Saturday, September 29, 2012

Fr. Sophrony: Two Stages to Victory Over Hell

There are two stages to victory over hell. The first is the mastery of the blackness within us ourselves; the second, compassionate love, natural to Divinity, for all creation.
--Fr. Sophrony of Essex

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Southern Rock Meets The Beatles

If anyone can cover the Beatles and (dare I say it) improve upon the original, it's Warren and Gov't Mule. There are mouth-dropping live versions of this on YouTube with extended jams. In fact, there are several full-length concert videos on YouTube--I recommend the earlier ones with Allen Woody on bass, but all are good. You won't believe your ears--Southern Rock, most glorious.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


For Three Word Wednesday. Prompt words entice, savor, chance.


They asked me
Where’d you see
him last, voices
in that grave tone
of adult concern.

So I took them, 
neighbors and neighbors
friends following me
a few hundred yards
down the creek bank
to a place we’d often
go, Wes and I,
to swim or fish or
sneak a smoke.
Once we’d even
talked our parents
into letting us camp
overnight; with enough
supplies for a two-week
stay we took our fill
of liberty, staying up
till dawn and savoring
a breakfast of bluegill
and granola bars.

We walked,
as the first stars
began to wink, past
the old campsite,
past the trees that
opened up as if by
chance. I pointed
to an enticing spot
where waist-high water
into our deep
swimming hole:

I said, this much
the truth. I had
seen him there
three hours ago,
after we’d catfished
and puffed half
a pack of Marlboros,
and jumped
from the old green oak
into the rain-swelled current—

There.  But I
didn’t tell them
how we’d hurled
hurtful words,
and worse,
and how he’d stood
in the reddening water
and cried.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Emerson: Be an Opener of Doors

(Google Images)

Be an opener of doors for such as come after thee and do not try to make the Universe a blind alley. 
--Ralph Waldo Emerson, Journals (June-August, 1844)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

I Think I've Been That Way Before

This is a collection of signs at the Midway/Sunbury exit on I-95 southbound, where I turn to go to work. I know where turning right leads--to Hinesville, Jesup, and beyond. I'm not sure what the significance of the "?" mark might be.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Galway Kinnell: Cemetery Angels

Credit: Joy Neighbors
Cemetery Angels

On these cold days
they stand over
our dead, who will
erupt into flower as soon
as memory and human shape
rot out of them, each bent
forward and with wings
partly opened as though
warming itself at a fire.

--Galway Kinnell

Friday, September 21, 2012

Jim & Jesse with a Little Slice of Paradise

I've a soft spot in my heart for Jim and Jesse--they made some wonderful bluegrass music over the years, as you can hear in this version of Paradise.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Mystic

For Three Word Wednesday, prompt words absolute, fall, nestle. Wanted to rhyme this week. The quote is from Wordsworth's poem Nutting.

The Mystic

. . . there is a spirit in the woods.
            --William Wordsworth

Long before daybreak in
The shadow of the wood’s edge,
I stand apart from pledge,
Creed, or demands of men

To drink deeply from the
Absolute. Glassy beads unbidden
Fall soundless, a blessing in
Teardrop form. The sweetgum tree,

Holding growth silent over
Centuries, reaches the sky
Without seeming to try,
An elevated enclosure                                           

Where sleepy squirrels nestle close.
There are lessons to learn from
The Spirit-filled woods: I become
A mystic by going slow.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Kierkegaard on Solitude

(Woods. Richmond Hill, GA)

On the whole, the longing for solitude is a sign that there still is spirit in a person and is the measure of what spirit is there. 
--Soren Kierkegaard, from The Sickness unto Death

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Mr. Wendell Berry. The bottom rung is also Heaven.

If there are a "chosen few"
then I am not one of them,
if an "elect," well then
I have not been elected.
I am one who is knocking
at the door. I am one whose foot
is on the bottom rung.
But I know that Heaven's
bottom rung is Heaven
though the ladder is standing
on the earth where I work
by day and at night sleep
with my head upon a stone.

--Wendell Berry, from Leavings

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Falling Things

For Three Word Wednesday, prompt words hinge, lethal, need. Very sparse form this week--laziness, or just a different style than my normal?

Falling Things

Crawl out
on a limb
too thin,
bends like
a hinge.

if you can.
Perch, hands

as a need,
breathe the
lethal moment.

of falling

Monday, September 10, 2012

Just Play the Note

There is something curious about you. Spiritually you are like a flute player who, if he would play the note as it is, could play it but who always wants to make it elaborate, and therefore it becomes false. 
--Soren Kierkegaard, from his draft for The Sickness Unto Death. (Not sure why SK didn't include this in the final book.) 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Vern Gosdin: or, When I want to listen to country . . .

