2006-12-22

the wisdom of the sands - antoine de saint-exupéry

Thus was it that I made a step towards the understanding of happiness, and came to grips with the problem happiness propounds. I saw it as a fruit of the choice of a ceremonial that creates a happy soul; and not as a sterile gift of bright futilities. For it is impossible to confer happiness on men, as something they can store up and possess. Thus my father had nothing he could have given those Berber refugees which would have made them happy; whereas in the bleakest desert and under conditions of the cruellest privation I have seen men whose faces shone with joy.
But think not that for a moment I believe your happiness will be born of privations, loneliness, or the desert. For these can equally well drive you to despair. But I would have you mark the example I have given, which, drawing a clear distinction between the happiness of men and the comforts furnished them, shows that their happiness depends wholly on the nature of the ceremonial in which they participate.
And though experience has shown me that a greater proportion of happy men is to be found in deserts, monasteries, and conditions of self-sacrifice, than amongst the sedentaries of the rich oases or in isles that men call "happy," I have not drawn therefrom the conclusion - which would be inept - that the quality of men's food is antithetic to the quality of their happiness. My conclusion is simply that wherever the good things of the world are most abundant men have more chances of deceiving themselves as to the nature of their joys, for these seem to emanate from those good things, though in reality they derive solely from the meaning those things acquire in a certain empire or domain or dwelling-place. Thus in prosperous conditions they may be apter to deceive themselves and hanker after riches that are but idle toys.
Whereas, being without possessions, those of the desert and the monastery can make no mistake as to whence their joys derive; and thus it is easier for them to keep unscathed the source of their fervor.
But here, once again, the issue is like that of the enemy who makes or breaks you. For if, perceiving the true source of whence it springs, you can preserve your fervor in the happy isle or the rich oasis, the man born within you of this fervor will be still greater; even as you may hope to obtain richer sounds from an instrument with many strings than from one with but a single string. And even as the excellence of the wood and the stonework, the meat and drink, could but ennoble yet more my father's palace, where every footstep had a meaning.
And likewise is it with the new-made ornaments which serve no purpose when stored in a shop, and acquire a meaning only when unpacked from their boxes and given their places in a dwelling, beautifying it.

2006-12-21

more military?

really? you are really going to push for the American military to be EXPANDED in Iraq? wow...

goodbye, hello

I don't believe you died
before they buried you
If anything killed you
it was my refusal to accept
That you were gone
from this land of the living
Which prevented you
being a part of my life
So I would like to say
goodbye, and hello
In one sentence, to allow
you to leave and re-enter
A life which once
responded to your touch
Hello, dear friend
I missed you...

lithuanian artist - gitenis umbrasas

I subscribe to email updates from the lithuanian center for homecoming lithuanians, and today they sent out a christmas email with this image, and I just thought it was really beautiful so I looked up the artist.














His website is here, either in English or Lithuanian:

http://www.vilnius-guides.lt/gitis/

2006-12-16

Introduction to Poetry - Billy Collins

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to water-ski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

2006-12-15

enter one - sol seppy

after a storm
i want to be brave
and keep you warm
and not fade away
as we float from the shore
into the Light
into the Unknown
like thousands of lanterns
glowing with Grace
in glorious Silence
descending through space

to a friend
a sister in need ( earth )
who is not alone
and they are surrounding her
and they will enfold her outstretched hand
in our Love

into the Light
it's hard to believe
it's always been ours to give
and to receive

and i want to be shameless like the sun
moving into you
entering Light

Wel-come
Ensh'allah Ensh'allah
Enter One
Amazing Grace is pouring down
fear not this Light
we are of this Light Divine
so come
we move as ONE
amazing Grace is pouring down
fear not this Light
we are of this Light Divine
Welcome Enter One

after a storm
i wanna let go
of the things that i've done
without any worry i wanna come home
into the Light
into the Unknown

i want to be shameless like the sun
moving into you
entering Light

Wel-come Ensh'allah Ensh'allah
Enter One
Amazing Grace is pouring down
FEAR NOT THIS LIGHT
WE ARE OF THIS LIGHT DIVINE
SO COME
WE MOVE AS ONE
AMAZING GRACE IS POURING DOWN
FEAR NOT THIS LIGHT
WE ARE OF THIS LIGHT DIVINE
WELCOME
ENTER ONE

*ensh'allah means something like 'god willing' or 'by the grace of god'

2006-12-13

happy - jenny lewis

They warn you about killers and thieves in night
I worry about cancer and living right
But my mama never warned me about my own
Destructive appetite

Or the pitfalls of control
How it locks you in your grave
Looking for someone to be saved under my restraint
So I could be happy, happy

2006-12-12

Insomniac - Sylvia Plath

The night sky is only a sort of carbon paper,
Blueblack, with the much-poked periods of stars
Letting in the light, peephole after peephole -
A bonewhite light, like death, behind all things.
Under the eyes of the stars and the moon's rictus
He suffers his desert pillow, sleeplessness
Stretching its fine, irritating sand in all directions.

Over and over the odd, granular movie
Exposes embarrassments - the mizzling days
Of childhood and adolescence, sticky with dreams
Parental faces on tall stalks, alternately stern and tearful,
A garden of buggy roses that made him cry.
His forehead is bumpy as a sack of rocks.
Memories jostle each other for face-room like obsolete film stars.

He is immune to pills: red, purple, blue -
How they lit the tedium of the protracted evening!
Those sugary planets whose influence won for him
A life baptized in no-life for a while,
And the sweet, drugged waking of a forgetful baby.
Now the pills are worn-out and silly, like classical gods.
Their poppy-sleepy colors do him now good.

His head is a little interior of gray mirrors.
Each gesture flees immediately down an alley
Of diminishing perspectives, and its significance
Drains like water out the hole at the far end.
He lives without privacy in a lidless room,
The bald slots of his eyes stiffened wide-open
On the incessant heat-lightning flicker of situations.

Nightlong, in the granite yard, invisible cats
Have been howling like women, or damaged instruments.
Already he can feel daylight, his white disease,
Creeping up with her hatful of trivial repetitions.
The city is a map of cheerful twitters now,
And everywhere people, eyes mica-silver and blank,
Are riding to work in rows, as if recently brainwashed.

2006-12-08

Handful Of Beach Sand - Kahlil Gibran

"When you tell your trouble to your neighbor you present him with a part of your heart. If he possesses a great soul, he thanks you; if he possesses a small one, he belittles you."

"I abstain from the people who consider insolence, bravery and tenderness cowardice. And I abstain from those who consider chatter wisdom and silence ignorance."

"I use hate as a weapon to defend myself; had I been strong, I would never have needed that kind of weapon."

"There are among the people murderers who have never committed murder, thieves who have never stolen and liars who have spoken nothing but the truth."

"Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children."

2006-12-05

tiny vessels - death cab for cutie

This is the moment that you know
That you told her that you loved her but you don't.
You touch her skin and then you think
That she is beautiful but she don't mean a thing to me.
Yeah, she is beautiful but she don't mean a thing to me.

I spent two weeks in Silverlake
The California sun cascading down my face
There was a girl with light brown streaks,
And she was beautiful but she didn't mean a thing to me.
Yeah, she was beautiful but she didn't mean a thing to me.

I wanted to believe in all the words that I was speaking,
As we moved together in the dark
And all the friends that I was telling
All the playful misspellings
and every bite I gave you left a mark

Tiny vessels oozed into your neck
And formed the bruises
That you said you didn't want to fade
But they did, and so did I that day

All I see are dark grey clouds
In the distance moving closer with every hour
So when you ask "Is something wrong?"
I think "You're damn right there is but we can't talk about it now.
No, we can't talk about it now."

So one last touch and then you'll go
And we'll pretend that it meant something so much more
But it was vile, and it was cheap
and you are beautiful but you don't mean a thing to me
yeah you are beautiful but you don't mean a thing to me



I was listening to this song this morning, and it kind of occurred to me, I bet there are a lot of couples who have this experience, couples who have been together for years - that one day they wake up, look over at the other person, and think something like "you are beautiful, but you don't mean a thing to me...", and that kills me... so many people are so broken in terms of how to relate to each other, how to give and receive and have no idea what it even means for someone to really MEAN something to them... for a person to be unique in all the world, so that all the stars sparkle because somewhere in the world that one person exists...

2006-11-28

the brothers karamazov

I was just reading this again, and though I don't agree with everything he says here, I think he says some really really good things. check it out.

Brothers Karamazov - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

broken hearts...

why is it that we so often consider a broken heart to be the end of a relationship? I think often times a broken heart is where the relationship really begins in earnest, because at that point you actually have to deal with the reality of life, the reality of your relationship, whether you really want the relationship, whether you are able to love through hurt, and what kind of trust you really have for a person. if you can have your heart broken and forgive and want to deal with the hurt caused in a healthy way, you will have a good start on your way to a strong relationship.

2006-11-27

change...

I am thankful that I am able to change my patterns of behavior, and that I am not just stuck repeating all of my past decisions and patterns...

"...believe that life can change, that you're not stuck in vain..."

2006-11-22

rules...

just because a rule is written down does not mean it is right or good or just.

nor do I think it's a great idea to blindly follow authority just because it is set up as authority by society.

