Today At Meetingbrook

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Speech and act reveal our fate.

Tonight we watch the 1997 Academy Award-nominated documentary directed by William Gazecki, Waco: Rules of Engagement, as well as final segments of MSNBC's The [Timothy] McVeigh Tapes.

Horrible and horrible. (Not the film or tapes, both were engaging, but the underlying deception of the ATF and FBI in the first, and the course of stated/actual response by McVeigh in the second.)

The government and the former soldier.

It's little wonder trust -- as well as language -- has been pulverized.

Augustine of Hippo said:

"Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are."

(As quoted in Spirituality and Liberation: Overcoming the Great Fallacy (1988) by Robert McAfee Brown, p. 136)

Thomas Merton said,

"But first we realize that we are going to have to create a new language of prayer.'
(from closing statements and prayer from an informal address delivered in Calcutta, India (October 1968), from The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton, 1975)

Trust no one?

No, trust the one not asking for trust. One displaying authentic words not trying to convince, excuse, or explain. Language must be allowed to speak for itself and thereby act for itself. We know true sound.

Trust the one whose acts are right and true in harmony with wholeness of sight. No cameras, no payoff, no applause, no promotion or public relations coup attached. We know correct action.

Our time is out of joint. It is halved and quartered. What we know in our profound and hidden center of being is flayed and minced by opportunistic, heartless, and core-less demagogues.

It is a harsh and dangerous time. Nevertheless, we must be prepared for larger and more devious lies.

But, take heart.

Silence originates authentic speech.

Stillness is ever-present origin of healing act.

Prayer pushes through the hardest ground, springing a deeper more redolent hope.

Friday, May 14, 2010

From down the hall in emergency room last evening a lament of tears that continued for a while.

In the sound of this weeping there is for me only the act of prayer.
The Strangeness of Mountains after Rain



When rain-washed coils of mountain

Appear in the sky

A refreshing wind sweeps away

The fog and clouds. 

Where did you acquire the mastery

Of Yongmyon

To paint exquisite beauty

Beyond human art? 


- Jaewol Kyunghun (1542-1632)
Perhaps the Ascension is the realization nothing remains as it was, there's a need to transcend into the facticity of the sacred -- human, natural, everyday reality. Where kindness is kindled.

We are grateful for relief from any suffering and sorrow.

The heart grows weary only when it forgets compassion.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I've thought about this.
consequence [ˈkɒnsɪkwəns]
n
1. a result or effect of some previous occurrence
2. an unpleasant result (esp in the phrase take the consequences)
3. (Philosophy / Logic) significance or importance it's of no consequence a man of consequence
4. (Philosophy / Logic) Logic
a. a conclusion reached by reasoning
b. the conclusion of an argument
c. the relations between the conclusion and the premises of a valid argument
5. the relation between an effect and its cause
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/consequence
Contemplate 'not.'

Not a result. Not unpleasent. Not by reasoning. Not a conclusion. Not a syllogism. Not cause and effect.

God is what is God.

Questions accepted.
No one here.

No one there.

Still, God is.

Every.

Where.

Is.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Inconsequential. That's what we are. Inconsequential.

Nothing to follow.
I can't sleep on the pavilion,

With the lonely lamp burning

On the wall. 

An occasional breath of air 

Outside the window, 

The falling sound of

Pine cones in the yard
.

- Jungkwan Ilson (1533-1608)
Perhaps God is inconsequential.

Nothing follows God.

Nothing before, nothing after.

Nothing other. No other.

God.

Of which.

We are.

Monastics.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Just keep moving. Of course you can't go home again. You've never left. You are your home. There is no old neighborhood.
People of the way journey through the world

Responding to conditions,

Carefree and without restraint.

Like clouds finally raining,

Like moonlight following the current,

Like orchids growing in shade,

Like spring arising in everything,

They act without mind,

They respond with certainty.


- Hongzhi Zhengjue (1091–1157)
I'm certain the nostalgia and shivers thinking back to the streets of my youth and the subway cars of my schooling are crumpled wax paper with olive oil drippings better tossed into corner trash cans. The football player who had to sideline with a heart murmur retires from NYPD after 20 years then dies in 1984 from heart attack, says a Bay Ridge Forum. We'd be on the same train until 59th Street when he'd exit for the 4th Avenue Local. We travelled to 186 N. 6th Street in Williamsburg. For unknown reasons I sign into alumni site of my high school. Drifting. Backwards. Fifty years.

Days of 1964

By James Merrill

Houses, an embassy, the hospital.
Our neighborhood sun-cured if trembling still
In pools of the night’s rain . . .
Across the street that led to the center of town
A steep hill kept one company part way
Or could be climbed in twenty minutes
For some literally breathtaking views,
Framed by umbrella pines, of city and sea.
Underfoot, cyclamen, autumn crocus grew
Spangled as with fine sweat among the relics
Of good times had by all. If not Olympus,
An out-of-earshot, year-round hillside revel.

