SEPTEMBER, THE CAPE

Wellfleet, at their grandfather’s two perfect horseshoe crabs adorn the table of the uninhabited house while he’s in Florida in the fridge, Heineken dark “your surprise” – available across the highway Wellfleet and just think oysters or the saltmarsh sunlight breaks through my desire to travel lighter than this unlike the children an array of […]

ARISING OUT OF SILENCE

Another form of study we have found helpful is Worship Sharing, in which a topic is announced, a facilitator shares a brief (up to twenty minute) introduction, and then each person can respond out of the silence, speaking only once until all have shared and observing the other “rules” of vocal ministry: no direct rebuttals, space between messages, and so on. Thus, your original proposal could be turned into a series, “How To Meet God,” beginning with a session on experiences each person has had in encountering the Divine. A second session could examine varieties of prayer, in which individuals might begin to see the silence and social service as prayer, in addition to supplication, thanksgiving, praise, confession, and so on. Yet another session might examine ways of centering down for a better “sit” in Meeting (prayer returns here!). Each of the queries makes a good Worship Sharing focus, as does a carefully selected piece of scripture. Larry and Joanna Sparks, by the way, have prepared an excellent approach for group study of scripture, that requires the readers to sweep away their baggage and then to examine the text closely to see what it actually does say; a circle at Agamenticus spent six weeks on Jonah and felt they needed more time! Oh, yes, confession of our individual spiritual baggage and our initial religious training can also be useful Worship Sharing. Testimony about one’s spiritual journey to date has formed the basis for some Agamenticus Friends for monthly breakfasts at one family’s farm.

~*~

For more Seasons of the Spirit, click here.

OH, FOR THE CURIOUS TURNS

Why wait for the dust to settle? Here are 10 bullets from my end.

~*~

  1. So fine to curl up together in the hammock, even if we do require a blanket by this time of year. Good times, indeed, if we pause to catch them.
  2. Eighteen years later, I can still ask: Just who is she, really? Little is truly predictable. So much remains full of surprises.
  3. The joy of grilling continues. Pork chops and ribs, chicken, sausage. And anything beef goes so gloriously with our remaining stream of fresh tomatoes.
  4. The potted mums by the back door catch my breath each time I set forth. A few golden blossoms surrounded by a field about to burst out so starry!
  5. I thought the household chaos and clutter would greatly improve when the kid moved to college. I was wrong.
  6. Observing high school kids and realizing they’re so young! Compounded by recognition of how much unfolded when we weren’t much older! How did we ever survive?
  7. A parallel universe I could have inhabited. I’ve been grieving, so much lost, even while so much is gained.
  8. We’ve decided hard cider, rather than wine, can be a distinctive touch when we’re guests elsewhere or entertaining. New Hampshire has two producers we really like, and their work couldn’t be more different: North Country, in an old mill just a few miles away, and Farnum Hill on Poverty Lane on the other side of the state. As one friend described the latter, with great approval: “It’s apple champagne.”
  9. Barring a hurricane somewhere down the coast, the ocean around here can be warmer now than it was in July. Some of the best swimming happens now. Along with some of the best memories.
  10. Maybe there’s still time to harvest staghorn sumac cones and grind them into powder, like the popular Middle Eastern spice that goes so well on kabobs.

~*~

A widespread emblem of New England.
A widespread emblem of New England.

 

OH SO TRUSTINGLY

in the interim he would have to save the barn from immanent collapse and therein create a suite for his future mother-in-law so he helped the carpenter jack up the backside a half-foot to replace rotten sill and sketched out plans     tracked down a building permit     suspended new doors and windows learned to use a […]

FAST FLIPPERS

Flying through air.
Flying through air.

Catch the seals show at the New England Aquarium if you can. It’s about much more than feeding them, as you’ll see. While seals are populous along the region’s shoreline, seeing them is another matter – and rarely, if ever, do you get this close or for this long.