2006-11-18

dreams...

last night we went to the Cinemagic theatre on Hawthorne, and we saw the film "The Science of Sleep", and then afterwards we went and looked in all the windows at Deco to Disco, and then we decided on a whim to go to Pix Patisserie for dessert. The funniest thing happened on the way home... as we were driving along, each car we came to turned into a mass of fireflies and scattered up into the leafless trees. Also, suddenly butterflies appeared that had small glowing spots on their wings and were fluttering around aimlessly in the dark. We came home and went to sleep feeling rather ecstatic about the film and the dessert and the fireflies and butterflies, and then this morning we woke up and we laid on our backs in bed, and closed our eyes and watched the stars together. Life is good...

2006-11-16

postmodernism...

I was talking with a friend about postmodernism today and a couple of things kind of hit me in terms of how we as postmoderns view the world (to make a generalization that I feel applies to a large number of people).

I think those who grew up with a more modern background, upbringing, etc were more comfortable accepting one ideology that offered all the answers they needed for life. For instance, if you grew up as an american protestant christian, you were ok just existing within the framework of the ideology that was presented to you by american protestant christianity. The same applies to politics and a lot of other things. And that group of people would be uncomfortable with things which came from outside the ideology they were familiar with or identified with.

As postmoderns, I think we feel much more comfortable taking multiple ideologies, finding the pieces which are non-contradictory, and forming them into something new. For instance, to use the same analogy, as an american protestant christian, I think a postmodern would be much more comfortable taking some ideas from buddhism, islam, judaism, american protestant christianty, etc. which are not contradictory to the ideas presented in the Bible and incorporate them into their worldview and into their practice of daily life.

I think the big difference here is that as postmoderns, we don't see there being a single, monolithic right answer that encompasses all areas of life and all situations in the way that the previous few generations have. I think we would tend to view the world more like this - that there are truths which inform our decisions and views on life, but there is not one single right answer for everything.

2006-11-12

chickens




2006-11-08

donald rumsfeld

as a memorial of Rumsfeld announcing his resignation as Defense Secretary, here are some quotes from his time in office:

"I would not say that the future is necessarily less predictable than the past. I think the past was not predictable when it started."

"We do know of certain knowledge that he [Osama Bin Laden] is either in Afghanistan, or in some other country, or dead."

"Needless to say, the President is correct. Whatever it was he said."

"[Osama bin Laden is] either alive and well or alive and not too well or not alive."

"Once in a while, I'm standing here, doing something. And I think, 'What in the world am I doing here?' It's a big surprise."

"This is fantastic! I've got a laser pointer! Holy mackerel!"

"Five days or five weeks or five months, but it certainly isn't going to last any longer than that."

poppies in october - sylvia plath

Even the sun-clouds this morning cannot manage such skirts.
Nor the woman in the ambulance
Whose red heart blooms through her coat so astoundingly --

A gift, a love gift
Utterly unasked for
By a sky

Palely and flamily
Igniting its carbon monoxides, by eyes
Dulled to a halt under bowlers.

O my God, what am I
That these late mouths should cry open
In a forest of frost, in a dawn of cornflowers.

2006-11-02

liner notes from digital ash in a digital urn by bright eyes

They invented LOVE all right
But they still can't make the right
Plastic or metal or whatever to hold it all in
So it just keep leaking (insert water sounds)
All over everything (insert everything)
Dripping and splashing/making music
Gives me an ear infection
Now my equilibrium's fucked
So I'm holding onto the railing all the way down
And I'm asking for your shoulder on the way up
If you help me when I'm frightened I'll help you when you're drunk
Promise you know nothing and you're someone I can trust
Neverminding hot DEATH on our heels
But never forgetting it either.

time is all around - regina spektor

leaves become most beautiful
when they're about to die
when they're about to fall from trees
when they're about to dry up

2006-11-01

black rook in rainy weather - sylvia plath

On the stiff twig up there
Hunches a wet black rook
Arranging and rearranging its feathers in the rain.
I do not expect a miracle
Or an accident

To set the sight on fire
In my eye, nor seek
Any more in the desultory weather some design,
But let spotted leaves fall as they fall,
Without ceremony, or portent.

Although, I admit, I desire,
Occasionally, some backtalk
From the mute sky, I can't honestly complain:
A certain minor light may still
Lean incandescent

Out of kitchen table or chair
As if a celestial burning took
Possession of the most obtuse objects now and then --
Thus hallowing an interval
Otherwise inconsequent

By bestowing largesse, honor,
One might say love. At any rate, I now walk
Wary (for it could happen
Even in this dull, ruinous landscape); skeptical,
Yet politic; ignorant

Of whatever angel may choose to flare
Suddenly at my elbow. I only know that a rook
Ordering its black feathers can so shine
As to seize my senses, haul
My eyelids up, and grant

A brief respite from fear
Of total neutrality. With luck,
Trekking stubborn through this season
Of fatigue, I shall
Patch together a content

Of sorts. Miracles occur,
If you care to call those spasmodic
Tricks of radiance miracles. The wait's begun again,
The long wait for the angel,
For that rare, random descent.

calling...

"The kind of work God usually calls you to is the kind of work (a) that you need most to do and (b) that the world most needs to have done. If you really get a kick out of your work, you’ve presumably met requirement (a), but if your work is writing TV deodorant commercials, the chances are you’ve missed requirement (b). On the other hand, if your work is being a doctor in a leper colony, you have probably met requirement (b), but if most of the time you’re bored and depressed by it, the chances are you have not only bypassed (a) but probably aren’t helping your patients much either. Neither the hair shirt nor the soft berth will do. The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet."

Frederick Buechner

work - jars of clay

Empty spaces with shadows hit by streetlights
Warnings signs and weight of tired conversations
In the absence of a shoulder, in the abscess of a thief
On the brink of this destruction, on the eve of bittersweet
Now all the demons look like prophets and I'm living out
Every word they speak, every word they speak



this piece of this song in particular makes me think a lot about the process of life and figuring out who you are and how your past has influenced that and just coming to terms with everything that makes you what you are right now at this very moment. The line "now all the demons look like prophets and I'm living out every word they speak..." particularly made me think that we all have hurts and twistings and misguidances and all kinds of things in our past that we may not even be aware of, or aware of how they influence us and the actions we take and the decisions we make. we are all sort of haunted by those things, whether consciously or not, and they influence our behavior now... and if we aren't aware of them at all, we will just end up acting out their influence "word for word" so to speak... I mean our behavior will be directly influenced by those things without us even realizing it. but as we go through life, we can start to look for those things... to face what has happened to us in life, and to start to think about what the results of those things might be. we can start to process those things, to work through them, to feel the effects if we have always just pushed them aside, and to let them work their way through us, so that we can move past them and continue living on the other side of them. we can become aware of our demons so that we can have an active part in not acting out every word they speak.

I'm not really sure if that's what this song is about - but that's what it made me think of :)

2006-10-31

celebration guns - stars

So tomorrow there will be another number
For the one who had a name
A desert wind and a perverse desire to win
History buried in shame

Are those beating drums
Celebration guns
The thunder and the laughter
The last thing they remember

And then the next day how will you know your enemy
By their colour or your fear
One by one you can cage them in your freedom
Make them all disappear

Are those beating drums
Celebration guns
The thunder and the laughter
The last thing they remember

Goodnight, sleep light, stranger



I was going to write about this song a little... but now I don't really want to :)

2006-10-30

we have forgotten - sixpence none the richer

Dreams, inconsistent angel things.
Horses bred with star-laced wings.
But it's so hard to make them fly, fly, fly.
These wings beat the night sky 'bove the town.
One goes up and one goes down.
And so the chariot hits the ground, bound, bound.

We have forgotten (don't try to make me fly)
How it used to be (I'll stay here, I'll be fine).
How it used to be (don't go and let me down)
How it used to be (I'm starting to like this town).

When wings beat the night sky 'bove the ground,
Will I unwillingly shoot them down
With all my petty fears and doubts, down, down?

We have forgotten (am I in love with this?)
How it used to be (my constant broken ship)
How it used to be (don't go, I'll shoot you down),
How it used to be (I'm starting to like this town).

2006-10-29

sunday morning...

this morning I'm sitting on my couch with the heat on, look at the wet outside from the rain that was falling earlier this morning, and there are nice smelling candles lit all over the living room and studio, and J.S. Bach's Cello Suites are playing and my beautiful wife is sitting on the floor looking through magazines, and we're sipping PG Tips tea with cream and sugar, and all in all, I can't think of a much better morning, especially since in just a couple hours we're going to go get fantastic coffee at the Albina Press in N Portland. thank you God for the simple pleasures in life - tea, coffee, warmth, candlelight, rain...

2006-10-27

about God :)

2006-10-26

surprise - jars of clay

But love won't cure the chaos
And hope won't hide the loss
And peace is not the heroine
That shouts above the cause
And love is wild for reasons
And hope though short in sight
Might be the only thing
That wakes you by surprise

money as an end...

