"To me, every hour of the light and dark is a miracle." — Walt Whitman
WORDS LIKE LIGHT
Saturday, September 4, 2021
One definition of an epiphany is “a moment of sudden revelation or insight”, something that I’m sure happens to all of us more times than we realize. I’ve had thousands of epiphanies over the last 79 years, everything from suddenly realizing, one April day back in 7th grade, that I was in deep trouble with Sister Virginia Marie, to unexpectedly understanding, one morning several years ago, how to securely install a bracket for a flag to an outside wall. I suppose we have these epiphanies almost constantly – these sudden understandings, unforeseen eye-openers, “aha!” moments that make some part of life instantly comprehensible. Strangely, one of my most common epiphanies is the out-the blue understanding that I don’t really understand much of anything – that this life is ultimately a beautiful but unsolvable mystery, of which I am a small but essential part. These are instructional epiphanies that, in a flash, make clear to me my safe and lucky place in this hugely puzzling but relentlessly perfect universe. I’m always grateful when they make what have become their regular daily visits.
A WONDERFUL ACCIDENT
his life reaches a peak.
It's like everything
is food for his heart,
like he can see the heat
of the center of his life,
like a wonderful accident has happened
and cast him into a paradise
where he can sit in peace
and play pitch-and-catch
with both joy and disappointment.
WORDS LIKE LIGHT
Thursday, August 18, 2021
When I was a boy and a member of a Catholic community, certain days were labeled as ‘holy days of obligation’, but now, many decades later, I understand that every day – every hour, every moment – is hallowed and should be devotedly honored. As a young Catholic, on those special days I was ‘obligated’ to attend mass and take communion, but now, at 79, I feel obligated – and happily so – to ardently worship every single moment, since each of them is surrounded by – and filled with – a sacred and boundless light. I sometimes feel like falling to my knees in adoration, as I used to do as a boy in Holy Redeemer Church, but now this feeling can come to me as I’m sitting at my desk doing some writing in the early morning, or walking across the grass in our yard, or washing some bowls and spoons in the sink. I see now that everything is blessed. Every rise of my lungs is somehow sanctified, and even the simplest thought is sacred. I should be worshiping all day long! I’m always in the presence of the sanctified mystery known as ‘life’, so perhaps I should occasionally bow my head in reverence, even after a sip of steaming coffee at 4:53 a.m.
In Worship, West Virginia, USA,
even the smallest word -
even 'like' or 'love' -
is spoken with special reverence.
Citizens of this serene town
see holy mystery everywhere -
in water flowing from faucets,
in hands that shine after washing,
on the shore of each arising moment.
You'll see expressions of consecration in faces
in the cereal section of grocery stores,
and the prayer-like look of mechanics
making their sacred cars run smoothly.
Just a little silence
can make folks fall into prayer,
and the sound of warm air
flowing from a furnace
is like sacred hymns
in reverential Worship, West Virginia.
I sometimes feel like I’m in a befuddling maze, which is why, perhaps, I often feel a-mazed by everything around me. Like many of us, I enjoy pretending that my life is laid out in well-marked roads, and that I know exactly where I’m going and how to get there, but the truth is that I’ve been in an almost daily maze since November of 1941. Honestly, I still have little or no idea who I am or why things happen or where I should be going, and it is in this sense that I feel almost constantly amazed, as though I’ve been endlessly wandering in a maze for 79 years. Perhaps, though, I should say ‘labyrinth’ instead of maze, for in a labyrinth there is no worry of being lost, since all paths in due course lead to the center and back out. A labyrinth is a light-hearted place to be, since all choices are somehow the right ones, and seeming mistakes end up showing you the way. I guess life, for me, has been like a puzzling but relaxing labyrinth. It’s like a mystery made for my pleasure and instruction, a place where patience can turn mistakes into miracles.
(July 16, 2021)
will silently show you
how sharing is always happening -
how troubles play a part in joys,
how happiness has something to do
how 'now' has a role in the future.
This special day knows
that everything participates
with everything else,
that losses and wins
to make a life to be thankful for.
You'll be deeply involved
with this day.
You can't avoid it.
We took our first real bike ride of the season this morning, a quick 8 miles, and here’s a look at Delycia finishing the second 2-mile stage in a very strong fashion …
+ + + + +
“Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
or like stout Cortez, when with eagle eyes
He stared at the Pacific – and all his men
Look’d at each other with a wild surmise –
Silent upon a peak in Darien.”
— John Keats, “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer”
I’m always hoping to more often feel what “stout Cortez” and his men felt on that “peak in Darien”. Keats pictures them standing on a hill above the Pacific Ocean, staggered by the scene, and I would like to foster more of that kind of bewilderment and wonder in my life. Cortez and his men saw a startling sight, and every day – every moment – I am witness to scenes which, in their own special ways, are just as amazing. Hard as it is to remember during the sometimes wearisome routines of the day, the various circumstances that arise around me are as unique and mystifying as the Pacific Ocean, and really, the only suitable response to them is honest amazement. The life I share with Delycia is my “Darien”, and wherever I happen to be is the “peak” where I can look “with a wild surmise” at the inscrutable magnificence of life. A “surmise” is a guess, a supposition, a hunch, and that’s honestly all I have when it comes to understanding the things I see and experience. In the end, they’re all complete conundrums to me. If you ask me to make clear the mystery of even the simplest circumstance – the look of lamplight on a table, the sound of a car coming past the house, the whole sky shining at 7:00 a.m. — all I could do is make a hit-or-miss guess, a “wild surmise”. A better response might be to stay respectfully silent, like the astonished explorer and his men.