April 23 – Bill Pauly loves Mary Oliver

Friday,  April 23   “The world’s otherness is antidote to confusion”

A long-time Jesuit soul friend, Bill Pauly, who died, too young in 2006 (heart attack), gave me Mary Oliver’s New and Selected Poems, Vol 1 in 2004 when I drove to Santa Clara, CA for sabbatical after 3 years as interim dean of Liberal Arts & Education.  Knowing that I had not embraced Mary Oliver’s poetry despite his advising, he wrote on the title page:

“This is your one required reading for your sabbatical. Enjoy.”

Here I am, all these years later, wanting to find some message board to where Bill’s spirit and his memory lives now, telling him that I’ve finally gotten his point.  I must like her poetry.

It’s a good poem for Spring, with its sensual and unpredictable apparitions – fresh beauty and vitality during these weeks;  even grumpiness at the season’s waves of pollen assaulting our nostrils and lungs, even those discomforts can be stopped in their tracks by sheer sexy beauty.

“. . . . I do not want anymore to be useful . . . to lead children . . . into the text of civility, to teach them that they are (they are not) better than the grass.”

Mary O. reminds me of a prayer I learned 40 + years ago on the Pine Ridge Lakota Reservation.  If I stand still — still enough and long enough — I can hear the sound a cottonwood makes, and a different sound of grass growing beneath my feet. The stillness and the listening help me to be where I stand and walk upon the earth.

It helps to read strong poems out loud, several times.

Have a blest weekend,

 

john sj

Today’s post: “Early Morning, My Birthday”

The snails on the pink sleds of their bodies are moving
among the morning glories.
The spider is asleep among the red thumbs
of the raspberries.
What shall I do, what shall I do?

The rain is slow
The little birds are alive in it.
Even the beetles.
The green leaves lap it up.
What shall I do, what shall I do?

The wasp sits on the porch in her paper castle.
The blue heron floats out of the clouds.
The fish leaps, all rainbow and mouth, from the dark water.

This morning the water lilies are no less lovely, I think,
than the lilies of Monet.  And I do not want anymore to be useful,
to be docile,
to lead children out of the fields into the text of civility,
to teach them that they are (they are not) better
than the grass.

Mary Oliver, New and Selected Poems, Vol. 1 (1992)

 

“I stood willingly and gladly in the characters of everything – other people, trees, clouds.   And this is what I learned, that the world’s otherness is antidote to confusion – that standing within this otherness – the beauty and the mystery of the world, out in the fields or deep inside books –  can re-dignify the worst-stung heart.”


Mary Oliver
1935-2019

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April 21 – Dakota: A Spiritual Geography – Kathleen Norris & Mary Tobacco (a’ki’cita Wiyan)

Mary Tobacco & I have a Dad-and-Daughter 50 year kinship;  once a day or more we call in and ask each other: “tell me a good story;”  some stories are hard; some playful and delicious  — e.g., like Baby Marvin, a daring toddler who sometimes likes to roll around as Dakota dust turns toward Dakota mud.  Our little family also opens us to my university world of work, from which I often write a post.

On our campus as people in the university world, like people everywhere, suck air, walk too fast, and try to manage big and little start-ups.  Lots of people scramble in their digital workplaces, not just on campuses.   Maybe that’s why the Kathleen Norris memoir suggested itself during this year’s season of  hope and anxious attention to county-by-county digital maps showing percentages of fully or partially vaccinated human beings who have themselves kept vigil with our numbing hosts of the beloved dead.

Norris writes words that open deep into ordinary reality.   In 1974, after learning her way into New York City’s world of poetry with mentoring from the legendary Betty Kray at the Academy of American Poets (http://www.nytimes.com/1987/11/24/obituaries/elizabeth-kray-patron-and-friend-of-poets-and-their-art-dies-at-71.html) Kathleen and her husband shocked their peers by moving to Lemmon in northwestern South Dakota where Kathleen had inherited the family home of her grandmother.  They stayed a long time.

