Saturday, December 18, 2021

to be more fully and more humanly

At Friday Evening Conversation we spoke of education, technology, Basho, and Frost.  

This morning, comes remote contribution. Thursday, 16dec21, in louie, louie, Beth wrote

bell hooks, who died yesterday, referenced Thomas Merton in a chapter, "Eros, Eroticism, and the Pedagogical Process":

“There is not much passionate teaching or learning taking place in higher education today. Even when students are desperately yearning to be touched by knowledge, professors still fear the challenge, allow their worries about losing control to override their desires to teach. Concurrently, those of us who teach the same old subjects in the same old ways are often inwardly bored—unable to rekindle passions we may have once felt. If, as Thomas Merton suggests in his essay on pedagogy ‘Learning to Live,’ the purpose of education is to show students how to define themselves ‘authentically and spontaneously in relation’ to the world, then professors can best teach if we are self-actualized. Merton reminds us that the ‘original and authentic “paradise” idea, both in the monastery and in the university, implied not simply a celestial source of theoretic ideas to which Magistri and Doctores held the key, but the inner self of the student’ who would discover the ground of their being in relation to themselves, to higher powers, to community. That the ‘fruit of education... was in the activation of that utmost center.’ To restore passion to the classroom or to excite again the place of eros within ourselves and together allow the mind and body to feel and know desire.” (bell hooks, Teaching to Transgress [New York: Routledge, 1994], p. 199)

~Merton writes:

“The purpose of education is to show a person how to define himself authentically and spontaneously in relation to the world-not to impose a prefabricated definition of the world, still less an arbitrary definition of the individual himself. The world is made up of the people who are fully alive in it: this is, of the people who can be themselves in it and can enter into a living a fruitful relationship with each other in it. The world is, therefore, more real in proportion as the people in it are able to be more fully and more humanly alive: that is to say, better able to make a lucid and conscious use of their freedom. Basically, this freedom must consist first of all in the capacity to choose their own lives, to find them¬ selves on the deepest possible level. A superficial freedom to wander aimlessly here or there, to taste this or that, to make a choice of distractions (in Pascal’s sense) is simply a sham. It claims to be a freedom of ‘choice’ when it has evaded the basic task of discovering who it is that chooses. It is not free because it is unwilling to face the risk of self-discovery.

The function of the university is, then, first of all to help the student discover himself: to recognize himself, and to identify who it is that chooses.” (Thomas Merton, Love and Living [New York: Harcourt, 1985], p. 3-4)

Conversation, like knowledge and wisdom crisscrossing technology and education,  chooses our very lives to wander peripatetic circles listening (first) and (then) contemplating what is (being) said.

strong yet tender care

 O, light . . . time will come

Desiring heart will exhale

Pause . . . gap . . . yes, come back

Friday, December 17, 2021

abounding metaphors, sounding, sailing true

“Fear sails better than

hope” (it sounds like)

Matthew McConaughey 

tells Willie Geist in

interview about pirates

with microphones boarding ship

of democracy making

all the noise

(.    cf Sunday Today, with Willie Geist, airing 19dec21)

(yes) is withside

Your light will come Jerusalem; the Lord will dawn on you in radiant beauty. (—from responsory, morning prayer, today)

 We have not under-

stood “The Lord” is not inside

Nor on the outside

Look again think again “the

Lord” (yes) is withside 

it is there

Following first psalm, Lauds: 

 Ant. Our King will come from Zion; the Lord, God-is-with-us, is his mighty name.

Ant.2 Wait for the Lord and he will come to you with his saving power.

 The middle.

The middle place.

Where dwells, unseen, that which is

Most true.

And when we step

Into that space

We, too, become

Truer and more present.

It is there

True strength resides

Between this and that

You and me

The true residing place

Between all things

And no-thing

Passing through


dum spiro spero, dum spero amo, dum amo vivo

 Yes. Let me answer,

Yes!  No matter what is asked —

Ego serviam 

Thursday, December 16, 2021


 When I speak with you

There is nothing in your words

Hiding who you are

contiguate corporeality

 Somewhere, between us,

Not yet appearing, forming

Itself, God, alights

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

half way through

 Incense at dusk burns—

Meditation bench empty

Door closes latch clicks

where you stand, underfoot, start there

 So too Christian lore —

The stories you know, teachings

Rote recital — yes

Let these go as well. If truth

Is your root mind, let it out

stepping out of rowboat

Tibetan Buddhism,

Japanese Zen, Chinese Chan —

These are the background.

But you are new now, practice

who and where you are, let go

an instrument of peace

 A saint does nothing 

of their own doing — they let

loose what flows through them

Angels between you and what

Is touched is grace allowed there

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

they locked him away in solitary confinement

I Live yet do not Live in Me     

  by John of the Cross

I live yet do not live in me,
am waiting as my life goes by,
and die because I do not die.

