Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Common Thread

I dislike having to categorize where one day's writing goes versus another. Organizing my journal feels like splitting hairs. There's just one of me, why did I sprout twenty-two labels on this blog and why do I have two blogs? As diverse as the thoughts, feelings and happenings are that prompt me to write, there's a part of me that resists categories and acknowledging divisions. I don't like politics of any kind. For years I managed to pretend politics were of no account, but there is no realm where they do not seem to penetrate. School yard, grocery, bookstore, doctor's office, church, where can one go? Yes, even my notebooks...but I long to just spin and weave with a common thread... I say...with my own embroidery in mind.

Don't get me wrong about wanting to ignore divisions, boundaries are good things. For your visual and mental convenience, I've even started a new paragraph here, hoping to protect all of us from blurry thinking. I see boundaries in nature....niches of functional richness, spacial and temporal and seasonal variations of an environment both allow and limit what grows, and who sings or crawls in any particular place.

Gretchen Johanna at Gladsome Lights leaned on George Bernard Shaw to solve her dilemma of categories : "Crude classifications and false generalizations are the curse of organized life..." wrote Shaw and so G. J., acknowledging her debt, labeled her archive of posts "Crude Classifications." That helps me, remembering that many of our divisions are but "crude."

Here is an example of the ubiquitous nature of politics: I recently read an interview of a young author,editor. publisher who among other literary efforts, compiled and edited a book of birth stories. Here she is discussing feedback she's received.

Despite the fact that I didn't have a political agenda when I edited the book, I've noticed that people do have a political response to the book. I didn't have any criteria for the essays except that I wanted each essay I selected to reach the highest literary standards. I've found Christians who like the pro-natal aspect of the book but object to the fact that I've included a couple of essays by lesbians. Natural or home birth proponents have objected to the fact that I include hospital births in the book. And hospital birth proponents have argued that the book is biased towards natural birth. Whatever. About half the births in the book are hospital births and half are natural births so I don’t see how there could be a “bias” from either side. And I included essays by Christians, Buddhists, atheists, agnostics, and who knows what. I honestly didn't care about that part of it. I just wanted to show that whatever TYPE of birth a person experiences, and no matter what spiritual persuasion a person has, the process of giving birth is life-affirming (even when a baby dies, as happens with one of the birth stories in the book) and that process changes men and women in profound and measurable ways.

I take her at her word, she either didn't have an agenda or was not fully conscious of it, but either way she has set out on an up hill battle. I see her desire; she's looking for a common thread and she, not a mother herself, chose to edit a book focused on something that we each and all do in fact have in common, being birthed. Other of her ventures reveal that she is neither unaware of nor ignores the divisive facts of life; it's more like she's willing to head into the eye of the storm in hopes of transcending them.

But of course it is very political to write about anything primal because the body politic wants control and claim over anything of the essence. That is a very old story. It does no good to proclaim our innocence, even if sitting home sewing crib quilts for peace, the critics , representing a full spectrum of goodwill to skulduggery are likely to come and point out how one's underlying assumptions are revealed by every choice, by what one has deigned to include or exclude. It is out of our assumptions that our more specific and concrete beliefs arise. And our beliefs do shape our methods and if we are worth our salt, so to speak, then our methods ought to line up and bring about our goals. Not to just circle about here, but those goals, in a life of purpose should be a practical reflection of the most primary assumptions, the foundation of our being. As tempting as it is to try and ignore politics, there is a war going on.

Divisions themselves are full spectrum, from positive and purposeful to destructive profligate, and within one division others often occur; while occasionally reunions or offers thereof do happen.

The wires of communication are hotly lit of late with news and opinions about the the recent offer that the Roman Catholic Pope has made to priests and parishioners fleeing the Episcopal Church. While some focus on the divisions that exist between these two ( three, four ?) bodies established over the last four hundred plus years, I read one analysis that explores some of the forces in the world that these entities struggle with. Richard Fernandez describes, in Lighting of the Beacons, some of the division and competition he sees this way: "From one side, there is the religion which pretends to be a political movement — socialism/communism. From the other flank there is the political movement which pretends to be a religion — Islam. Both religions have massive amounts of money, heavy weaponry and great cultural power."

It's an impressive essay, but I won't quote more of it here because it needs to be read in its entirety to be appreciated. Fernandez receives hundreds of comments within hours of posting on his web log. Many of the comments are essays unto themselves, some quite worthy of attention.