I was just thinking about Starbucks and how they seem to be in the coffee business strictly to make money, because they make a lot of obvious decisions that reduce the quality of their product. It got me thinking in general about money as an end. I believe that if we do anything with the goal of simply making money, we immediately devalue whatever we are doing, and it begins to show in what we do. If we want to be in the coffee business simply to make money, we make decisions that lower the quality of our coffee. If we want to be a photographer just to make money, we stop taking the photos that move our souls, and start taking the pictures we hope will move everyone else's. If we want to be a musician just to make money, we don't sing the things that make us cry with sorrow or joy, we sing what others have written after doing research on what sells the most records right now. If we want to be involved in religion just to make money, we trade the value of human life for the number of people who vocalize agreement with our point of view.

Now obviously there are cases sometimes when you just have to do something in order to get money, if you have no other option, whatever.

The bigger question is... would it be possible to have a functioning society where everyone, or at least the majority, could do what really excited them and fulfilled who they were? Or maybe even - is it possible in this current American society to do what really excites you and fulfills who you are and still function within the society - if what excites you and fulfills who you are is not very capitalistic? another question - isn't it worth trying? to be able to REALLY live as opposed to just existing because it's easy to go along with the flow of society?

2006-10-24

message boards

I have also decided that I should never ever look at online message boards anymore, as there are way too many arrogant, unthinking, unfeeling people running around and it's way too difficult to keep from becoming infuriated long enough to get to the good stuff, and then there is just more of the same people bashing their unmoving opinions against the people who are actually thinking and carefully considering things.

love - part II

Another way I think we misunderstand loving people as Christians is that we seem to think loving people is something we do instead of other things or that if we "love people" it is mutually exclusive from things like sharing the gospel, etc. What we miss is that loving people and loving God are more like the main headings under which all other action should be subheadings. Because love doesn't require some specific set of actions - just about any act can be done with love, or without. And we have to think carefully in each situation - how do I really approach this situation lovingly - and be really honest about it, because sometimes the best way to love someone is not the first thing to mind, or the easiest option, sometimes it takes a lot from us, sometimes it hurts and it makes us vulnerable and we have to go out on a ledge, not entirely sure that we won't fall off. Anyway - don't think of "loving people" as some predefined set of actions, but rather a heading under which all other action can fall.

2006-10-20

zeros & ones - derek webb

just so everyone knows what I'm talking about later in the blog, here are the lyrics to the song:



this was real
oh this was what you’ve all come to see and feel
but i’m starting to doubt my reality
‘cause it does not last long
once the cash is gone

eventually all of this must become zeros and ones
everything, everywhere, everyone, zeros and ones

i’m in love
oh i love what i can convince you of
‘cause i’m a prophet by trade
and a salesman by blood
now i’m dying just to be
a filtered, sub-cultural version of me

eventually all of this must become zeros and ones
everything, everywhere, everyone, zeros and ones

my blood is red
dripping on a page
if i’m brave enough to cut myself
but the more it sells
it thins my blood

eventually all of this must become zeros and ones
everything, everywhere, everyone, zeros and ones



Ok, now my thoughts on the song...

the verses of the song seem to be describing life as a salesman essentially - selling your point of view or beliefs to people - living in order to convince people you are right, and/or to make money from it... and maybe in the chorus he's just saying that this kind of life leads to everything becoming both completely black and white, as well as essentially meaningless. Because when we live to convince other people we are right, we start to see all other points of view as being wrong, even though they may just be another person's different experience of the same truth - we see everything entirely in black and white, no grey areas. Because if we are salespeople, then we HAVE to see the world that way, or else we'll never sell anything. Also, if your goal in life is to sell you beliefs or point of view, people as people and things as things stop mattering except as tools to help you convince others that you are right. so everything and everyone become zeros and ones, simply materials to be used to fabricate your reality.

if anyone has thoughts about what I said or another interpretation, please leave comments. I'd love for my blogs to be more discussion oriented.

2006-10-19

pablo casals

"Music is the divine way to tell beautiful, poetic things to the heart."

oscar wilde

"We are all of us living in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars."

2006-10-17

coffee...

I heard it said today that coffee is proof of a living God... does that mean that Starbucks is proof of a living devil? After all, it is pretty much the perversion and degredation of everything good in coffee.

2006-10-02

it's about that time...

I feel like there are a lot of thoughts tumbling around in my head, and once they all kind of settle down into some kind of order and I have a chance to then kind of sort through them a bit, I'll probably write some more stuff :)

2006-09-28

wishful thinking - wilco

"fill up your mind with all it can know, but don't forget that your body will let it all go..."

2006-09-23

the wisdom of the sands - antoine de saint-exupéry

"Then it was I perceived that when a man truly comprehends the statue's smile, the temple's silence or the beauty of the landscape, it is God he is discovering. Since he then is going beyond and behind the thing itself, so as to reach the key; beyond the words, so as to hear the hymn; beyond the star-hung curtains of the night, so as to commune with eternity. For God is the supreme meaning behind men's language, and your words take meaning only when they show you God. If a little child's tears move you, they are windows opening on the vastness of the sea; for not those tears only, but the whole world's tears, are quickening your compassion, and that child is but one who takes you by the hand and shows you the sorrows of mankind."

2006-09-22

surprise - jars of clay

Shoot a dream in your arm and sleep away
It's not the stuff that kills you that keeps your life at bay
Every crash pulls you in reach
Of a watershed of signal flares that cover your beach

These are just placebos to make us feel all right
Illusions in our pockets make our feather float us high
For a second I thought I saw your eyelids rise
A moment, something restless caught you by surprise,
Surprise, surprise

We are so beautiful when we sleep
Hearts of gold and eyes so deep, deep, deep
But love won't cure the chaos
And hope won't hide the loss
And peace is not the heroine that shouts above the cause
And love is wild for reasons
And hope though short in sight
Might be the only thing that wakes you by surprise
Surprise, surprise

Dream little one
See the world just begun

Love is wild for reasons
And hope though short in sight
Might be the only thing that brings you back to life
For a moment I thought I saw your eyelids rise

Surprise, surprise, surprise...

2006-09-12

arrogance...

we in america are so arrogant in our view of the rest of the world. we view our political system, our religion, our culture as so much superior to the rest of the world. we seem to think that democracy is the best thing for the whole world - have we ever stopped to consider that maybe because of another country's culture, background, etc - that democracy may not work well for them? but WE are democratic and we're the most wealthy country in the world!!! that's another thing, we define success so much within our cultural framework - that is having status in society, having a good, steady job, having a lot of stuff - those equal success for us in America. therefore we look at a continent like Africa where frankly a lot of people just don't have jobs or possessions or anything which fits into our cultural framework, and we say "oh, they are not successful so we had better help them out". don't get me wrong, I don't think it's a bad idea to give aid to people who need it. however, here is the process that usually happens - some guy in america is sitting there thinking "these people really need our help. i think it would be a great idea if we _______" (fill in the blank). then they go do it. there is often no thought about a process like "let's go talk to them and see what they feel would most benefit them given their situation, their values, their culture, their way of life, and then determine how we can best use our resources to help them accomplish that" because we can see they obviously haven't succeeded so they probably don't know what they're doing - or at least we obviously know much better, because look at us, we've succeded in becoming affluent and having lots of stuff and being important in society.

frankly, I find our arrogance rather disturbing. we feel as though we have nothing to learn from anyone, but only a lot to teach, give, force upon the world. however, if we were all to get to know people from outside our own culture, to get to know them intimately as friends, we would start to realize that they have at least as much to teach us as we have to teach them, if not more. you can learn a lot about life from someone who is very different from you. please, let's begin to think of the world as equals, in every way. we are doing away with racial segregation, but we still segregate the minds of those outside our cultural landscape and that must go.

2006-09-11

oh my god - jars of clay

Oh my God, look around this place,
Your fingers reach around the bone,
you set the break and set the tone
For flights of grace, and future falls
In present pain all fools say, "Oh my God."

Oh my God, why are we so afraid?
We make it worse when we don't bleed,
There is no cure for our disease.
Turn a phrase and rise again,
Or fake your death and only tell your closest friends,
Oh My God.

Oh my God, can I complain?
You take away my firm belief and graft my soul upon your grief.
Weddings, boats, and alibis,
All drift away, and a mother cries...

Liars and fools, sons and failures, theives will always say..
Lost and found, ailing wanderers, healers always say..
Whores and angels, men with problems, leavers always say..
Broken hearted, separated, orphans always say..
War creators, racial haters, preachers always say..
Distant fathers, fallen warriors, givers always say..
Pilgrim saints, lonely widows, users always say..
Fearful mothers, watchful doubters, Saviors always say..

Sometimes I can not forgive
and these days mercy cuts so deep,
If the world was how it should be, maybe I could get some sleep.
While I lay, I'd dream we're better, scales were gone and faces lighter,
When we wake we hate our brother, we still move to hurt each other,
Sometimes I can close my eyes and all the fear that keeps me silent,
Falls below my heavy breathing, what makes me so badly bent?
We all have a chance to murder, we all have the need for wonder.
We still want to be reminded that the pain is worth the plunder.

Sometimes when I lose my grip, I wonder what to make of heaven,
All the times I thought to reach up, all the times I had to give up.
Babies underneath their beds, in hospitals that cannot treat them.
All the wounds that money causes, all the comforts of cathedrals,
All the cries of thirsty children, this is our inheritance,
All the rage of watching mothers, this is our greatest offense
Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God.

light gives heat - jars of clay

Catch the rain empty hands,
Save the children from their lands,
wash the darkness from their skin.