No longer do I live in me,
and without God I cannot live;
to him or me I cannot give
my self, so what can living be?
A thousand deaths my agony
waiting as my life goes by,
dying because I do not die.

This life I live alone I view
as robbery of life, and so
it is a constant death — with no
way out until I live with you.
God, hear me, what I say is true:
I do not want this life of mine,
and die because I do not die.

Being so removed from you I say
what kind of life can I have here
but death so ugly and severe
and worse than any form of pain?
I pity me — and yet my fate
is that I must keep up this lie,
and die because I do not die.

The fish taken out of the sea
is not without a consolation:
his dying is of brief duration
and ultimately brings relief.
Yet what convulsive death can be
as bad as my pathetic life?
The more I live the more I die.

When I begin to feel relief
on seeing you in the sacrament,
I sink in deeper discontent,
deprived of your sweet company.
Now everything compels my grief:
I want — yet can’t — see you nearby,
and die because I do not die.

Although I find my pleasure, Sir,
in hope of someday seeing you,
I see that I can lose you too,
which makes my pain doubly severe,
and so I live in darkest fear,
and hope, wait as life goes by,
dying because I do not die.

Deliver me from death, my God,
and give me life; now you have wound
a rope about me; harshly bound
I ask you to release the cord.
See how I die to see you, Lord,
and I am shattered where I lie,
dying because I do not die.

My death will trigger tears in me,
and I shall mourn my life: a day
annihilated by the way
I fail and sin relentlessly.
O Father God, when will it be
that I can say without a lie:
I live because I do not die?

 Translated by Willis Barnstone 

pray for us

 Sandy Hook, nine years

May the souls of departed

Help us end gun porn


 No one passes on the road this time of night. Maybe sleepless hermit deer on rainsoaked earth.  Night is deepest when alone under meteor sky, feather wings folded over head, dream remnants curled on pillows behind darkened windows behind empty roadside mailbox.

In dim lit cloisters men and women drone psalmist text under echoing vaults above reaching tones. In cardboard contours others push into doorways of city naves alone with transience above city curb sentinel street lamp.

What are we waiting for? 

We wait for our empty hopes to tire of their treks on mountain trails, for promises to despair of their baggage ripped open by thorns and drop-strewn into water gullies half filled with yesterdays rain. There’s little to carry now and fewer miles to cover going forward.

This vacant mind cannot recall where it thought it was going. Yet still it steps over stones and broken branch underfoot, turning trail a meandering animal scenting side to side the passing trace of ghostly precessions. We were not always alone.

We are now.

The prisoner says he stands under shower splashing on his head, his only solitude away from things he’d rather not expose to outer hearing, the crowded punishment of incessant chatter about nothing he wants to hear. He says he’s happier than his words betray, thinking this time will pass.

No one passes in the darkened landscape. In kitchens and hallways footsteps in awkward stirrings think of the day ahead and don’t hurry the heating water. There’s no need to hurry. Everything is always right there just ahead slow motion unraveling always at hand.

It feels my friends are all incarcerated. Sending words through reticence unwilling to answer Lowell’s lines “All's misalliance. / Yet why not say what happened?” Allusion and innuendo, half-revelation and semi-complaint are swallowed up for consideration of hearer.

We’re waiting for something simple.

We’re waiting for the night to give up what it holds back.

For another to read what is not written and nod in undetected watchfulness an unencumbering compassion.

Monday, December 13, 2021

sounds like

 Each philosopher

Asks: truth or lie? Wondering

If this time, a hint

drawn out to see

He hooked a big fish

It became the death of him

Keep your needs simple

root silence

 Think it intention

When attention looks into

Seeing what is there —

We intend reality

Aware what we are seeing

Sunday, December 12, 2021

madre de las américas

 Hoy, madre de las américas, nos imaginamos.

 “Listen. Put it into your heart, my youngest and dearest son, that the thing that frightened you, the thing that afflicted you is nothing: Do not let it disturb you. . . . Am I not here, I, who am your mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the source of your joy? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Do you need something more?” 

( Our Lady of Guadalupe to Juan Diego, 1513Nican Mopohua {CAC})

Con corazones necesitados llenos de fe.

Proteja a sus hijos mientras viajan a un lugar seguro.

travels without travails


We’ll walk to island when ice grows thick.

Until then, the mind imagines a warm inviting divertissement.

Armchair BooksEdinburgh, Scotland, UK 

Such anticipation and imagination is best served with rare friendship and spare dénouement as somnolent dream fades into wind gust as autumn blows through dooryard night.

sésame, ouvre-toi; šem-šāmayīm

Our flaws define us

unwanted and heart-breaking

door of compassion

which has no handle, is locked

Opens only with sorrow