Place of Refuge

Place of Refuge

25 December 2012

Christmas Thoughts, From Rumi and Me


Christ is the population of the world
and every object as well.  There is no room
for hypocrisy.  Why use bitter soup for healing
when sweet water is everywhere?

(Rumi)


and from me:

As Christmas ends,
here on the other side of 12 21 12,
make change in the world, dear friends,
by being the Jesus in yourselves. . . 

wishing you a blessed holiday,
every single day.

And again, from Rumi:

Lovers think they're looking for each other,
but there's only one search: wandering 
this world is wandering that, both inside one
transparent sky.  In here
there is no dogma and no heresy.

The miracle of Jesus is himself, not what he said or did
about the future.  Forget the future.
I'd worship someone who could do that.

On the way you may want to look back, or not,
but if you can say There's nothing ahead,
there will be nothing there.

Stretch your arms and take hold the cloth of your clothes
with both hands.  The cure for pain is in the pain.
Good and bad are mixed.  If you don't have both,
you don't belong with us.

When one of us gets lost, is not here, he must be inside us.
There's no place like that anywhere in the world.

(Rumi - both translated by Coleman Barks)



(both photos taken at Cheestnut Ridge Park, 
in Orchard Park, New York)

20 December 2012

Today Is Your Happy Ever After

( from: mapmaker )

As we all know,
tomorrow is 12 21 2012.

Not a perfect palindrome, but nigh close to one.

And it is, according to interpretations of
ancient Mayan reports,
the End of the World.

I read somewhere, in fact, that 11:00 am is a time
to be wary of.
Now, I'm not certain if that accounts for
New Zealand Time,
Eastern Standard Time,
Lunar Standard Time,
Central Time,
Greenwich Mean Time,
or 
what to do about the 

But either way, be on your best behavior,
because no one truly knows the hour,
but we do have the date,
and that's tomorrow.

Now, I don't mean to be flippant about this matter.
At a certain point in my blogging career,
I was pretty focused on getting folks to straighten up their acts.
Indeed, I wrote a rather naive entry about 11/11/11,
proposing that everyone should be on their best behavior from then until now,
and maybe, just maybe,
if this truly to be the judgement hour,
the Lord On High would forgive us for our transgressions,
if we were to correct them for a year.
But, judging by the events of the last year, 
no one paid attention.

Indeed, it sometimes appears
that evil has compounded,
reaching heights never imagined before.
I need
not give examples, just
fill in a few for yourself.  There are plenty.



Will the world end, though?
Come back on Saturday,
by then we'll know.

In the meantime, remember:
if the end is nigh,
today is the day to say
your goodbyes,

to say your "I'm sorry"s
to tell mom you love her so,
to sit in silence
and listen to snow~

I suspect we won't get off so easy,
we won't disappear in a big bang.

We'll do it to ourselves.
We'll destroy our planet,
we'll kill our children,
we'll refuse to compromise,
we'll perpetuate wars on
unsolvable problems,
we'll go on and on and on,
until someday, slowly, we'll realized 
we're dying,
and no one's coming to save us,
or command us,
or damn us.

Our cruelest judge,
when that time comes,
will be ourselves,
each solitary, self-hating self:
as we look in the mirror of our past deeds,
we'll see,
the evil has existed in you and me.


So, too, does the good.


The attitude I've taken,
and the reason I haven't written here for awhile
(that plus my terrible busy-ness!),
is because I believe
Today
is My Happy Ever After.
Every morning,
I wake up
is the day I've lived all my life to live.
And yes,
I've lived them,
one by one.


You, too.
As you prepare for Apocalypse,
live today as it is
your only day,
your happy ever after,
and every person you encounter
is here for your joy.


And then it won't matter
what happens tomorrow.
Because tomorrow will be
just another day
like today.





18 December 2012

True Communion

( from: Food52 )


There are words we pass
To pass the time
And words of civility,
And words, like coins,
That fill that rhyme,
And too many of acrimony.
These words we spend
Without a thought,

Disregarding the ceremony
That occurs each time
We pass a word,
Like bread,
From mouth to mouth.


There is a wordspring,
Deep inside, where
Language lingers,
Brooding,
Aching to bond the hearts and minds
Of each sad, solitary human.
So we must treat the sharing of words,
As it should be, as
Communion,
Because in sharing words,
Like bread,
We find immortal union.





(From: Chopra )

14 November 2012

Looking for America . . . .