Heroes from the West,
We don't know you, we know best.
But this is not a test.

You treat me like I'm blind, setting fires around houses on the hill,
But light gives heat.
You segregate my mind, burning crosses from your fears, your fears,
But light gives heat.

It's not the way to light their way,
Boys in holes and empty fields,
Oh, how good it feels.
Lower class, and understate, empty promise, empty plate.

You treat me like I'm blind, setting fires around houses on the hill,
But light gives heat.
You segregate my mind, burning crosses from your fears, your fears,
But light gives heat.

You treat me like I'm blind, setting fires around houses on the hill,
But light gives heat.
You segregate my mind, burning crosses from your fears, your fears,
But light gives heat.

Will you teach us how to love? To see the things you see,
Walk the road you walk, and feel the pain that you feel.
At your feet I kneel, I want to see you shine,
See your light not mine... 'cause light gives heat...
your light gives heat... gives heat.

2006-08-23

spinster - sylvia plath

Now this particular girl
During a ceremonious April walk
With her latest suitor
Found herself, of a sudden, intolerably struck
By the birds' irregular babel
And the leaves' litter.

By this tummult afflicted, she
Observed her lover's gestures unbalance the air,
His gait stray uneven
Through a rank wilderness of fern and flower.
She judged petals in disarray,
The whole season, sloven.

How she longed for winter then!-
Scrupulously austere in its order
Of white and black
Ice and rock, each sentiment within border,
And heart's frosty discipline
Exact as a snowflake.

But here - a burgeoning
Unruly enough to pitch her five queenly wits
Into vulgar motley -
A treason not to be borne. Let idiots
Reel giddy in bedlam spring:
She withdrew neatly.

And round her house she set
Such a barricade of barb and check
Against mutinous weather
As no mere insurgent man could hope to break
With curse, fist, threat
Or love, either.

spider - sylvia plath

Anansi, black busybody of the folktales,
You scuttle out on impulse
Blunt in self-interest
As a sledge hammer, as a man's bunched fist,
Yet of devils the cleverest
To get your carousals told:
You spun the cosmic web: you squint from center field.

Last summer I came upon your Spanish cousin,
Notable robber baron,
Behind a goatherd's hut:
Near his small stonehenge above the ants' route,
One-third ant-size, a leggy spot,
He tripped an ant with a rope
Scarcely visible. About and about the slope

Of his redoubt he ran his nimble filament,
Each time round winding that ant
Tighter to the cocoon
Already veiling the gray spool of stone
From which coils, caught ants waved legs in
Torpid warning, or lay still
And suffered their livelier fellows to struggle.

Then briskly scaled his altar tiered with tethered ants,
Nodding in a somnolence
Appalling to witness,
To the barbarous outlook, from there chose
His next martyr to the gross cause
Of concupiscence. Once more
With black alacrity bound round his prisoner.

The ants - a file of comers, a file of goers -
Persevered on a set course
No scruple could disrupt,
Obeying orders of instinct till swept
Off-stage and infamously wrapped
Up by a spry black deus
Ex machina. Nor did they seem deterred by this.

2006-08-22

bye bye... kind of

our dear friend Alina left for Japan today for 3 years.

but we never really leave each other, you know?

2006-08-21

love...

I've noticed that a lot of times when talking with Christian folks about loving people, that they tend to either completely disregard the impact of loving someone, or else they immediately assume that you are one of those "just be a nice person and everything will be ok" people. How did our idea of love get so twisted? First of all, the importance of love is all over scripture - "But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love." Christ tells us the greatest two commandments - " `YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' "This is the great and foremost commandment. "The second is like it, `YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' "On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets." Paul says in Galatians "For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF."

Now, for all of you folks who have read that above paragraph and are now thinking "but you can't just sit around and love people" - you do realize that love is a verb, yes? It implies action, it implies commitment, it implies listening, it implies putting another person before yourself, it implies sharing your life, all of it, and it implies treating another life with all the respect and honor you would have your life given. It is anything but a passive "just sitting around and loving someone." I think often as christians we buy into the "love is only a feeling" idea more than most of the rest of the world. Secondly, since when did love cause your brain and mouth to stop working? Love is something that you can and should do along with EVERYTHING ELSE YOU DO. When you speak, when you act, when you are silent, when you are sad, when you are angry, when you disagree with someone, when you are frustrated, when you are thoughtful, when you are happy - in all of those things you can and should love the people around you.

Christ says several times in the Gospels to love your enemies. This does not mean to feel a nice warm feeling about them. This means to listen to them, to treat them with respect, to give without expectation of return. Because to be truthful, your enemies are not your enemies. Our war is not against flesh and blood. That means that Democrats are not your enemies. Homosexuals are not your enemies. Beggars are not your enemies. Murderers are not your enemies. Pedophiles are not your enemies. Treating them as such is blinding you and hurting them, so please don't do it.

Our views of love in the Christian church seem to me to be severely skewed. It seems that most of the rest of the world, including Christ, Paul, James, several writers in the old testament recognize the absolute necessity of love in everything we do - and yet us in the modern american christian church often look at it as a cop-out or an excuse to be apathetic about life.

Trust me, there is nothing easy about actively loving someone. In his book "The Prophet", Kahlil Gibran says:

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.

Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,

So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.

Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.

He threshes you to make you naked.

He sifts you to free you from your husks.

He grinds you to whiteness.

He kneads you until you are pliant;

And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God's sacred feast.

And this has been my experience as well. Love hurts. It is extremely difficult. It forces you out of comfort, out of yourself. It grinds you down and makes you pliant to be built up as who you were made to be - a sacrifice to God. And there is no more joyful and full life than one which gives itself away. This is Christ's example.

We are changed by giving of ourselves, and giving to others without expectation of return gives them the freedom to respond, to receive freely, and to give back freely, which in turn changes them. I think we SEVERELY underestimate the value of love in everything we do in life.

So, please - let's think carefully about what we believe about love.

2006-08-11

shaken...

today I remembered that a cool breeze or the smell of a flower could shake my soul... and having been shaken, listening to the sweet melancholy peacefulness of Sigur Rós, and walking through the hallways of OHSU... I felt I was.

2006-08-09

everything...

everything matters and everything is connected... let's please live like it!

if you add to the beauty of the world wherever you are, you never know what effect it will have - like Dostoyevksy talks about in Brothers Karamazov, everything is like an ocean, and a movement at one point can ripple and cause movement at any other point.

love, care, experience... live!

2006-08-02

defaming celebrities

why do we have such a fascination with defaming celebrities? for instance, Mel Gibson. so maybe he got drunk and said some stupid things. maybe he's really not a nice guy at all. who knows? but the fact is - all you folks who are so bent on making a scandal out of it have some weird, twisted fascination with making him look like a bad, awful person - and there's some weird expectation that if he did turn out to be not a nice person, it would be a complete surprise, like being a celebrity, he must be enlightened and wonderful and nice. and the same with so many other cases. what the heck? do you realize how many people every day get drunk and say stupid things they probably regret later? you couldn't count them all! but yet for some reason if someone with more public recognition does it, we are shocked like it's something completely unusual.

2006-08-01

the wisdom of the sands - antoine de saint-exupéry

I fell to musing on the savor of the things men make. Thus those in a certain camp made pottery which was good to look at; and those of another camp, pottery that was ugly. And it became clear to me that no laws can be laid down for the embellishing of pottery. Neither monies spent on apprenticeship, nor awards and competitions, would avail. Indeed I even observed that craftsmen who worked for the sake of an ambition other than the excellence of their workmanship, even though they toiled night and day, never sparing themselves, ended by producing vulgar, pretentious, over-complicated work. For those sleepless nights of theirs were put to the service of their venality, their vanity or a taste for luxury - to the service of themselves, in other words - and they no longer bartered themselves, under God's guidance, for a work of art which thus became a source of sacrifice and an intimation of His presence; a work wherein their sighs and wrinkled brows and heavy eyelids and hands that trembled after daylong molding of the clay could merge into the satisfaction of a task well done, the aftermath of fervor. For I know but one act which is fertile, and that is prayer; and I know also that every act is a prayer if it be a free gift of oneself in order to become. Then you are like the bird that builds its nest, and the nest is warm; the bee that makes its honey, and the honey is sweet; the man who shapes his urn for love of the urn and behind that love is prayer. What belief can you have in a poem written for sale? If a poem be an article of commerce, it ceases to be a poem. And if your urn be an article of competition it ceases to be an urn and a likeness of God; rather, it is in the likeness of your vanity or your vulgar appetites.

the wisdom of the sands - antoine de saint-exupéry

I fell to musing on the great example given by courtesans and their commerce with love. For if you believe in worldly goods for their own sake, you are deceived: even as there is no landscape to see from the mountain-top except in so far as you have built one up for yourself by the long effort of your ascent, thus it is with love. Nothing has meaning in itself, but the true meaning of each thing lies in its structure; thus a face carved in marble is not the sum of two ears, a nose, a chin, a mouth and so forth, but the musculature of the head comprising them. Like a fist clenched on something other than itself. And the vision of the poem lies not in the stars or the number seven or the water in a pool, but solely in the harmony I make when I set my seven stars dancing in the mirror of the pool. True, for the nexus to operate we must first have objects to be linked together. But its efficacy lies not in these separate objects. The efficacy of the fox-trap lies not in its wires or frame or any part of it, but in the interlocking of these things into a whole, which is a creative act - and presently you hear a fox howling, for he has been trapped. Thus I, the singer, the sculptor, or the dancer, can snare you in my nets.

