Saturday, March 20, 2010

Heart thread - 03/20/2010 - updated

Today is the feast of St Cuthbert of Lindisfarne: monk, prior, bishop, healer, hermit. The photo in our "Oremus" shot tonight is from a mural in the Galilee Chapel at Durham Cathedral, one of the older extant representations of the saint. He was trained by Irish saints though the yellow beard in this mural suggests Saxon blood. While hundreds of churches in England are titled by him, I am aware of very few in the United States. When Bishop Swing instituted me as rector of St Cuthbert's, Oakland, I had a strong sense of Cuthbert's presence above the altar watching over things. In 1997 I made a pilgrimage to Durham where his remains are buried.

From Doxy I have an update on her brother-in-law, Jim, with a brain tumor. He "continues to respond to chemotherapy. Something of a miracle, and I know that knowledge of your prayers has really helped Jim, Ruthie, and the boys. So bless you for that."

Jane R asks her prayers for her mother's best friend from college, Ruth, who has just died at age 92, survived by her children Richard and Amy. May she rest in peace and rise in glory. May all who love her find comfort.

For the repose of the soul of Steward L. Udall, conservationist and former Secretary of the Interior. Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico is his son.

I ask your prayers for guidance as I make decisions about how I invest my energy.

I ask your prayers not over specific legislation but for effective health care available for all people in the United States and around the world. Any votes that take place in DC tomorrow fall under that umbrella.

For just and peaceful resolution of the political conflict in Thailand.

For peace in Iraq and for the rebuilding of that nation after our unwarranted and illegal invasion and occupation seven years ago.

For the people of South Africa as they prepare to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Sharpeville Massacre.

For those endangered by a volcanic eruption
beside the Eyjafjallajokull glacier in southern Iceland. The concern is that a fissure might form under the glacier and cause flooding. "The Icelandic Civil Aviation Administration has ordered aircraft to stay 120 nautical miles away from the volcano area, essentially closing it off."

Almighty God, you called Cuthbert from following the flock to be a shepherd of your people: Mercifully grant that, as he sought in dangerous and remote places those who had erred and strayed from your ways, so we may seek the indifferent and the lost, and lead them back to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

--the BB

I believe it was Fran

... who said Albuquerque is all about the horizon.

Whoever said it, I believe it is true. Here are shots from my walk today (some of them stitched together from four photographs, the first three cropped from single shots). You may click on the photos to enlarge them and see more details.

Sorry about the power lines in this one
but it was the best shot I could get of downtown.

A blessed vernal equinox to you all.

--the BB

The graveyard

Where might this little arroyo lead?

To a place where an abandoned couch presides in lonely majesty....

To the place where televisions go to die.

Needless to say, this was not the prettiest part of my walk. But it is part of urban reality. I assume - I hope - people who toss their electronics out like that are unaware of toxic metal content.

Since this was, nonetheless, part of my walk, I recorded it.

--the BB


It must be spring. I broke out of my sedentary mold for a brief period and took a nice walk with my camera midday today. I headed about one mile north of here and back with some meanders. I doubt it quite reached the three miles doctors would like us to walk every day but it came close.

I am breaking the photos up into three posts. Here is the first.

Snow on sagebrush

Rudolfo Anaya Elementary School

Desert shrubbery that has not yet moved from winter to spring

Amid a section of rubble was this chunk with snow on it.
For some reason it just reminds me of a
cuneiform tablet.

Or the Rosetta Stone, perhaps?

--the BB

The first day of spring - updated 2x

9:37 AM

This is the view out of my bedroom window taken just a few minutes ago. The sky is getting lighter though flakes fall steadily. Based on word of sunshine just breaking now in Corrales, the snow should cease before long. Or not. But for now it is lovely.

If you click the detail photo below to enlarge you can see pink blossoms on the peach tree to the left, my two (so far) daffodils below it, and the tulip leaves sticking up in the far lower right.

The other two trees in this photo are also peaches. The rose bush against the back wall is a piñata rose, already putting out lots of lush new greenery. Its exuberant yellow, orange, and burgundy blossoms are always a joy.