It's painful to me,
how long I go without writing here.

I didn't even get in a post-election entry.

But every day my mind and spirit aches for the time
to sit and write,
even the simplest line,
a bad attempt at poetry.


Of course, I'm happy of the outcome,
but like some aging troubadours,
I wonder if we can still do it,
still fulfill the dream. . . 




. . . and so we dream. . . 
dream on . . . 

05 November 2012

Vote




It appears that FOX News
has decided to do political analysis of muppets.
It appears they've decided
to pick on someone their own size:



Unfortunately, the effect of this piece of brilliant analysis
may actually just prove them to be precisely what they
are setting out to discredit:
puppets



So now
I send my feeble electronic voice out
across these great United States
and ask you to vote your conscience,
vote with honesty
and the same idealism that so many people used four years ago.



Why I Voted the Socialist Ticket

I am unjust, but I can strive for justice.
My life’s unkind, but I can vote for kindness.
I, the unloving, say life should be lovely.
I, that am blind, cry out against my blindness.

Man is a curious brute—he pets his fancies—
Fighting mankind, to win sweet luxury.
So he will be, though law be clear as crystal,
Tho’ all men plan to live in harmony.

Come, let us vote against our human nature,
Crying to God in all the polling places
To heal our everlasting sinfulness
And make us sages with transfigured faces.




03 November 2012

. . . after a brief silence: winter, again


Winter again, this year will it be
rugged, demandingly, indeed
it approaches, insisting
attention, and yet we don't heed
the oncoming force that
belittles elections, not to mention T.V.
                                                   Be
ready to be awed in the true sense of the word. Vocabulary
can't encompass
the winter we're about to see.





(I do hope all my blogging friends
are fine.  I've had a terribly busy
semester ~ ~ nice to just
be moving my fingers across the keys!)


23 October 2012

Why The Republicans Gave Obama The Election in 2008.

Do you remember 2008
in the U.S.A.?

(from reuters )

I do.

I remember thinking in 2008:
this economy is going to get worse before it gets better.

( from palinnation )

I also remember thinking the Republican Party made a huge strategical error:
They actually thought the American public still wanted a ticket that was at least
half good ol' boy. And half "we need a war hero
to get us out of this mess."

And they were wrong.

America wanted someone different, and
they wanted someone who could speak in a coherent sentence,

( from wikipedia )

someone who could impress middle-America
and the east and west coast as well.
Who would have believed he could be black on top of it?


I wish I could remember when I realized that the Republicans
were going to give Obama the election.
There was some kind of giddy goofy exchange
that I heard between McCain and Palin,
and I thought:
these two aren't serious about this race.

There was also a meeting,
I think it happened in late October 2008,
a precedent setting meeting,
when Obama met with 
all the living presidents,
and I thought to myself:
I would love to be a fly on that wall.

I imagined the conversation went like this:

ALL THE LIVING PRESIDENTS:  "Barack, we're fucked.  America is in
the worst financial shape she's ever been in, most of the world hates us
and doesn't trust us, we're in a really crappy war,
and there's a really good chance that
it will get worse before it gets better.
Want to be the first Black American president?"

OBAMA: (still with the audacity to hope): "yes! I think I can do that!"

And the Republicans,
who have the calculating shrewdness of the very best psychopath,
said, "We think you're the best man for the job.
 The hope you bring
will make America feel good,
and the rest of the world like us
a little
again."

(By the way, that is an imagined dialogue.
Please don't quote me as accurate
;however,
sometimes I think that's precisely what happened:
Barack Obama was offered a place in history.)

 ( from language log )

What the Republicans also knew,
and probably anyone with half a brain also knew
was that, over the four years between
2008 and 2012
 the economy would continue to tank,
the war would get bloodier,
the terrorists would terrorize more,
and
America would forget,
oh so quickly forget
how bad we were before
Barack Obama became our 44th president.

And yes, under this young new black president,
international opinion began to turn,
as the rest of the world hoped, too, that America
was back on course to living in the world with them.
And yes, even as the Obama Administration made attempts,
with no help from the Republicans in Congress,
to change America's course,
the economy tanked more,
as anything in freefall is prone to do,
and terror became homegrown.


In fact, the Conservative spin industry in 2008 knew 
that
by 2010, Americans would be wondering
why things hadn't turned around,
and by 2011, if the Republicans packaged their product well enough
they could tap into middle-America's 
repressed racism
while also squelching
any real reforms
that this upstart young black man
who was given a historical opportunity to be president
tried to initiate.

