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The more powerful and original a mind, the more it will incline to the religion of solitude.

Aldous Huxley

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It will be 90 degrees again here to today.  In the mountains a breeze persists.  The pastures are green and bathed in sun to make them softer to the eye.

I listen to a CD entitled “Celtic Landscapes” – recordings from nature in Ireland and Scotland.

Last night I saw a Mama bear and her two small cubs.  They were given the order by Mama to take to the trees.  They did.  The little spuds hung one above the other on thin branches near the tree trunk.  No one moves unless Mama says so.

I hung my Scottish flag on the garage this morning then ate homemade raisin rumcake with a cup of dark roast.  All is good on the ridge.

I love the solitude.  The more disorder in mass culture, the better the silence and solitary life in nature.

A thunder storm erupts on the CD.  We shall have our’s this afternoon.

All the flowers are watered and trimmed.  The roses have a good number of blossoms ready to bloom.  The grass is cut.  The St. Andrew’s Cross flies free.

You see there are things that give comfort.  They are near.  They settle the soul and create space between disorder and peace of heart and the quiet of the soul.

Know this: mass culture is sick and it breeds discontent.  It takes its price from you.

Shalom.

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A Quiet, Peaceful Sunday

… of the things in life … which is the thing you believe to be most valuable?  (Emphasis added.)

William B. Irvine, in A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy

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We seldom stop to think about who we are and what would most satisfy us in this life.  Most people just respond to the noise and impulses of the culture.  Hard to imagine a contented life might result from that default setting.

No wonder there are so many discontented people, so many who submit willy-nilly to the noise, fashion, ideology, stimulus, fear or fancy of the day.  Yes, we play the lead role in our own confusion and discontent.  Few live a considered existence.

Given the opportunity to live a contented life of inner satisfaction and peace – many live in perpetual distraction, anxiety, turmoil and unhappiness.  Seems like such a waste.

In the manner we think about the world and ignore our humble place within it, the more chaotic our life is likely to be.

Author William Irvine reminds us that the Stoic philosophers sought to live a life without negative emotions, a life of tranquility – one absent fear, grief, envy and anxiety.

In pursuit of tranquility, the Stoics saw the mortal world as transitory.  They sought to minimize desires.  In contrast they sought to live courageously, in a temperate manner, with self-discipline and virtue, with joy.  In this they foretold of Christ.

They examined their life, sought to control their attitude and expectations – but nothing beyond their reach.  They did only what they could.

This: a descent prescription for today.  Yes, separation from the chaos and decay requires knowing what it is you intend with this sacred existence you have been granted.

Use the gift of life wisely.  Listen discretely and avoid crowds of the confused and contentious.  Yours is a sacred calling.

You’ll remember me when the West wind moves among the fields of barley …

Many years have passed since those summer days among the fields of barley.  See the children run as the sun goes down among the fields of gold.

Fields of Gold

Shalom.

 

 

You are so hard on yourself.  Take a moment.  Sit back.  Marvel at your life: at the grief that softened you, at the heartache that wisened you, at the suffering that strengthened you.  Despite everything you still grow.  Be Proud.

Tibetan Wisdom

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Grief gives.  Heartache gives.  Suffering gives.

Gifts come in unexpected wrappings.  Receive the gift.  Live in the gift.  Breathe in the gift.  See the sky in the gift.  See the sun in the gift.  See the trees and the mountains in the gift.  See the sun and its shadows in the gift.  Feel the wind in the gift.  Touch your memories in the gift.

Never be captured by things less than God.  There is no daily confusion that surpasses eternity.

See the gifts.  Accept yourself – a child of God.  Smile at it all.  Be settled in what is reality not what is less.  What is temporal is only temporal.  What is Divide is Eternal.

See the gifts.  Life is a gift.  You are a gift.

See the gifts.

Shalom.

More Money for YOU!  Well this week you are getting more $$$ in your paycheck because of the Trump Tax Reform legislation.  Mind you, Democrats in the Congress opposed this legislation.  The message is plain: Democrats want more of your money for them, for bigger government, to give to others.  Progress?  Yes, we are ATM’s no more! 

Weasels and Liars.  Yesterday a dismissed former F.B.I. Director tweeted about “weasels” and “liars.”  Irony is interesting.  Introspection is essential – humility its product.

FISA Memo.  Will the release of the FISA memo spell the end of the Democrat Party?  One might think so given the energy its Party members are putting into fighting its release to the public.

Here are people who move easily between worlds, the seen and the unseen … They encounter fairies and hold conversations with them but they also walk at ease with members of the Trinity.

Esther de Waal, in her Preface to The Celtic Vision

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The Celts maintained a connection with nature.  They were at home in heart and head.  They lived modestly – and mostly by hand.  They engaged the arts and spoke lyrically in storytelling, in song and prayer.  They were believers and lived without division between self and soul.

