Friday, April 20, 2012

Mind Like Water

(Prologue: Aaaaackkkkkk!!! It's not making paragraphs! This just makes my whole post even more apropos! Who needs this kind of change? I did not realize this until after writing the whole thing and posting it. Ha! Is Google now reading what I write and trying to get me back for not liking what they did?) I was reading a friend's blog yesterday about the importance of learning to go with the flow, to adapt to change, to reduce reactivity. How do I practice flowing rather than blocking? How do I encounter and then move around obstacles with the least resistance? I was amen-ing what he had written in my mind so much that I even left a comment on the blog, not something I do a lot. The past few years have brought a lot of change for me. Recently I wrote to a friend in France that since visiting her in 2008, I've had four different work situations since we visited (which has meant working out of a total of ten different offices), and we've moved to a new house. And that doesn't begin to tell the story of all the major changes that came into my life because of situations involving family and friends and my own personal journey physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I know I haven't dealt with all of these changes with a "mind like water." I've done some blocking and put up some resistance, even with my intention of doing my best to learn and grow through them. Blocking and resisting notwithstanding, I've made it through. Four years after that trip to France, I'm basically sane and sound and enjoying life--and even hoping to start finally learning French. I just realized tonight, though, that Blogger made the changes they've been warning us of. I doubt they think of it as "warning." They probably thought we'd all be excited by the new streamlined look, the cleaner page, the whatever else they've done that I'm not thinking of or haven't yet discovered. But I don't care for it. It looks very impersonal. Blank, empty, machine-like, ugly in some way I'm not sure I can describe. They've done it, and there's no going back. When it hit me that this was it, and there was no saying goodbye to the old format, I had a moment of panic and anger. Then a moment of wondering why it bothered me so much. And then realized that one reason these little changes bother me so much, is that life is so full of big changes. It takes a lot of energy to change jobs, move to a new house, start a new business, deal with accidents and illnesses and other major stressors. Who wants to have to spend all their "mind like water" energy and effort on little things like adjusting to a new blogging format? I think I like the little things to stay the same because there are so often big things that cannot stay the same, and I want my energy and effort available for those. Oh, well, that's my thinking about it tonight, at any rate. I've encountered one more obstacle to move around. And right now I'm feeling pretty resistant to it! Because I'm still tired from encounters with much bigger obstacles. I think it makes sense. Or I suppose it could just be that I've been an old fuddy-duddy all my life.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Spring Green

I'm just fascinated by light. These days it's the light coming onto, and through, the new green that has exploded since the beginning of spring.

I remember, in elementary school, having a crayon with the name "spring green." Back then, I thought each name on a crayon was an official name; if I'd known about oil paints, I would have assumed there would be one on every artist's palette called "spring green," different from plain old green or "pine green."

I think of those "spring green" crayons every time winter comes to an end. The green of spring is so alive, so amazing.

I think also of Robert Frost's "Nature's first green is gold, her hardest hue to hold..." I can't help it; it comes to mind each year, and the beauty and newness of "spring green" have that sober note in the background, certainly. But even Robert Frost's poetry with its reflection on Eden's sinking to grief cannot dampen my spirits when green is coming alive all around.

That's partly just because it is so absolutely gorgeous and soul-awakening, and also because I don't believe that Eden sinking to grief is the final story. No, one day there will be no sinking to grief, no leaf subsiding to leaf. Someday all that is gold will stay, whether the gold of the proverbial streets of gold, or the gold of a person being "good as gold."

In the meantime, I'm thankful for glimpses of gold and green that pierce this earthly life with moments of sublime beauty. And while the photos don't do it justice, that's what happens on days when I get home in time to see the sun at just the right point to shine on our front yard. I leave the wooden door open and stand there and marvel at the sheer "spring green" of it all. Something is resurrected in me as that light shines onto the grass and into the darkened doorway.

Fascinating what light can do.

(For those not familiar with the poem....)

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012


Circa thirty ears ago, in high school. We worked on a piece called "Tenebrae Factae Sunt."

There was darkness over the earth when the Jews crucified Jesus:
and about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice:
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
And he bowed his head and gave up the ghost.

Jesus cried with a loud voice and said,
Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.
And he bowed his head and gave up the ghost.

We sang it in English and never learned it well enough to perform it. But the word "tenebrae" stayed in my mind.

Circa twenty-five years ago, in college. While studying in Italy, I took a weekend trip to England and discovered Westminster Abbey and liturgical worship (an evensong service) and could hardly believe that such beauty, such focus on God, through readings, prayer, and music, was possible. I wondered if I would ever experience it again.

Circa four hours ago, in my current life. The Tenebrae service at St. John's, down the street from where I live. A service of readings from the psalms, Lamentations, Hebrews, Augustine, all focusing on the darkness of Christ's betrayal, loneliness, suffering, and death, and the love motivating it all. Song after song was sung, including the one above.

[He was] crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate, he suffered and was buried.

Candle after candle was extinguished, leaving the church in darkness, kneeling, wondering, waiting, thinking, feeling. Some, like me, weeping.

But then the Song of Zechariah, from Luke 1:

In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

And from the Revelation of John:

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes,
and there shall be no more death,
neither sorrow, nor crying.
Neither shall there be anymore pain, for the former things are passed away.
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

And in a dark and silent church, a single candle returns. And darkness does not have the final say.