Faithful Lover, by Hafiz

 

The moon came to me last night
With a sweet question.

She said,
“The sun has been my faithful lover
For millions of years.
Whenever I offer my body to him
Brilliant light pours from his heart.

Thousands then notice my happiness
And delight in pointing
Toward my beauty.

Hafiz,
Is it true that our destiny
Is to turn into Light
Itself?”

And I replied,
Dear moon,
Now that your love is maturing,
We need to sit together
Close like this more often
So I might instruct you
How to become
Who you
Are!

~ Hafiz, Daniel James Ladinsky ~

Irony

July 20, 2018

 

I’ve worked for two days to put into words my first experience of a Singing Bowl Meditation. Such an evening deserved to be described.  So I did.

 

And then I went stumbling around unfamiliar territory–Facebook–to find out when the next Singing Bowl meditation would be.  In this quest, I was unsuccessful.  But then, I found a picture. Oh wait, who’s the gal in glasses with the dark red Snuggli in her lap? That would be me!  Evidently there was a stealth-photographer in the room.  Read what you will from the image.  For my word-account, see next Wednesday’s posting.

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Deliver Me from Phusio

July 18, 2018

 

I’m struggling today with a half-remembered question: So, who retired and made YOU the boss? Or, who died and made YOU the queen?

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–stunned disbelief, 1972

Who made YOU so important?  Who made YOU superior to others?

 

In other words, someone, in someone else’s opinion, has grown too big for his or her britches, and needs a bit of deflating. Someone’s got an irritating case of hubris. Remember that word from high school English class?

 

I remember hubris, but not very precisely. Seems various flawed heroes had it.  For your sake and mine I visit the dictionary.  Word-nerd report: Hubris means ‘overweening pride or self-confidence.’ Great.  Now I have to look up overweening! For all our sakes, I press on. Overweening means ‘arrogant, presumptuous, exaggerated, immoderate.’

 

Okay, so now I’m going to lay another word on you.  Phusio.  What???  It’s Greek, and it means inflated, puffed up with air. (It literally means bellows–good visual!) The first time I heard this word, I experienced a sharp pang of recognition, and I made a wee prayer:

 

 When too full of pride I grow

Deliver me from phusio.

 

One might think the ‘opposite’ of phusio is humility. It’s not. The opposite of phusio is deflation.  Think helium balloon on the ground, its glory departed. Think torn bellows, no longer useful for tending fires.  Humility is what you work on AFTER someone or some circumstance has punctured your pride.  Humility is the better way of being you build AFTER your house has collapsed. I have found this to be a lifelong cycle!

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-POTUS, for ten inflated seconds

John Philip Newell writes this:

 

Jesus … taught the strength of humility, of being close to the humus, close to the Ground from which we and all things come. The humblest, says Jesus, are “the greatest” (Matthew 18:4). Not that following Jesus’ path of humility is straightforward. Constantly there is tension—the tension of discerning how to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, how to honor the heart of another nation as we honor our own homeland, how to revere the truths of another wisdom tradition as we cherish our own inheritance, how to protect the life of other species as we guard the sanctity of our own life-form. Jesus knew such tension. He was tempted to use his wisdom and his power of presence to serve himself, to lift himself up over others. But to the tempter, he says, “Away with you, Satan!” (Matthew 4:10). Away with the falseness of believing that I can love myself and demean others.

I am pleased to think it’s still okay for a shy girl to fly her flag once a year, ever mindful of the march of time I see in the mirror. I don’t feel it takes away from anyone else.   Humility: not taking up too much space, nor too little.

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Host of Butterflies

July 17, 2018

 

Once I taught a class on the Psalms. When my class discovered not all the Psalms are expressions of praise and thanksgiving, some were surprised. You mean a psalm can be a howl of outrage? Why yes, my dears, it can. You mean we can come to God with all our feelings, not just our ‘acceptable’ feelings? Why yes, my dears, we can. Perhaps we churchly people should put less energy into respectability and more into honest angry weeping in the arms of the One who understands. Then and only then… ‘hallelujah anyway!’  Light, properly shadowed.

 

Having aired that, I offer a psalm of deep gratitude for being alive:

 

A Host of Butterflies

 

In a flower bed, at the foot of a crape myrtle,

stands a shrub with an interesting name: Duranta repens.

Sky-flower.

This dazzling creature is dressed, at the moment, in rich green.

And she is graced with masses of the most exquisite flowers—

deep purple, edged in white.

The brightness of her beauty draws me close.

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I’m not the only one.

 

As I approach, what should I see on Duranta but a host of butterflies.

Five monarchs, regal in orange and black,

wings opening and closing in ecstasy.

Two clouded sulphurs, radiant in yellow.

And several small, unidentified Lepidoptera: brown, with touches of red.

 

How close can I get without disturbing them?

Soon I’m practically standing in Duranta.

All around me the exuberant nectar-feasting continues.

I can hear the rustle of their wings.

 

Well, this is almost too much joy.

Feeling I’ve trespassed on holy ground,

I step back onto the grass,

from whence I continue to drink in this gorgeous picture,

all the cares and concerns in my heart and mind

warmed and softened

under God’s good sunshine.

 

Yes, it’s almost too much miracle.   So I retreat another step.

 

O, Love that will not let me go …

 

Two of the monarchs detach from the feast, flutter to me,

spiral down my body and back up again,

brushing my skin and my clothes with their wings.