10:09 AM
I'm fixin' to take a walk.

Just before I headed out for my walk I took these shots.

--the BB

Friday, March 19, 2010

Heart thread - 03/19/2010 - updated

For Declan, a wee lad who has many health challenges. For the health professionals who minister to him and for his family. I know his grandmother through work. You may read about him here. Holy Declán of Ardmore, intercede for this little one to Christ our God.

For Sandra that she may continue to be treated at home. May her body, medications, and the Spirit work together for her complete healing.

For Mark in his ongoing work of grief and recovery. For Diane as her body continues to recover. For Kathy as she pursues physical therapy. For Jack as his mouth continues to heal from surgery. For Tad and his full recovery following knee surgery.

For those in danger of any kind this night. May the holy angels defend them.

For Matt, the Nephew, and his aunt and uncle and parents and brother, whom many have come to know at Daily Kos, that he and they may be sustained by mighty grace while he comes to terms with who he is as a young gay Christian man. May the peace that passes understanding hold his heart safely as he deals with overwhelming emotions and external pressures. (Today's update is here. The aunt's diaries are here. Matt's diaries are here.)

For Lois' brother, Steve. For Delsy and her family following her 16-year-old son's suicide and for Sister Ellie who ministers to them. May he be received with joy into the everlasting arms. For three-year-old Taylor and her family. (See comments to the Prayer List at OCICBW.)

For those endangered by the rise of the Red River.

On this feast of St Joseph, I give thanks for Paul Victor, the only father I knew, and for my birth father without whom I would not be here. May Christ crown them both.

From Kirkepiscatoid's comments on the feast:
But I am absolutely convinced that Jesus had a wonderful earthly father, because of the glowing tones he uses in describing God. He even calls him Abba, which more or less means "Daddy."

Psychological research also tells us that people who have had abusive fathers (particularly women who were abused by their fathers) have a really hard time in modern Christianity dealing with "God the Father." People who had abusive fathers, fathers who could not be trusted, or absent fathers, find it hard to latch onto the notion that we are children of a loving God. These people learned not to trust the male parental unit in a family. If St. Joseph had been that kind of a parent, I don't believe Jesus would have felt authentic describing God in the terms that he did, and if we know one thing about Jesus, he's all about authentic.

So in my mind, it tells me all that's good about "the love of a good dad"--whether it is one's biological father, one's stepfather, or anyone who plays a paternal role in the lives of young people. Thanks be to God that these men exist in our lives!
My father and his father before him were both, among many other things, skilled carpenters. My father never called me anything but "Joe."

Holy Joseph of Nazareth, I ask your prayers this day. Pray for all fathers, stepfathers, godfathers, fathers in Christ, and fatherly persons that they may find strength, wisdom, and grace to nurture and guide those entrusted to them with compassion, integrity, and joy. Pray for the Church Universal that it may be defended from its own stupidity, brutality, and patriarchal toxins, for you know that fatherhood is not about the domination structures of this world. Pray for all workers and craftspersons that they may understand their labors as part of the building and healing of the world, do their work well and in hope, and be fairly treated and rewarded for their efforts. Pray for us sinners in the daily round of our lives and in the hour of our death. Amen.

--the BB

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Chill fingers of yew

Time and the bell have buried the day,
The black cloud carries the sun away.
Will the sunflower turn to us, will the clematis
Stray down, bend to us; tendril and spray
Clutch and cling?

Fingers of yew be curled
Down on us? After the kingfisher's wing
Has answered light to light, and is silent, the light is still
At the still point of the turning world.
--T. S. Eliot, Burnt Norton

Eliot has led us downward through the way of purgation, the way of loss and emptiness. First we are stripped of the senses ("Desiccation of the world of sense"), then of imagination and the mind ("Evacuation of the world of fancy"), and finally even of spirit ("Inoperancy of the world of spirit"). Every pretension must be relinquished. This is the way of humility, ever down and down, for only thus may we ascend to the heights.

