Saturday, December 19, 2020

living now, affirmed

What if confirmation was the experience of being affirmed, recognized, and accepted in our very existential facticity, our simply being-here with what-is-here?

 Resurrection is Now

Dom Aelred Watkin

Preparation for Death: Confirmation

The life given to us at Baptism is strengthened and made more active by Confirmation. Or, to put it another way, as Baptism initiates new and growing life, Confirmation gives that life fresh strength and force. The Holy Spirit given in this Sacrament is the Personification of love, love existing not as a quality in God but an actual divine Person. The Holy Spirit first came to Our Lady and the apostles under the appearance of tongues of flame and accompanied by the roar of wind. Fire and wind express the work of the Spirit in man. 

Fire gives light and heat. Without the sun the world would be a frozen waste lying in endless night and without our man-made fires we should be at the mercy of darkness and winter’s cold. Fire not only is the source of what is warm and what illuminates, but it has also the mysterious quality of multiplying itself: no matter how many fires we light from the source of flame that source is in no way lessened. It is easy to see why fire was chosen to symbolise the Holy Spirit: the Spirit gives light in the form of truth, but the light it gives is not the cold glare of some abstract proposition but a truth that is warm and related to living experience. It is the nature of what is hot to communicate its heat to whatever comes close to it and the truth given by the Holy Spirit leads on to that warm love from whence it came. Through it we warm others and are warmed by them; yet, like fire, what we give we do not lose; what we receive we do not take away.

Confirmation is especially the Sacrament of that love ‘which is stronger than death’. This love, coming from its divine source, cannot be destroyed by death, for it reaches out beyond time. Our own physical death cannot end it, nor can the death of others. We grieve for the death of others and feel separated from them, but we have within us a hidden flame which can lighten the darkness of the grave and warm the coldness of the tomb, while we, ourselves, lighted and warmed by those now incandescent with God’s love, join our flame with theirs to illuminate the night. We have no need to repeat our Confirmation, for it ignites a living flame, forever burning and warming, always a source of light as it glows through the darkness that separates time from eternity.

Wind is another symbol for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Both the Greek and Latin languages often use the same word to mean ‘wind’ and ‘spirit’ and, indeed, one is a very apt symbol for the other. We do not see or hear the wind, we know it by its effects alone. We imagine that we can hear it, but in fact we do not hear it, for it makes no sound in itself; what we hear is the sound of that which it meets in its passage. The wind makes all things vocal; each, however, speaks with a different voice: the sound of the wind in one kind of tree differs markedly from that made in another, the sigh of the wind in the grass differs much from the roar of the gale round a building. The wind speaks through a thousand tongues making all of them audible, but [of] itself it is silent.

Again, the wind is invisible and we can see it by its effects alone. We can watch water move with its gusts, see the very pattern of its blowing in the long grass of the field, but we cannot see it. ‘The wind bloweth where it listeth, no man knows whence it cometh nor whither it goeth, so are they that are born of the Spirit’: these words of Our Lord express the working of the Holy Spirit in us. Coming from the spacious skies of eternity to us, we neither see nor hear it in itself, but it surrounds us invisibly; we breathe it, it blows away what is stale, sterile and stagnant and makes all fresh and new, it gives movement and sound to what was still and silent, it makes itself heard differently in each and makes each to speak in a unique tongue, it brings to us the very essence of God just as scent is borne invisibly on the breeze.

This wind of the Spirit that blows through and about the reborn is that which gives life. ‘My words are spirit and life’, Our Lord assured us, and it was the prophet Ezekiel who saw in his vision the Spirit coming from the four winds and making the dead live again.

Christ further told us, ‘it is the Spirit that gives life, the flesh profits nothing’: the Holy Spirit we receive in Confirmation bestows that life which overcomes unprofitable death. The flesh as we know it will go, the Spirit is even now at work re-creating and re-inspiring that flesh so that it will be transformed into the ‘spiritual body’ which will endure in eternity. ‘Can these dry bones live?’ we ask with the prophet: not only will they live, but they are living now. (—

We long to live.

It need not be forever.


Now is a good timeless duration, an atemporal realization of presence.