This was a theory I developed
a little less than four years ago, 
but I was reminded of it,  tonight as I watched the debates.
Who won?  Of course, 
as a person looking for substance,
I'd say President Obama won.

However, I'm not sure everyone will see that.
Nor will they see what I see when I look at Romney.
I look at Mitt Romney and I see a masked man,
and the Republican machine,
the same machine that has blocked attempts
and bipartisanship during the Obama Administration,
has been working hard to build up his mask --


Mitt Romney is
a man who has been documented over and over
again to be a liar, with a bad temper.





He had no substance tonight;
if anything, he just repeated Obama's points.
But I give Romney credit:
he's a smooth schmoozer


when he's not being a bully.

Notice, too, he only talks about
the last four years.
He's relying,
or rather, the Republican-machine is relying
on America's amnesia.

As I say above, they are also relying, I'm afraid,
on White Middle America's
repressed racism.



It's been allowed to build up over the past four years,
and now the Republicans are tapping it,
while promoting a short public memory.


I am writing this entry because
I really feel this election is urgent.
Ultimately,
Mitt Romney,
like Barack Obama,
is a puppet for the larger
parties and interests behind them,
but unfortunately, 
they are puppets with international power.

We know what happened the last time
America voted a puppet into power
who didn't have a strong sense of 
America's place in the world:



We really need to look past
the spin
and ask ourselves:
who do we really want
in the position of president
of this nation?




Never forget.
Anything.
We need to keep our minds
and memories
crystal clear,
and try to maintain,
despite the apparent odds,
the audacity to hope.



21 October 2012

Come In From The Rain, by Carole Bayer Sager & Melissa Manchester

I've had this song going through my head all week.

Don't know why, but it just won't leave my head.

I first heard it sung by Melissa Manchester,
than Carole Bayer Sager, who wrote it. 
The Shirley Bassey version is pretty good,
but in the end, I love the Jane Oliver version 

I think that after doing this posting, I'll have it out of my head.
But it is a good song.  If you want to listen to only one all the way through,
I'd say listen to Melissa Manchester
or Jane Olivor

But you may have another favorite.
You choose:














20 October 2012

As We Approach The U. S. Elections, Some Words To Remember:


This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.

(Franklin Delano Roosevelt, First Inaugural Speech, 1932

17 October 2012

Tweet Tweet Tweet


I really hate the idea that
we judge the pulse of a country
by the way it tweets.

In a recent Atlantic Monthly article about the need for reform
in writing instruction in high schools in this country,
one claim that was made is that
young people in America
don't know their own language well enough
to articulate complex ideas.
As someone who teaches and reads a lot of writing
by young people entering college
I would agree with that.
Fundamentally,
if an individual's language facility is challenged,
so too is the quality and subtlety of
their thinking ability,
and of the ideas that they can convey.

And this is the problem with tweeting.
Nothing deeply thoughtful or complex can be communicated
in 140 characters and a few hash symbols.

So I was just amazed when
the first post-debate story I heard
was based solely on the Tweets
that occurred during and after
the debate.


Tweet Tweet Tweet ~ ~ ~

My response to the political analysts who scurry to Twitter
after
the debate to determine what America is thinking is this:

it's tweet for twat:


The real issues are very very complex,
and no one who is working within
a limited language framework
can even begin to articulate
the true nature of the issues.

And here are some points that I'd love to hear one of the 
candidates (preferably the one I support) talk about:


1.  The price of gasoline in the U.S.A. today will never go back
to $2.00 a gallon.  Just say it. And at $4.00 a gallon we are still paying
by the liter,  pays to fuel
their fuel-efficient vehicles.
What we need is a reality check: and it's one in which
America is educated, without prejudice, to the very real
fact that it's past time to get rid of those fuel-guzzling vehicles,
and to seriously invest in alternative energy research and programs.
(I also tend to believe that the war in Iraq,
which we all know by now was a war over oil.
That was a political war, fought by wealthy oil people against other
wealthy oil people, and our side lost.

truly lost, and part of what was lost was America's
select standing among the oil producing nations,
and that's why we're going to continue to see the prices go up at the pumps.
And it's not going to stop.)