In 1993, her Dakota: A Spiritual Geography took the literary world by storm.  Took me by storm too.  If a book of micro essays, some only half a page, ever approaches the taut, lean focus of strong poetry, for me this is the book.  In those South Dakota years, she became friends with vast horizons, and with the Benedictine monks at St. John’s Monastery in Minnesota.  She’s written several memoirs about the intersection of her secularity with the roots of Benedictine prayer and wisdom.

Think of the following short quotes from Dakota as poems.   Best to read them out loud, with pauses.

 

Have a blest day,

john sj

Today’s Post:  Four texts from Dakota

“Once, when I was describing to a friend from Syracuse, New York, a place on the plains that I love, a ridge above a glacial moraine with a view of almost fifty miles, she asked, “But what is there to see?” The answer, of course, is nothing. Land, sky, and the ever-changing light.”

“Maybe the desert wisdom of the Dakotas can teach us to love anyway, to love what is dying, in the face of death, and not pretend that things are other than they are. The irony and wonder of all of this is that it is the desert’s grimness, its stillness and isolation, that brings us back to love.”

“To be an American is to move on, as if we could outrun change. To attach oneself to place is to surrender to it, and suffer with it.”

“For me, walking in a hard Dakota wind can be like staring at the ocean: humbled before its immensity, I also have a sense of being at home on this planet, my blood so like the sea in chemical composition, my every cell partaking of air. I live about as far from the sea as is possible in North America, yet I walk in a turbulent ocean. Maybe that child was right when he told me that the world is upside-down here, and this is where angels drown.”

meadowlark on a fence,  Fog Basin, SD  2008

A recording of the song of the Western Meadowlark

Kathleen Norris (born in Washington, D.C. on July 27, 1947) is a best-selling poet and essayist. Her parents, John Norris and Lois Totten, took her as a child to Hawaii, where she graduated from Punahou Preparatory School in 1965. After graduating from Bennington College in Vermont in 1969, Norris became arts administrator of the Academy of American Poets, and published her first book of poetry two years later.[1] In 1974 she inherited her grandparents’ farm in Lemmon, South Dakota, moved there with her husband David Dwyer, joined Spencer Memorial Presbyterian church, and discovered the spirituality of the Great Plains.[2] She entered a new, non-fictional phase in her literary career after becoming a Benedictine oblate at Assumption Abbey   ND in 1986, and spending extended periods at Saint John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota.[3] Since the death of her husband in 2003, Norris has transferred her place of residence to Hawaii

 

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Monday, April 19, 2021 Warsan Shire, Pope Francis and refugees: ” . . . no one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land.”

April 19 – Pope Francis and refugees “. . . no one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land.”

Newly-elected Pope Francis spoke in July of 2013 to a world just getting used to him as a new world figure.

Francis chose Lampedusa, a desperately sought island that became a grave for thousands of refugees who drown there, to call attention to the violence that refugees live. Among other things, he said:

“Immigrants who died at sea, from that boat that, instead of being a way of hope was a way of death . . . . .  I felt that I ought to come here today to pray, to make a gesture of closeness, but also to reawaken our consciences so that what happened would not be repeated.  Not repeated, please!”

What might make a poem that may help our readers pay attention to the violent places in this world?  Somali poet Warsan Shire helps me.  One estimate sets the number of refugees who have had to leave home and walk the roads of the world at c. 60,000,000. I am proud of my brother Jesuit, Pope Francis, for bringing us who hear him speak into very hard places.  Warsan Shire’s poems, flint hard, unrelenting, reminds me of Francis and Francis reminds me of Warsan Shire.

Best to read her poem out loud, with pauses. An inner place of listening to restore our kindness with courage so we can continue to pay attention.

