Monday, April 28, 2014

Talking About What Is Not Broken

Early this morning we learned that a friend of ours, one who had struggled with alcoholism for many years and had tried with all his heart to stop drinking, died at home in his bed sometime early yesterday after having taken a cab to a grocery store the previous night so that he could buy some vodka and find some peace. He is not the first friend that I have lost as the result of alcoholism and won't be the last. Yesterday morning I woke up feeling out of sorts. I went down to Bellingham to look out at the water, not knowing that our friend had died. We are both fragile and indestructible, and the earth and the sky and the water share that with us.

This morning and always I want to honor our friend's life and that spirit in him, and in all of us, which is not broken. His kindness, his generosity, his gentleness, his courage, his perseverance, his love for his family and friends remain with us.


("Talking About What Is Not Broken," gouache and watercolor, 1989, by am. The paintings go side by side, but I was unable to figure out how to place them that way.)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

"... it could even be like a myth ..."

How many ways down have does a stroll of the man before you to call a man to him?
(Dashboard translation of a Dashboard translation of "How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man?")

Storm The From Shelter:

When I woke up this morning, I could hear "Shelter From The Storm" in my mind.  What jumped out at me were the words, "If I could only turn back to the clock to when God and her were born."  A Zen question came to me.  Who is the mother of God and her?

Thank you to whomever turned back the clock of "Shelter From The Storm."

Bringing it all back to "Twas" and "Nalyd Bob."

Monday, April 21, 2014

Happy Birthday, John!

When I visited Yosemite Valley in early October of 2008, I turned around after reading a large sign that said that John Muir once stood on that spot, and I took the above photo.  Yosemite Valley is dear to my heart.  It has to be seen to be believed.  No photo can capture what it feels like to be in Yosemite Valley.

From the John Muir link above:

And just FYI, John Muir loved wilderness, but he was no misanthrope. He had many friends with whom he corresponded to regularly. And he was married with a wife and two children! Both girls accompanied their father on walks in the nearby hills of the family's Martinez, California ranch, and Muir named two of the area's peaks after them -- Mt. Wanda and Mt. Helen

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Easter weekend meditation / Something of a Zen koan / Long before the sky would open

... And Jesus was a sailor
When he walked upon the water
And he spent a long time watching
From his lonely wooden tower
And when he knew for certain
Only drowning men could see him
He said, "All men will be sailors then
Until the sea shall free them"
But he himself was broken
Long before the sky would open
Forsaken, almost human
He sank beneath your wisdom like a stone
And you want to travel with him
And you want to travel blind
And you think maybe you'll trust him
For he's touched your perfect body with his mind ...
(Leonard Cohen, lyrics from "Suzanne")  

Jesus was all right, but his disciples were thick and ordinary.  It's them twisting it that ruins it for me.
(John Lennon)

... You don't need no passport
You don't need no visa
And you don't need to designate or emigrate
Before you can see Jesus ...

... You don't need no church house
And you don't need no temple
You don't need no rosary beads or them books to read
To see that you have fallen
If you open up your heart
You'll see he's right there
Always was and will be
He'll relieve you of your cares ...
(George Harrison, lyrics from "Awaiting On You All"-- 1970)

We don't ask for more cathedrals.  We don't ask for bigger churches or fine gifts.  ... We ask the Church to sacrifice with the people for social change, for justice, and for love of brother.  We don't ask for words. We ask for deeds.  We don't ask for paternalism. We ask for servanthood.
(Cesar Chavez -- Christian, farm worker, labor leader and civil rights activist -- speaking in 1968)

If we are wrong, Jesus of Nazareth was merely a utopian dreamer that never came down to Earth.  If we are wrong, justice is a lie, love has no meaning.  And we are determined here in Montgomery to work and fight until justice runs down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.
(Martin Luther King, Jr., speaking in 1955)

Sweet silver angels over the sea
Please come down flying low for me

One time I trusted a stranger
'Cause I heard His sweet song
It was gently enticing me, there was something wrong
When I turned, He was gone
Blinding me, His song remains reminding me
He's a bandit and a heart breaker
My Jesus was a cross maker.

Sweet silver angels over the sea
Please come down flying low for me

He wages war with the devil with a pistol by His side
He's always chasing him out of windows
And He won't give him a place to hide
But he keeps His door open wide
Fighting him, He lights a lamp inviting him
He's a bandit and a heart breaker
My Jesus was a cross maker.
Yeah, Jesus was a cross maker.
(Warren Zevon sang "Jesus Was A Cross Maker," written by Judee Sill)

Martin Scorsese's Jesus in "The Last Temptation of Christ" was a cross maker:

Judas:  If you were me, could you betray your master?
Jesus:  No.  That's why God gave me the easier job -- to be crucified.

