FIELD GUIDE

When you walk into the expanse, keep going. Maybe you’ll meet a dwarf at creekside. Maybe a bear. If you do, you must speak respectfully and listen closely to the reply. Even if they call you a yokel, as Kokopelli did.

~*~

A dust storm — sandstorm — and they close the highway.

You must wait. Cover your mouth and eyes.

~*~

On high ridges, bachelor Basque shepherds follow their flocks all summer. Each one and his dogs rarely encounter anyone who speaks Human.

~*~

Wilderness is about clouds, too.

Now what were you dreaming?

~*~

Guides do appear. Sometimes among fellow practitioners. Maybe even your landlord. Or Kokopelli.

~*~

“Who’s standing on my head?” a totem pole figure wonders.

Just like a typical office.

~*~

Blinking in my field of karma, the reminder:

PENDULUM
swinging
back
winter
NIGHTFALL

It’s not the first time.

Be faithful and wait.

~*~

Sometimes a lover becomes a place you want to enter.

Sometimes one’s the space the other envelops.

~*~

Where would I have been without her in that desolate expanse?

~*~

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

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MORE THAN A QUESTION OF IDENTITY

What would you be if you weren’t Quaker?

I usually pose it in terms of religious affiliation, skirting the bigger issue of what we’d be without that particular spiritual discipline and nurture.

The question often illuminates an individual’s leanings within the Society of Friends, and it’s one that can be telling in many other denominations as well.

Many of us come to where we are from other religious traditions, and even among Christians the variations can be vast. And then there are yogis of all stripes, Buddhists, Native practices, arcane and pagan seekers, non-theists, agnostics, and much more. Neo-Muggletonians, anyone?

Some Quakers are very drawn to the social activist side of our community; others, the meditative worship. Some are quite Biblical; others, anything but. (Shall we mention the Gospel of NPR?) And that’s before we get to the full spectrum of today’s Friends, from ultra-univeralist to evangelical to alternative Christian to, well, we’re all over the map. And yes, many of us do miss music in our worship.

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DEAR CROSSINGS … WHERE THEY WILL

The mind dances here and there, rarely in a linear fashion. So what’s on my mind these days? How about counting on these fingers?

~*~

  1. So strange to awaken with no agenda for the day, no pressing project at hand. To return abed, with coffee. Not that this is normal, by any stretch of the imagination.
  2. My big dream for financial liberation: HAWAIIAN SWEATERS. In northern climates like ours, the popular Hawaiian shirts have about a six-week span of usefulness. But with long sleeves and sufficient heft, their colorful designs just might be welcome for leisure wear the rest of the year. Think of skiing or ice skating or sitting beside the fire. Let me know if you’re interested in investing.
  3. On my way home the other day, had to brake for deer on each side of the road. And then? Such large ears!
  4. Am seeing so many of my literary work turning into history – despite their contemporary focus.
  5. “You write where your soul is” (says Ernest J. Gaines). Not necessarily where your body is.
  6. A long procession – parade – of panel trucks, tractor rigs, pickups – was headed by a hearse. I still don’t know the story.
  7. The Provost’s Wife is quite a character, famous for her parties.
  8. When I’m involved in a project, just plain STOPPING is difficult.
  9. The ocean’s turned wild, restless, throwing big sprays. I’d never be viewing this had that lover returned. Nor would I have written anything of what I have since she left. Seems altogether fitting.
  10. As another said, “Things are slow when it rains.”

~*~

The Ogunquit Art Museum hosts some impressive shows but is open only part of each year.
The Ogunquit Art Museum hosts some impressive shows but is open only part of each year.

 

The central gallery looks out over Perkins Cove, where major artists painted some iconic coastal Maine images in the years before the museum was built.
The central gallery looks out over Perkins Cove, where major artists painted some iconic coastal Maine images in the years before the museum was built.

 

Care to step outdoors?
Care to step outdoors?

