Today At Meetingbrook

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Sluice runs between Bald and Ragged Mountains. Barnestown Road carries enclosed pods of passage up and down its length. Everyone going somewhere. I have nowhere.

Mountain air is different from the world of people,
Always with a feeling of ancient times:
Cloudy trees put on a hue for each of the four seasons,
But the voice of the valley spring has only one tune.
Rain makes the warbler’s robe heavy with dampness;
Warm breezes lighten the butterfly’s sleeve.
Though I’ve written poetry till I’m an old man,
I have yet to astonish the spirits and gods.

- Ishikawa Jozan (1583-1672)

Mr. Bush claimed Jesus Christ as his favorite philosopher. I hope other students of philosophers learn more from their teachers than he seems to have learned from his. Martin Heidegger said the role of the teacher is "lernen lassen," to let learning happen. What Mr. Bush seems to be teaching the world is not learning, but frightening vengeance. Mr. Bush, I begin to fear, is as ill suited a teacher as he was a student.

A contrast between one and the other:
1. Gospel Luke 6:27 - 38
Jesus said, “But I say to you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To him who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from him who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to every one who begs from you; and of him who takes away your goods do not ask them again. And as you wish that men would do to you, do so to them.
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back”.


2. President Urging Wider U.S. Powers in Terrorism Law, By DAVID E. SANGER
QUANTICO, Va., Sept. 10 — President Bush called today for a significant expansion of law enforcement powers under the USA Patriot Act, using the eve of the second anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist acts to say that his administration was winning the war on terrorism but that "unreasonable obstacles" in the law impeded the pursuit of terror suspects.

With his speech here today at the F.B.I. training academy, where he spoke to a cheering crowd of federal investigators and troops from the nearby Marine training base, Mr. Bush plunged directly into the debate over whether the Patriot Act's provisions were too far reaching. He argued that they did not reach far enough and promised, "We will never forget the servants of evil who plotted the attacks, and we will never forget those who rejoiced at our grief."

Mr. Bush proposed letting federal law enforcement agencies issue "administrative subpoenas" in terrorism cases without obtaining approvals from judges or grand juries, expanding the federal death penalty statutes to cover more terrorism-related crimes and making it harder for people suspected in terrorism-related cases to be released on bail.
(New York Times, Sept.11, 2003)

Perhaps poets make better sense of our experience than presidents.

To a Terrorist

For the historical ache, the ache passed down
which finds its circumstance and becomes
the present ache, I offer this poem

without hope, knowing there's nothing,
not even revenge, which alleviates
a life like yours. I offer it as one

might offer his father's ashes
to the wind, a gesture
when there's nothing else to do.

Still, I must say to you:
I hate your good reasons.
I hate the hatefulness that makes you fall

in love with death, your own included.
Perhaps you're hating me now,
I who own my own house

and live in a country so muscular,
so smug, it thinks its terror is meant
only to mean well, and to protect.

Christ turned his singular cheek,
one man's holiness another's absurdity.
Like you, the rest of us obey the sting,

the surge. I'm just speaking out loud
to cancel my silence. Consider it an old impulse,
doomed to become mere words.

The first poet probably spoke to thunder
and, for a while, believed
thunder had an ear and a choice.


(Poem: "To a Terrorist," by Stephen Dunn, from Between Angels (Norton).)
[Note: this poem was written prior to 9/11/01)


Garrison Keillor's touch is light and true for our reflections two years later.
On this day in 2001, it was a clear, crisp, sunny morning in New York City. Students were in their second week of school. People were getting to work in cars, buses, and trains. Alessandra Fremura had planned on leaving for work at 8:00, but her babysitter was 20 minutes late. Virginia DiChiara couldn't get her golden retrievers to come in from the backyard, so she decided to have another cup of coffee. Kenneth Merlo was supposed to go in the office, but he decided to spend the morning helping a friend hook up her computer instead of going to his office. Michael Lomonaco stopped in the lobby of the World Trade Center to order some reading glasses from the one-hour eyeglass store. Michael Jacobs was running late when he reached the Trade Center lobby. He rushed to make the elevator, but the doors slid shut in his face. A musician named Michelle Wiley was at home in her apartment. She sat down at her piano in her nightgown and shower shoes, and stared out her window at the Twin Towers before beginning to play.

We might closer note our distractions and delays.

Today, Jesus, Stephen, Garrison, and Ishikawa are far more enlightening and inspiring than George, Dick, Donald, and Paul. It is good we have philosophers, poets, raconteurs, and mountain monks to ease us through the pathways and jagged sluices of our lives.

Wherever I am to be today, I have nowhere to go.

I take bread in silence this morning.

One bread. One body.

Sacrament of unity.

