The Ocean

The steady ocean breeze danced through my hair, and the rhythm of the waves crashing along the shoreline surrounded me as I walked along the beach. The water scurrying up and over my bare feet now and again, erasing the imprints my walk had left behind me. I was rather engrossed in searching for sea shells and any other interesting sea washed paraphernalia that I might happen across; so engrossed, in fact, that I did not look around me for quite some time. I don’t know why, but sometimes I get so engrossed with what is at my feet that I become nearly scared to lift my eyes to what is around me. Once or twice I felt a slight nudge deep down inside of me to look up, which I did, but not with much interest, because I didn’t want to walk by a sea shell that was perfect and miss a chance to collect it.

For some time I had held four or five shells in my hand, and I hadn’t much room there for more. Eventually I stopped walking and turned to face the setting sun and ocean directly. As I gazed out across the vase expanse of water, I was nearly blinded by the blaze of the setting sun. I breathed a deep breath of salt air and stood very still, entranced by the gloriously grand and beautiful expanse that lay before me. The cool water rushed over my feet and quickly receded, forming a little trench about each of my feet, leaving only a little mound at the center where the pressure of my weight kept the sand from being washed away. I moved my feet side to side to even out this little mound, and sank ever so slightly deeper into the wet sand, and ever so slightly deeper into the profound reality of beauty that ebbed and flowed and breathed about me.

It occurred to me that I am too often caught up in the details of life to step back, stand still, and really participate deeply in the world around me. Too busy looking for better shells than the ones I already have to look up and bask in the sacred sublimity of the radiant sun setting over the mighty sea, too busy even to stop and examine carefully the shells that I already hold in my hand. It seems rather silly when I think about it. The details become so much less important when I look at the vastness of life, and yet properly placed within the grand scheme of things they become so much more beautiful and meaningful than they are on their own.

I stood gazing at the water for a long time, all these thoughts running through my mind. Whenever a wave would recede back into the next the sunlight would glitter furiously on the millions of little ripples of water, sinking at last into the sand and the swell of the next wave. I pray that I consistently take the time to bask in the glory and unity of everything around me, working together towards beauty, and that I never get so hung up on searching for sea shells that I miss the ocean entirely.

Fall is Coming

It’s the perfect temperature outside where there’s a slight breeze on my skin that’s so cool it’s almost cold, but not quite. The tips of some of the trees are just starting to orange red, and I can just about taste the dry earthiness in the air and feel the ever so slight edge on the gentle breeze as I sit on the second floor balcony of my family’s house in Hartford, all fortelling Autumn stealing upon us. I’m starting to lose track of time now-a-days, but for the past one or two falls I’ve been in Europe. I’ve sorely missed New England fall — I am convinced there can be no part of the world where the fall season is so beautiful.

The breeze is getting a little more pronounced now. I wonder why I love this fall season so much. It’s not just the colors of the trees; not just the beauty that sweeps through the forests like a fire, but something deeper. As I sit here and sip my Taiwanese oolong tea I’m trying very hard to locate the center of this feeling that is washing over me with the almost but not quite cold breeze. Perhaps this season resonates with me so much because it is very much symbolic of joy in the face of death. Many things are preparing for death in this season, but as they die they do so with such blazing beauty. There is no fear or shrinking back from the darkness of winter coming, but instead celebration and joy.

Somehow death makes joy more meaningful, more poignant. I do not know whether darkness is required from a theoretical standpoint to make joy more beautiful, and I think I dislike that idea from both a practical and theoretical standpoint. However, that said, it remains my experience that somehow, someway, suffering can bring about great depth of spirit and peace. It can also do the opposite, but all the best things in life are a two-edged sword. I have suffered, you have suffered, each of us in our own unique ways, but let us find joy in the face of death. I pray that darkness does not rust me but make me brighter.

Music Blog

Hello dear readers,

I just wanted to note that I’ve set up another blog for music related posts here. You can subscribe by email to the blog in the sidebar as you can on this site, and you can also sign up for my music email list where I will send updates about my musical endeavors (also in the sidebar on the new blog). I’ve been in a writing mood lately and intend to ramble a bit on here at some point in the near future. Until then, I’ll be posting pretty frequently on the music blog.

