Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The good is to be done because it is good

“The good is to be done because it is good, not because it goes somewhere. I believe if it is done in that spirit it will go somewhere, but I don’t know where. I don’t think the Bible grants us to know where goodness goes, what direction, what force. I have never been seriously interested in the outcome. I was interested in trying to do it humanly and carefully and nonviolently and let it go. We have not lost everything because we lost today.” -- Dan Berrigan
The photo -- Dan's last arrest -- was taken Good Friday, 2 April 2011, at the USS intrepid, the floating war museum moored on the Hudson River.
HT: Jim Forest

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Pax



“I may be wrong about Pax, but keep feeling that through good poems and pictures, peace can travel.”
— Robert Lax to Thomas Merton, 1953

[The image above is from the third issue of Lax's broadsheet Pax, which he published sporadically from 1958 - 1962, adding three new issues in 1985. HT: Michael McGregor]

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Merton and the counterculture

"Jerusalem" by Thomas Merton
Merton to beat poet/publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti, 8/61:
“Someday I want to talk to you about effective protest as distinct from a simple display of sensitivity and goodwill. I think we have to examine the question of genuine and deep spiritual non-cooperation, non-participation, and resistance. … [Just] standing up and saying with sincerity, candor, and youthful abandon “I am against it” has the following bad effects: a) it perpetuates an illusion of free thought and free discussion, which is actually very useful to those who have long since stifled all genuine freedom in this regard, b) it flatters the [establishment] by giving them something they can contrast themselves with, to their own complacent advantage.”
Merton to Nicaraguan poet Napoleon Chow, 5/63:
“It also seems to me that the protest of the beatniks, while having a certain sincerity, is largely a delusion. … Yet this much can be said for them: their very formlessness may perhaps be something that is in their favor. It may perhaps enable them to reject most of the false solutions and deride the “square” propositions of the decadent liberalism around them. It may perhaps prepare them to go in the right directions. I think the beats have contributed much to the peace movement in the US, in their own way, and they are quite committed to the only serious revolutionary movement we have: that of rights for the Negro.”

HT: Gordon Oyer

Friday, December 16, 2016

What's Wrong with Mindfulness


"Spiritual practice is the antithesis of the “means to an end” thinking that characterizes our usual secular point of view. The radical benefit of meditation as a spiritual practice is that it offers a way to step off the treadmill of asking questions like How am I doing? Am I there yet? Am I getting better or worse? It is an alternative to a world in which everything is a technique that can be done well or badly." 
Barry and Bob Rosenbaum, editors of What’s Wrong With Mindfulness, are interviewed by Sam Mowe about their book's major themes.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Titles


Titles
By Leonard Cohen
I had the title poet. And maybe I was one for a while. 
Also, the title singer was kindly accorded me
even though I could barely carry a tune.
For many years, I was known as a monk.
I shaved my head and wore robes and got up very early.
I hated everyone. But I acted generously. And no one found me out.
My reputation as a ladies' man was a joke.
It caused me to laugh bitterly through the 10,000 nights I spent alone.
From a third-story window above the Parc du Portugal,
I've watched the snow come down all day.
As usual, there's no one here. There never is.
Mercifully, the inner conversation is canceled by the white noise of winter.
I am neither the mind, the intellect nor the silent voice within.
That's also canceled.
And now, gentle reader, in what name - in whose name -
do you come to idle with me
in this luxurious and dwindling realms of aimless privacy?
-- Book of Longing (2006)
hear him read it midway in this interview:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5422403
* * *

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Time of Praise

Venus Transit by  Carlos Gotay

The Time of Praise: 
“Le Temps Vierge” of Eternity

“You have given me roots in eternity.” 
(Thomas Merton, Entering the Silence, page 473)

Praises and canticles anticipate
Each day the singing bells that wake the sun.
Open the secret eye of faith
And drink these deeps of invisible life.

