Saturday, September 29, 2012

Gabriel: Archangel and Namesake

1982 Hymnal, # 283 "Christ, the fair glory of the holy angels"
words: Rabanus Maurus (776-856)
music: Caelitum Joseph, 13th Century
                                           "Angels, you say?" remarked Abba Jonathan. "Thankful, I am. Bees, I
                                              thought those were..."

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Third Tune

This music from the soundtrack of "Master and Commander" is also the tune for Hymn # 692in the 1982 Hymnal. It is from The Third Tune by Thomas Tallis, d. 1585. In the film it informs some of the most heartbreaking scenes involving battle and death. Snatches and phrases of it have been running in the back of my head the past few days... not days of "battle and death", I concede, but hard days none the less. At Morning Prayer yesterday we read Psalm 80: "You have fed [us] with the bread of tears; * you have given [us] bowls of tears to drink."
A good psalm to reflect upon whilst listening to this tune.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Science & Creation: Thomas Keating & Thomas Merton

“It’s not up to science to prove the existence of God. But science call tell us so much about how things work—as far as science can work it out. We’re finding out all kinds of new things about how the brain works. We’re finding out how evolution works and how higher forms of life developed, culminating in human intelligence and freedom that makes the whole shebang conscious so we can be partners with God of the Creation of the world and the world’s preservation.
 So, science and religion both are about God. I think this was understood in past centuries, but without the tools to make it fully practicable. Think about what they said in the past: The teaching of some of the fathers was that there were two books of revelation—one was the Bible and one was Nature. But now we know that this second book—Nature—isn’t just about a beautiful sunset. It’s about quantum mechanics and infinitesimal particles.”  Father Thomas Keating, from an interview with David Crumm in Read the Spirit.

And Thomas Merton wrote, in Bread in the Wilderness, 1953, p.60: “Creation had been given to [man] as a clear window through which the light of God could shine into [their] souls. Sun and moon, night and day, rain, the sea the crops, the flowering tree, all these things were transparent…”.

Monday, September 17, 2012

I have been on a reading binge lately, thanks to Ami O’Neill allowing me to rummage through Mike’s incredible collection of theological and spiritual books. I took only the ones I was sure I would read, because I am already surrounded by boxes of books for which I have yet to find shelf space.
Mike’s library reinforced for me the strong personal, intellectual, and spiritual bond that existed between us during his extraordinary life, and now is consciously renewed every time I open (one of the four volumes of) The Liturgy of the Hours, or Joan Chittister’s Wisdom Distilled from the Daily, or Teilhard de Chardin’s Hymn of the Universe. In the car, I listen to his CD of “Singing Bowls of Tibet,” and tapes of retreat addresses by the Franciscan Richard Rohr and various Zen Masters previously unknown to me. We read a lot of the same books, but Mike kept up better, and now I am the beneficiary of his accumulated wisdom.  
Most intriguing to me are two volumes that influenced me a great deal as a college student. Both were published in the 1950’s and contain written text by Thomas Merton as well as stark, black-and-white photos illustrating monastic life. Those photos have haunted the back layers of my imagination for 50 years, and to have them suddenly emerge from among my dead friend’s cherished possessions is both heart-breaking and profoundly reassuring. No wonder we became like brothers in such a short time. No wonder he affirmed my spiritual instincts so enthusiastically. No wonder he recognized my demons so readily, and exorcized them so gently. They were all familiar to him from his own life journey.
“The spirit of man (sic…this WAS 1956!) is a void that waits for the Spirit of God, a deep space that remains in chaos until the creative Spirit of God hovers over it, and until perfect light is poured into its transparent depths by the presence of the Word.” Thomas Merton, Silence in Heaven, p. 17. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

More Vocabulary

PILGRIMAGE/ACTION/WORD/GRACE= A sequence intended to provide a vocabulary for life shared with comrades both visible and invisible. VACATION/MOTION/NOISE/LUCK= A sequence that describes a forlorn struggle against an indifferent cosmos, an absurd collision of doomed possibilities.
List # 1
PILGRIMAGE= An outward journey mirrored by an interior one; a journey undertaken toward a sacred destination where, it transpires, you already are.
ACTION= Human behavior that is conscious, chosen, un-coerced, and done in the expectation of being held accountable.
WORD= A symbolic utterance meant to communicate meaning and establish connections.
GRACE= A “benign synchronicity;” a pattern of blessed coincidences that, however unpromising the circumstances, emerges among the apparent randomness of events.
List # 2
VACATION= a recreational escape from normal obligations and tasks.
MOTION= any response to a stimulus, i.e. a “twitch.”
NOISE= Vibrations affecting the eardrum.
LUCK= Random events that affect our lives, for good and for ill.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Poem for Gary Hall

Gary Hall

Gary Hall is tall,
Not grandiose,
Still less lachrymose,
But rather wry, not of the “ham-on”
Variety (no ham he),
But dispensing rather multiversal
Of a sort that we have come to
A faithful honesty,
That helps to set us free
To be
However tall, or great, or small,
In the big old scheme of things,
We be.