own children about respect for the earth and listening to others. But it seems so tiny. And this week, we are just playing, having fun, enjoying a vacation for the last week before school starts.

So there is this ridiculous contrast. We frolic in this vacation town where the main worry for the day for the people around us is whether to get the caramel corn or the waffle cone at the corner sweet shop, and I can't pretend I don't think of places where there is no food. I pull my kids close on the couch as we watch Spongebob and think how lucky I am to sit on a couch and watch Spongebob with my two healthy happy kids, and start to ache that others have lost their kids so senselessly. And its all so heavy and my kids know something is wrong. The existence of suffering, and the existence of joy are the duality of living. I don't quite seem able to shut one out so the other can be unburdened.

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