Have a blest Monday,

 

john sj

Text # 3: – Warsan Shire, “Home”

no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark.
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well.

your neighbours running faster
than you, the boy you went to school with who kissed you dizzy behind
the old tin factory is
holding a gun bigger than his body,

you only leave home
when home won’t let you stay.

no one would leave home unless home chased you, fire under feet,
hot blood in your belly.

it’s not something you ever thought about doing, and so when you did –
you carried the anthem under your breath, waiting until the airport toilet

to tear up the passport and swallow,
each mouthful of paper making it clear that you would not be going back.

you have to understand,
no one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land.

who would choose to spend days
and nights in the stomach of a truck
unless the miles traveled
meant something more than journey.

no one would choose to crawl under fences,
be beaten until your shadow leaves you,
raped, then drowned, forced to the bottom of
the boat because you are darker, be sold,
starved, shot at the border like a sick animal,
be pitied, lose your name, lose your family,
make a refugee camp a home for a year or two or ten,
stripped and searched, find prison everywhere
and if you survive and you are greeted on the other side
with go home blacks, refugees

dirty immigrants, asylum seekers
sucking our country dry of milk,
dark, with their hands out
smell strange, savage –
look what they’ve done to their own countries,
what will they do to ours?

the dirty looks in the street
softer than a limb torn off,
the indignity of everyday life
more tender than fourteen men who
look like your father, between
your legs, easier to swallow
than rubble, than your child’s body
in pieces – for now, forget about pride
your survival is more important.

i want to go home, but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home tells you to
leave what you could not behind, even if it was human.

no one leaves home until home
is a damp voice in your ear saying
leave, run now, i don’t know what
i’ve become.


Warsan Shire b. 1 August 1988
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warsan_Shire

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Wednesday – April 14 – David Whyte – between winter and spring

“To hear
another’s voice,
follow
your own voice”

This post appeared almost a year ago (April 16, 2020, to be precise). We sibs gathered at our sister Mary’s home for her April 13 birthday.

Here’s how I began the contextual paragraph that day. “I am writing from my sister Mary’s snow-bound home where 20+ inches of snow has blown around for 2 days of blizzard winds (c. 25 mph).  Lovely for sure; every few minutes a car drives by the riverfront road.” What a difference eleven months makes! This first half of April 2021has scattered hints of spring here and there around Detroit, though my Lakota daughter-soul friend, Mary Tobacco, tells me that they are digging out from a hefty blizzard today in South Dakota.

April offers unpredictable weather twitches, no?  A blizzard-loving person like myself may yet be pulling on my high top snow boots. I’m not taking responsibility for the weather though; “enjoying” does not = “causing.”

Today’s poem by David Whyte has blessed me several times over the Work Day/Hard Time poetry list’s seven-year existence.  Best to read the poem out loud, with pauses, several times over the day. Have a blest Wednesday.

 

john sj

Marinette blizzard for Mary St’s birthday – 2019

 

Today’s Post: “Start Close In”

Start close in,
don’t take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
thing
close in,
the step
you don’t want to take.

Start with
the ground
you know,
the pale ground
beneath your feet,
your own
way to begin
the conversation.

Start with your own
question,
give up on other
people’s questions,
don’t let them
smother something
simple.

To hear
another’s voice,
follow
your own voice,
wait until
that voice

becomes an
intimate
private ear
that can
really listen
to another.

Start right now
take a small step
you can call your own
don’t follow
someone else’s
heroics, be humble
and focused,
start close in,
don’t mistake
that other
for your own.

Start close in,
don’t take
the second step
or the third,
start with the first
thing
close in,
the step
you don’t want to take.

from River Flow: New & Selected Poems
Many Rivers Press

David Whyte b. 1955
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Whyte_(poet)

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Friday, April 9 — Three Cairns – sculpture – Andy Goldsworth and Emily Dickenson

“Cairns [are] stone structures [or markers]
that identify a place of great importance.”

This little boy exploring a large stone egg got me wondering the way art does. Two artists here, the sculptor and the mom with the camera. So I emailed his mom back asking about the egg. She’s a close friend living in La Jolla, CA: “it’s a sculpture by Andy Goldsworthy, called ‘Three Cairns,’ in front of the Museum of Contemporary Art; my son calls it the ‘egg rock.’”