In Collaboration I

A few months ago I wrote this poem with Chloe Richardson. She wrote the first line, I the second, she the third, etc. until the end. Turned out quite lovely I think.

In Collaboration I

Luna’s dipping through the clouds, white behind the gray and rose.
Fall is treading softly on the winds of summer’s close.
Demeter pulls invisibly at leaves, at fruit, to bring the year to birth or death
And breathes among the branches of the trees her chilly breath.

She is restless, ceaseless, with maddening sweetness whisking the world towards dust,
Her heavy sighs and clear, crisp form are full of wanderlust.
The land is full of movement, lightened of fruit, confessed of grain,
Autumn’s measured, hurried stride whisks leaves to an ancient refrain.

Ready Taurids and Leonids flee cold heaven, flaming, crumbling,
Like the swallows and geese fleeing the snow, soon to be swirling, tumbling.
And though all things are leaving, still are they coming home,
For there, in the end, will all be drawn, even them that roam.

New Day

It is a new day.
The waking sun smiles,
And life is good.
A chance to work hard,
And a God who loves me.
What more can I ask?

Idaho

I will miss the rolling hills and fields of Idaho. As George and I were driving to the airport I gazed across the brown turned up earth and noticed a half moon hanging wistfully in the late afternoon sky, gazing maternally over the same fields as me. I haven’t slept much this week and drank far too much coffee this morning, which leaves me in an exhausted, buzzing state of mind, with no room in my head for thoughts and plenty of room in my heart for unasked emotional pangs.

I lit another cigarette with Papa Roach blaring on the stereo and let a feeling of hopeful sadness wash over me as my eyes wandered aimlessly over the landscape. There’s a lot of evil in the world, a lot of darkness and suffering, seemingly random and unfair in it’s distribution. Following my eyes example, my mind wandered over various situations and people I’ve interacted with recently, giving a visceral collage of examples to that darkness.

And yet, somehow, in the deepest part of my soul, I could see the glorious end of all things. Somehow, and I really don’t know how, I know that all will be made right and beautiful. There is some unshakable part of me that never falters in this belief. Not belief but knowledge. I caught a vision of how the fields before me were somehow tainted with imperfection from the overflow of sin from humanity, and yet they were still beautiful. Waiting for the day when even the hills will be complete and at peace, they stand there expectant, a testimony to the creator and redeemer of all things, content in their existence. Hopeful sadness is the best sort of sadness I think. A painful ache over the current state of things with an insight into the beauty that it still retains and a vision of the peace that lies ahead.

The Hill

I was sitting out in the field for a while, up on the hill in Potlatch Idaho, watching the clouds billow over Moscow mountain in the distance, the wind buffeting the right side of my face. I tried to quiet myself but found that ‘mama’ by My Chemical Romance insisted on playing in my mind on permanent repeat.

Yesterday I walked down to the river and sat on the rock I used to sit on sometimes for Trappist hour back when I was here for Hill Abbey all those years ago, and here also found many thoughts about work making a din in my head. Along with my current worries many memories from my year here raised themselves up and jumped around in my consciousness, creating a rather irritating racket.

The river, I observed, didn’t care for my thoughts. It kept serenely and silently flowing on its way, unhurried and unconcerned. I was struck by the complete peace the river displayed, and the strength of it’s current, betrayed only by a few ripples on the surface. I could feel the energy and power that flowed in front of me, without noise or struggle. What I wouldn’t give to be like the river.

Dearest Sister

I write to you about hope. At times, as you have said, it is easy to become cynical and judgmental of people. Truly there is much darkness in the world, and sometimes the suffering and pain, the anger and injustice that surrounds us is overwhelming. But here, when all we can see is the darkness, is it most important to cultivate hope, for this is the only weapon we have against cynicism and despair. I write you these words to fulfill your request, so that you have a summarized version in ink of some of the things we discussed when I was with you. Consider them carefully, and I hope that you will find them of some assistance as you continue to fight on the battlefield of life.

