Posts Tagged ‘Keli Wright’

Death Comes for the ArchbishopDeath Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The only plot here is that which you might find in anyone’s life. The book flows through Bishop Latour’s years without relying on external forces of any kind. A quote toward the end of the book expresses the way the work itself moves:

“He realized also that there was no longer any perspective in his memories…. He was soon to have done with calendared time, and it had already ceased to count for him. He sat in the middle of his own consciousness; none of his former states of mind were lost or outgrown. They were all within reach of his hand, and all comprehensible.”

Click on the link above to read the rest of my review of Death Comes for the Archbishop.

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Bat or butterfly: which will you see?

Speak.  My beauty lies inside of me.

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LUKE 2:7

There was no room for them in the inn.

 

 

 Notice the Beauty

 

 

Now seems like a great time to step out of ourselves and our busy lives for a moment here and there to notice the people around us and to express, not just consider expressing, that we see their beauty.

Shatter Me

ABC News interview with Lindsey Stirling: backstory on “Shatter Me” and a little on her struggle with depression and eating disorder.

 

The prison doors shut tight,

The only key: the Light.

 

 

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LUKE 1:26-30

And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.

Christ the babe was born for you.

 

Recently I had cause to ponder the self-appellation “prisoner of Jesus Christ” (Philemon 1:1).  I’ve struggled with this concept before.  Perhaps it is because none of us wants to be a prisoner of anything.  We want to be in complete control of our lives.  Of course, this doesn’t stop us from making ourselves prisoners of addictions, social expectation, political dogmas, materialism, fear, and any number of other things.  Perhaps it is because my understanding of Christ is that He makes us free, and I have a hard time calling myself freeman and prisoner in the same breath and by the same source.  Today I found this post on the Mormon Tabernacle Choir blog and it sparked a new thought.

We refer to the time people spend in prison as time spent “paying their debt to society.”  Therefore, a prisoner is one who is paying a debt for a broken law to some entity which has authority to see that the law is upheld.  There is also a sense that the prisoner is making recompense to a party that has suffered because of his or her choices.  Both of these applications fit our relationship to Jesus Christ.

I have had several loved ones spend time in jail.  Some have used that time well; others have not.  Those who have done well first had to accept responsibility for what they had done, humble themselves and accept that they were there because of their choices, and stop trying to find a way to circumvent the consequences of their actions.  Once they let go of their anger, defensiveness, excuse-making, self-pity, resentment they were able to learn and to make the experience one that benefitted themselves and others.  Those who would not let go of these things never moved beyond them.

This is a lesson for all of us because we are all prisoners.  The question is are we at the point where we are willing to experience the odd mix of pain, peace, and joy that comes when we truly begin paying our debt to Christ (a debt, incidentally, that can never really be repaid) or are we “on the outside,” unaware or unwilling to admit that we are still subjecting ourselves to jailers that have no power to open the prison doors for us.

My head is full, this time of year,

with mucus and with Christmas cheer.

 

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LUKE 1:26-27

The angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

Silent Serendipity

After posting Silent Night yesterday, today brought a serendipitous encounter with a poem by Pablo Neruda entitled “Keeping Quiet.”  It was posted on the Brainpickings website (which I very much enjoy).  The recording leaves out a bit of the poem, so follow the link to get the full text, as well as Maria Popova’s post.

 

 

Cookies

Along with the post on Neruda, BP posted an item on Carl Sagan’s “Baloney Indicator Kit.”  This showed up on my Facebook feed, just a few spots down from a “New Age ‘BS’ Generator.”  Perhaps it’s the season for that, as well, as religious-y and science-y people become involved in the ongoing and ridiculous battle, based on the logical fallacy of the False Dichotomy (or False Dilemma), of who is wrong.  I say who is wrong because the battle is usually fought using strategies that involve attacking the other.  I love critical thinking, logic, rational thought.  I really think it should be used more often.  I also think the following caveats ought to be observed:

  1. That it be applied across the board, not simply as a tool to attack or shut down the opposition.  That is to say, that we do not while demanding only logical argumentation on the part of the opposition, allow ourselves the luxury of relying on rhetoric or emotion to support our stance.  It should go without saying that likewise we do not demand absolute adherence to logical rules while we, ourselves, employ fallacies.
  2. That it is understood not to be the sole method of discussion, and certainly not of gaining understanding or knowledge.

What does this have to do with cookies?  I found another Generator at WAPO that I thought would be less apt to suck us into the aforementioned battle: A Hoilday Cookie Generator!  So if we can’t all walk in quiet with Neruda or speak civilly and rationally of the many and wondrously varied thoughts and feelings of the human race, at least we can share cookies!  [To my diabetic, vegan, gluten-free, etc., friends, no offense intended.  Please take this in the spirit it was offered.  And, btw, this generator has vegan and gluten-free cookies, too!!]

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Cookies, by DerGraueWolf

 

World Nativities

One of my favorite Christmas-y things is nativities.  I collect them.  I also enjoy finding things of beauty in cultures other than my own.  So, it stands to reason, that I would love a site that blends the two, and does some good besides.  From their Project page:

Along the way, we started buying extra Nativities from artisans around the world. We sold the extras to our interested friends. We thought it would be a small project, but the response has been so high that we have sold thousands of Nativities from hundreds of artisans since 2005. Profits are given 100 percent to charitable causes and micro-credit projects in Third World countries that benefit the poorest people on the planet.