I spent Saturday and Sunday with my grandchildren: Jack age three, and Fiona – just yet a few months past one.  They are Celtic in heritage (Scots and Irish) and their souls and self are in complete unity.  Their worlds are whole – one grand adventure day-to-day and moment to moment.

Little Fiona wanders about the house endlessly – hoisting herself up onto a sofa so she can visit with you – rising early to find her favored stuffed pals and take them to her in full embrace and gently put them down.  If she has a cookie or other tasty morsel she offers you some.  She trudges about with her little bottom wiggling left to right and back again as an angel who has forgotten her wings might well do.  She is whole – one, a perfect human being – without complication … being just as she is made to be.  It is beautiful.

Jack is a man on an adventure, a fully animated fellow.  A life of many daily escapades.  He dives into life each day full of pep and is constitutionally incapable of lacking joy and energy and enthusiasm.  He is a lad of many daily joys and new ideas and projects that follow.  He invites old Grandpa Bobby Bob to participate … and I do … and thus I re-enter a world where I am one and undivided – full and whole and lovely, too.  He shows me what a beautiful thing it is to be as we are made – divinely whole, from and with God.

Fiona and Jack: proof of God and how God wishes us to be – whole and with Him, living as He made us to be.

These two are my Celtic origin, the people of my past – my heritage, theirs as well.  I shall do my best to keep them close to this, for what they have and who they are is reality … our divisions are not.

Incidentally I awoke today with this prayer on my lips from the days of my childhood:

Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray my soul the Lord to keep.

Should I die before I wake, I pray my soul the Lord to take.

They awoke my past.

My Scottish Grandmother passed along her childhood bedtime prayer to me many years ago..  I had not thought of that verse for years.  Jack and Fiona: angels of reality.  Beautiful truth.

Shalom.

For my Son, himself a divinely loving father … of whom I am very proud and for whom I am so grateful.

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They ate the little mushrooms together with the beans and drank tea and had tinned pears for their dessert. He banked the fire against the seam of rock where he’d built it and he’d strung the tarp behind them to reflect the heat and they sat warm in their refuge while he told the boy stories.  Old stories of courage and justice as he remembered them until the boy was asleep in his blankets and then he stoked the fire and lay down warm and full and listened to the low thunder of the falls beyond them in the dark and threadbare wood.

Cormac McCarthy, in The Road

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A father loves the son in divine dimension.

It is Sunday.  We are given Sunday so we might ask if we love as the Father?

In the best of moments and in the strongest of bonds a father loves his son in ways that mimic God and prepare the son for tomorrow and all the tomorrows we might be given, all the burdens that fall to men – the sacrifice of killing and of dying in the fight.

In the last few American decades it is men who have been attacked, derided, suspected and accused.  Fallen times and fallen women – a race gone wrong in many ways. Such is a time when God is forsaken.  Fundamental undoing. Dangerous course and full throated nonsense.

But who will fight for the frail but the father and his son?  The crop of warriors diminishes. Whole groups have no fathers.

We speak and act as if there is no treachery, as if “others” will magically appear to save us.  But there are fewer fathers who love their sons divinely … and fewer sons breeds fewer fathers and danger appears to conquer and destroy.

When he woke in the woods in the dark and the cold of the night he’d reach out to touch the child sleeping beside him.  Nights dark beyond darkness and days more gray each one than what had gone before.

Shalom.

Footnote – I hope this strikes a satisfying cord for you, especially for men and fathers. We have fewer now who know who we are and what we do, know how deeply we feel and how essential we are.  Share this with others if you wish – and surely with men who are fathers. God bless you all.

 

“How full the days are, full of slow and quiet … Only here do I feel that my life is authentically human.

Thomas Merton

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Merton’s words in a journal entry of November 1964 when he moved into his hermitage – a place to dwell alone surrounded by nature.

In my solitude on the ridge I know what he means.  Never have I felt closer to reality, to God, to the ground of being … or more at peace.

I am away from disorder, chaos … and the flood of bad behavior, routine deceptions and the idiotic chatter – its self-destruction.

I think of ISIS.  North Korea.  The American Left.  The media, the press.  Iran. Russia’s global antics and Europe’s passivity and foolishness.

When good falls victim to evil has not the ground under you shifted?  Is it not wise to seek Eden once again?

In Eden there are no pagans, no herds of selfish people making unwise and suicidal demands.

Merton and the Ridge.

Shalom.

Technical knowledge is not enough.  One must transform techniques so that the art becomes artless art, growing out of the unconscious.

D. T. Suzuki, in Zen and Japanese Culture

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How do you fully live?  Yes, how do you access and activate the unconscious – awaken the essence of the human legacy?  Same question really.

He met the conformity of culture as structured by man but never conceded its control over his breathing, his heartbeat, his life here – as it preceded him and stretched into eternity.