So, too, with love. What may you hope to get of the courtesan? Only a tranquilizing of the flesh after your battles in the oases; for, asking nothing of you, she does not constrain you to be. But when you are all aflame to hasten to the help of your beloved, your love is charged with gratitude because the archangel sleeping in it has been roused up by you. It is not the easy access of the one that makes the difference, for if you are loved by your beloved you have but to open  your arms and she will press herself to you. The difference lies in the giving. For no gift can be made the courtesan; whatever you bring her, she regards it perforce as tribute money.

And since this tribute is enforced you will question its amount. (This is the only meaning of the dance which here is danced.) Thus when at nightfall the soldier is allowed to roam the houses of ill fame and has in his pocket but his meagre pay - which he must eke out to best advantage - he bargains for love, buying it like food or drink. And even as food makes him capable of enduring another long march across the desert, so this bought love gives him an appeasement of the flesh, enabling him to endure another spell of isolation. But the man himself, having been changed into a huckster, feels no fervor.

To give to the courtesan you would need to be richer than a king; for, whatever you may bring her, she thanks herself first, flattering herself on her adroitness and admiring her skill and her beauty, which have won from you this tribute. You might pour a thousand caravan-loads of gold into that bottomless pit, and yet you would not have even begun to give. For there must be someone to receive.

This is why my men when dusk is gathering on the desert fall to stroking behind their ears the sand-foxes they have caught, and feel a vague thrill of love. For each has an illusion that he is giving to the little wild creature and experiences a rush of gratitude when trustfully it nestles to his breast. But in the district of the stews far must you seek before you find a woman who nestles to your bosom by reason of her need of you.

Nevertheless, it sometimes happens that one of my men, neither richer nor poorer than the others, treats his gold like the seeds that the tree scatters on the wind; for soldier-like he despises hoarding. Clad in the splendor of his magnanimity, he makes his progress through the stews; as the man who is about to sow his barley walks, taking long strides, towards the red loam worthy of receiving it. And then he scatters abroad his little store of wealth, having no wish to keep it to himself; and he alone knows what love is. Indeed it may be that he wakens love in one of these women, and thus a different dance is danced - a dance in which the woman receives.

But, mark my words, the man who cannot see that receiving is very different from accepting is blind indeed. Receiving is, above all, a gift, the gift of oneself, and I would not call him a miser who refuses to ruin himself with presents; the miser is one who bestows not the light of his countenance in return for your largesse. And miserly is the soil which does not clothe itself in beauty when you have strewn your seed upon it.

Thus even courtesans and drunken soldiers sometimes shed light.

2006-07-28

love is not against the law - derek webb

politics or love
can make you blind or make you see
make you a slave or make you free
but only one does it all

and it’s giving up your life
for the ones you hate the most
it’s giving them your gown
when they’ve taken your clothes

it’s learning to admit
when you’ve had a hand in setting them up
in knocking them down

love is not against the law
love is not against the law

are we defending life
when we just pick and choose
lives acceptable to lose
and which ones to defend

‘cause you cannot choose your friends
but you choose your enemies
and what if they were one
one and the same

could you find a way
to love them both the same
to give them your name

love is not against the law
love is not against the law

2006-07-22

the first miracle...

I'm just reading The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky, and at the point I just read, Alyosha, who is a novice at a monastery is kneeling listening to one of the Fathers read the gospel over a priest who just died, and he is reading through the passage of the first miracle Jesus performed, turning water into wine. In the passage, Alyosha (nickname for Alexey) is reflecting on the passage and how it is such an un-religious miracle. He is thinking that the family must be very poor, because even at a wedding they don't have wine enough to go around, and that historians have said that the people in that area were very poor. He reflects that Christ takes pleasure in giving those people a simple pleasure, which to them surely seemed more than a simple pleasure, but something to rejoice over. The thought comes to him that he who loves man loves his gladness, and that Christ's first miracle was simply to help man's gladness at a celebration. It's the first time I'd ever really thought about this, but it gladdens my heart that Christ would be concerned even with something so seemingly simple as this. For some reason it makes Christ appear in a very real way as a person who loves humanity, not only generally, but specifically as well. We have such a good God.

2006-07-21

the brothers karamazov - fyodor dostoyevsky

Of prayer, of love, and of contact with other worlds

Young man, be not forgetful of prayer. Every time you pray, if your prayer is sincere, there will be new feeling and new meaning in it, which will give you fresh courage, and you will understand that prayer is an education. Remember too, every day, whenever you can, repeat to yourself, "Lord, have mercy on all who appear before Thee to-day." For every hour and every moment thousands of men leave life on this earth, and their souls appear before God. And how many of them depart in solitude, unkown, sad, dejected, that no one mourns for them or even knows whether they have lived or not. And behold, from the other end of the earth perhaps, your prayer for their rest will rise up to God though you knew them not nor they you. How touching it must be to a soul standing in dread before the Lord to feel at that instant that, for him too, there is one to pray, that there is a fellow creature left on earth to love him too. And God will look on you both more graciously, for if you have had so much pity on him, how much more will He have pity Who is infinitely more loving and merciful than you. And He will forgive him for your sake.

Brothers, have no fear of men's sin. Love a man even in his sin, for that is the semblance of Divine Love and is the highest love on earth. Love all God's creation, the whole and every grain of sand of it. Love every leaf, every ray of God's light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love. Love the animals: God has given them the rudiments of thought and joy untroubled. Do not trouble it, don't harass them, don't deprive them of their happiness, don't work against God's intent. Man, do not pride yourself on superiority to the animals; they are without sin, and you, with your greatness, defile the earth by your appearance on it, and leave the traces of your foulness after you - alas, it is true of almost every one of us! Love children especially, for they too are sinless like the angels; they live to soften and purify our hearts and as it were to guide us. Woe to him who offends a child! Father Anfim taught me to love children. The kind, silent man used often on our wanderings to spend the farthings given us on sweets and cakes for the children. He could not pass by a child without emotion, that's the nature of the man.

At some thoughts one stands perplexed, especially at the sight of men's sin, and wonders whether one should use force or humble love. Always decide to use humble love. If you resolve on that once for all, you may subdue the whole world. Loving humility is marvellously strong, the strongest of all things and there is nothing else like it.

Every day and every hour, every minute, walk round yourself and watch yourself, and see that your image is a seemly one. You pass by a little child, you pass by, spiteful, with ugly words, with wrathful heart; you may not have noticed the child, but he has seen you, and your image, unseemly and ignoble, may remain in his defenceless heart. You don't know it, but you may have sown an evil seed in him and it may grow, and all because you were not careful before the child, because you did not foster in yourself a careful, actively benevolent love. Brothers, love is a teacher; but one must know how to acquire it, for it is hard to acquire, it is dearly bought, it is won slowly by long labour. For we must love not only occasionally, for a moment, but for ever. Every one can love occasionally, even the wicked can.

My brother asked the birds to forgive him; that sounds senseless, but it is right; for all is like an ocean, all is flowing and blending; a touch in one place sets up movement at the other end of the earth. It may be senseless to beg forgiveness of the birds, but birds would be happier at your side - a little happier, anyway - and children and all animals, if you yourself were nobler than you are now. It's all like an ocean, I tell you. Then you would pray to the birds too, consumed by an all-embracing love, in a sort of transport, and pray that they too will forgive you your sin. Treasure this ecstasy, however senseless it may seem to men.

My friends, pray to God for gladness. Be glad as children, as the birds of heaven. And let not the sin of men confound you in your doings. Fear not that it will wear away your work and hinder its being accomplished. Do not say, "Sin is mighty, wickedness is mighty, evil environment is mighty, and we are lonely and helpless, and evil environment is wearing us away and hindering our good work from being done." Fly from that dejection, children! There is only one means of salvation, then take yourself and make yourself responsible for all men's sins, that is the truth, you know, friends, for as soon as you sincerely make yourself responsible for everything and for all men, you will see at once that it is really so, and that you are to blame for every one and for all things. But throwing your own indolence and impotence on others you will end by sharing the pride of Satan and murmuring against God.

Of the pride of Satan what I think is this: it is hard for us on earth to comprehend it, and therefore it is so easy to fall into error and to share it, even imagining that we are doing something grand and fine. Indeed many of the strongest feelings and movements of our nature we cannot comprehend on earth. Let not that be a stumbling-block, and think not that it may serve as a justification to you for anything. For the Eternal Judge asks of you what you can comprehend and not what you cannot. You will know that yourself hereafter, for you will behold all things truly then and will not dispute them. On earth, indeed, we are as it were astray, and if it were not for the precious image of Christ before us, we should be undone and altogether lost, as was the human race before the flood. Much on earth is hidden from us, but to make up for that we have been given a precious mystic sense of our living bond with the other world, with the higher heavenly world, and the roots of our thoughts and feelings are not here but in other worlds. That is why the philosophers say that we cannot apprehend the reality of things on earth.