Tweet Tweet Tweet


2.  Barack Obama is right: some jobs will never come back
to America.  Indeed, the entire history of America can be looked 
at as a history of cheating the cheapest work force that can be found --
for awhile, we imported slaves to do the work,
and when that turned out to be problematic,
we began importing immigrants - Italians, Poles, Irish -
who thought that the opportunity to climb down a mine-hole for play-money
that could only be used in the company town
was a ticket to their freedom.  When that work force wised up,
the jobs were sent to Mexico, China, Indonesia,
anywhere where the work force didn't demand much.
And as long as a profit-driven corporate based mentality
makes all of the decisions about jobs in this country, indeed
in this world, that will continue to be the mentality.
If the Mars expedition discovered a race of red midgets
who were willing to build iPads and tennis shoes for small change,
you'd better believe corporate America would suddenly feel that
investment in the space program
was a profitable venture.

Tweet Tweet Tweet

from: adorablay

3.  And when folks talk about the deficit and the bad economy,
why don't they acknowledge that the horrible recession we've been experiencing,
so horrible I dare call it a near depression,
has not been local?  This is an economic decline that has been felt
all over the world.  This kind of economic decline cannot be bandaged over
with a few tax cuts and empty talk about bringing jobs back to the USA.
This kind of economic decline requires substantial repair
and reform, not to mention careful diplomatic long term planning,
and it requires sacrifices on everybody's part. 
It is not a situation that could or can be remedied
in four years.
When George W. Bush left office,
he truly left the economy in free-fall,
and anyone who was paying attention at that time would have recognized
that the economy would fall for a few more years before it 
bottomed out.  So yes, the national deficit grew under Obama.
It would have grown under McCain, too, had he become president.
It would have grown under you or me or anyone had we stepped into that office
in 2008.  Because that was the course that the national and world economy was on.


Which is why I think the Republicans gave Obama the last election.
They knew that who ever held the job after Bush
would ultimately get blamed for the mess the U.S.A. had become,
so they backed down, and gave the election to 
the first black president of the U.S.A.



Why won't anyone say any of that?

Easy:
you can't say it in a tweet,
nor can you say it
in two minutes.

Still we just keep tweeting,
filling the air with empty chirps
about nothing in particular,
while the true problem we are facing
remain unresolved.

06 October 2012

Phone Home with E.T.

You can't change the world,
but you can change yourself.

This man is brilliant.

Meditate with me:









03 October 2012

Watching The Debates: Vote for Fil I. Buster

I'm getting frustrated,
and the first debate is still on.


Why, oh why,
has Barack Obama not mentioned this:

Congressional Filibuster Record by Party 1992 - 2011

Romney keeps making himself sound like
he would be nothing but bipartisan.

( from thebigpicture )


But we know that's not true.
We know
that any democrat in Congress
in a Romney presidency
would be silenced.



Oh, that face,

( from USAToday )

that face:
I trust it as much as I would trust
Iago.



30 September 2012

An ode to the upcoming debates

( blog.nj )

There is nothing either good or bad,
but thinking makes it so. . . 
(Hamlet  II:ii)

Words are thoughts;
thought-words, things
that build apparitions
of what might be.
Thought-words can create
possibility or
they can destroy
reality.

Hold your thoughts,
and mold them well
before you deliver them
into the air.  Those
castles built
might build despair
unnecessarily.

So may it be.




coda:
Talk to me --
and not of me.
Truth is best found
in the space
of silent greetings,
and cordial meetings.

walking to the eternal flame: Western New York, late September

It's been a way too busy time for me lately,
and I had to do something magical,
like take a walk
in nature.


My partner found the perfect place to take me,
a place that borders on the magical:

we walked to see an
eternal flame.

And here is what we saw along the way:







Unfortunately,
the sound on my camera
is broken,
from having dropped it into similar brooks
one time too many:

video

. . . Now, at this point, you may think:
What's the big deal?
This is just a walk in the woods.
And that was what I thought too,
until I saw this:

(I'm sorry to say I can't get Blogger to accept
the film I made myself, though
I have now processed it in a number of ways.
Good ol' Blogger.
So I'm borrowing this film from YouTube.
At least this one has sound!)


If it appears to you that this flame is burning behind water,
well,
you're absolutely correct.  
This is a natural methane leak
right inside a water fall,
and the result is,
well,
quite elemental.

Here it is, in winter,
with more water:


Well, that truly made my weekend perfect.
I walked away looking
for elves and fairies,
while approaching children squealed in anticipation
of the magic
just up beyond the bend.


May you all have a magical week.




(except for the YouTube video, all photos and film by me.)