Let’s live now!

o antiphon, saturday 19dec2029

 O radix Iesse!

O radix Iesse, 

qui stas in signum populórum, 

super quem continébunt reges os suum, 

quem gentes deprecabúntur: 

veni ad liberándum nos, iam noli tardáre.

“O stock of Jesse, who stand as a sign for the nations; before whom kings fall silent; whom the peoples acclaim – come come to deliver us, do not delay any more.”

frequent change

Epigraph by William Blake 

 The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the Eyes of others only a Green thing that stands in the way . . . to the Eyes of the Man of Imagination Nature is Imagination itself.       —William Blake

Then, this:

 If no one [nemo] asks of me, I know; if I want to explain it to someone asking, I do not know.”2 This nemo (from ne + homo) is the inhumanity of a too-close vision that touches, plant-like, what it cannot see precisely by simply seeing it. It is an order of understanding requiring precisely that no one ask the question, a non-asking asker ‘who’ is the presence of imagination itself, its species. So we find in Michael Marder’s fortuitous formulation of our blindness to plant intelligence the perfect corollary to Blake’s tree of imagination: “Imagine a being capable of processing, remembering, and sharing information—a being with potentialities proper to it and a world of its own . . . most of us will think of a human person, some will associate it with an animal, and virtually no one’s imagination will conjure up a plant.”3

Species: image-growth of the entity, face of an essence, appearance of true self-imitation—the spice of being. Image (from the root *aim- ‘copy’) and greenness (from the root *ghre- ‘grow’) converge in the auto-mimetic nature of growth. Thus Goethe begins The Metamorphosis of Plants: “Anyone who has paid even a little attention to plant growth will readily see that certain external parts of the plant undergo frequent change and take on the shape of the adjacent parts—sometimes fully, sometimes more, and sometimes less.”4 Green is the species of imagination,

(2) “Quid est ergo tempus? Si nemo ex me quaerat, scio; si quaerenti explicare velim, nescio” (Augustine, Confessions, 11.14.17, jod/conf/).

(3) Michael Marder, Grafts: Writings on Plants (Minneapolis: Univocal, 2016), 41, italics mine. 

(4) Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, The Metamorphosis of Plants, trans. Douglas Miller (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2009), 5.

(—from GREEN IMAGINATION, by Nicola Masciandaro)

This season is imagination itself lighting up where it has been and where it wishes us to go, what invitation into experience it gestures.

A candelabra. A boy. A gathering into family. A nostalgia for where we wish to be.

Let’s have plants!

Let’s plant ourselves alongside curve and contour of shuddering earth coated in recent snowfall holding everything in place!

We are no distant stranger.

Imagination is Nature itself.

Nature is Imagination itself.

A season to become what we are.

Friday, December 18, 2020

watch, and, pray

To be Christian is to inquire into and be astonished by truth and compassion. 

Let’s take care who we call Christian.

It would be so easy to call it wrong.

this is what I am — (this is...what?...I am)

 Have we been missing the obvious?

Is the yearly ritual of advent and christmas, the lights and sharing of gifts, the biblical readings and perennial carols — are these things merely a stage onto which a less obvious revelation quietly steps and goes about its business acting and dramatizing itself in a play beneath a play always there but seldom observed?

What is this?

What is this, indeed.

This is my beloved child, listen to it!

And looking at all that had been made, said:

This is very good!

This, this, is Christ the lord.

“This is my body.”

“This is my blood.”

Do this in memory of me.

See this, feel this, touch this, heal this!

Be this and you will be this forever without end, beginningless and cessationless.. 

 What we are looking for is right here hidden in plain sight within what we are looking at. We’ve listened to and looked at the story as told and presented, and yet remain slow, very slow, to realize and embody the root reality telling and showing us what it is.




This is what is 

revealing itself 


forever and always 

from the beginning and 

until the fullness, 

from creatio to pleroma,

revealing each instant and 

infinite atemporality 

as self-same identity and 

no-self diversity, 




And maybe, just maybe, the ultimate question to listen for in all life and existence is: Will you help me with this? 

Be still

                 and know


                  I am...


Thursday, December 17, 2020

last class


Eight inches.