Vietnamese Zen Buddhist, Thich Nhat Hanh wrote a book called Going Home: Jesus and Buddha as Brothers.  

Although I was raised as a Christian (first in the Lutheran Church and then in the Episcopal Church), I stopped going to church when I was 18 years old.  From that time on, I have explored many religions and spiritual traditions and am grateful for their teachings, but I have not chosen to affiliate myself with any of them.  

I do find the story of Jesus to be a mysterious and compelling one -- something of a Zen koan -- and I continue to listen with all my heart when certain people talk about their understanding of and trust in Jesus.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

"... just like you always smiled before ..."

(Cropped from a drawing by Allen Say from Emma's Rug)

Last night I dreamed that I standing in a small cozy kitchen at night. A young girl to the left of me at the kitchen table was drawing in pencil on a piece of drawing paper.  We were talking about the process of learning to draw.  Bob Dylan was sitting quietly and staring into space across the table to the right of me.  I was saying that learning to draw is like learning to play the guitar and takes practice.  Bob Dylan looked up sharply, made eye contact with me and said with a quizzical smile, "Uh, yeah."

Monologue by Bob Dylan from the early 1960s:

“First time I ever worked in East Orange, New Jersey.

Folks never go to East Orange, New Jersey; it’s a horrible town. I went there to play in a coffee house in East Orange, New Jersey. It was a chess playing coffee house out there. It was so bad…uh…so bad, people playing chess out there. Uh…that’s all they thought about out there was chess and chess and chess. People come up to me, you play your song, you play you a real quiet song. In the middle of the song you hear “Check”, [female laughter in background] And “Hey, that was a good move” and all kinds of stuff like that.

Hey folks it was so bad I had a little dream out there the first night I worked about this chess playing stuff. I dreamed I went to work out in East Orange, New Jersey, and, uh, about time I quit in two days I went there to ask the guy for my money. I says, “Can I have some money, I worked two days for ya?” He says, “Uh… Well OK, we don’t pay you money around here though” I says “Uh, yeah?” He says “Well” he says, uh, ”Yeah, we pay ya chess men”, I said “Uh, well give me my chess men then, I worked two days”. I sort of…didn’t really figure, I thought he was lying at first, but I took it anyway. He gave me a king and a queen for working two days. I said “Fine, that’s OK”.

So I took my king and queen and went down to a bar, nearest bar I could find. I walked in the bar and I ordered a pint. I… I got on the bar, “Bartender”, I says “Can I have a pint?” I’ll be damned if he didn’t give me a pint. He asked me for the money. I gave him my king and queen. I’ll be damned, you know he took that king and queen, threw it under the counter, and brought me out four pawns, two bishops, and a rook for change.

That’s a little story about East Orange, New Jersey.”

Now let's listen to the frogs singing in the night:

Saturday, April 12, 2014


A song written by Warren Zevon and sung by Jill Sobule.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Talking Late Afternoon Light with Rainbow and Great Spirit

A Lummi friend told me about this website some time ago, and just recently I have subscribed to their daily meditations for elders via email:

Elder's Meditation of the Day April 9
"Everything really is equal. The Creator doesn't look at me any better than He looks at the trees. We're all the same."
--Janice Sundown Hattet, SENECA
Sometimes humans think we are the center of the Universe. Sometimes we think we are above or better than other people or things. The Great Spirit made a set of Laws and Principles by which all things should live. Everybody and everything lives by the same Laws. We are all made of atoms just like the trees. The life force in the middle of the atom is the life force of the Great Mystery. It is the same for everything. We are all equal in the eyes of the Creator.

Great Spirit, today, I will respect your handiwork.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Common sense and a sense of humor needed

Above is "Typists," a painting in gouache from 1966, by Jacob Lawrence.  I've attached a copy of that painting to the drawer on my work desk.  Jacob Lawrence captured the essence and dignity of the nature of the demanding work many of us now do on computers.

I've started working on an online refresher course so that I can find work later this year.  Although the refresher course will be the equivalent of a full-time job, I plan to continue to volunteer one afternoon a week helping take care of babies in the daycare.  The babies inspire me.  I love them.  I like the freedom that volunteering gives me to just be there for the babies and to help the early childhood educators in whatever ways I can.

Funny to think that the only way I've been able to make a living for any length of time is by typing, and that when I took typing in high school in 1966, it was all I could do to get a "D" grade.

Deja vu.  Pretty scary. With Oboe by my side, I'm going to give typing and editing medical reports at home another try.  One day at a time.  I am good at what I do, but I have let PTSD overwhelm me again and again.  Next time I feel like quitting, I'll think twice and get help to put things in perspective. At my age, I'm not going to get many more chances.

Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds.  A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing.

(William James)