With all.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

We are not thinking as God does.

No difference? No other?

Once you suddenly smash through,
and go on to make the leap beyond,
you will find that everything
around you and all that you do,
whether active or at rest,
is the scenery of the
fundamental ground,
the original Mind.
There will be not a hairsbreadth
of difference between you
and other things;
there will be no other thing.

- Daito (1282-1334)

A friend sent this haiku:

Morning Prayer: Thanksgiving
Eyes drink light-filled bay,
Lungs breathe, heart beats, feet tread dew'd field
Life, not death, is Now.

(DK)

"Peace always," she writes.

Even in the draft of a hard disintegration, in the falling of cherished hope. Even with the realization things are seldom as they seem to be, in the presence of the one we look for, look at, seeing them as they are. Even when we begin to open our mouth, when we're nearly certain the truth is about to be pronounced. Even when our mind attempts to rest awhile in that place which turns out to be no-place.

Jesus and his disciples set out for the villages of Caesarea Philippi.
Along the way he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that I am?" They
said in reply, "John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the
prophets." And he asked them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter said
to him in reply, "You are the Christ." Then he warned them not to tell
anyone about him. He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer
greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed, and rise after three days. He spoke this openly. Then
Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. At this he turned around
and, looking at his disciples, rebuked Peter and said, "Get behind me,
Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do." He
summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, "Whoever wishes to
come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For
whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life
for my sake and that of the gospel will save it."
(Mark 8:27-35)

He warned them not to tell anyone about him.

We are not thinking as God does.

Dissolve self. Appears God.

Love, not death.

Safe and sound.

Groundless and silent.



Tuesday, September 09, 2003

2nd Anniversary Haiku

I think about death --

Where does one go with this thought?

Monks chant; bright full moon!


(wfh)

Monday, September 08, 2003

Lost our way?

Last night at Sunday Evening Practice we read of Mary of Bethany and her perfume. "Let her have her way," was what Jesus supposedly said when the men groused about her display of love and respect.

When Jesus said elsewhere, "I am the way, the truth, and the life," he invited anyone interested in their way, the truth they seek, and the life they live to pass through the Christ that Jesus was passing through.

For the set and satisfied believers in Jesus it is sufficient to state that Jesus was the Christ, and that's the truth, you're not, and we'd better change our lives to follow Jesus. While there is merit to this formulation, it doesn't satisfy all of us.

"Let her have her way," might be a colloquial version of "G'wan, lighten' up." But something about the context and texture suggests he meant what he said, he was observing and approving her way as her way.

Today has been curiously quiet at the hermitage. Morning Eucharist at OLGH, the book order behind 'closed' sign, donuts and juice at Rockport Harbor, hurting back and nap, sitting in cabin, reading about Iraq and Bush, corn, quiche and cookies with well-water.

Calendar celebrates Nativity of Mary, Jesus’ mother, this 8th of September. Two women said rosary after service. Man watered flowers. Hiker Bill left quietly as I sat with silence a while.

It could be the 11th nears. A quiet drapes as it does when too much is heard. As if overhearing a conversation or solo lament unaware you are privy to secret utterance. The space around you becomes very still. You want to back away. Every breath is too loud. Surely you will be found out as having lost innocence.

Innocence is lost. Long lost. We have heard the braying and bantering. The behind the drapes conspiratorial plotting emerges to front step soapbox. Theses are nailed to doors of perception. Uncleansed, our sight sees only the finite details of doubtful doublespeak.

William Blake understands absence of innocence – and we live with the absence of infinity trying to see through snarling greasy panes of ass’s views about the world they desiccate and desecrate every day.

Weariness insinuates and mutes mind. It cries, ‘Away, away,’ turning this way and that to catch glimpse of finger pointing the way away. None. Just noiseless open eyes registering nothing while confronted with what is there?

War, this war, has darkened my perception. I am left prayer. So I pray: for the woman who directed adult education Midcoast; for the man who chaired St. Bonaventure University’s trustees; for thousands of Americans and thousand of Iraqis murdered, for those in Chile, Nicaragua, Palestine, Israel, Liberia, India, El Salvador, and all the myriad places chosen to be killing grounds for killers.

Thomas Keating writing in The Mystery of Christ speaks of all being, everything in the cosmos, now the residing place of Christ-Reality.

It’s not that everyone should embrace the Christian faith, not at all. It’s just that those who claim to do so should at least try to comprehend what being Christian means. Not the stupid finite fallacies of personal agenda and myopic greed -- but a cleansed view that sees through each action and thought into infinite presence suffused with what we long for most, ordinary love.

Don’t let those miserable know-it-alls divert you, Mary. Break that alabaster jar. Make a lovely stink.

Have your way.

Each our way.

Christ.