He always had one foot outside the box.  His wry comments and independent judgment kept him free and gave him a sharper vision than most.  He saw behind the silk scene – people, after all, were not clever in concealing their shallow and predictable motives.

He was not often fooled.

Having access to the unconscious, getting to know it in detail made his life art – artless art, a movie from birth to mortal death … and then the everlasting sequel, a seat above in the presence of a warm May sun.

He was never much for formulas.  A blank canvas was more his comfort. Something to write on, to scribble freehand what came to heart, mind, wrist and hand.  Free flowing.

Operating on the margin of the box – turning the rules into sources of amusement and dismemberment so to say: “You do not have me yet.”  Life in the present structures as a game of escape and evasion, lest he suffocate, dry up and become weak and brittle.

Victory.  Life as artless art in all its ease, in each breath, in listening, hearing and seeing.

The experience of experience in its full range – from joy to sorrow and back again, never a dark day in triumph over the warmth of the sun reflected in the others, the friends, the children, love, laughter, kindness, the beauty, the quiet, the memories, the experience in yesterday and today.

… artless art …

Shalom.

The cows are in the pasture.  The prayers have been said.  The sky is dressed in gray.  Push-ups have been done.  The fire is young but alive.  Bach soothes.  The mountains maintain their vigil. Peace prevails.

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The desert was created to be itself … So too the mountain and the sea.

Thomas Merton, in Thoughts in Solitude

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Alone I find how anonymity allows you to meet your self.  Social man gives way to himself, to his sacredness, his holy being – its composition, the divine harmony of its contradiction, peace and His Creator.

It is a relief to no longer be among the crowd, adhere to the “to-do’s,” the hubbub and the gloss, the artificiality of it all, its costumes and its absurdity, its contaminated pecking order.

The desert, and the mountain, and the sea were created to be itself.  So too are we, each one of us.

Shalom.

The Holiness of Rain

The rain falls hard today in the mountains.  Hard enough to give it voice, a steady presence in a quiet room.  There is a peace in its persistence.  It seems to “hush” with its music, its patter –  coupled with its consistent, rhythmic din.  To match rain, the skies are close in; clouds and their gray dim the light as if to call us within.  Peace is at hand.  God visits today.  Being alone takes on its holiness, forcing the Truth of God’s eternal, everyday – day and night, year in and year out existence.

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” … my … pilgrimage has come clear and purified itself … I know I have seen what I was obscurely looking for.  I don’t know what else remains but I have now seen and pierced through the surface and have got beyond the shadow and the disguise.”

Thomas Merton

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These are Merton’s words upon visiting a cave adjacent to the ruins of ancient temple buildings near Polonnaruwa, Ceylon, and entering the cave to find large renderings of human beings and a giant reclining Buddha.

He felt in this excursion into this place an “inner clarity.”  He referred to this as “an aesthetic illumination” allowing him to see “beyond the shadow and the disguise.”

This was Thomas Merton’s last journey.  He was to die at 58 in a matter of days.

Is your life a pilgrimage?  Do you seek what you are created to seek.  Or are you captured by what is not Truth, not of the soul, of God, or of your divine nature?

Do not let the thought-police take you captive.  Your warden is a Loving Father.

For Merton the great stone figures were “in full movement,” beautiful and holy.

How does the world look to you?  What do you see?  Hear?  Feel?  Experience in the rain and the clouds?  Do you see “full movement” in motionless stones?

Shalom.

We face up to awful things because we can’t go around them …

… it may be that love sometimes occurs without pain and misery …

Annie Proulx, in The Shipping News

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Today, east over the mountains I see gray clouds and a dark pink sunrise.  Gray and pink against the faintest of pale blue-gray sky.  Another day of hope and promise.

Last night I watched The Shipping News – good book put to film.  It reminded me of many things.  How stories teach.  How we each are made good and bad, and how the hurt we suffer or inflict settles a sadness deep within – next to God.

How those who hurt us loose in the end as their glass shatters.  How often small towns can give us the shelter of caves before death and in those shelters we might – just might – heal the curses previously inflicted.

I saw in this story that nothing is more evil than nailing a man to a tree and that doing so brings in a blood thick fog, until a pure unpainted face appears to smile so we might see the ocean, its living waters – deep, endless, timeless as God who makes the gift of love for each of us.

How good women can rescue men, and men inexplicably, modestly reciprocate without understanding how.

How men do not cry for the treachery they see and know.  How this is our excursion and how we face it all without fear.  How children worry about death but men do not.  How those who loved us never die.

How a woman’s face can be warm when she is but a woman.  How her delicate fingers touch the world and the hearts in it so carefully.  And how darkness can exist within some and make warmth deathly cold, snaring and hard.

How living waters make us all “water people.”  And how story is life and life is story.

Shalom.

 

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