(Thomas Merton, “After the night Office: Gethsemani Abbey, Collected Poems, page 108)

“I have only time for eternity”.

(Thomas Merton, Entering the Silence, page 234)

33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

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Saturday, October 29, 2016

Holiness is visible

Leaves and Blossoms Along the Way: A Poem
by Mary Oliver

If you're John Muir you want trees to
live among. If you're Emily, a garden
will do.
Try to find the right place for yourself.
If you can't find it, at least dream of it. 
When one is alone and lonely, the body
gladly lingers in the wind or the rain,
or splashes into the cold river, or
pushes through the ice-crusted snow. 
Anything that touches. 
God, or the gods, are invisible, quite
understandable. But holiness is visible,
entirely. 
Some words will never leave God's mouth,
no matter how hard you listen. 
In all the works of Beethoven, you will
not find a single lie.
All important ideas must include the trees,
the mountains, and the rivers. 
To understand many things you must reach out
of your own condition. 
For how many years did I wander slowly
through the forest. What wonder and
glory I would have missed had I ever been
in a hurry!
Beauty can both shout and whisper, and still
it explains nothing. 
The point is, you're you, and that's for keeps.

This poem is excerpted with permission from Mary Oliver's latest collection of poetry, Felicity, published by Penguin Press in October, 2015.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Remembering Uncle Dan


Daniel Berrigan Memorial
September 30, 2016
St. Thomas More Parish, Kalamazoo
Jerry Berrigan

https://radicaldiscipleship.net/2016/10/18/remembering-his-uncle/

"Uncle Dan was a priest.  He left home at the age of 13 to join the Jesuits, was ordained with his class, and is now buried in a Jesuit cemetery in Auriesville, NY.  He told someone once that in walking the streets of New York the faces of passersby were as the beads of the Rosary to him, a prayer for each one, a moment to ponder the mysteries each person bore, sorrowful and joyful and glorious mysteries.

"All life is sacred, he believed, because life is created by God.  Humanity, this marvelous, fascinating tapestry of similarity and difference.  If life is threatened or taken by human design, if people are robbed of their dignity, this becomes a major problem for Uncle Dan.  His basic theology was that all Christians will try to protect the weak and work for justice and oppose war. ...
"He remained a priest.  I have felt the presence of God, on occasion.  He lived and breathed with God and reported back to the rest of us.  His words, and the congruence between his words and his deeds, rang true to many of us, and there was great beauty in what he said, and so we were brought along, headlong into traffic and other dangerous situations.
"He believed it, he lived it, God was real to him, the stories in the Book were real to him.  The Bible was a work of drama to him in that it was a script for actors.  We are to practice incarnation, which means to make the word flesh.  We are to live it.  If we do, it is alive and real.  If we don’t, it dies among so many hollow words and empty rituals."

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

the question that nobody knows how to answer

Thomas Merton
Drawing of a Cross
Pen and pencil, ca. 1949-1953
(from an exhibit at Columbia University in 2015, photo by Jim Forest)

God, my God, God Whom I meet in darkness,
with You it is always the same thing!
Always the same question that nobody knows how to answer!

- Thomas Merton, "Fire Watch", The Sign of  Jonas

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Your Darkness (no-man's land)

King Minos, Thomas Merton art

But oh!
How far I have to go to find You in Whom I have already arrived!
For now, oh my God, it is to You alone that I can talk,
because nobody else will understand.
I cannot bring any other on this earth
into the cloud where I dwell in Your light,
that is,
Your Darkness,
where I am lost and abashed.

I cannot explain to any other
the anguish which is Your joy
nor the loss which is the possession of You,
nor the distance from all things
which is the arrival in You.
nor the death which is the birth in You
because I do not know anything about it myself
and all I know
is that I wish it were over
-- I wish it were begun.

You have contradicted everything.
You have left me in no man's land.

- Thomas Merton
Dancing in the Water of Life, page 175, excerpted