Then it stopped.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

what idiosyncratic consequence or collaborative outcome

Within oneself? Or, between one another?

Is real resolution a solitary awareness? Or, a social reconciliation?

 From a different perspective, however, the sudden shift from argument and discussion to vision and surrender should come as no surprise. In his dissertation and two outstanding articles, one comparing Greek and Indian epics, the other comparing Greek and Indian architecture, Gregory D. Alles offers valuable insights into two different concepts of “power” and “the power of persuasion” that may be applicable here (Alles 1994: esp. 77-106; 1988-89: 1-36; 1988: 293- 309).

In Homer’s Iliad, Alles argues, persuasive speeches presuppose a different image of what constitutes effective persuasion from those in Valmiki’s Ramayana. Ancient Greek and Indian images of the power of persuasion differ because their concepts of power differ. In the Iliad, the power of persuasion is a social power that depends on and extends only to successful interaction among humans and between humans and the gods; it is systemic or organic in the sense that it gains force as small units like arguments and other devices “combine to form an interconnected web, an organically functioning speech” (Alles 1988: 297). The power of persuasion is also relational in the sense of residing in the social relationships that have to be mobilized in order to be obligingly influenial, and it is economical in the sense that exact repetition and elaborate additions would spoil the effect of integrating all parts into an efficient whole.

In the Ramayana, Alles explains, power is natural and generative rather than social, like the unrestrained irruption of a hidden source into the visible realm of a variety of manifestations; power is “dividuated” like seeds, concentrated in separate, isolated and opaque but dense units of solid mass radiating below the surface and applied in isolated “spurts,” rather than systemic or organic. Power is also like a ritual or magic force, “concerned with generation and destruction” (Alles 1988: 298), mobilizing and spending itself in a creative or destructive way, rather than residing in social relationships, and it is cumulative and repetitive in the sense that each addition to the impressive variety of its visible manifestations, honouring it by repetition, enhances its persuasive effectiveness.

Viewed in that light, Krishna’s power of persuasion, can be understood as an accumulation of isolated arguments that gain force precisely because they are accumulated and repeated and because they draw from a hidden, esoteric knowledge of divine origin, a massive, transcendent power that mobilizes itself by irrupting into the visible realm as the overwhelming vision of a destructive force devouring all the manifestations of the manifold universe. Krishna’s power of persuasion starts on the level of words and arguments but it is only logical that the eruption of his divine power on the level of logos be continued on the level of mythos. That is how the power of persuasion operates effectively from an ancient Indian point of view. It is the literal illustration of Krishna’s claim: “I am the logic of those who debate” (10.32). Krishna addresses a socially sensitive but mentally isolated individual, Arjuna, on the battlefield but ignores the social setting, focusing instead on Arjuna’s separate Self and preaching an intrapersonal solution to the interpersonal problem of social order, justice, and duty, appealing to Arjuna’s asocial inner nature and its spiritual potential instead of appealing to the potentially (anti-)social results of his morally intended actions. Removed from all social pressures, everything about Krishna’s dialogue with Arjuna seems personal, not social, mobilizing the intrapersonal powers of their respective natures, not the interpersonal powers of their respective social networks. This dialogue turns out to be persuasive in the classical Indian context for reasons that are not valid in the classical Greek context. The Indian concept of dialogue is not a human universal. Neither is the Western concept of dialogue.

(--from,‘One Dialogue—Four Relationships: The Different Layers of Meaning in the Dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna in the Bhagavadgita’, in: Studies in Interreligious Dialogue 21/1 (2011), 96-111. by )

 Intrapersonal or interpersonal?

The question asks us to consider whether moral investigation is an inner realization or an external accommodation.

Whether we are one inseparable person, or, a separated collection of disparate individuals.

Ask yourself this question in contemplation.

Or, gather colleagues for conversation.

Observe what correspondence reveals as itself.

See what idiosyncratic consequence or collaborative outcome emerges. 

one more thing



Tuesday, December 15, 2020



The idea that if we are in fact a part of the original energy source, then in my opinion we cannot use the line of thinking which would allow us to weigh a number of lives against a single one, we cannot commit an immoral action against one life in order to save a million for example and still claim that it is moral. It is my belief that our actions as individuals and our actions as humanity change us irrevocably.


