Saturday, September 05, 2020

Friday, September 04, 2020

wait a minute

Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

I have heard



Well done, you’ve stopped ‘me.’


I played Bach for him

Before he died. Now cello 

Gives itself to me

far and wide

I was in New York when he pitched there.  I tried, but was never able to say the Mets were my team. My team got lost in 1957 somewhere in the air between Ebbets Field in Crown Heights Brooklyn and Dodgers Stadium somewhere in Los Angeles. I have a blue cap with white 'B' on crown. It is a grave marker and I am a walking funeral procession through a dispossessed ghosted ballpark hovering over the streets in a Brooklyn neighborhood in the 1950s with leather Wilson glove hanging from Louisville Slugger carried across handlebars of Schwinn bicycle.

 Tom Seaver, Pitcher Who Led ‘Miracle Mets’ to Glory, Dies at 75

Tom Seaver, one of baseball’s greatest right-handed power pitchers, a Hall of Famer who won 311 games for four major league teams, most notably the Mets, whom he led from last place to a surprise world championship in his first three seasons, died on Monday. He was 75.

The cause was complications of Lewy body dementia and Covid-19, according to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

At 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, give or take a few, with a thick waist and tree-trunk legs that helped generate the velocity on his fastball and hard slider and the spin on his curveball, Seaver at work was a picture of kinetic grace. He had a smooth windup, a leg kick with his left knee raised high, and a stride so long after pushing off the mound that his right knee often grazed the dirt.

With precise control, he had swing-and-miss stuff. He struck out more than 200 batters in 10 different seasons, a National League record, and on April 22, 1970, facing the San Diego Padres, he struck out a record 10 batters in a row to end the game. His total of 3,640 strikeouts in his 20 big-league seasons is sixth on the career list. 

It was 1955 and I was walking home from grammar school on 61st and Bay Parkway to 19th Ave and 69th Street. Every store along the route on 20th Ave had the World Series ballgame either on TV or radio. I'd stop in each doorway to listen to the broadcasters coloring the action. It was the Yankees they were playing. By the time I got to Stein's Deli where I, as an eleven year old, bought quarts of Rheingold Beer for my father, carrying the two bottles each time in brown bag home, it was the final inning.

Brooklyn won the series 4-3. There was joy in the neighborhood.

I wasn't very good as a player as a kid. But when I played in my first college game I hit it over the left fielder's head and made it home on a poor throw in from the edge of the field. I call it a home run, but it wasn't, not really. I never hit as well as I did during those college practice sessions when batting practice was thrown by our coach who was a former Boston Red Sox pitcher. I can feel the crack and sting of swinging contact with his fastball sending it far and wide those brief moments of happy memory. 

Thursday, September 03, 2020

near and dear

 Solidarity is recognizing and appreciating the differences and diversity within existence without manufacturing division and detachment.

There’s a difference between not being attached, and detachment.

The subtlety of being there, as you are, near and dear, without clinging.

how we began humanities course in prison by zoom thursday

 Conversation with a Stone

                     by Wislawa Szymborska

I knock at the stone’s front door

“It’s only me, let me come in.

I want to enter your insides,

have a look around,

breathe my fill of you.”

“Go away,” says the stone.

“I’m shut tight.

Even if you break me to pieces,

we’ll all still be closed.

You can grind us to sand,

we still won’t let you in.”

I knock at the stone’s front door.

“It’s only me, let me come in.

I’ve come out of pure curiosity.

Only life can quench it.

I mean to stroll through your palace,

then go calling on a leaf, a drop of water.

I don’t have much time.

My mortality should touch you.”

“I’m made of stone,” says the stone.

“And must therefore keep a straight face.

Go away.

I don’t have the muscles to laugh.”

I knock at the stone’s front door.

“It’s only me, let me come in.

I hear you have great empty halls inside you,

unseen, their beauty in vain,

soundless, not echoing anyone’s steps.

Admit you don’t know them well yourself.

“Great and empty, true enough,” says the stone,

“but there isn’t any room.

Beautiful, perhaps, but not to the taste

of your poor senses.

You may get to know me but you’ll never know me through.

My whole surface is turned toward you,

all my insides turned away.”

I knock at the stone’s front door.

“It’s only me, let me come in.

I don’t seek refuge for eternity.

I’m not unhappy.

I’m not homeless.

My world is worth returning to.

I’ll enter and exit empty-handed.

And my proof I was there

will be only words,

which no one will believe.”

“You shall not enter,” says the stone.

“You lack the sense of taking part.

No other sense can make up for your missing sense of taking part.

Even sight heightened to become all-seeing

will do you no good without a sense of taking part.

You shall not enter, you have only a sense of what that sense should be,

only its seed, imagination.”

I knock at the stone’s front door.

“It’s only me, let me come in.

I haven’t got two thousand centuries,

so let me come under your roof.”

“If you don’t believe me,” says the stone,

“just ask the leaf, it will tell you the same.

Ask a drop of water, it will say what the leaf has said.

And, finally, ask a hair from your own head.

I am bursting from laughter, yes, laughter, vast laughter,

although I don’t know how to laugh.”

I knock at the stone’s front door.