I brought home flowers from my climbs.
Kyria Kleo who cleans for us
Put them in water, sighing Virgin, Virgin.
Her legs hurt. She wore brown, was fat, past fifty,
And looked like a Palmyra matron
Copied in lard and horsehair. How she loved
You, me, loved us all, the bird, the cat!
I think now she was love. She sighed and glistened
All day with it, or pain, or both.
(We did not notably communicate.)
She lived nearby with her pious mother
And wastrel son. She called me her real son.

I paid her generously, I dare say.
Love makes one generous. Look at us. We’d known
Each other so briefly that instead of sleeping
We lay whole nights, open, in the lamplight,
And gazed, or traded stories.

One hour comes back—you gasping in my arms
With love, or laughter, or both,
I having just remembered and told you
What I’d looked up to see on my way downtown at noon:

poor old Kleo, her aching legs,
Trudging into the pines. I called.
Called three times before she turned.
Above a tight, skyblue sweater, her face
Was painted. Yes. Her face was painted
Clown-white, white of the moon by daylight,
Lidded with pearl, mouth a poinsettia leaf.
Eat me, pay me—the erotic mask
Worn the world over by illusion
To weddings of itself and simple need.

Startled mute, we had stared—was love illusion?—
And gone our ways. Next, I was crossing a square
In which a moveable outdoor market’s
Vegetables, chickens, pottery kept materializing
Through a dream-press of hagglers each at heart
Leery lest he be taken, plucked,
The bird, the flower of that November mildness,
Self lost up soft clay paths, or found, foothold,
Where the bud throbs awake
The better to be nipped, self on its knees in mud—
Here I stopped cold, for both our sakes;

And calmer on my way home bought us fruit.

Forgive me if you read this. (And may Kyria Kleo,
Should someone ever put it into Greek
And read it aloud to her, forgive me, too.)
I had gone so long without loving,
I hardly knew what I was thinking.

Where I hid my face, your touch, quick, merciful,
Blindfolded me. A god breathed from my lips.
If that was illusion I wanted it to last long;
To dwell, for its daily pittance, with us there,
Cleaning and watering, sighing with love or pain.
I hoped it would climb when it needed to the heights
Even of degradation as I for one
Seemed, those days, to be always climbing

Into a world of wild
Flowers, feasting, tears— or was I falling, legs
Buckling, heights, depths,
Into a pool of each night’s rain?
But you were everywhere beside me, masked,
As who was not, in laughter, pain, and love.

(Poem by James Merrill, “Days of 1964” from Collected Poems. Copyright 2001 by James Merrill.) http://www.poetryfoundation.org/archive/poem.html?id=179111
Some people are love. When we see that, we are lucky. Then, of course, we have to recognize that observing is being observed. I have not always observed well.

We have not looked at Iraq carefully. It is in pain today.
Coordinated Attacks Kill More Than 100 in Iraq
By STEVEN LEE MYERS
Published: May 10, 2010

BAGHDAD — A series of attacks in Baghdad and other cities across Iraq on Monday struck police and army checkpoints, as well as markets, a mayor’s office and a textile factory. The violence appeared to be a coordinated rebuttal of assertions by Iraqi and American commanders that Al Qaeda in Iraq and other extremist groups had suffered debilitating blows in recent weeks.

The attacks, which killed at least 101 people and wounded hundreds more, occurred amid a protracted dispute over the results of the country’s election more than two months ago. Even as the violence continued to unfold across the country through the day, officials blamed the political impasse for creating a security vacuum that extremists hoped to exploit.
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/11/world/middleeast/11iraq.html?hpw
Elections -- those fragile attempts to clarify leadership. It is disheartening to read of the number of casualties since 2003 in Iraq. As the United States changed administrations and those responsible for the initial incursion retire with hefty pensions, the attitude of incensed antipathy shifts to expectancy of withdrawal. With little hope of any change there, US forces pack up for Afghanistan or return home with uncertain understanding of what has occurred, inconclusive appreciation of the pain and disaster in the wake.
Casualties of the conflict in Iraq since 2003 (beginning with the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and continuing with the ensuing occupation of Iraq coalition presence, as well as the activities of the various armed groups operating in the country) have come in many forms, and the accuracy of the information available on different types of Iraq War casualties varies greatly.
The table below summarizes some of the Iraqi casualty figures.
Source Iraqi casualties March 2003 to...
Iraq Family Health Survey --151,000 violent deaths. -- June 2006
Lancet survey -- 601,027 violent deaths out of 654,965 excess deaths. --- June 2006
Opinion Research Business survey -- 1,033,000 violent deaths as a result of the conflict. -- August 2007
Associated Press -- 110,600 violent deaths -- April 2009
Iraq Body Count -- 95,888 – 104,595 violent civilian deaths as a result of the conflict. -- April 2010

For troops in the U.S.-led multinational coalition, the death toll is carefully tracked and updated daily, and the names and photographs of those killed in action as well as in accidents have been published widely. Regarding the Iraqis, however, information on both military and civilian casualties is both less precise and less consistent. Estimates of casualty levels are available from reporters on the scene, from officials of involved organizations, and from groups that summarize information on incidents reported in the news media.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casualties_of_the_Iraq_War
I look out at spring new-green leaf growth on old and tired trees surprised by what they bring forth from within them. This chilly day. This reviving New England earth.