I found an explanation on the website of the Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation (http://dsmpublicartfoundation.org/public-art/three-cairns/). Just below is their great picture of the central cairn at the Des Moines Art Center. “Cairns,” Public Art tells us, are “stone structures [or markers] that identify a place of great importance. Their dry-stone construction represents an engineering feat as well as artistic creativity. The process of shaping and stacking the stones into a simple oval shape is challenging and intense. The form symbolizes fullness and ripeness, time and energy, loss and endurance.” The Foundation also tells us that this is the largest project in the Western Hemisphere by British artist Andy Goldsworthy.

The photo, by Doug Millar, shows the central cairn at home among Iowa grass and trees. Goldworthy’s placement of the two hollow-out stone frames isn’t random. One points toward New York, a matching cairn outside the Neugerger Museum of Art; the other points west to the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla and the cairn my friend’s son showed off for us. The limestone for each comes from long before its physical home was inhabited by people calling their place “Iowa.”

Lots going on here. Not one place but three, not three places but a continent, not one time but millennia, all crafted with the precise skills of a contemporary worker of stone. I like to imagine the work we do at the university like that. Final exams are appearing on the horizon with their demands for precise thinking and some memory. We are a university.

While getting reacquainted with the Cairns, I opened a poem feed that lands in my inbox each day to find a gift from Emily Dickenson. Just below my signature, you will find Emily Dickenson’s 12 line poem about an unnamed bird. Which form of beauty opens me to deeper stillness this mid-April day in 2021, the trans-national sculpture or this poem from the 19th century? Answer? “yes.”

Some early spring rains begin to encourage grass and flowers and trees to do their thing.  Yesterday, I learned that on our 280 acre landscape a flock of wild turkeys has made their home.  Wild turkeys are fierce, agile creatures; no wonder Benjamin Franklin proposed them as the national bird.  I have yet to see the turkeys themselves, but I’m looking forward to it.

Have a blest weekend,

 

john st sj


Today’s Post
  “Hope”

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Emily Dickinson
December 10, 1830 – May 15, 1886
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emily_Dickinson

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April 7 – Mark, evangelist & poet “Repent and believe the good news”

April 7, 2021 – “being surprised”

“Is our main repenting, perhaps, made of believing good news,
that there is news,
something new,
and it is good?”

When I pray from Mark or Matthew or Luke (i.e., the three “synoptic gospels”),  it helps me to treat the evangelist as a poet, to allow the surprise buried in the text to stop me in my tracks.

Long ago, when I took a job here in 1980,  I wrote this poem based on Mark 1:15.  I found the challenges facing the university daunting.   This gospel text, “Repent and believe the good news” began to get my attention,  as strong poems can.    A teaching of St. Ignatius, (i.e., that I ask to grow in “intimate knowledge of our Lord who has become human . . .”)  began to challenge me.  “To become human” implies being born in some particular place with its own historical circumstances;  Jesus was born in one of the world’s meanest, poorest, and most violent places: the Roman Empire’s grinding police state where crucifixion of people who opposed the state became horrors up and down that small country (e.g., as many as 2000 rebel fighters were crucified during one period in the early childhood of the boy Jesus).  Sometimes it took a day or two for a strong man to suffocate to death;  crucifixion was intended to terrify,  intimidate and subdue opposition.

For me that became a deep surprise, taking the teaching of the young man Jesus, “Repent and believe the good news” seriously.  What could the evangelist poet Mark mean?   And that led me, little by little, to notice that where I was born (Marinette, WI, 1939) was a much less frightening place than where Jesus was born in his historical time and place.  The place where Jesus was born  more resembled the circumstances of 21st-century immigrant children torn from their mothers and fathers at U.S. borders. It helps, when I read this saying from Mark 1:15, to allow the poet’s word-choices to open my imagination into deep, shocking, surprise, like every strong poem would.  Best to read the poem out loud, with pauses.

