September 27, 2011

A Hodge-Podge of Discontinued Items

Back in the '80s of the century past, I visited the highlands of Africa with a Yale professor.

Not really, i just wanted to start off a post with a romantic image. Sorry. Back to our regularly scheduled programming.

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Typical weather at 7:30am today: overcast and brisk, 54 degrees. Not dark yet, though that too will come. I stand outside for a minute or so, just enjoying the enlivening outdoors. I look over flowers still valiantly hanging on and the sturdy, weather-impervious fence. This small pleasure, of being outdoors in the morning however briefly, too will pass.

Then to the bookroom, batman:
Nothing could be finer than to be in the recliner in the morrrrnin'!
Drinking coffee black with a clock that's turning back --
Writing up a storm among the books so gently worn!
It's funny how the seasons are so well-named, winter with its severe cross ("T") in the middle of it, summer with it's first syllable rhyme with "hum" and "yum" and the double "m" as if a reminder you want more of it, just like the double "s" in dessert. Spring with its lively jumping motion and fall with its echoes of the committing of the original sin, or the unhappy happenstance of a physical accident. And yet all have their place. To borrow from a commenter on Heather King's great blog, quoting William Blake:
"It is right it should be so:
Man was made for joy and woe;
And when this we rightly know
Through the world we safely go.
Joy and woe are woven fine,
A clothing for the soul divine.
Under every grief and pine
Runs a joy with silken twine."

* <- (this delimiter represents a sudden change of subject)

Am pleased to have made the switch from Chris Matthews and his silly little show to Lino Rulli's "The Catholic Guy" on the afternoon drive. Have no clue why I subjected myself to so long to the irritation of listening to Matthews huff and puff. My take on talk shows: I can take liberal bias and depth, but not bias and nonsense, ala Matthews. Give me the NPR or Bill O'Reilly instead. Or "Morning Joe", which Bill Clinton said today was an example of the kind of media we needed more of. He said that in the morning people don't want sharp conflict which is why the morning shows (like "Fox and Friends") are generally more gentle than evening shows (like Matthews or O'Reilly). Clinton seemed perceptive and I did feel a pang of wistfulness for his years in office.

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Betty Duffy's haunting post came to me unbidden, in which she quoted Mother Teresa saying that the "fruit of silence is prayer" and that without the silence you don't have the prayer, with the latter leading to faith and eventually to love and service. I find it touching that the first thing Jesus did after hearing that John the Baptist was beheaded was to find a cave and pray. He knew his life would be changing, that he'd now be the "main guy", that his ministry would be starting and he began with what one should begin with: prayer.

And speaking of BD, how could I not be tempted to hit a Walker Percy conference featuring two bright lights of the blogosphere, Amy Welborn and Betty Duffy? I could wish for more advance notice. It's in mid-October in New Orleans and the desire to be there, in that room listening to those two is a sore temptation.

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It occurred to me yesterday in one those "well, duh!" moments, that the reason there was a newly christened section on atheism at the local Borders around 2005-ish was not due to a sudden, inexplicable societal trend, but because of the seminal event of 9/11. That interest in atheism was a recoil from Muslims killing in the name of religion. It's understandable that in the wake of that we'd have to deal with a wave of anti-religion despite the fact that Christians and Muslims tend to differ regarding the use of violence to perpetuate their aims.

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The Buddy walk (my dog) Saturday was a fail despite the incredible scene of ten foot tall yellow flowers in the large fields that flank the path. I was so nervous about him tearing up some other dog that I couldn't enjoy it; I had a wild animal on leash and a strong one at that. He already tore up the skin on my knee once, leaving what looks to be a permanent scar. I managed to elude one dog by going backwards and off-path, and two others by taking a long cut when approaching the parking lot. To make matters worse, Buddy threw up in the car on the way there. Note to self: leave Buddy home next time!

But Darby Creek's meadow path is gorgeous, especially the Oak Savannah. I find I like meadows and deserts more than heavily wooded areas these days, probably because of the length of sight-line and presence of sun.

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The other night was sitting on the dayclipse, the precipice of dusk. Drank a fine Southern Tier Harvest after a Nosferatu. Unfair to drink them in that order given the stronger taste of the Great Lakes but then perhaps all's fair in love and brews. A helicopter circles over the backyard, circling over a span of about a twenty acres. Odd. I feel a figure of interest.

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Am hyp-mo-tized by Goodreads (I know, late to the party), a social network for people of the book. Especially riveted by finding someone whose tastes are close to mine, but who seems a mite more perceptive. I say this on the admittedly thin reed of a single comment made by an Emillia P., concerning the book on the seven deadly sins.

To grossly paraphrase, she said the author is "too despairing but perhaps that's to be expected from a book on sin." I'm drawn to borderline despairers given the natural tendency toward solidarity and yet perhaps it's best to read in the opposite direction. Gerard of early Catholic blog fame, call (earthly) home.

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Oh how I remember, going off-road, off-path in Arizona towards the beckoning canyonland and finding an astonishing view. Ignorance is bliss, for I didn't realize I was braving rattlesnakes and scorpions while running through that underbrush. But there is something inestimably satisfying about going just beyond the "facade" of the tourist stage and finding something just as jaw-dropping. As great as the first vista was - and Lord knows it was - there was something really nice about finding another on my own. It seemed to give the area even more charisma since there were more...and more...breathtaking views. The funny thing about the Grand Canyon was that I pictured it as more or less ONE big hole when it's actually a seemingly infinite corridor of colored rock. It goes on and on beyond that which the eye can see. It's that desire for the infinite, or at least a horizon-filling tableau, that is so fulfilling, whether it be space, the ocean or the Grand Canyon. I think this desire is related to our desire not to run out, not to have to deal with scarcity. With the Grand Canyon, the oceans, or space, or God it's safe to say we'll never be able to see all of it or Him in one lifetime.

And then later, in the middle of a book of his essays, I come across these lines from G.K. Chesterton:
I have always mistrusted the Man On the Spot; because I fancy he is the Man in the Spotlight. It is rather like the feeling about the tourist who sends a picture-postcard purchased on the spot; we have a suspicion that the spot is only too well known as a beauty-spot. Particular persons and particular places are picked out by the limelight of publicity, in a way that is not really representative. In fact, I have always had a feeling, myself, that the luckiest of all journeys would be to set out for some famous place, and lose your way and find yourself in another place. It would probably have all the beauties and virtues of the first place; and the virtues would not be vulgarised. You would have the huge good fortune of finding the old, original famous place, before it was famous.

2 comments:

MrsDarwin said...

Go to the Walker Percy conference. We are!

TS said...

I'm going to be traveling in November, so I think going to New Orleans in October would try my wife's patience. But I hope you write up a huge trip log so I can live vicariously!