 

Maybe it’s my Black Orchid perfume.

Maybe they think I’m a flower. I don’t know.

But I feel loved. Deeply loved.

As if I’m a cherished part of an unfolding plan…

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-photo by Kate Hambright, May 2018

 

 

 

 

 

More Summer Color

July 15, 2018

 

My grandmother Ruth collected small glass bottles in a rainbow of hues and placed them in the east window of her kitchen. The rising sun set the bottles shimmering, flooding the kitchen with color. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, peach, pink, lilac…

 

This was a long time ago.  I would give much to have a photograph. On the other hand, it could be that memory coupled with emotion is better. What I intuited in Ruth’s kitchen: By the simple act of standing in the sun with its bottle-companions, a wee bit of colored glass can go beyond its functional purpose and set a room ablaze. Thus it moves toward its full potential.

 

Hey, I want to be that! Well, I can keep noticing ‘small’ things, and reach out for glory, and share it however imperfectly with you.

 

Other day at the grocery store I came across a table laden with markdowns. Specifically, “summer décor, 75% off.” I have no need for such. At my age I’m more into simplifying than adorning. But wait! Color caught my eye. There in somewhat organized rows were ribbed glass jars, in various hues. Red. Azure. Gold. Lime. I guess they were meant to hold candles? At any rate they were tricked out for summer with thick rope handles, vaguely suggesting a nautical theme. I was confused by the handles, but clear enough as to the elegance and desirability of the elegant jars. They took me back to a kitchen full of color.  My hand reached out. Drew back at the silliness of acquisition.  Reached out again…

 

$1.87 per jar sealed the deal.  I bought three. De-handled them. And here they are, in my kitchen window.  To reawaken my vision and perhaps yours.

 

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Another colorist is at her work, easing about a small wooded acreage in Hardin County, capturing radiance in the form of insects. Unbelievable what may be accomplished by a vision, and a willingness to work hard at perfecting her skill in achieving it.  Persistence is key:  Unlike my glass jars, which serve where they’re put, these little beauties lead her a merry dance.

 

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Colors of Summer

July 14, 2018

 

Driving to granddaughter’s house early yesterday morning, I saw a chicken, feathered all in black.  She was suavely stepping across the rain-refreshed St. Augustine of someone’s front yard.  In her company were several ebony ‘pullets’ ( is that what we call teenage chickens?) Mind you, we live in the city, so this was unexpected, and fairly exciting. But soon swept out of mind as I took up grandmother duties.  Now it’s circled back, attracted by my theme.  Black is a fine color indeed.

 

‘Black is black / I want my baby back!

Gray is gray / since she went away, oho,

What can I do? / For I-I-I-I-I, I’m feelin’ _______________’

 

To fill in the blank, see one of the best songs of the sixties:

 

Were you able to fill in the blank?  Back to the task at hand: My darling had her six-month shots the afternoon before.  So I was braced for post-shot misery.  To my relief she was in a pleasant, thoughtful mood.  After we removed her sleeping outfit we discussed what her morning costume might be.  She told me it was Casual Friday, and she’d just as soon be free of clothes.  That sounded good to me.  And so, the understatement of a snowy white diaper, pink baby skin, all crowned with auburn, and eyes–have I mentioned this before?– of azure, rimmed in darkest blue.  If one is young enough to carry it off, a good look.  Especially for mid-July on the Gulf Coast.

 

As to front porch time, she was riveted by a red-fronted robin, gray squirrel holding brown nut, occasional cars of various colors. She cannot seem to get enough of these things.  Ah but the best was coming!  We’ve seen a yellow cat before, making its rounds.  And it’s seen us.  This day it passed us on its way to our back yard, with nary a glance when we called it.  But on its way out,  it stopped. It stood at the end of the porch, regarding us with careful green eyes.  Then, oh so casually, it stepped onto the porch.  It meandered its way toward us, up to a pre-set line about six feet away.  Sniffed at a pot. Then turned and eased its regal sunshine back down the porch, across our front yard, across the street to the house which I believe to be its base of operations.

 

 

 

 

Simply Amazing

July 12, 2018

 

Granddaughter is six months old, and keenly interested in everything.

 

I was warming a bottle. Baby on hip, we did a tour of her kitchen. When she saw banana muffins under a glass dome, she froze. As one unit, we moved close to the dome. When her hands found the glass, she seemed to forget about the muffins. She gave the cool clearness a heavy-breathing examination. She found the knob on top and quick as a cricket, dragged the muffins toward us. Ah granddaughter, I see your game! By then the bottle was ready.

 

I was sitting with her on her front porch. She gets tired of laps so I put her beside me. ‘Bench,’ I told her. She gave that smooth-weathered wooden bench a thorough going over. Slats. Set-in screw heads. Her favorite part was the arm. Just right for gumming. Don’t tell her parents.

 

She was waking from a nap. I went to the crib, to watch the process. Such a rubbing of fists in eyes, wriggling around in a stunned kind of way. Wait for it: those heavenly blue eyes finally looked up and beheld a grandmother in love, looking down at her. She registered the proper response: amazement.

 

May she hold on to that.

 

No pics of her will I post, but here’s one of her paternal grandparents, recently taken.  The amazement here is how well a church directory photo can turn out.  We’ve had some, mmm, fairly stilted ones in prior directories.  Maybe the magic this time is grandparenthood.  And a good hair day for me, all too rare.

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