 I like this thought. It throws ethics and the ‘who lives and who dies’ approach to applied ethics out the window and leaves us looking out the imagined window at snow or sunshine and wondering about a deeper mystery.

There is something very mysterious about each single life. Thinking about your words, I am caught by this thought: I thank the chicken or the fish before I eat it. Then it becomes me. If I’ve taken its life, then it becomes my life. And I honor it by using the energy it gives me for good and noble purposes.


The mystery, if what we’ve written is true, goes deeper. 

Does the same process take place if we’ve taken human life? Are we meant, if such is so, to believe “that our actions as individuals and our actions as humanity change us irrevocably”? Are we meant, as with the chicken or fish, to honor that life taken by holding them sacredly within us and use that energy for good and noble purposes?


This is a serious thought. Rather than feeling either:  a) sorry, b) remorseful, c) nothing, d) who gives a shit, or, e) I don’t know what to feel – there arises for consideration an additional option.


Like The Little Prince line – we become responsible for what we have tamed. It is a deeper invitation to love both the life we are, the life taken, and the world in which life goes on. We change, irrevocably, how we see the world. (I just realized this as a new interpretation of that line from Paul in his epistle, “I live now, not I, but Christ lives in me.”


(This is not a religious homily, but a new and different glimpse of the human condition.) One reason why, perhaps, so many soldiers commit suicide (a sad fact) over the moral injury they’ve experienced, is that they have not fully understood the invitation to assume the casualties they’ve experienced. 


If we are the tip of the iceberg, we are the visible expression of a larger incorporation – one which includes that under the surface, the sea itself, the planet, the galaxy, the cosmos, the mind conceiving it all, and the Unknown Beyond that awaits our arrival at unrestricted inclusion and belonging. We are being asked why there is anything at all. And we’ve got to say something.

[per dp] 

Monday, December 14, 2020

john of the cross, open wide, dawn light


53. Going everywhere, my God, with you, everywhere things will happen as I desire for you.  

54. Souls will be unable to reach perfection who do not strive to be content with having nothing, in such fashion that their natural and spiritual desire is satisfied with emptiness; for this is necessary in order to reach the highest tranquility and peace of spirit. Hence the love of God in the pure and simple soul is almost continually in act.  

55. Since God is inaccessible, be careful not to concern yourself with all that your faculties can comprehend and your senses feel, so that you do not become satisfied with less and lose the lightness of soul suitable for going to him.   

56. The soul that journeys to God, but does not shake off its cares and quiet its appetites, is like one who drags a cart uphill.  

57. It is not God's will that a soul be disturbed by anything or suffer trials, for if one suffers trials in the adversities of the world it is because of a weakness in virtue. The perfect soul rejoices in what afflicts the imperfect one. 

(—from The Sayings of St. John of the Cross)

 Then, elsewhere, for Christmas, he wrote this quatrain:

The Virgin, weighed

With the Word of God,

Comes down the road: 

if only you will shelter her!

In this dark time, we pray for shelter from storms that threaten to upend uneasy peace. 

Shelter the word.

Shelter the woman.

Shelter one another.

Until doors open wide and dawning light invites us to step forward.

at sunday evening practice

We sat with her story: 

Still Sister

Sister Elaine Macinnis , Zen Nun 

(YouTube, time--15:02)

And we remembered David Stinson from Antigonish, Nova Scotia -- his gifting calligraphies gracing the hermitage. He, now, three years gone 5Nov. How he would come to sit at practice, or sit by fire at bookshop when here in the states.

Endure. Patience. Love. Male/Female. The Divine.

reversing falls

Disrespect is the revelation of unawareness.

My brothers and sisters -- let us practice our deepest nature -- becoming aware.

count, down

Being is origin

Advent begins

Breath is ever-present

You and I are the practice

All the above within

What is within without

Everything everywhere 



Gone — awake

Sunday, December 13, 2020

advent couplets

Critical thinking has fallen away.

     Spittle thinking rages across land.

Let thought and thoughtfulness arise.

     It is the season for stark awakening.

A cruel antipathy threatens American psyche.

     Only you can prevent its spread. Wake up!