God took seeds from different worlds and sowed them on this earth, and His garden grew up and everything came up that could come up, but what grows lives and is alive only through the feeling of its contact with other mysterious worlds. If that feeling grows weak or is destroyed in you, the heavenly growth will die away in you. then you will be indifferent to life and even grow to hate it. that's what I think.

2006-07-17

feel...

I feel sad...

love

why is it so hard for me to believe that someone might love me as much as I love them? why do I have such easy doubt? why is it that even though it rationally seems to be so, that I still have this nagging voice in the back of my head saying "no, people don't love like that, do they?" why can't it be more natural to assume people love than to assume that they don't?

bluh.

maybe because we just don't get involved in each other's lives enough to really know. because this doubt doesn't exist with regard to Patrina. maybe we just need both time and depth in order to experience someone's consistent love and to become confident of it.

2006-07-15

the brothers karamazov - fyodor dostoyevsky

the following passage is between a woman of society and an elder in a monastery, and begins with the woman talking to the elder.

"Oh, how thankful I am to you! You see, I shut my eyes and ask myself if every one has faith, where did it come from? And then they do say that it all comes from terror at the menacing phenomena of nature, and that none of it's real. And I say to myself, 'What if I've been believing all my life, and when I come to die there's nothing but the burdocks growing on my grave?' as I read in some author. It's awful! How - how can I get back my faith? But I only believed when I was a little child, mechanically, without thinking of anything. How, how is one to prove it? I have come now to lay my soul before you and to ask you about it. If I let this chance slip, no one all my life will answer me. How can I prove it? How can I convince myself? Oh, how unhappy I am! I stand and look about me and see that scarcely any one else cares; no one troubles his head about it, and I'm the only one who can't stand it. It's deadly - deadly!"

"No doubt. But there's no proving it, though you can be convinced of it."

"How?"

"By the experience of active love. Strive to love your neighbour actively and indefatigably. In as far as you advance in love you will grow surer of the reality of God and of the immortality of your soul. If you attain to perfect self-forgetfulness in the love of your neighbor, then you will believe without doubt, and no doubt can possibly enter your soul. This has been tried. This is certain."

"In active love? There's another question - and such a question! You see, I so love humanity that - would you believe it? - I often dream of forsaking all that I have, leaving Lise, and becoming a sister of mercy. I close my eyes and think and dream, and at that moment I feel full of strength to overcome all obstacles. No wounds, no festering sores could at that moment frighten me. I would bind them up and wash them with my own hands. I would nurse the afflicted. I would be ready to kiss such wounds."

"It is much, and well that your mind is full of such dreams and not others. Sometime, unawares, you may do a good deed in reality."

"Yes. But could I endure such a life for long?" the lady went on fervently, almost frantically. "That's the chief question - that's my most agonising question. I shut my eyes and ask myself, 'Would you persevere long on that path? And if the patient whose wounds you are washing did not meet you with gratitude, but worried you with his whims, without valuing or remarking your chartiable services, began abusing you and rudely commanding you, and complaining to the superior authorities of you (which often happens when people are in great suffering) - what then? Would you persevere in your love, or not?' And do you know, I came with horror to the conclusion that, if anything could dissipate my love to humanity, it would be ingratitude. In short, I am a hired servant, I expect my payment at once - that is, praise, and the repayment of love with love. Otherwise I am incapable of loving any one."

She was in a very paroxysm of self-castigation, and, concluding, she looked with defiant resolution at the elder.

"It's just the same story as a doctor once told me," observed the elder. "He was a man getting on in years, and undoubtedly clever. He spoke as frankly as you, though in jest, in bitter jest. 'I love humanity,' he said, 'but I wonder at myself. The more I love humanity in general, the less I love man in particular. In my dreams,' he said, 'I have often come to making enthusiastic schemes for the service of humanity, and perhaps I might actually have faced crucifixion if it had been suddenly necessary; and yet I am incapable of living in the same room with any one for two days together, as I know by experience. As soon as any one is near me, his personality disturbs my self-complacency and restricts my freedom. In twenty-four hours I begin to hate the best of men: one because he's too long over his dinner; another because he has a cold and keeps on blowing his nose. I become hostile to people the moment they come close to me. But it has always happened that the more I detest men individually the more ardent becomes my love for humanity.'"

"But what's to be done? What can one do in such a case? Must one despair?"

"No. It is enough that you are distressed at it. Do what you can, and it will be reckoned unto you. Much is done already in you since you can so deeply and sincerely know yourself. If you have been talking to me so sincerely, simply to gain approbation for your frankness, as you did from me just now, then of course you will not attain to anything in the achievement of real love; it will all get no further than dreams, and your whole life will slip away like a phantom. In that case you will naturally cease to think of the future life too, and will of yourself grow calmer after a fashion in the end."

"You have crushed me! Only now, as you speak, I understand that I was really only seeking your approbation for my sincerity when I told you I could not endure ingratitude. You have revealed me to myself. You have seen through me and explained me to myself!"

"Are you speaking the truth? Well, now, after such a confession, I believe that you are sincere and good at heart. If you do not attain happiness, always remember that you are on the right road, and try not to leave it. Above all, avoid falsehood, every kind of falsehood, especially falseness to yourself. Watch over your own deceitfulness and look into it every hour, every minute. Avoid being scornful, both to others and to yourself. What seems to you bad within you will grow purer from the very fact of your observing it in yourself. Avoid fear, too, though fear is only the consequence of every sort of falsehood. Never be frightened at your own faint-heartedness in attaining love. Don't be frightened overmuch even at your evil actions. I am sorry I can say nothing more consoling to you, for love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared with love in dreams. Love in dreams is greedy for immediate action, rapidly performed and in the sight of all. Men will even give their lives if only the ordeal does not last long but is soon over, with all looking on and applauding as though on the stage. But active love is labour and fortitude, and for some people too, perhaps, a complete science. But I predict that just when you see with horror that in spite of all your efforts you are getting further from your goal instead of nearer to it - at that very moment I predict that you will reach it and behold clearly the miraculous power of the Lord who has been all the time loving and mysteriously guiding you. Forgive me for not being able to stay longer with you. They are waiting for me. Good-bye."

2006-07-10

music box - regina spektor

Life inside the music box ain't easy.
The mallets hit, the gears are always turning
and everyone inside the mechanism
is yearning to get out.

And sing another melody completely
So different from the one they're always singing
I close my eyes and think that i have found me
but then i feel mortality surround me.

I want to sing another melody
so different from the one I always sing
But when I do the dishes

I run the water very very very hot
and then I fill the sink to the top with bubbles of soap
and then I set all the bottle caps I own afloat
and it's the greatest voyage in the history of plastic
and then I slip my hands in and start to make waves
and then I dip my tongue in and take a taste
it tastes like soap but it doesn't really taste like soap
and then I lower in my whole mouth and take a gulp

and start to feel mortality surround me
I close my eyes and think I have found me
but life inside the music box ain't easy
the mallets hit, the gears are always turning
and everyone inside the mechanism
is yearning
to get out
and sing another melody completely
is yearing
to get out
is yearning
to get out
is yearning
to get out

street song - sylvia plath

By a mad miracle I go intact
Among the common rout
Thronging sidewalk, street,
And bickering shops;
Nobody blinks a lid, gapes,
Or cries that this raw flesh
Reeks of the butcher's cleaver,
Its heart and guts hung hooked
And bloodied as a cow's split frame
Parceled out by white-jacketed assassins.

Oh no, for I strut it clever
As a greenly escaped idiot,
Buying wine, bread,
Yellow-casqued chrysanthemums -
Arming myself with the most reasonable items
To ward off, at all cost, suspicions
Roused by thorned hands, feet, head
And that great wound
Squandering red
From the flayed side.

Even as my each mangled nerve-end
Trills its hurt out
Above pitch of pedestrian ear,
So, perhaps I, knelled dumb by your absence,
Alone can hear
Sun's parched scream,
Every downfall and crash
Of gutted star,
And, more daft than any goose,
This cracked world's incessant gabble and hiss.

2006-07-08

lines...

I wish that it was not possible for the lines between people to become twisted and knotted... when they do, everything feels so wrong.

interesting thought...

"Bad art is more tragically beautiful than good art because it documents human failure." -Tristan Reveur

2006-07-07

sounds good...

"Let's conspire to ignite all the souls that would die just to feel alive..."

2006-07-05

maybe...

maybe we're wrong that the best way to live life is to be intentional with people, to spend a lot of effort investing in them and trying to be a part of their lives. maybe the best thing in life is to find the one person you really understand and who really understands you (in my case, Trina) and focus everything on them, giving everyone else the absolute minimal necessary investment and involvement. sometimes that option sounds much more appealing, and less exhausting. maybe the world is just too far gone, and people too deeply injured to be able to desire deep connection with more than one person. who knows. i certainly don't. well, on we go...

