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Posts Tagged ‘musing’

nearsunset

Eventually I had to mute the television. I could not listen to his voice, and so I watched him speak. I watched him gesticulate wildly. I watched him make the schoolboy faces suggestive of a naughty teen making fun of others and which brings out the naughtiness of the other schoolboys who laugh though they mostly know they should know better.  But since there’s no one around to hold any of them accountable, why not poke a little fun, right?

I watched the people behind him bathed in his dark light, their own eyes fiercely bright, as they gave praise to that which stood before them … this bold entity that made them feel good! Trump was nothing like them and yet in their minds they saw themselves or what they sought to be. A white man of inherited privilege and of wealth speaking crudely and with malice about all that was not wealthy and white and not American based on a skewed view of what it means to be American.

And what does it mean to be American? What would happen if every member of Congress had to sit and compose a 500-word essay on the subject? The President and V.P. could do it as well. How about everyone who is a member (so far) of the President’s cabinet? Or maybe better yet, as a writing prompt, have them each read the following poem by Emma Lazarus and respond to it in writing. Full sentences. No tweets. No emojis. Wouldn’t that be something to see?

The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

 

 

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moth found in the tealight candle

I’m going to work with the words of Rector Phillips Brooks (1835-1893) for a moment to help express what I feel after repeatedly seeing footage of the men in Charlottesville, Virginia, especially the night before the violence, their faces illuminated by firelight. What is the source of their purported rage and of their very visible glee? Are they really so blinded by the “charisma” of white supremacists like Richard Spenser, Steve Bannon, David Duke or of a Trump. Actually Trump and charisma are two words I’ve never heard mentioned together. Yet there are people who still eight months into his presidency look up at him with their faces illuminated by something.

Illumination.

It was that sense of illumination that reminded me of a sermon by Rector Phillips Brooks. It is The Candle of the Lord and in it Brooks plays a riff and then does all sorts of variations on the proverbial theme that the spirit of man is the candle of the Lord. He begins, in essence, describing how there are those in this world … people who have a certain light fed by a certain source and they do good work in this world. And then there are those other individuals who too cast a bright light but the source of that light is far different.

[Such a person] “burns so bright and lurid that often the purer lights grow dim in the glare.” And if one were to believe that the source of this man’s light was from a dark place, “then we can understand the sight of a man who is rich in every human quality, cursing the world with the continual exhibition of the devilish instead of the godlike in his life. When the power of pure love appears as a capacity of brutal lust … when the almost divine magnetism, which is given to a man in order that he may instill his faith and hope into some soul that trusts him, is used to breathe doubt and despair through all the substance of a friend’s reliant soul; when wit, which ought to make truth beautiful, is deliberately prostituted to the service of a lie; when earnestness is degraded to be the slave of blasphemy, and the slave’s reputation is made the cloak for the master’s shame …”

He projects light and power “and men who want nothing but light and power will come to it. It is wonderful how mere power, or mere brightness, apart altogether from the work that the power is doing and the story that the brightness has to tell, will win the confidence and admiration of men from whom we might have expected better things. A bright book or a bright play will draw the crowd, although its meaning be detestable. A clever man will make a host of men and boys stand like charmed birds while he quietly draws their principles out of them and leaves them moral idiots.”

It saddens me that there are so many brightly lit individuals, who get too much face time on TV and in social media, let alone book deals, who project power even though they have very little, who as they gain great wealth that enables them to feed their narcissistic desires, are creating a host of white walking (sorry, Game of Thrones) moral idiots in this country that may be the future of its undoing.

But even as I write these words of negativity, I see the positive, in the sacrifices made in Charlottesville, and around this nation each day as people stand up to bigotry and hatred in any form. These are scary times but they’ve been scary before and will be again. Its what we do in this moment that matters. And it all matters.

 

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The man knew why security and I escorted him to the door. He was drunk and that meant he could not stay on the premises especially not with the beer he held tight in its brown paper bag. “I want to make a change,” he said, voice cracking. “I want to stop.” He sounded sincere, as sincere as the friends and family I knew who struggled with alcohol. “I believe you,” was all that I could say, then added. “I wish you well.” He shook the security guard’s hand and then he turned to me. “Will you give me a hug?” What else could I do as he leaned down but to embrace him?

After my shift ended I wandered around the building and there he was. Close, so close, to another door where he could have received help. Instead, he stood there in the damp of the day and opened the bottle.

The child did not utter the words, give me a hug. She just walked up to me with no other expectation than what was to be. If she were to lean against me but of course I would wrap my arms around her. Had I not done that the whole of her short life?

Somehow the child felt heavier than the man. The weight of her promise waiting to be fulfilled versus all that he had lost perhaps. “I’m tired,” she said. “I know,” I replied. “You can lean here for a bit but no sleeping. I might have to tickle you so we can get you home.” There was a giggle but the weight remained in my arms a while longer. And that was alright.

In my dreams I sometimes try to hold people. It is the gift of paupers and probably no greater gift. I hope so.

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Watching me from a nearby oak tree is a large male cardinal with bright black eyes.  My camera is across the room.  He will surely be gone before I can grab it and race back to the window.  What to do?  Just remain still and enjoy my unexpected encounter with a red-feathered friend.  Unexpected.  There is no better word to describe my life at present.  Since my last update, there have been lots of unexpected experiences.  Some have been as simple as spotting the cardinal at my window, or the above leaf as I walked to the grocery store.  Others instances have been more complex.  Their creative impact and outcomes remain to be seen.  Meanwhile, here are some brief highlights of experiences from the past month, with a focus on recent travels.  Enjoy! 😉

***

Virginia

In September I traveled with Steve to Virginia and West Virginia.  Virginia is my  home state.  While there, I visited one of my favorite nature trails along the Blackwater Creek.  See the little fish at the bottom of the picture?  Other sights along the trail:

And in a neaby national park  …

 

West Virginia

In Virginia, I showed Steve my old haunts.  In West Virginia, we journeyed to one of his, Seneca Rocks.  There I had several unexpected and memorable experiences, first attempting to climb a mountain, and then riding a horse.  When I wasn’t afraid of tumbling, off the mountain or the horse, I managed to snap a few photos. 😉

 

On the Horizon

Well, one of the most unexpected opportunities is an upcoming trip to Japan.  I don’t expect to encounter any horses, but Steve is determined to introduce me to octopus in all its varied culinary forms.  We’ll see about that one!

Also, I’m pleased to share that I will be making a guest blog appearance November 1st on The Evolving Critic, A Metro Boston Blog for Art, Architectural, Urban Planning and Community Explorations.  I’ll be sharing words and images about one of my favorite Boston sites, the Charles River Esplanade.

That’s the quick scoop from me.  Wherever you are in the world today, I hope you are healthy, happy and feeling inspired!

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