Not everything about my Catholic faith makes me proud; but this teaching and men and women who have tried to live it, often  at the cost of their blood, stop me in my tracks,  like any strong poem should.

Have a blest day,

 

john sj

Today’s Post  “Repent and believe the good news.”   {Mk 1:15}

Is our main repenting, perhaps, made of believing good news,
that there is news,
something new,
and it is good?

That what we already know is not all there is,
that we must approach the presence of God
knowing we will be surprised,
committed to being surprised
and so to living in a surprise-able way?

Poem by john st sj

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April 5 2021, 2016 –Kathleen Norris – ” Dakota: A Spiritual Geography”

Last posted on September 19, 2016

On our campus as people in the university world, like people everywhere, suck air, walk too fast, and try to manage big and little start-ups.  Lots of people scramble in their digital workplaces, not just on campuses.   Maybe that’s why the Kathleen Norris memoir suggested itself during this year’s season of tedious hope and anxious attention to county-by-county digital maps showing percentages of fully or partially vaccinated human beings who have themselves kept vigil with our numbing hosts of the beloved dead.

Norris writes words that open deep into ordinary reality.   In 1974, after learning her way into New York City’s world of poetry with mentoring from the legendary Betty Kray at the Academy of American Poets (http://www.nytimes.com/1987/11/24/obituaries/elizabeth-kray-patron-and-friend-of-poets-and-their-art-dies-at-71.html) Kathleen and her husband shocked their peers by moving to Lemmon in northwestern South Dakota where Kathleen had inherited the family home of her grandmother.  They stayed a long time.

In 1993, her Dakota: A Spiritual Geography took the literary world by storm.  Took me by storm too.  If a book of micro essays, some only half a page, ever approaches the taut, lean focus of strong poetry, for me this is the book.  In those South Dakota years, she became friends with vast horizons, and with the Benedictine monks at St. John’s Monastery in Minnesota.  She’s written several memoirs about the intersection of her secularity with the roots of Benedictine prayer and wisdom.

Think of these short quotes from Dakota as poems.   Best to read them out loud, with pauses.

Have a blest day.

 

john sj

Today’s Post:  Four texts from Dakota

“Once, when I was describing to a friend from Syracuse, New York, a place on the plains that I love, a ridge above a glacial moraine with a view of almost fifty miles, she asked, “But what is there to see?” The answer, of course, is nothing. Land, sky, and the ever-changing light.”

“Maybe the desert wisdom of the Dakotas can teach us to love anyway, to love what is dying, in the face of death, and not pretend that things are other than they are. The irony and wonder of all of this is that it is the desert’s grimness, its stillness and isolation, that brings us back to love.”

“To be an American is to move on, as if we could outrun change. To attach oneself to place is to surrender to it, and suffer with it.”

“For me, walking in a hard Dakota wind can be like staring at the ocean: humbled before its immensity, I also have a sense of being at home on this planet, my blood so like the sea in chemical composition, my every cell partaking of air. I live about as far from the sea as is possible in North America, yet I walk in a turbulent ocean. Maybe that child was right when he told me that the world is upside-down here, and this is where angels drown.”

meadowlark on a fence,  Fog Basin, SD  2008

A recording of the song of the Western Meadowlark

Kathleen Norris (born in Washington, D.C. on July 27, 1947) is a best-selling poet and essayist. Her parents, John Norris and Lois Totten, took her as a child to Hawaii, where she graduated from Punahou Preparatory School in 1965. After graduating from Bennington College in Vermont in 1969, Norris became arts administrator of the Academy of American Poets, and published her first book of poetry two years later.[1] In 1974 she inherited her grandparents’ farm in Lemmon, South Dakota, moved there with her husband David Dwyer, joined Spencer Memorial Presbyterian church, and discovered the spirituality of the Great Plains.[2] She entered a new, non-fictional phase in her literary career after becoming a Benedictine oblate at Assumption Abbey   ND in 1986, and spending extended periods at Saint John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota.[3] Since the death of her husband in 2003, Norris has transferred her place of residence to Hawaii, though continuing to do lecture tours on the mainland.