2006-07-04

life...

it's another one of those "let's move to iceland" days.

what the...?

everything seems a little bit off today... i kind of feel in a bubble like Trina and I are stuck inside and we can't touch anything outside... or that somehow everything outside has begun operating by different rules or something. weird day...

tale of a tub - sylvia plath

The photographic chamber of the eye
records bare painted walls, while an electric light
flays the chromium nerves of plumbing raw;
such poverty assaults the ego; caught
naked in the merely actual room,
the stranger in the lavatory mirror
puts on a public grin, repeats our name
but scrupulously reflects the usual terror.

Just how guilty are we when the ceiling
reveals no cracks that can be decoded? when washbowl
maintains it has no more holy calling
than physical ablution, and the towel
dryly disclaims that fierce troll faces lurk
in its explicit folds? or when the window,
blind with steam, will not admit the dark
which shrouds our prospects in ambiguous shadow?

Twenty years ago, the familiar tub
bred an ample batch of omens; but now
water faucets spawn no danger; each crab
and octopus - scrabbling just beyond the view,
waiting for some accidental break
in ritual, to strike - is definitely gone;
the authentic sea denies them and will pluck
fantastic flesh down to the honest bone.

We take the plunge; under water our limbs
waver, faintly green, shuddering away
from the genuine color of skin; can our dreams
ever blur the intransigent lines which draw
the shape that shuts us in? absolute fact
intrudes even when the revolted eye
is closed; the tub exists behind our back:
its glittering surfaces are blank and true.

Yet always the ridiculous nude flanks urge
the fabrication of some cloth to cover
such starkness; accuracy must not stalk at large:
each day demands we create our whole world over,
disguising the constant horror in a coat
of many-colored fictions; we mask our past
in the green of eden, pretend future's shining fruit
can sprout from the navel of this present waste.

In this particular tub, two knees jut up
like icebergs, while minute brown hairs rise
on arms and legs in a fringe of kelp; green soap
navigates the tidal slosh of seas
breaking on legendary beaches; in faith
we shall board our imagined ship and wildly sail
among sacred islands of the mad till death
shatters the fabulous stars and makes us real.

2006-06-30

tired...

I get really sad when I get exhausted. Right now I feel like I would love to be a hermit for a couple days. It's one of those times when investing in people and opening yourself seems like the worst possible option and being closed and resting sounds wonderful... just to curl up in a corner with some tea and silence, and keep the whole world outside.

2006-06-28

dreams...

well, all my life I've almost never remembered my dreams... there are probably three or four from my whole life that I remember still - and not only do I not remember them now, I never remember them right after I wake up either. as far as my conscious mind knows at least, I almost never dream. however, this week I have remembered my dreams twice, and actually still remember bits of them. not sure what exactly that means, but I found it interesting :)

2006-06-27

the first five times - stars

The first time, in the backyard
Underneath the plastic sheeting
Outside, it was pouring
And we were drunk as shit

Next time, at a party
When all our friends were there
There's nothing like their mattresses
Underneath the stairs

The third time, in the doorway
Lights all on around us
And the audience beside us
And the old man watching from the trees

Fourth time, I said that's it
You've agreed to give me everything
Now I've got to ask you one more thing
Keep doing that forever

Fifth time in your bedroom
And finally, we rested
And you leaned upon your elbow
And began to speak to me

But you stopped yourself and kissed me
And I grabbed your wrist and told you
I know, I know, I know
I feel the same as you

And everyday, it's changed since then
In every way, I've changed since then
And everyday, it's changed since then
In every way, I've changed since then

Driven outside
I've driven you
Driven outside
I've driven you

ageless beauty - stars

Ageless beauty
Cruelty makes its holes
But on the shoreline
Time will hold its promise

We will always be a light
You can see it on the surface
We will always be a light
You can see it from the surface
We will always be a light

Tattered fingers
Linger on the warm and foolish
Hardened faces
Graceless
We'll lose the battle

We will always be a light
You can see it on the surface
We will always be a light
You can see it on the surface
We will always be a light

Oceans won't freeze
So loosen your heart
Underestimated
Undefeated
In this love

We will always be a light
You can see it on the surface
We will always be a light
You can see it on the surface
We will always be a light
You can see it on the surface
We will always be a light
You can see it on the surface
We will always be a light
You can see it on the surface
We will always be a light

evangelism...

I now know firsthand the awkwardness of being evangelized - there is a woman who has been casing my bus stop in the mornings who is a Jehova's Witness, and she's a nice lady, we've talked a little bit, but it is really awkward, because I know the end goal of conversation for her is to plug the religion and try to get me to convert. I get the same kind of feeling as I do when I walk into, say, a retail store, and the salespeople try to kind of casually talk to you, but really the end goal is to get you to buy something if possible. Only I didn't walk into the store.

Anyway, all of this just reinforces my feeling that evangelizing complete strangers is such a limited tool - unless the person is just in the right spot where they are ready to hear everything you have to say, nothing will get through and it will just be awkward and probably deepen their belief that religious people are just out to sell their morality.

I don't know, maybe there's some place for standing at a bus stop and talking to people. I would rather share life with the people who are in my life and just be me, all of me, and let that be an example of who God is.

2006-06-24

beauty...

Today I am staggered at thinking about the difference beauty can make in the world... PLEASE!!!! Live a life of beauty. Love and give freely and until it hurts. The entire history of the world could be different if you do. Create. Love. Add to the beauty of life. Please.

iraq and taxes...

It's getting to the point where I feel a little bit guilty paying taxes knowing part of it is going to the war in iraq... i hate that this is the case. sometimes it would be nice if there were easy answers. i HATE that the world is broken.

2006-06-23

life...

"In anything at all, perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away." -Antoine de Saint-Exupery

"...redemption, it was hidden in the landscape of loss and love and fire and rain, we never would have come this way looking for redemption..." -Jars of Clay

It's strange how the difficulty and strangeness and fire and knives of life burn and cut off those parts of us which are not intrinsically a part of who we are, and how as we shed the dross of what comes with our humanity, we see ourselves getting simpler and simpler, more childlike, and more awestruck at the wonder of God... AWESTRUCK, to the point you can't even speak... simpler and simpler and simpler until we ARE... and we realize the goal of life isn't trying to be SOMETHING, but just to BE...

no human would ever begin down the path of losing everything to gain his soul... yet that is what it takes... but having been placed on that path, I can imagine no greater thing than to lose everything which is not me in order to have the joy of being, of being unobstructed from other souls, from God... I want no barriers, no walls, nothing to keep my away from others... I want COMMUNION...

2006-06-22

what is home?

What is home? Because both Portland and Vilnius are my home in different ways and neither of them are completely my home. Is home a place? Will I be looking for the right place all my life, the one that feels just right or offers just the right things? I don't think home is a place. I think home is a community. And by community, I mean a group of souls with which you commune. No matter whether they live with you, or live all the way across the world, you can feel their heart beat and you cry or laugh when they do and you can speak to each other in the deepest silence. After all, what is heaven other than a perfect community? Souls without boundaries.

on christian vs. secular art

I've been thinking more and more about this lately. What is the distinction between "christian" and "secular" art? Why do we draw a distinction? At first the answer seems really easy. Christian art embodies the ideas of christianity, while secular art does not. However, like most easy answers, if we take a look a little bit deeper, we find it's too simple.

  • First of all, is not the act of creating in itself screaming the nature of God? Could we say that anything that we find which is true and truly beautiful comes from God? (Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above) So why would that be different if that true and beautiful thing is coming from a non-christian? That person was made in the image of God just as much as I was, can be used by God just as well as I can.
  • Secondly, does being a christian mean that any art I make will be inherently true, beautiful, useful, edifying, etc? NO! The fact that my brokenness is forgiven does not eliminate the brokenness. I am likely at times to do things which are quite ugly, unthoughtful, insensitive, far from encouraging and uplifting. There is no guarantee that just because I am a christian everything that comes out of my creative pen will be wholesome and true and beautiful.


So, this distinction between christian and secular art does two things. It gives us a false sense of fear of anything which is not labeled as christian. It also gives us a false sense of security about anything that is labeled as christian.

Anywhere we can find the truth and beauty of God (which is anything that is really true and beautiful), we can interact with Him. Even if it is in the art of a non-christian, or something which is not labeled as christian. There is breathtaking beauty in many non-christians' music, poetry, painting, etc... and it causes me to wonder at the hugeness and beauty of God. I don't think it's healthy to just summarily dismiss art which is not labeled as christian.

Regarding art that is labeled as christian, we have to be careful as well. In his podcast recently, Derek Webb (formerly of Caedmon's Call) says he knows a lot of people in the music industry who are professional songwriters, and just as they learn the language of country music and write country songs, they also learn the language of christian music and write christian songs and even worship songs, though many of them are not christians themselves. He notes that a good bit of the music you hear on christian radio was actually written by non-christians. How is someone going to write a meaningful song about a relationship with Christ if they haven't got one?

So, the point is this - as christians, I believe we have the freedom to engage in all art, finding the truth and beauty and discarding the dross wherever we find it. These distinctions between christian and secular art were just set up to sell things in a lot of cases, and we have to look deeper than just labels to determine if something is worthwhile, beautiful, encouraging, uplifting, etc.

