Thursday, June 8, 2017

ANNUNCIATION


In certain ways, writing is a form of prayer - Denise Levertov


New Orleans sidewalk - Leon Trice


www.alexandraeldridge.com


THE STRANGER IN YOU

Be taught now…
how the discarded is woven into shelter,
learn the way things hidden and unspoken
slowly proclaim their voice in the world.
Find that far inward symmetry
to all outward appearances, apprentice
yourself to yourself, begin to welcome back
all you sent away, be a new annunciation,
make yourself a door through which
to be hospitable, even to the stranger in you.
From ‘Coleman’s Bed’ in ‘River Flow:
New and Selected Poems’
© David Whyte and Many Rivers Press


St. Jacobs, Ontario, Canada

I always said my prayers when I was little, kneeling by the bed, "Now I lay me down to sleep.." you know the drill.  And I'm not sure why or how those prayers were placed inside of me with an Atheist mother and a Catholic father who tried his best, but lost the battle of Church and State (and School).

When you grow up this way, you spend your life searching for God, or at least I did.  But prayers weren't much a part of that search -  I leaned into the Buddhist pack, the Bahai's, the Unitarians, the Quakers, the Baptists, the Pentecosts and even the Amish & the Shakers for a while.  Every group had something I liked. The Buddhists had the bells & Singing Bowls, the Tibetans, good belly laughs.

I liked the Bahai Temple in Wilmette, Ill. where Miss Allison, my pretty, high school English teacher, took me, but it was mostly her kindness and interest in me that made it appealing.  Along with the idea that there was no Great Kahuna priest or minister; anyone could get up and  do their rap, say their piece.


Bahai Temple - Wilmette, Ill. - Isn't it pretty?

The Unitarians were so un-unilateral, just taking in anyone, even a devil worshiper could get into the Unitarians, and they had those free little books full of inspiration and catch phrases to live by in case you couldn't think of your own.  Like the one below, which is really quite lovely.  Maybe I should have stuck with them? 


Famous Unitarian Quote

I think I was looking for a value system, since one wasn't handed to me, which was probably a good thing, but it took a lot longer, and I had to sit in some very uncomfortable chairs to finally meet my own God.  Maybe the "Friends" were the best, the way they just sat together, even though the chairs were hard work.   Most human animals are not comfortable with silence.

The Baptists, the Black churches, had the best music and the most energy, and the way those ladies dressed up in their pumps and Sunday go to meetin' hats was really special.  I felt the holy spirit moving around and thru them.  Who doesn't love Gospel?  Smite them down, my Lord!


How Sweet the Sound

And the Pentecosts in West Virginia -  I went there strictly for the snake handling!


Pentecostal Church of God - Faith Healing

The Dolly Pond Church of God With Signs Following


I like what John O' Donohue said about Prayer:  It is the Act of Presence - the Sister of Wonder. And that's probably why I liked the Pentecosts so much. Talk about an Act of Presence and Wonder!  

When all is said and done, I realize I'm more of a watcher than a joiner.  Luckily the New Age & Metaphysics rolled in, just as I rolled out of the Midwest, the East Coast, and into California dreamin' - Mamas & Pappas here I come!  Lots more to watch, though I had to join a sort of commune.    All that search for "religion" fell by the wayside, as I embraced what I knew to be the "Real Truth" -  The Web of Life, Fritjof Capra, that Zany Timothy Leary: You're only as young as the last time you changed your mind.  Those encounter groups, EST.  But still & yet, something wasn't quite right!  

I'll cut to the chase.  I found my God in Poetry, in the Mystics, Rumi and Kabir, in Artists like William Blake, and writers/scientists like C.S. Lewis:  Into the Region of Awe.   The list goes on and on and everyone has their own. There's a Mystics and Scientists Conference that has been going on for 40 years, since 1978.  Fritjof is still there and so is Merlin Sheldrake (who is of course, the son of the great Rupert Sheldrake).  Merlin is known for eavesdropping on the underground conversations of trees in London's Epping Forest; he has no choice with his name.

I still go to the Zen Centers, the great Cathedrals, like Notre Dame and the small village churches where the doors are left open most days so I can pop in and cool off in the shade of the altar.  



Eglise Notre-Dame - Le gardes-pontaroux
Frescoe


But mostly I find God these days in the landscape which surrounds me in France.


Grassac


Nothing more holy than a single poppy in a field...


Near Villebois
   

or a Frog or a Beetle


Gold Beetle - Charras

Hameau de la Brousse - Zou












There's a Japanese proverb that says:  Even an insect 1/10th of an inch long has 5/10th of a Soul. 

And something is always giving birth to something else, whether it's a baby lamb or a Word.doc. or the birth of an emotion.