We pray. With chant. To the open. To what is true within and without.

It is a small thing.

Prayer.

It is one of the places love goes when it has no place else to go.

When hearts groan with brokenness and lament.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

At Rockport Harbor this morning with coffee and muffin reading New York Times as dogs on other side of Goose Fare run across Marine Park and wind blows clear and bright.

Front page story about "Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born cleric, [who] has become a central figure in the luring of Western Muslims to violent extremism."

It is one of those stories we're invited to ask how it is a moderate Imam American citizen can turn into an America hating advocate of violence. It would be standard fare -- Who can trust a Muslim? -- except for a nagging question between sips of Dark Roast Sumatra and bites into berry muffin.

That question asks: When is it that ordinary people who have grown tired of the dual citizenship demarcating the rich and powerful -- (Insurance, Wall Street, Banks, Corporations, Legislators, Justices, Executives, Celebrity News Guys and Gals and Entertainers, Pentagon Military and Private Contractors, not to mention the Hierarchy in Churches and other segments of the American Culture that Lord it over the ordinary citizen, common man and woman, main street people, lay persons of every stripe, hoi polloi, the rest of us, we citizens, nobodies, children of life, of god) -- what was I saying? -- oh yes, how is it there's not more of a ruckus of rebellion against the heavy-handed, sweet-talking, there-thereing, false dualisms that contend there is no real problem, only a disagreement between two factions of anything -- left/right, conservative/liberal, haves/have-nots, professionals/amateurs, sophisticates/rubes, the health-insured/the uninsured.(?) (It was, I think, intended as a question.)

These distracting dichotomies serve stasis well. Divisions manage to cement fractures permanently.
BREAKAGE

I go down to the edge of the sea.
How everything shines in the morning light!
The cusp of the whelk,
the broken cupboard of the clam,
the opened, blue mussels,
moon snails, pale pink and barnacle scarred—
and nothing at all whole or shut, but tattered, split,
dropped by the gulls onto the gray rocks and all the moisture gone.
It's like a schoolhouse
of little words,
thousands of words.
First you figure out what each one means by itself,
the jingle, the periwinkle, the scallop
full of moonlight.

Then you begin, slowly, to read the whole story.

(Poem by Mary Oliver)
So bombs and bullets won't work because innocent people tend to get hurt and, let's face it, who can have more bombs and bullets than a power structure whose very economy is based on bombs and bullets. No, something more effective must be found to counter-balance the terror of extremists and governments.

Both are bullies. Both demand absolute control. Punishment prevails. Secrecy and submission is sacred demand. Nature has been replaced by profit, love by national security, and realization of God replaced by conformity to rote and rite.

The mind of the sage is
Empty and calm,
Profoundly calm,
Dealing with the world
Harmoniously
Like bellows taking in air,
Like pipes containing music.

- Chen Ting-Van
I'm no sage.

Disquiet palpitates like Sunday afternoon restless winds where everything appears to be uprooting with passing uncertainty and systems of vagrant restlessness.

For balance some choose suicide. Others self-sacrifice. (A curious distinction made by the subject of the Times story.) One can't be condoned. The other is tribute.

Trappist Thomas Keating when asked about the beginnings of his vocation demurred with the statement he was trying to forget his self and thus would have to think a bit harder to answer the question.

We're all terrified. Either by mass murderers wearing religious insignias or mass murderers wearing military patches. Ordinary Americans are unsure whether to more fear foreign terrorists or their own government. Yet, everyone has a rationale, a creed, a policy, or a self-serving belief they are right in killing and bullying people to advance agendas that make sense only to them and those they pay handsomely to vote or trigger with their views.

This is what we have heard from him,
and the message that we are announcing to you:
God is light; there is no darkness in him at all.
If we say that we are in union with God
while we are living in darkness,
we are lying because we are not living the truth.
But if we live our lives in the light,
as he is in the light,
we are in union with one another,
and the blood of Jesus, his Son,
purifies us from all sin.
If we say we have no sin in us;
we are deceiving ourselves
and refusing to admit the truth;
but if we acknowledge our sins,
then God who is faithful and just
will forgive our sins and purify us
from everything that is wrong.
To say that we have never sinned
is to call God a liar
and to show that his word is not in us.

(--from 1 John 1:1-10)
There are times the words of Christian scripture annoy me as well as their oft-quoting followers. Then there are times they seem to nail the problem squarely into our barn doors.

So much is wrong.

What is right?

We must begin, slowly, to pause a while, to read the whole story.

The story of the Cosmos. The story of God. The story of Humankind. It is our own story.

Then to read the fractured syntax and corrupted phrases, the mad rantings and the sickly-liquored contortions of thought we are given instead of sane, clear, sensible, conversation about our lives.

This too is our own story.

We've got to enter the telling.

We've got to learn how to speak.