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Wednesday, March 31, 2021 Warsan Shire reading the journeys of refugees

In this lovely contemplative place some 60 miles north of Motown, I am finding nourishment in an A+ fitness center,  consistent attention to metrics like blood sugar and a mix of prescription meds,  early morning prayer attention to my newest-bound prayer journal while the dining room is still quiet.  Jesuits, like monks of St. Benedict learn to notice subtle realities in the world around them.  Perhaps that’s why this Warsan Shire compelling poem keeps pulling my coat recently, asking me to notice the c. 60,000,000 displaced human beings walking the roads of the world, driven from their own home places.

I lifted this from an Advent season 7 years ago.   Perhaps Warsan Shires perceptive language will disturb and bless you as it has me this lovely morning, the last day of March.  Have a blest mid-week day.

john sj

 

Taken from Work Day Post December 4, 2015

Somali-British poet Warsan Shire’s poem evokes intimacy — a crying child lucky enough to have a mom or a dad hold her or him, whispering “where does it hurt?”  Shire enters that moment and opens it out into the wide world and a time marked by brutal absolute convictions that demonize those with whom one differs.  Columnist Omir Safi turned to Shire’s poem while reeling with shock after the Paris massacre in December 2015.

“I watched the outpouring of grief from all over the world, including most of my Muslim friends. I saw hundreds of Facebook profiles being changed to the French flag-themed profile pictures, and thousands of #prayerforParis and #Prayers4Paris tweets.  I also saw, as I knew would come, wounded cries of the heart from friends in Beirut wondering why their own atrocity (43 dead) just one day before — also at the hands of ISIS — had not received any such similar outpouring of grief; friends from Pakistan wondering why there was no option to “check in as safe” during their experiences with violent attacks; friends from Central African Republic wondering why their dead — in the thousands — are the subject of no one’s global solidarity.”

 

Today’s Post:  “what they did yesterday afternoon”

by warsan shire

they set my aunts house on fire
i cried the way women on tv do
folding at the middle
like a five pound note.
i called the boy who use to love me
tried to ‘okay’ my voice
i said hello
he said warsan, what’s wrong, what’s happened?

i’ve been praying,
and these are what my prayers look like;
dear god
i come from two countries
one is thirsty
the other is on fire
both need water.

later that night

i held an atlas in my lap
ran my fingers across the whole world
and whispered
where does it hurt?

it answered
everywhere
everywhere
everywhere.

        Warsan Shire

posted November 16 2015  on Amber J Kaiser (http://amberjkeyser.com/2015/11/warsan-shire/)

(SomaliWarsan ShireArabic: ورسان شرى‎‎, born 1 August 1988)
is a London–based- Somali writer, poet, editor and teacher.[1]  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warsan_Shire)

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Tuesday – March 23 “Lockdown”

Tuesday, March 23

“People are singing to each other
across the empty squares,
keeping their windows open
so that those who are alone . . . ”

When I moved to the Colombiere rehab Center in  February, all 60+ of us Jesuits were in lockdown, a tough slog of mostly isolation — not only masks and isolated meals off trays in separate rooms,  but no access to our world-class fitness center: the very constraints Franciscan poet, Michael Surufka describes in today’s post.

Now, these months later, “lockdown” can suggest what The Spiritual Exercises, in its Second Week describes as a purposeful remembering of some part of one’s past that wants intimate sensual remembering (i.e., when returning to some event or moment. try to use all five senses to get inside that moment, to “get there” (Sp Ex # 121). I am finding sensual remembering transformative these months.  Perhaps you will also.

Have a blest week,

 

john st sj

 

Today’s Post: “Lockdown”

Yes there is fear.
Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is panic buying.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.