Boston is a rich and varied destination – the Hub of New England, or the Universe, as they used to say. Living a little more than an hour to the north, we’re well within its orb.

Of course they're cute.
Of course they’re cute.

 

EXPLORING HOBO JUNGLES BY THE RAILS

They can be smelly, noisy, frightening, dangerous – to the point of being traps where thugs prey upon the hapless or a Bernie Goetz incongruously becomes hero, victim, vigilant, and villain rolled up into one. They can be crowded and unfriendly, where sexual fantasies find unexpected play in the pack of rush hour. They can be lonely and forbidding. Or, in newer manifestations, they can be squeaky clean and efficient to the point of sterility. Much of the same, however, can also be said of the sea, where so many people head for vacation adventures.

At the moment, an electrical fire is hitting a midtown train. Many will be injured, and traffic delayed for hours. It goes with the territory.

Unlike a monorail, this journey requires at least two continuous rails. For instance, innocence runs beside sophistication. Eros parallels Thanatos, as do passionate loving and death. There are Yin and Yang, light and dark, good and bad, man and woman, sun and moon, land and sea, earth and air. Add a third rail, the power of the subconscious, and you embark on the world’s greatest epics.

~*~

For more from my THIRD RAIL collection, click here.

OF SOJOURNING AND EXILE

Kokopelli is not quite of this place, but he will stand in for the local hunchbacked flute players. As will Krishna, in tunes that begin slowly and build to ecstatic climax. Maybe they will be joined by a wandering sailor, looking for water. Maybe by fiddlers like me. Our melodies haunt and echo. This music demands dancing. The drummers appear.

You might ask what the Native American flute is made of. As well as Krishna’s pipe. What kind of bone or horn the sailor has carved. What opens as a simple, plaintive cry gains complexity and liveliness. Spider, in fact, weaves their intricate counterpoint.

The sailor knows sees their progression running from reel to jig to, ultimately, hornpipe. Who knows what the Hopi or Hindu call it — the effect is the same. Just look at a cow skulls and see where the horns were. Look at elk antlers. Look in his Bible, where horns are an image of power. Some who venture out into solitude return with their own power song. Begin wailing. Begin reeling.

I reflect. Suppose my children are born here? Is this really an arrival or a failed promise? What about the long exile ahead? The decades of trying to understand precisely what I’ve encountered in this desert and at its rim. Perhaps I will face a desert in my profession, as well. Perhaps I’ll find the sea is another kind of desert — one giving rise to the fishermen who were Christ’s first apostles. I already know of salmon returning to the desert.

I had believed this would be his Canaan — my place of milk and honey. I could spend the rest of this life pondering exactly what I experienced. Attempting, as well, to recover something of the encounter. The tune ends, but I remember its sound and its place on my maps. No matter that I might have even found this Canaan in a large city of orchestras and quartets, stages and screens, galleries and architecture, lectures and bookstores.

Maybe I’m merely sojourning here all along. In exile here as much as anywhere. And maybe it wasn’t the desert as much as the promise itself I explore.

At the end, a door closes. Maybe a gate. Like Eden, with its reality that I’ll never return. This desert is not a land that many visit. It reveals its true nature slowly, if you’re patient. If you’re reverent.

Actually, this might be just one more gate locked behind me. Even if I could return, I’d find everyone scattered. Or at least older. Here I haven’t even collected an antique basket or beaded moccasins or a piece of turquoise and silver jewelry to carry with me. Wherever I’m going.

Those were the days when I could read a totem pole and anticipate the stories. Maybe even name the children and their grandparents.

I should have known traveling with Kokopelli comes with risk. There’d be a price, eventually. Maybe it was while I was at the office or those other times when I turned, and he wasn’t there with me.

Now I come home and both Kokopelli and my wife are missing. I should have been suspicious all along.

It’s time for me to leave, then. I’m free.

For more insights from the American Far West and Kokopelli, click here.