IN THE PASSAGE

squirrels thrive, after all, largely solo apart from the mating chase or bout though they’ll sleep six or seven together yet repeated delays that autumn allowed little rest and precluded burying nuts as well as his lady’s daffodil and iris bulbs et cetera packed away what they could, hoping they could cobble a nest *   […]

DIMENSIONS OF ARTISTRY

The space of art also works in other dimensions. The artists themselves are rarely of the same social class as their benefactors or audience. We repeat the cliché of starving artist, even when some become comfortably wealthy and dwell in chic locales. Still, they’re employed in ethereal fields — actors, musicians, painters, the stagehands and gallery owners, box office managers, and a host of others. They work different schedules from the general populace. Many sleep late or stay up through the night.

There are even the spaces as a work moves away from its creator into other locations. A painting, for example, appears one way in the studio, another way on one’s walls, and still another way in a gallery — none of them resembling what happens when the same piece is hung in a major museum. Musicians and actors know the difference between the intensity and argument of rehearsal and the propriety of performance itself. An author can observe how different a piece appears in manuscript, in galley-proof, in a magazine or literary review, or in a bound book. A poet or a poetry supporter becomes aware of the differences between viewing a piece on the page, voicing it on the lips (either in a public occasion or for one’s own private pleasure), or performing it in a formal reading.

We can move outward, of course. Into ballparks or arenas. The loud crowds. But those are other spaces, in some ways overlapping fine arts and religion.

We might consider as well the ways the fine arts have been acceptable as civic religion. An Oscar or a Grammy is more valued than a Crucifix in our society. A comedian is a better master of ceremonies than a preacher or priest. We’re nervous about civic events held in houses of worship. A wedding or funeral, perhaps, though it carries a sense of crossing into something private.

On the other hand, as religion has retreated largely from public awareness, or perhaps simply to the suburbs and better parking, it has abandoned earlier houses of worship, especially those downtown or in the inner city. Some have been converted to arts spaces — galleries, concert halls, night clubs, theaters, restaurants. I regard these as being somehow different from structures designed and built for arts uses. It’s more than recycling, I’d say.

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

BEYOND CONSENSUS

I’d gladly renounce any desire to conduct holy business if I had it spare me, O Holy One, please *   *   * this session leaves me a headache and troubled this is not Gospel Order look at this agenda! and these to-do lists! where’s the Sabbath? our lives already so cluttered and overbooked before adding […]

GOING FOR THE GOLD … FOLIAGE

Being mindful of what’s right in front of us can always be a challenge. Here are 10 new items from my end.

~*~

  1. We’re well into the foliage watch. Weather plays into it, too. Heavy rain, followed by glorious clear. Or sunlight blazing against slate-gray clouds. As for the chores, in advance of winter? “I’ve been on my feet all day.”
  2. Each October I revisit the symphonies of Charles Ives. It’s not just his birthday month but also an acknowledgement of his deep New England roots. The annual tradition often leads to the symphonies of George Whitefield Chadwick and then John Knowles Paine. Inevitably, I wind up with the one symphony and the piano concerto by Amy Beach. Big, magnificent, often richly Romantic pieces, for the most part. Wish they were much, much better known by the public. (For more.)
  3. A stay-at-home morning: pad about, get some writing and reading in, finally shower and dress at 2 p.m. And then? Swim in the indoor pool.
  4. Am wondering what might have happened if I’d achieved “success” – at any number of points. I would have wound up moving along that groove the rest of my life, likely without exploring many of the other facets I now find overlapping.
  5. My third-floor lair and my loft in the barn are both tree houses!
  6. My wife resisted when I insisted on the dishwasher. How much she objected! My, my, how that’s changed! These days she even argues it can be cheaper than hand-washing the plates and flatware in the sink.
  7. We live close to the state university but partake of so little of its arts programming. Even now that we know where to park.
  8. Bought a new calendar but back home saw it was for the wrong year – this one, rather than next. Still, the illustrations are marvelous.
  9. To gain the reader’s trust is the central issue of each work. It’s how transformation through action across time connects.
  10. Degrees of Truth? Now this really gets complicated.

~*~

Stone angel in the city cemetery behind the Quaker meetinghouse.
Stone angel in the city cemetery behind the Quaker meetinghouse.