Monday, January 21, 2013

After reading Denise Levertov

And from the cross he finds me,
his gaze glassy, dimming
(I'm crouching, hiding myself
behind a nearby scrubby hillock),
and says, words catching in his throat
(and after a raspy, rattling inhale,
one of his last?):
"No words are needed. Feed my sheep."

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Maxfield Parrish sky

I had a flash of grace tonight as I stepped out of the commuter train onto the platform.

Usually, by Friday night, I'm in a vegetative state. Things are very unsettled at work -- we're in the midst of major changes in personnel and workflows, and many people are anxious about the changes they sense are coming. One staff member is retiring at the end of the month; two others have gone on leave for various reasons; yet another is hoping to retire in a few months.None of the retiring people, unfortunately, are me.

But I digress.  After days of wind, low clouds and cold fog, when the train pulled away I had a breathtaking sunset view to the west: the lucid, clear turquoise sky, still illuminated against bare trees in the foreground. It was a blaze of blue that I wasn't expecting at the end of a trying week, and  a shade of blue that always reminds me of a Maxfield Parrish sky, as in the painting at left. Maxfield Parrish was a 20th-century Philadelphia artist and illustrator known for employing luminous landscape colors, and for capturing those liminal moments when day and night are about to change places.

The sky behind the trees was radiant. Right above my head, where the blue had faded to deep violet, hung the quarter-moon, and the cold air was so clear that already many stars were in evidence.

It was a night like so many other -- but a night when Creation put on a show, and I happened to have eyes to see it. Such is grace, sometimes.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Earth in the broiler ...

No surprise, this. NOAA announced today that 2012 was the hottest year on record for the U.S., and one of the two top years for extremes of weather.  Read about it here.

And now we seem all set to have another very mild winter, at least here in the Northeast.  Temperatures will climb all week, heading to a crescendo of 63 degrees on Sunday. That will be ...let's see ...January 13th. Looks like the hoodie is coming out again. Last winter, I wore my parka only 4 or 5 times. The height of the woodpile is still the same as last year. I have had only one fire, and that was on Christmas Day (for somewhat Dickensian, sentimental reasons). I feel really foolish lighting a fire and then opening the windows. Anyway, it's probably just as well, since I know my fireplace puts fine particulates into the air. The air is sufficiently screwed up already.

I also saw pictures of the Mississippi River last week, along with the speculation that barge traffic would have to be stopped on portions of the waterway because of low ... water.

What are we doing about this, people? Are we going to get serious? I keep turning the lights out in empty rooms.  Recycling every scrap I can get my hands on. I'm thinking about going solar, and buying an electric car.

I'm just afraid it won't be enough. I'm really afraid it won't be.

Friday, January 04, 2013

New year, new start ...

I woke up on January 1st feeling absurdly cheerful -- despite the fact that my winter break from work was virtually over, and the other externals of my life have not changed since the last time I posted.  Nothing is different. Everything is different.

And this feeling of over-the-top optimism has lasted (at least, it is lasting for now). Probably one source of it is my sheer relief that the holidays are over (I'm an "Easter person," not a "Christmas person"), and I do fight depression as the days grow shorter, and the pre-Christmas pace of life becomes frantic. And, perhaps it was only in my head, but the late afternoon light seemed to me to have a different slant as I left work yesterday. A couple extra minutes of light! I'll take it.

I did make some New Year's resolutions: more meditation, more study, less whining. We'll see how long they last.  Let's take a cleansing breath and get started.