It takes little imagination to realize that time and the bell have buried more than the day. We come to the ultimate humility, joined to the earthy soil (humus in Latin, the root of humble and human), dead to all things. The black cloud of death carries the sun away from us forever. Our companions are now the graveyard yews, the sunflower and the clematis vine. Will these take note? Turn to us? Cling to us? Curl down for us? A flash of light off a kingfisher's wing and then silence... stillness. The world turns around us but we lie motionless now.

And find ourselves at the still point of the turning world, the place where Light dwells in the darkness.

We are promised that if we lose our life for the sake of the Word, we shall gain our life. The call of the Crucified One is to come and die with him. Our typical reaction is to recoil in horror and fear. But when we see the look on his face we are reassured the we shall find Life.

--the BB

After work photos

Since I wrote about the garden yesterday, I thought I would take the camera into the back yard and let y'all see what's happening. An overall photo of the yard would look rather dreary, trust me. But there are all these little spots so full of life and promise. Those are peach blossoms getting ready to burst forth above. I use the word blossoms below but they are really all still buds. But soon.... Very soon....

A bed of tulips.

More peach blossoms.

Daffodil shoots.

Elberta peach blossoms. I so hope some fruit sets this year.

Methley plum blossoms.

Santa Rosa plum blossoms.

Bearded iris.

The volunteer daffodils from a year ago.

And that concludes our tour for tonight.

--the BB


03/16/10 DoD:
Army Casualty Identified
Sgt. 1st Class Glen J. Whetten, 31, of Mesa, Ariz., died March 12 near Kandahar, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.

03/16/10 DoD:
Marine Casualty Identified
Cpl. Jonathan D. Porto, 26, of Largo, Fla., died March 14 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 1st Battalion 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.


03/16/10 DoD:
Army Casualty Identified
Pfc. Erin L. McLyman, 26, of Federal Way, Wash., died March 13 in Balad, Iraq, of wounds sustained when enemy forces attacked her base with mortar fire. She was assigned to the 296th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Joint Base Lews-McChord, Wash.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Hints of spring

I have learned, over the years, not to give up too soon. This puts me in mind of the recent gospel lesson about giving the fig tree another year. Bare root roses have taught me to wait and wait and wait some more and lo! More often than not I will be rewarded with blooms.

By February each year I look out on a yard that is mostly bare vines, twigs with few leaves, and brown soil. Then buds swell, new leaves start to show on rose canes, and March offers promise.

This evening I took advantage of daylight saving time. I ran a couple of errands on the way home and still had time to water the yard. I had noticed flecks of green on the Santa Rosa plum on the weekend. Well, those green flecks enclose the white blossoms that are about to burst forth, not only on that tree but on the Methley plum as well. And pink blossoms are just about to explode on all three peach trees.

Two brave daffodils, volunteers from a prior year, have come up to cheer me and I have been watching three tulips, also from an earlier year. Tonight, however, I noticed, at last, that a bed of tulips and a bed of daffodils, from this season's planting, are sticking their noses up out of the soil also.

Yes, spring comes to my yard as the vernal equinox approaches in the heavens. Woohoo!

Of course, New Mexico weather being what it is, I now dread both the fierce spring winds and any freezes that are yet to come as that can keep fruit from setting. As was the case last year when I had no fruit whatsoever. Eh bien, on ne peut rien faire. Il faut cultiver nôtre jardin.

--the BB

Monday, March 15, 2010

While the world moves in appetancy

Here is a place of disaffection
Time before and time after
In a dim light: neither daylight
Investing form with lucid stillness
Turning shadow into transient beauty
With slow rotation suggesting permanence
Nor darkness to purify the soul
Emptying the sensual with deprivation
Cleansing affection from the temporal.
Neither plenitude nor vacancy. Only a flicker
Over the strained time-ridden faces
Distracted from distraction by distraction
Filled with fancies and empty of meaning
Tumid apathy with no concentration
Men and bits of paper, whirled by the cold wind
That blows before and after time,
Wind in and out of unwholesome lungs
Time before and time after.
Eructation of unhealthy souls
Into the faded air, the torpid
Driven on the wind that sweeps the gloomy hills of London,
Hampstead and Clerkenwell, Campden and Putney,
Highgate, Primrose and Ludgate. Not here
Not here the darkness, in this twittering world.

