“Like Foxhounds and other true Christians….”

The New York Times Book Review interviewed Wendell Berry for their By the Book feature.  The entire thing is great but the last quote grasped the breath in my lungs and held it clutched in time:

Q: What you plan to read next?

A: I am 81 years old. By now, I know better than to make plans. Like the foxhounds and other true Christians, I’ll follow my nose.

I have a foxhound. She’s loyal, true, grateful, empathetic, and full of vivid life energy that is nondiscriminatory: all people are her friends. She just assumes this and greets everyone we meet with the same curious love. She also, true to breed, keeps her nose to the ground. Everything is about what is right in front of her. She will miss sounds and sights and all distractions if something smells fascinating.

My sweet Savannah, a foxhound rescued from a kill shelter after being dumped by off season hunters. They are perpetual problem in our area; they breed the dogs and then discard them.

My sweet Savannah, a foxhound rescued from a kill shelter after being dumped by off season hunters. They are perpetual problem in our area; they breed the dogs and then discard them.

 

As for, “other true Christians”…I now understand why many dog owners prefer dogs to people. My personal faith is caught at the moment in a suspended state triggered largely by modern Christianity and the caustic reaction I’m having in regards to women’s issues, discrimination, and hate driven politics. It bugs me there are so few women in the biblical narrative (and I don’t believe for a second that 12 guys went traveling for that length of time and range without girls around) and I hit a major as-of-yet-unscalable wall when it comes to being able to contemplate anything related to the cross. Focusing on how a group of maniacal degenerates diabolically tortured and murdered another human being in front of his own mother has become intolerable for me. Her utter agony of watching that happen to her child isn’t something my system can handle imagining. Any celebration of the reason behind it or the so-called justification of it makes me recoil. I understand from the advice commonly given to those who grieve that focusing on the life they lived, rather than the way they died, is healthier. I lean into that.

I still stand in church and participate and follow the lifestyle of my people but I do so from a place of confusion and unrest, particular when it comes to identifying within a loaded label that means so many different things in 2016’s America. All my love and respect to my fellow parishioners, who are truly some of the very best people I know; it seems more manageable to me to live in community and think about the way Jesus lived than any other spiritual tenant told.

I tend to think that Mr. Berry is onto something (as he often is). Keep my nose to the ground. Try to disregard distractions. Approach life with a trust that first, all people are friends. Animals often gets things right.

Notes from a week of poetry…

Stinson Park Jacksonville Florida

Tuesday evening, coloring with markers, sweating wine glass filled with melting ice and Pinot Grigio, too hot to have windows open; Krista Tippett’s crisp apple voice speaking with, listening to, Marie Howe. This was my third listen:

“It strikes me that these rituals of ordinary time themselves are a little bit like poetry, these condensed, kind of economical little packets of beauty and grace that carry so much more forward than, than is obvious…..”

“I mean, it used to be that we would attend these things every week that would remind us of these, you know, the sacredness of the everyday. And it’s harder to find it now…..”

“Just tell me what you saw this morning like in two lines. You know I saw a water glass on a brown tablecloth. Uh, and the light came through it in three places. No metaphor. And to resist metaphor is very difficult because you have to actually endure the thing itself, which hurts us for some reason.”

The Poetry of Ordinary Time. From the On Being podcast. August 14, 2014.

 

Thursday morning, working through this metaphor exercise still. And it’s very hard. And, it hurts. I’m 6 of them in; have only shared one. A buzzed inebriation on words persists; Magdalene- The Seven Devils.

Listen to Magdalene- The Seven Devils, by Marie Howe

Sunday morning, raining, I stayed home to allow space for a coveted adjustment in attitude; newspaper came to the stoop triple bagged and containing a box for the NYTimes virtual reality immersion experience.

“The rapid rise of Instapoets probably will not shake up the literary establishment….but they could reshape the lingering perception of poetry as a creative medium in decline.”

“their appeal lies in the unpolished flavor of their verses…..”

The Web Poet’s Society.  By Alexandra Alter, front page column on the November 8, 2015 New York Times.

 

All week long, the new job, the fruition of old vines; promoting, optimizing, participating in an endeavor that nurtures a poetic culture for children.

“Once kids realize that paper is a safe place for thought exploration…..Writing becomes a safe playground instead of an intimidating foreign country.”

-Julie Bogart, Brave Writer.

Stinson Park Jacksonville Florida

Stinson Park in Ortega, Jacksonville, Florida

Quote to Ponder: Ernest Hemingway

“You must be prepared to work always without applause.” -Ernest Hemingway

 

Lady Magnolia, as common a southern grace as sweet tea and afternoon storms, you know...the ones that snag the heat?

Lady Magnolia, as common a southern grace as sweet tea and afternoon thunder showers come to snag the curtain of jasmine scented heat and humidity.