There is an issue of sensitivity to the Spirit involved here, in that if you, at the point in life you are at, feel that it is really harmful for you to interact with some particular art, then don't. However, don't dismiss it just because it is not labeled christian, or blindly accept it because it is.

2006-06-19

a wind in the door - madeleine l'engle

"Well, then, if I'm a Namer, what does that mean? What does a Namer do?"

...

"When I was memorizing the names of the stars, part of the purpose was to help them each to be more particularly the particular star each one was supposed to be. That's basically a Namer's job. Maybe you're supposed to make earthlings feel more human."

...

"But how do I do it? How do I Name Mr. Jenkins when all I think of when I see him is how awful he is?

...

"There's a word - but if I say it you'll just misunderstand."

"You have to say it."

"It's a four-letter word. Aren't four-letter words considered the bad ones on your planet?"

"Come on. I've seen all the four-letter words on the walls of the washroom at school."

Proginoskes let out a small puff. "Luff."

"What?"

"Love. That's what makes persons know who they are..."

a wind in the door - madeleine l'engle

"...How long does it take the Milky Way to rotate once around?"

As no one else spoke, Meg answered, "Two hundred billion years, clockwise."

"So that gives us a general idea of the size of your galaxy, doesn't it?"

"Very general," Calvin said. "Our minds can't comprehend anything that huge, that macrocosmic."

"Don't try to comprehend with your mind. Your minds are very limited. Use your intuition. Think of the size of your galaxy. Now, think of your sun. It's a star, and it's a great deal smaller than the entire galaxy, isn't it?"

"Of course."

"Think of yourselves, now, in comparison with the size of your sun. Think how much smaller you are. Have you done that?"

"Sort of," Meg said.

"Now think of a mitochondrion. Think of the mitochondria which live in the cells of all living things, and how much smaller a mitochondrion is than you."

Mr. Jenkins said, to himself, "I thought Charles Wallace was making them up to show off."

Blajeny continued, "Now consider that a farandola is as much smaller than a mitochondrion as a mitochondrion is smaller than you are."

"This time," Calvin said, "the problem is that our minds can't comprehend anything that microcosmic."

Blajeny said, "Another way of putting it would be to say that a farandola is as much smaller than you are as your galaxy is larger than you are."

how incredible is our God to have created all of this...

2006-06-16

how...

can uninspiring uninspired musicians take beautiful songs and make them ugly? why do they feel the need to do so? :(

on the radio - regina spektor

This is how it works
You're young until you're not
You love until you don't
You try until you can't
You laugh until you cry
You cry until you laugh
And everyone must breathe
Until their dying breath

No, this is how it works
You peer inside yourself
You take the things you like
And try to love the things you took
And then you take that love you made
And stick it into some
Someone else's heart
Pumping someone else's blood
And walking arm in arm
You hope it don't get harmed
But even if it does
You'll just do it all again

bluh...

do you ever have times when you feel exhausted at the thought of even trying to connect with people?

2006-06-13

moving on...

right now feels like a period of molting... like a snake shedding its skin. it takes some effort for it to come off, but it is the natural way of things and it feels so good once it's done, even if the process was somewhat uncomfortable.

2006-06-12

the little prince - antoine de saint-exupéry

"Good morning," said the little prince.
"Good morning," said the merchant.
This was a merchant who sold pills that had been invented to quench thirst. You need only swallow one pill a week, and you would feel no need of anything to drink.
"Why are you selling those?" asked the little prince.
"Because they save a tremendous amount of time," said the merchant. "Computations have been made by experts. With these pills, you save fifty-three minutes in every week."
"And what do I do with those fifty-three minutes?"
"Anything you like..."
"As for me," said the little prince to himself, "if I had fifty-three minutes to spend as I liked, I should walk at my leisure toward a spring of fresh water."

2006-06-11

do not...

do not be afraid
do not be afraid
do not be afraid
do not be afraid
do not be afraid
do not be afraid
do not be afraid
do not be afraid
do not be afraid
do not be afraid
do not be afraid
do not be afraid
do not be afraid
do not be afraid
do not be afraid
do not be afraid

diversity...

why is it that the diversity of humanity is, for so many people, a threat, and not something beautiful?

2006-06-10

how...

do we get to know such amazing people? seriously.

2006-06-09

whee!

I can't wait for the party tonite!!! Oh yeah, baby.

2006-06-06

moving on...

here we go :)

2006-06-05

a new law - derek webb

Go watch this video... it's a fantastic video to a fantastic song...

I refuse to live by a law that is stale and meaningless and is made up to give us an easy out of every situation and to relieve us from the burden of having to actually interact with God. No thank you.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cr4DBnB7aNQ

duck and cover - glen phillips

Someone's in the back yard, banging on the door
Daddy's gone away, he's coming back no more
His baby's curled up on a stranger's floor
Mama's thinking family dinners weren't too much to ask for

Everybody here's got a story to tell
Everybody's been through their own hell
There's nothing too special about getting hurt
Getting over it, that takes the work

Cause one way or another, we'll all need each other
Nothing's gonna turn out the way you thought it would
But friends and lovers, don't you duck and cover
Cause everything comes out the way it should

Blessed are the humble, blessed are the meek
Blessed are the hungry, blessed are the weak
Blessed are the ones on the other side
Blessed are we for just being alive

One day I stopped wanting anything at all
The heavens opened up like a waterfall
No use in worrying about when it ends
Just for now be thankful for what I get

Cause one way or another, a man's gonna suffer
It makes no difference the way you wanted it
But friends and lovers, don't you duck and cover
Cause everything comes out the way it should in the end

Seems like life is a palindrome
You cry when you die, you cry when you're born
In between it's all about the ups and downs
Add 'em all together, they cancel each other out

Cause one way or another
One way or another
You won't get what you wanted
You'll get enough, for sure
One way or another
Winter pays for the summer
Won't get what you wanted
What you got'll be good

Someone's in the back yard, banging on the door
Daddy's gone away, he's coming back no more
His baby's curled up on a stranger's floor
Mama's thinking happy endings weren't too much to ask for

2006-05-31

the prophet - kahlil gibran

On Giving

Then said a rich man, "Speak to us of Giving."
And he answered:
You give but little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.
For what are your possessions but things you keep and guard for fear you may need them tomorrow?
And tomorrow, what shall tomorrow bring to the overprudent dog burying bones in the trackless sand as he follows the pilgrims to the holy city?
And what is fear of need but need itself?
Is not dread of thirst when your well is full, thirst that is unquenchable?
There are those who give little of the much which they have - and they give it for recognition and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome.
And there are those who have little and give it all.
These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty.
There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.
And there are those who give with pain, and that pain is their baptism.
And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue;
They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space.
Through the hands of such as these God speaks, and from behind their eyes He smiles upon the earth.
It is well to give when asked, but it is better to give unasked, through understanding;
And to the open-handed the search for one who shall receive is joy greater than giving.
And is there aught you would withhold?
All you have shall some day be given;
Therefore give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors'.
You often say, "I would give, but only to the deserving."
The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture.
They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.
Surely he who is worthy to receive his days and his nights is worthy of all else from you.
And he who has deserved to drink from the ocean of life deserves to fill his cup from your little stream.
And what desert greater shall there be than that which lies in the courage and the confidence, nay the charity, of receiving?
And who are you that men should rend their bosom and unveil their pride, that you may see their worth naked and their pride unabashed?
See first that you yourself deserve to be a giver, and an instrument of giving.
For in truth it is life that gives unto life - while you, who deem yourself a giver, are but a witness.
And you receivers - and you are all receivers - assume no weight of gratitude, lest you lay a yoke upon yourself and upon him who gives.
Rather rise together with the giver on his gifts as on wings;
For to be overmindful of your debt, is to doubt his generosity who has the free-hearted earth for mother, and God for father.

2006-05-30

wash...

i am a vehicle
a portal

for a wave

i can picture it gushing
from my soul

flowing out

to wash all mankind

it is not from me
i am the middle man

the vehicle
the portal

opening on the divine...

2006-05-24

contentment - li po

When you ask why I dwell here docile among the far green hills, I laugh in my heart. My heart is happy.

The peach-blossom watches the river running but remains content. There is a better heaven and earth than the busy world of men.

2006-05-23

the little prince - antoine de saint-exupéry

"one runs the risk of weeping a little, if one lets himself be tamed..."

acts 1 - some thoughts

I was just reading Acts 1 this morning, where the apostles are choosing a new person to fill the spot of Judas Iscariot, after he died. One thing really struck me. They are choosing between two guys who they have picked out, and they pray: "You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two You have chosen to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place." and then they proceed to draw lots to determine which one is chosen. So, here's what struck me. In modern Christian circles, I don't think that we (generally) would trust that God would take something like drawing lots, and cause the outcome to fall the way He wanted. We would pray a lot about it, think about it a lot, and in the end, come to our own conclusion which should be chosen. Now, it's not that using your head is necessarily a bad thing, I mean the apostles did narrow it down to the two people they thought most fitting for the position. In the end, however, they put the final decision in a place where they could not control it and left the outcome to God. I don't think it would be bad for us to do that kind of thing more often. We have an insatiable desire for control.