But,
They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
You can hear the birds again.
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
The sky is no longer thick with fumes
But blue and grey and clear.

They say that in the streets of Assisi
People are singing to each other
across the empty squares,
keeping their windows open
so that those who are alone
may hear the sounds of family around them.

They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland
Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.

Today a young woman I know
is busy spreading fliers with her number
through the neighbourhood
So that the elders may have someone to call on.

Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples
are preparing to welcome
and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary
All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting
All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality
To how big we really are.
To how little control we really have.
To what really matters.
To Love.

So we pray and we remember that
Yes there is fear.
But there does not have to be hate.
Yes there is isolation.
But there does not have to be loneliness.
Yes there is panic buying.
But there does not have to be meanness.
Yes there is sickness.
But there does not have to be disease of the soul
Yes there is even death.
But there can always be a rebirth of love.

Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
Today, breathe.
Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic
The birds are singing again
The sky is clearing,
Spring is coming,
And we are always encompassed by Love.

Open the windows of your soul
And though you may not be able
to touch across the empty square,

Sing.

Fr. Michael Surufka OFM

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March 15 – Dom Helder Camera “a good traveler cares for weary companions”

Dom Helder Camera’s voice and eyes “a good traveler cares for weary companions”

“… but we know the journey is human life and life needs company.
Companion is the one who eats the same bread.”

Posted on March 20, 2020, 1st day of Daylight Savings Time  —  (n.b.,  recent research finds that the first full Monday of Daylight Savings typically registers a 6 – 7 % spike in traffic accidents  – –  )

Sheer beauty can look inadequate for repairing violent storm damage, such as COVID-19, our new global visitor.  But I doubt it.  The work of beauty is to remind us that deep down, under the exhausting burdens of our adult commitments, lives a wellspring of grace.

Dom Helder Camera, FortalezaCearáNortheast Region of Brazil –February 7, 1909 – August 27, 1999:  He was archbishop of Recife and Olinda Brazil from 1964 to 1985 during a severe military dictatorship.  He interpreted Catholic teaching with a consistent, fierce attention to the violence of systems that maintain brutal poverty.  Not surprisingly, he made serious enemies who worked to silence him.   It is said that some of Dom Helder’s enemies hired a hitman to assassinate him.  Like the professional he was, the hitman stalked the archbishop for some time, learning his habits, seeking a place and time most apt for killing.   In the process, he listened to Dom Helder Camera speak a number of times until, one day, he fell at his feet, weeping, and begged for the grace to change his profession and his life.

Dom Helder’s unblinking attention to the violence of poverty was matched by legendary playfulness.  Here is one story among many; this one I witnessed.  Once Dom Helder was speaking to about 1,500 people who sat on the St. Louis levee overlooking the Mississippi River (by the Arch). In the middle of his talk, a helicopter took off right behind him filled with tourists taking a ride for a bird’s eye view of the river and the city.   It made so much racket that it was impossible to hear what the Dom Helder was saying.  He paused, and turned around toward the helicopter which flew at that moment just above him, and offered the helicopter pilot and the tourists a puckish little wave.  When the helicopter got a little farther out on its trip, he turned back to us and blew our minds as we listened.

This Monday in March, my Lakota daughter Mary Tobacco reminds me that even snow, rain, and mud following last night’s heavy snow can be beautiful.


Photo from Mary Tobacco’s home after yesterday’s snow

Have a blest day,

 

john sj

p.s.      Here’s my favorite DH photo.  Alas, I’ve never found one of him waving to the helicopter.

Today’s Post-  a saying of Dom Helder

“It is possible to travel alone, but we know the journey is human life
and life needs company.
Companion is the one who eats the same bread.

The good traveler cares for weary companions, grieves when we lose heart,
takes us where she finds us,  listens to us.
Intelligently, gently, above all lovingly, we encourage each other to go on
and recover our joy
On the  journey.”

Dom Helder Camera

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