. . . I want to listen to country. FM country stations do not play country music anymore, but some pop/ country hybrid music. I don't think most people under the age of, say, 28, even know what country music is. It's so bad that when someone asks me who my favorite male country singer is, and I say, "Vern Gosdin," they look at me like I'm wearing my drawers on my head. Everyone has his or her own musical tastes, and I am tolerant enough to acknowledge that. So you can have your Taylor Swifts, Keith Urbans, and pop-masquerading-as-country-sound-alike-band (take your pick; they seem to multiply like germs on a petri dish)--Vern is THE VOICE.

Merchandising, merchandising

The Great Spirit, when He made the earth, never intended that it should be made merchandise. 
--Sosehawa, Seneca

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Price of Water

( Attribution: W.J.Pilsak at the German language Wikipedia )

I haven't been to the movie theater in years. The last movie I went to see was We Were Soldiers, if that helps to give you an idea of how out-of-the-loop I am. So you can imagine my shock when I heard on a morning news show that a small bottle of water at a movie concession costs around $4.00. (I verified this price with my movie-going daughter. This is true.) Who in the hell would spend that kind of money for a bottle of water?! Unless someone was shriveling up in a desert, or a castaway at sea, I just cannot imagine it. If I spend $4.00 on water, it better be in the form of two cubes adequately surrounded by scotch or bourbon.

Seamus Heaney audio presentation. And a poem.

(credit John Minihan)

Seamus Heaney. One of my favorite living poets. I had the chance to listen to this Royal Society of Literature presentation the other day--if you like poetry, you might think of taking the time to listen for yourself. In the meantime, here is a selection from Heaney's poem series named Squarings.

Crossings: xxxvi

And yes, my friend, we too walked through a valley.
Once. In darkness. With all the streetlamps off.
As danger gathered and the march dispersed.

Scene from Dante, made more memorable
By one of his head-clearing similes--
Fireflies, say, since the policemen's torches

Clustered and flicked and tempted us to trust
Their unpredictable, attractive light.
We were herded shades who had to cross

And did cross, in a panic, to the car
Parked as we'd left it, that gave when we got in
Like Charon's boat under the faring poets.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


For Three Word Wednesday, prompt words banter, duty, element. Inspired by memories of my Papaw (brought on by my parents' recent visit) and Neil Armstrong's passing.


We laughed at him, shuffling
his feet down the hall, squinting
age-dimmed eyes as if surprised
by the tenacity of life.
His old-timer pace
just would not do
for children of the Space Age,
living in a world made fast
by spark and fuel. He never
walked too far: from bed
to john, to corduroy reclining
chair where he would sit
like a duty fulfilled,
looking at his mangled hands
and marveling at the work
they had once accomplished.

In fine weather he would ride
with us to Lake Tohopekaliga,
choosing the nearest bench
as an observatory. The expanse
of elements and circling flight
of bantering gulls seemed
to satisfy a need for distances—
for though we couldn’t imagine
it he hadn’t always been limited.

We didn’t see him as a boy, striding
tall in the dark furrow,
guiding the team with
gee and haw in Uncle Lanta’s
field; or later, fearful but
resolute, heading to the Reisden’s
to ask Bessie to the dance. Nor
could our little minds
calculate what it took to walk
deep into the earth for
forty years, finding coal
and breathing the dust that
finally laid him down.

We saw only a slow old
man, so earth-rooted
that he was sure the lunar
landing was a stunt;
but in the sum
of his small steps I
reckon he traveled
broad distances, each step
one giant leap.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Immortal by Beauty

(Sunrise, Daufuskie Island)
June 8, 1838. Why do we seek this lurking beauty, in skies, in poems, in drawings? Ah because there we are safe, there we neither sicken nor die. I think we fly to Beauty as an asylum from the terrors of finite nature. We are made immortal by this kiss, by the contemplation of beauty. 
--Ralph Waldo Emerson, from Journals

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Loss of Sacramental Thinking

Man knows how to use machines but not how to use the world; he earns his bread by technology, not by his art. This is why it is impossible for bread and wine to represent for urban man the summing up of life, the life and work of a whole year with four seasons, a year of sowing and harvest, subject to weather and winds.  

--Christos Yannaras, from The Freedom of Morality