A few of my favorites from World Nativity

 

 

 

Commencing a venture, no matter how small,

is to hover a moment between fly and fall.

Last year I fell.  Who knows what this year will bring?  At this moment, however, the view is grand.  I’m not limiting myself to Christmas this year, though that will play a significant part I imagine.  I’m leaving myself, and you, free to explore the fanciful, the thought-provoking, and, most importantly, things that bring a little light into the dark months of December.  Let’s celebrate!  Shall we begin?

 

 

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MATTHEW 1:18

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise.

EUOUAE

I found a post at Grammerly on the longest English words.   This one caught my attention because it was quirdly (quirky in a wordly way) and it has to do with music, medieval church music to be precise.  I have a thing for Gregorian Chant.

Euouae is six letters long, but all of the letters are vowels. It holds two Guinness World Records. It’s the longest English word composed exclusively of vowels, and it has the most consecutive vowels of any word.”  (Grammarly)

(Euouae at Wikipedia)

Silent Night

One of my favorite carols.  This version is visually beautiful, and the reverence with which it is performed was uniquely touching.  I felt, possibly more than ever before, how sacred that first night was, how truly blessed was that moment of respite before a lifetime of relentless work and turmoil.  Christ’s was a life spent on others, lived en route to an acknowledged death, unavoidable as all our deaths are, but unavoidably brutal as well. I wonder how often Mary looked back on the tenderly merciful memory of peace and joy, simplicity and safety, as she watched her son live the demanding life and die the ignominious death of His destiny.

Watch Domingo’s eyes as he sings.  Listen for the astonishing closing “Holy Night.”  What I heard was “Hallelujah” in a tone that showed angelic reverence for Christ and what He willingly undertook for us.

Negative Blue: Selected Later PoemsNegative Blue: Selected Later Poems by Charles Wright

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the first Charles Wright collection I’ve read. I appreciated the natural imagery, the interesting mix of backyard and international vantage points, the reaction pieces to his reading material. There were many “moments” as I read, and a few full poems that really spoke to me. There were also times when I thought “there’s that arborvitae, again….”

What appeals to me most is the recurrent theme of internal spiritual/religious struggle and Wright’s facility in connecting the natural with the supernatural in a realistic, non-fantastical way–from the recurrent references to the titular “Blue” that ties the Heavens with the Earth (e.g., Blue Ridge Mountains) to the constant use of images of winter-barren plant life. The Man (Adam?) I see throughout this collection is one who, after a youth of religious devotion and fervid expectation, has experienced a life that challenges that Springtime passion. At the end, he sees rather an absent God, one who has lost interest in His creation. But even then, the Man cannot deny God’s existence, though at times it appears that this is his desire. It seems that the essence of God remains, but the Edenic rupture has yet to heal. Throughout the poems, there is a thread of anger, frustration, abandonment, and doubt as to whether that rupture can heal. But always there remains a sense of reality, even if that reality is difficult to put into words; the spiritual/religious elements are rooted in solid ground, not flitting about in ether.

A bit of the poem “Ostinato and Drone” speaks to this:

“It’s reasonable to represent anything that really exists
by that thing which doesn’t exist,
Daniel Defoe said.
and that’s what we’re talking about, the difference between the
voice and the word,
The voice continuing to come back in splendor,
the word still not forthcoming.
We’re talking about the bush on fire.
We’re talking about this quince bush, its noonday brilliance of light.”

This book is not a skimmer. It deserves consideration. My observations are limited by my knowledge of Mr. Wright and my single reading of this collection.

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I got a little relief this week exploring a new (to me) group, Vacationer.  Although I could imagine their name comes from the tripping mood of their music, you don’t have to be high to enjoy their laid back, funky, hip, cool, beachy, Indian/Caribbean/Brazilian (etc.)-influenced style.  The group is aptly named.  Listening to Vacationer with the scent of sea breeze and yin-yang melty wax wafting around me sent me on a mini-getaway.  It gave me the unique mixture of relaxation and invigoration that comes with a great vacation.

I’m still working on the “lay back, turn your mind off, and just let it wash over you” approach to living.  Truthfully, I don’t think I’d ever be satisfied with it full-time.  It’s just not me.  But I definitely need those moments.  And sometimes, I need those days. Or weeks.  Vacationer gives me this escape in the small doses my life allows.

Beyond that, however, listening to “The Wild Life” gave me pause to consider something deeper than surfboards, bikinis, jungles, and beer on the beach.  Anything thought-provoking earns points in my book.  This song got me wondering if “the wild life is human nature,” why do we not still live that way?  My answer ran along these lines: I think it is also in our nature to grow, to develop, to seek and find, to ascend.  Unfortunately, our modern lifestyle channels those desires into perverse streams of lust for power and material gain rather than streams of increasing consciousness.  There is something beyond existing as a collective of impulse-driven, bipedal mammals, something more fundamental than functioning as cogs in a econosociopolitical consumption machine.  Perhaps it is in the space between careless vacation and hyperfocused industry that peace, pleasure, and productivity exist together.  Discovering and maintaining a balance is up to each individual who desires it.  For me, I think Vacationer might play a part in that quest.  If not, they still make awesome listening!

 

The Wild Life, Vacationer

 

An Interview with Lead Singer of Vacationer,

Kenny Vasoli

 

A Little Joao Gilberto & Stan Getz

(You’ll get the inclusion if you listen to the interview)