April 15, 2014

Snippets Tied with Asterisks

Saturday got by me in a flash-point of light. Highlight was a little trip to Middle Eastern restaurant in Columbus appended with a visit to a nature store nearby - a museum of fossils, crystals and seashells where I purchased a $15 unbroken geode and my wife used her Christmas gift certificate on a new supposedly grackle-proof bird feeder. (Seems the squirrels are now feasting on the idea.)

[The geode turned out to be bust, literally. Hardly any crystals.)

Started reading lushly of the (THE) Updike biography via free first chapter download on Kindle. Not sure I can pass that up and I immediately succumbed to Updike's latest, last book of poems because I'm morbidly interested in last words and testaments. He had a good line about self-righteous peaceniks at the time of the Iraq war. Here it is sans line breaks:
Vietnam's gaudy gear and mount their irreproachable high nags called Peace, Diplomacy, and Love. I think that love fuels war like gasoline, and crying peace curdles the ears of doves.
So a grand amount of reading on - wonder of wonders! - the first sunny, warm weekend since Pete Rose's 44 -game hitting streak, or at least in the vicinity. I got transfixed by a project to try to list, chronologically, movies, books, music, talk show host influences of the past. I wondered if perhaps Shirley Maclaine's spiritual memoir Out on a Limb set the groundwork for a later enlivening of Catholic faith. I wonder if her book didn't soften me as far as the unseen. The next big landmark was 1992's John Paul's Crossing the Threshold of Hope...

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Saw painting of first Joyful mystery of the Rosary and it occurred to me that my thinking is flawed on the Annunciation. Rather than see it as God asking Mary for something of an imposition, a radical change in her life's plan, I saw it today as a marriage proposal! That's why Gabriel was on one knee before Mary, he was asking, on God's part, to marry Mary, to overshadow her spiritually and produce a baby with her. How beautiful is that?

Also deeply moving to hear Matthew's account of the Agony in the Garden, specifically a detail I'd never heard before, i.e. that Jesus not once but three times asked the Father if it were possible that this cup might pass.

I'm touched by Jesus being touched by the woman who anointed him with oil before his passion and death. There's something affecting about how even though he was God he still cared about the little things, little acts like that. Jesus appreciated human kindness for sure, human thoughtfulness, even if it wasn't something he needed. I would think that anointing him with perfume would not be something too important to Him, primarily because it seems like there was no need for it in a utilitarian way. Anointing wasn't needed, for example, to mask the smell of bodily corruption and there was no spiritual benefit. It seems something of a pious custom. But he could read hearts and surely saw what it meant to the woman too.

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Wow does St. Jerome well articulate how Gnostics then and now disdain the flesh while attending it:
And yet I wonder why they who detract from the flesh live after the flesh, and cherish and delicately nurture that which is their enemy. Perhaps indeed they wish to fulfil the words of scripture: “love your enemies and bless them that persecute you.” I love the flesh, but I love it only when it is chaste, when it is virginal, when it is mortified by fasting: I love not its works but itself, that flesh which knows that it must be judged, and therefore dies as a martyr for Christ, which is scourged and torn asunder and burned with fire.
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Listening to jazz, writing in the journal, anticipating the experiential (not just calendar-ic) beginning of spring. Read a line from a Jack Gilbert poem that reminds me of the novena to Blessed Margaret of Castello: “God wished Blessed Margaret blind from birth so that she could more clearly see the value of spiritual realities…”

The Gilbert poem goes,

“Best of all are the gardens; hidden places where they have burned down the buildings and kept the soil poor so the plants won't grow with vulgar abundance, Like the Japanese gardens made only of rocks and sand so that their beauty would not be obscured by appearances.”

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