“It’s only me, let me come in.

“I don’t have a door,” says the stone.

(—From “Poems New and Collected: 1957-1997” by Wislawa Szymborska, translated from the Polish by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh (Harcourt Brace: 274 pp.)

Wednesday, September 02, 2020

a sentence

 Morality is action with truth caring for the other.

Tuesday, September 01, 2020

something visible

This from Center for Action and Contemplation:

The Illusion of the Separate Self

Tuesday,  September 1, 2020

CAC faculty member James Finley studied under Thomas Merton as a young monk in formation. While many have been influenced by Merton’s writings, few have had the opportunity to learn from the mystic himself. Today, Jim reflects on the insights on the True Self and false self that he gleaned from Thomas Merton.

In the following text Merton makes clear that the self-proclaimed autonomy of the false self is but an illusion. . . .

Every one of us is shadowed by an illusory person: a false self.

This is the man I want myself to be but who cannot exist, because God does not know anything about him. And to be unknown of God is altogether too much privacy.

My false and private self is the one who wants to exist outside the reach of God’s will and God’s love—outside of reality and outside of life. And such a self cannot help but be an illusion.

We are not very good at recognizing illusions, least of all the ones we cherish about ourselves—the ones we are born with and which feed the roots of sin. For most of the people in the world, there is no greater subjective reality than this false self of theirs, which cannot exist. A life devoted to the cult of this shadow is what is called a life of sin. [1] . . .

The false self, sensing its fundamental unreality, begins to clothe itself in myths and symbols of power. Since it intuits that it is but a shadow, that it is nothing, it begins to convince itself that it is what it does. Hence, the more it does, achieves and experiences, the more real it becomes. Merton writes,

All sin starts from the assumption that my false self, the self that exists only in my own egocentric desires, is the fundamental reality of life to which everything else in the universe is ordered. Thus I use up my life in the desire for pleasures and the thirst for experiences, for power, honor, knowledge and love, to clothe this false self and construct its nothingness into something objectively real. And I wind experiences around myself and cover myself with pleasures and glory like bandages in order to make myself perceptible to myself and to the world, as if I were an invisible body that could only become visible when something visible covered its surface. [2]

Richard again: Our false self is how we define ourselves outside of love, relationship, or divine union. After we have spent many years laboriously building this separate self, with all its labels and preoccupations, we are very attached to it. And why wouldn’t we be? It’s what we know and all we know. To move beyond it will always feel like losing or dying

(—from Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation, 1sept20)

This meditation points out what appears to be the premier problem facing anyone trying to see and act in the world as an integral whole.

These days the thrust of virulent power is to split and fragment, divide and segregate what is in its true nature of a piece, an Itself, difference without division.

If, as a thinker, you wonder about God, you are one contemplating One.

Does this point to an inside within no outside? A vast variety of life-within-itself? A diffusion of multiplicity within unicity?

I suspect that what we long for is love.

Love allows itself, each itself, to be Itself, one-another.

Monday, August 31, 2020

who can hear any more

 Desolation day—

The crass sound of his voice, per-

fidy in practice

Sunday, August 30, 2020

this longing can surprise you

Michael McCarthy says that for 50,000 generations, we were wildlife. 


I spoke, once, with a Buddhist teacher, Joanna Macy. I don’t know if you’re familiar with her. She’s been — she was involved in environmentalism before the word was coined. And she talks about, also, our “fierce love for the world” and that when we — when someone you love is sick, is in the hospital, is ailing, is dying, you don’t — you go sit with them, and you don’t say, “Well, I’m busy.” But with the world that we love, with our insects and our birds and our blossoms, it’s so overwhelming, we turn away. And yet, I think you’re making that connection too, that — what is that bond, you say, that bond we have with the natural world? If we could take that seriously, that could keep us, also, attending, and then healing, participating.

If I ask you to start — this vast question, what does it mean to be human, as you’ve lived your life and the things you’ve cared about, the observations you’ve made, how would you begin to speak about how your understanding of that has evolved, what it means to be human?


Well, the single greatest thing in our lives is the love for another person, that’s what I think, whoever we are and whoever the other person is. But human love is transcendent. I think it’s the single greatest experience we can have, and I rejoice when anyone has it and finds it, and if I could wave a wand, the thing I would do is let every individual find the love of another individual. I think that’s what I would do.

But in terms of the context in which we’ve been talking, clearly, we humans come from somewhere. And where we came from, where we emerged from is the natural world. And for 50,000 generations, we were wildlife. Well, we don’t think we are, anymore, and probably, we’re not. But we were just another species. I think — for myself, I cannot see our identity as humans as separate from the natural world from which we emerged. And what I think is that in the end, our spirits have an urge; they have a longing, still, to be part of it. And I think this longing can surprise you; it could suddenly leap out in certain circumstances; you could suddenly realize you’re surprised by the strength of your feelings. But I do feel that to be fully human is to recognize that the natural world is where we came from, and it remains part of us. And without it, being fully human is something we cannot do. 


(--from On Being with Krista Tippett, orig. 3may18, Michael McCarthy, :Nature, Joy, and Human Becoming )

What are we now? 

And where, it should be asked, is our joy?