Of the utmost importance is this: you must learn to care for, love, and accept yourself. For only as much as you accept yourself can you accept others. Only as much as you care for yourself can you care for others. This is a tricky business, because it is also a terrible thing to become self absorbed and overly introspective. What I mean is this, that when you are able to see clearly, and not only see clearly but to accept compassionately, all that is bent and misshapen in you, and you work hard and gently and wisely to right these wrongs in your heart, only then will you be able to help others and accept them and truly love them. As you yourself have said, we ought to pour out our lives in sacrifice for others: this is our duty and privilege in life, but what good will it do anyone if the life we pour out is full of slime and sludge? Therefore take care to cultivate a life of holiness and purity, for only then will you be able to help others in the same.

This brings us again to the topic of hope. You must have complete faith in the fact that there is potential for good — and even existence of good — in all people. You must believe and try to see more and more clearly every day that our Father in heaven is righting all wrongs and will in the end bring something perfect, good, beautiful, flawless from the mess you see and experience around you. Hope is believing and acting upon a truth that you do not yet have the faculties to perceive or comprehend. Only after you truly believe and have faith in the fact that everything will turn out right will you one day be able to truly see and understand this. Until that day comes when you gain insight, have faith. I believe this to be the most important thing anyone can believe, for without this faith all is dark and hopeless and pointless: your ability to accomplish justice and peace for God’s kingdom in this world hinges upon this faith and vision. Above all, guard your heart and vision from becoming clouded and jaded with cynicism, for this leads to darkness and despair, which will sap truth and justice from the world and people around you.

It is hard to cultivate faith and hope, and a hard thing to love and care for  yourself. I ask you to look at my faith and my hope as an example if it be any assistance to you. I love you very deeply, and if you cannot love yourself I ask you to see my love for you and know that I see a beautiful soul, a beautiful heart in you, and I ask you to try to see, or at the very least believe, the same thing. Know that I believe in you.

Never be afraid but instead be eager to ask others for help, for it is only in asking that we receive. While each of us must walk the path of life with our own two feet, there are many hands and hearts along the way to help, and it is when we try to do everything on our own that we will most assuredly fail. I send with my words my love and my prayers, and ask you to ponder all of them. May the peace, hope, and faith of God fill your life. Amen.

A Few Quotes From Lilith

In the past few months I have read two of George MacDonald’s books: At the Back of the North Wind and Lilith.

Both have profoundly impacted my soul. If Phantastes was the most beautiful book I have read, At the Back of the North Wind was the most innocent, and Lilith the most profound. As I said to my friend, “George MacDonald takes away all my words.” He said in response, “Isn’t it great to read someone who takes away your words instead of giving you a million new questions?!” I wholeheartedly agree with this assessment of ¬†things. MacDonald is truly one of the most profound authors I have read. He puts words to things and makes concrete ideas that have only been shadows in my subconscious until now. He says what is in my heart so well that when I am done reading, I have nothing left to do but smile. I see now why Lewis says that reading MacDonald was to him a ‘baptism of his imagination.’ It has certainly dunked my imagination (and soul and heart) in the rivers of the divine.

I highly recommend MacDonald to anyone seeking the truth, and to anyone who knows in his heart that God is beautiful and just and merciful. MacDonald expresses these truths profoundly. A few quotes from Lilith.

“He is a glutton, and there is no hope of him. — It makes me sick to see him eat.”
“Could not some of the boys watch him, and not let him touch the poisonous things?”
“He may eat them if he will: it is all one — to eat the apples, and to be a boy that would eat them if he could. No; he must go to the giants!”

——-

“Surely, I thought, no suppression of their growth can be essential to their loveliness and truth and purity! Not in any world could the possibility exist of surch a discord between constitution and it’s natural outcome! Life and law cannot be so at variance that perfection must be gained by thwarting development!”

——-

“The part of philanthropist is indeed a dangerous one; and the man who would do his neighbor good must first study how not to do him evil, and must begin by pulling the beam out of his own eye.”

Indecisive Skies and Here

Two poems I wrote a month or two back.

Indecisive Skies

Have you ever seen the sky
When it can’t decide whether to be orange or pink?
Sometimes I wonder
If that’s just a reflection
Of my own indecisiveness.

Here

Here I am.
Where, exactly; I don’t know.
I wonder, sometimes,
How much where really matters,
As long as I’m truly here…