As I said, the thoughts, feelings and happenings that prompt me to write are diverse and as tempted as I am to resist nailing things down categorically, there is a difference between splitting hairs and seeing the real fissures in the world. It's a big conversation to enter and I never do so without trepidation but I trust that ultimately, whether in the wild or the civilizations of man, not one bird is forgotten and the hairs on our heads are counted. And I aim to lean into the word found in a letter to the Romans 12:18:
In as much as it is up to you, be at peace with all men
In other words, while standing amongst clear distinctions, it's also up to us to find a common thread.
~~~~~~~~



Friday, October 16, 2009

Sun After a Storm and a Writing Prompt

Water is always needed on the California Coast and we finally got some. It didn't fall straight down though...it came every which way, but we aren't complaining.
Before the Tuesday storm,
and I heard it was just the leftover of a typhoon
that Japan took the full brunt of, things were mighty tidy in the courtyard.
Only little limbs fell and the redwoods and cypress and pines got scoured by the wind and look lovely clean and much greener now.
It sure helps to have sunshine after a storm. The old house absorbed water like a wick.
After the rain, new buds bloom...
I threw open windows to the portal on the sea....
This picture I took reminds me of a writing prompt in a series of workshops I participated in...
"If I were a gate..." I will have to find that poem I wrote and post it on "Writepurpose" sometime.
But maybe, while I get back to work...one of my readers will write a poem...
just take the prompt...and off you go...
IF I WERE A GATE...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Global Consternation

Sometimes I begin to post and either I think better of it or I get interrupted...I found this lurking in the drafts dated August 2, 2009:


Journal entries gliding out easily at the end of the day are not as likely for me as capturing first thoughts in the morning light. Before the rumble of the day, before I've girded myself up for people and activities, to think and feel and release a page in one smooth uninhibited scroll is natural, like an uncoiling, a spring released. Not that most of those pages are ever written to share, but they open the doors of perception to use Huxley's coinage, and then sometimes other writing follows.

When it's quiet, and I am too, I can access the inner realm with fewer twists and turns than it takes on an average day. It's evening now, the sun has set in obscurity and it's relatively quiet. I'm hunting and pecking for "what it is..."


Under the duress of intense emotions, words at work in me flow out easily, but that's more as if something is leaping out of me, rather than I entering in to meet and shape and retrieve and carry out a gestalt of thought. Or if it is an entry to within, it's more like Alice falling down the rabbit's hole.


Wonderland is where we live. When it is wonderful, as it often is close to home...I wonder and marvel. But of course we also live in a great wide world and in larger realms, trouble brews and many mad hatters would pour us a cup. And it isn't just that there's no room at the table and one must move down, make room, it's that the table itself is often needed to stage a makeshift emergency room.

So it's October now, I know this thought wasn't finished; it is terrible to spell out the problem and not even lean toward something that one can do. There are so many needs out in the big world. We can pick areas and send what help we can if we can't lay our own hands directly where the pressure is needed. I know I stay pretty busy just listening to people directly in my life, being there for them as best I can, doing my job every day, taking care of our health...you know trying to cook like I know something about nutrition and taking time to exercise and then also exercising that big muscle on top of my shoulders and...well... then before I know it the sun goes down. But I can't read the paper, or the web or click past the televised sound bites and not care and not have something to do or say about what's going on...can you?

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Monday, October 5, 2009

The Guard was Down

You have seen today's headlines...dressed as a diplomatic guard a man asks to use the toilet facilities in the lobby of the World Food Center in Pakistan. Hidden behind his vulnerable sounding request was 16 pounds of explosives. As I first read the story I am thinking in normal human terms, this person has a primal need, we all have these needs, someone took pity on him. It takes me only a moment though, as touching as my first thoughts may have been, a guard had to let him pass.

People need to eat and five people who made it their job, their focus to feed displaced and hungry people in Pakistan, have been murdered. The survivors, those workers who live on and the neighbors of the compound in the surrounding residential area in Islamabad are traumatized. Whether the guard let his guard down or was part of the plan...all human relations are challenged by such treachery.

They were feeding the displaced, those who themselves have no accommodations of their own, those who are daily hungry. To the memory of those killed, in their honor, I paraphrase from the Epistle of James: Pure religion is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction...


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