Descend lower, descend only
Into the world of perpetual solitude,
World not world, but that which is not world,
Internal darkness, deprivation
And destitution of all property,
Desiccation of the world of sense,
Evacuation of the world of fancy,
Inoperancy of the world of spirit;
This is the one way, and the other
Is the same, not in movement
But abstention from movement; while the world moves
In appetency, on its metalled ways
Of time past and time future.
--T. S. Eliot, Burnt Norton

Eliot takes us to the via purgativa, the purgative way, the way of loss, the way of nothingness. How shall we let go of that to which we cling, of that which keeps us distracted, of that which numbs us? Can we be still and experience any permanence that transcends the impermanence of all things? What, if anything abides? Can we be liberated from dukkha?

I love this section:
Only a flicker
Over the strained time-ridden faces
Distracted from distraction by distraction
Filled with fancies and empty of meaning
Tumid apathy with no concentration

Does it not speak to much of our contemporary experience? Are our minds not filled with fancies empty of meaning? So many distractions that we need a distraction to distract us from them? Perhaps a divine intervention? A holy 2x4 upside the head?

Corruption and unwholesomeness, gloom in "this twittering world." (Heavens! Eliot is prescient, no?) But this gloom is not yet the true darkness, the darkness of utter deprivation, the shining darkness of mystic experience, the emptiness from which all things spring, the stillness at the heart of all movement.

Beyond, below, far above, deep within the motions of our desiring, the restlessness of our appetancy, there is a death in which the seed of life may be found.

Are we willing to face that death? Our death?

Georges de La Tour
The Repentant Magdalene

--the BB

Sunday, March 14, 2010


03/12/10 DoD:
Marine Casualty Identified
Lance Cpl. Garrett W. Gamble, 20, of Sugarland, Texas, died March 11 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

03/11/10 DoD:
Army Casualty Identified (2 of 2)
Pfc. Jason M. Kropat, 25, of White Lake, N.Y...died March 9 in Khowst province, Afghanistan, from wounds suffered when insurgents attacked their unit using small-arms, indirect and rocket-propelled grenade fires. They were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.
Pfc. Kropat joined the Army in October 2008, and had already served a tour in Afghanistan. He deployed on his second tour to Afghanistan in early January. "He loved life," his mother said. "He loved his family. He loved his country." Jason had just visited his family and friends during the Christmas holidays. Kropat's long-time girlfriend described him as an "all-American Boy Scout," who loved the outdoors and was an avid fisherman. Kropat joined the Army to provide for a more stable life for the couple. And to prove to himself he could survive the deployment despite being terribly homesick. C Company's 1st Lt. John Limauro told the Leaf Chronicle that Pfc. Jason Kropat was "the battle buddy that everyone wanted" who was "quick with a joke when everyone was down."

03/11/10 DoD:
Army Casualty Identified (1 of 2)
Sgt. Jonathan J. Richardson, 24, of Bald Knob, Ark...died March 9 in Khowst province, Afghanistan, from wounds suffered when insurgents attacked their unit using small-arms, indirect and rocket-propelled grenade fires. They were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.
Sgt. Jonathan J. Richardson was a 24 year old fire support specialist from Bald Knob, Arkansas. Richardson joined the Army in June 2006 after graduating from high school, and he arrived at Fort Campbell in January 2007. He spent a tour in Iraq before deploying to Afghanistan. Last year Sgt. Richardson and his wife bought their first home together, near his grandparents house. Richardson's grandfather remarked about the marriage, "They loved each other so much. It was no puppy love. They were deeply, genuinely in love."

The Department of Defense confirmed that Army Pvt. Nicholas "Nick" Cook, 19, died March 7 in Konar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents ambushed his unit using small arms fire. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, Camp Ederle, Italy. Pvt Cook had been in Afghanistan for two months when he was killed in action. He was due to return home in two weeks to visit his family and go snowboarding for a few days in Alaska.