The Tree of Knowledge
16. Io sentia voci, e ciascuna pareva
pregar per pace e per misericordia
l’Agnel di Dio che le peccata leva.
Pur ‘Agnus Dei’ eran le loro essordia;
una parola in tutte era e un modo,
sì che parea tra esse ogne concordia
~ Dante Alighieri
Through the Looking Glass
Twenty years ago, a consulting room. My mentor handed me Discovering the Enneagram by Richard Rohr, all tattered. "The accurate type probably won't excite you," she said. "Hopefully, it'll pinch. At best, being worked by the Enneagram is not a process of self-fulfillment, but metanoia."
But wait, I'm a child of the 60s and 70s! Self-everything! The etymology of that Greek word doesn't sound promising at all. And besides, the writing's so... stentorian. I feel like he's yelling at me!
She continued. "It's a way through the hall of mirrors, a re-discovery of the prism through which the Light shines. A path out of the prison of one's fixation, though we can use it to imprison ourselves and others."
Prisms, prisons, years. The Enneagram made great casual conversation, a source of fascination. But as more time passed, I'd not only feel the pinch but a slice - dis-integrated mirror-selves acting in, acting out - consequences reverberating through families, communities, nations, generations.
More years, more transits, more energy of creation. More, more more.
Now. New sources of energy and intelligence are so welcome - particularly in this deeply weird age when Lewis Carroll's phantasms and three-dimensional chess seem real.
Now. Fr. Rohr's perspective feels right, gentle even. Listen to his two-part interview (Finally Getting Over Yourself) - one of many delightful conversations in Ian Cron's podcast TYPOLOGY. Quite a few servants of humanity (arts, spirit, all manner of helping) get into freewheeling exchanges and bring themselves to Light - nothing quite like it in the land of listening.
We are the centuries... We have your eoliths and your mesoliths and your neoliths. We have your Babylons and your Pompeiis... "
~ Walter Miller, A Canticle for Leibowitz
Take Me To The River
1979. In the passenger seat of a little yellow Spider. Window air blasting. Dark. Radio up.
A drum grabs and holds.
Bass snakes through.
2006. On stage at Variety Playhouse for Cat Power's The Greatest tour.
Viola part's easy, the contractor's fun. I can relax and take it all in.
Cat's surrounded by Memphis soul musicians.
Teenie Hodges - one of them.
He co-wrote that song.
We laugh, cut up. Backstage, it's even better - jumping jacks, dozing, yelling random words.
The front row audience, as usual, great entertainment.
Teenie crouches next to me with his inhaler. Sshhhhhhhhhhh Sshhhhhhhhhhh
He rises, a sentinel.
Shining column, unbearably brilliant.
Thunderbolts through his limbs and guitar.
Skin crackles, top of my head dissolves.
Teenie points at me.
Don't lose that light!
November 16th, 2016
On the other side, here.
Mabon Lewis "Teenie" Hodges
The Power of Vulnerability
I doubt I'll ever write specifically about the past five years. The impact of my parents' last voyage reaches far beyond what I can or am willing to express in this medium. They were deeply loving, intensely private - that seems most important. Sharing in symbol - music - feels best and most honoring of their lives. As is living with whimsy and delight, like they did.
Spring blows fresh and free this year. Life is rushing in yet saying: "Abide!" Balancing on a pivot point. Still in expectation.
I'd like to share with you two cherished virtual teachers. Little do they know how closely they companioned me during that long, terrifying, sacred time. Maybe they will speak to you.
Therese Schroeder-Sheker and Frank Ostaseski are real comfort. Schroeder-Sheker's Transitus kept me awake in awe and soothed me to sleep. This article by Ostaseski was a touchstone - a lifeline.
No platitudes, "intervention," or "treatment." Only lived experience and willingness to face the ultimate vulnerability.
Eventually, I discovered this video of them... together! Who knew?
Now, to be present to life remaining.
"Daughter O Daughter, you'll never see
All of the treasure waiting for thee
Raise your brow
For when the bough breaks we will carry
You to the arms of the mighty
Souls that await your intention
Be as a fool, come back into your life"
~©2014 Carol Statella
"Heaven" has different Signs—to me--
Sometimes, I think that Noon
Is but a symbol of the Place--
And when again, at Dawn,
A mighty look runs round the World
And settles in the Hills--
An Awe if it should be like that
Upon the Ignorance steals--
The Orchard, when the Sun is on--
The Triumph of the Birds
When they together Victory make--
Some Carnivals of Clouds--
The Rapture of a finished Day--
Returning to the West--
All these—remind us of the place
That Men call "paradise"--
Itself be fairer—we suppose--
But how Ourself, shall be
Adorned, for a Superior Grace--
Not yet, our eyes can see—
~ Emily Dickinson
Only Thinking In Sounds And Images
Connect on Pinterest if you'd like. I'd like!
Here's a work sung years back with the ASO Chamber Chorus. Unforgettable. Especially around the 24-minute mark.
Social Media, Life's Gravity
So, yes, you should be skeptical of my skepticism. Perhaps those who dismiss critics of the Internet as Luddites or nostalgists will be proved correct, and from our hyperactive, data-stoked minds will spring a golden age of intellectual discovery and universal wisdom. ~ Nicholas Carr
I worked for a year in commercial radio. Unlike public radio where gentle silence and "beds" of music eased transitions, commercial input was staccato, relentless. Headphones on, first song cued up, I sat suspended as the top-of-the-hour news rolled in, lurching from scandal to deep tragedy to Dow and sports scores. No pause. Detached, cynical delivery.
My naïve email to the network program director (why so tabloid-like?) met the response:
"We've got to keep them tuned in, riled up, and waiting for the next hit.
That's how we make our money, pay our advertisers, stay on the air."
Fourteen years later, social media feels like that. Large scale - newsfeed scrolls, a vertical ticker tape - a post featuring "reality" personalities appearing right above harrowing images from Syria. Personal scale - deeply intimate and transformative events - each deserving its own universe, let alone a post, give way to the everyday: weekend plans - food - fragments of thought. All on the same page.
The indiscriminate scroll has nothing to do with the weight or rapture of human reality.
Sven Birkerts' The Gutenberg Elegies, riveting in the mid '90s, (quaintly?) decries the "flattening of historical perspective" with the coming electronic age - the trivialization of what is meaningful.
Here we are
All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.
~ Martin Buber
I'm on the road about eight hours a week. Not forever. It's a phase that's time-bound, transitional. Homing while in motion, I usually ease into the right lane, letting the wind sound and horizon view lull me into flow — mostly.
But over on the shoulder of the road, I'm struck by this scene again and again. Banged up cars, passengers standing outside on cell phones, and smiling, warmly. At each other! Why?
Of course, relief — spared. Suddenly, that pressing appointment isn't so important anymore. Temporary freedom, like a snow day!
Perhaps it's also a welcome jolt? An unexpected runoff into sacred time out of the flood of faceless cars and ceaseless, senseless rushing — to behold another.