And where there's birth, there's beauty inherent, the struggle to be born - to breathe, the divine breath of creation.  John Keats would have said:  "yes, in spite of it all / Some shape of beauty moves away the pall / from our dark spirits."  Because beauty is the promise of happiness..


Cows in Marval

Epona - somewhere between Marthon & Feuillade

Things hidden and unspoken slowly proclaim their voice in the world


A Bee & a Field Fly - Haley Mellin painting



Butterflies - Charras


You can find the country in the city too.  Sometimes beauty is more often at the edges and you have to squint a little harder to see it.  The search for the center of artistic pleasures, and also for the essence of strong aesthetic emotion, is fascinating, 'although,' as Adam Zagajewski writes, "surely deep in our hearts we all dream of never finding this mysterious something so that we can remain in uncertainty."

Because rationalizing a piece of art could be the end of all the fun, a drastic impoverishment of a work 'in which the blood of mystery circulates, as the ends of its vessels flow into the surrounding night, to return from there filled with dark fluid...we want the magic of the mystery, the capacity to be 'in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason."  from Kore:  On Sickness, the Sick and the Search for the Soul - Andrzej Szczeklik


Bordeaux, Rue St Catherine - May, 2017


Street Artist, Bordeaux - May, 2017

Friday I tasted life.  It was a vast march.  A circus passed the house - still I feel the red in my mind, though the drums are out.  The lawn is full of south and the odors tangle, and I hear today for the first time the river in the Tree - Emily Dickinson


Breaker Girl

Break dancers - Marche des Douves
















Le Miroir, Bordeaux, May 2017

Street Musician - Bordeaux


Bordeaux - May, 2017


















Cherub Fountain, Bordeaux, May 2017


Magritte Sky - Bordeaux


Same sky covering us no matter where we are. 


Michel de Montaigne - Bordeaux

One of the first things I do when I get to Bordeaux is to visit Montaigne, the immortal essayist and former mayor of Bordeaux. I like looking at him thru the trees, all the leafy green around his great head. It is his words that have guided me thru many a tough time: 

The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself - Michel de Montaigne

If he were here today looking around the state of affairs, he'd probably tell us to make some lemonade out of these lemons...

Bordeaux - May, 2017

And be grateful for everything we have created so far.  




Bordeaux Brocante - May, 2017

And take a big Gulp of the Divine Breath!

www.alexandraeldridge.com - Nuart Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico, till June 11th



So this is my little prayer-blog written for you on the eve of my departure for the West of Ireland (with a little help from my friends, those divine mystics, poets and artists).  May they rock on!  Sorry if this is disjointed, there is a big storm raging with lightning bolts that will surely take out the electrics at any moment. 


Have cards will Travel 
 
Wheel of Fortune - Thoth Deck, Crowley
 
to Conemarra, David Whyte Poetry Tour, 2017, where it all began 20 years ago with these two great poets and mystics, David Whyte & John O' Donohue. I received blessings which have lasted me all this time. Time to recharge!  Poetry was given back to me, and I was given back to poetry.
                                                            Slan agat and blessings.


The Joyful Mysteries

THE ANNUNCIATION

Cast from afar before the stones were born
and rain had rinsed the darkness for colour,
the words have waited for the hunger in her
to become the silence where they could form.

The day's last light frames her by the window,
a young woman with distance in her gaze,
she could never imagine the surprise
that is hovering over her life now.

The sentence awakens like a raven,
fluttering and dark, opening her heart
to nest the voice that first whispered the earth
from dream into wind, stone, sky and ocean.

She offers to mother the shadows child;
her untouched life becoming wild inside.  

John O' Donohue, Connemara Blues
www.johnodonohue.com



Bordeaux - Key of Destiny

All roads start from the body and lead back to it.
The Body is the Road - Edmond Jabès, Egyptian Poet 


Thalia - Muse of Comedy & Lyric Poetry

Thalia Street Tile - New Orleans

I always keep my comic MUSE close at hand!







Saturday, April 1, 2017

APRIL "FOOLS", French for Dummies & "Me Talk Pretty One Day"

Let's all be Fool's for a day!


Rosita & Freya at Burning Man - Black Rock, Nevada - Photo E.Thiermann

"To change one's life"
1.  Start immediately
  2.  Do it flamboyantly
 3.  No exceptions      
                - William James


Rosita (Dottie) Konya,Turkey - Twirling at the Dervish Brothers



This week I heard my first spring Cuckoo & saw the first slugs of the season...had to "set fire to the rain" again -

I realize I never finished this Blog, started April 1, 2014, still sitting here in draft form, while I'm still trying to learn how to speak French! The joke's on me...


One of my classmates in Ronsenac - Karena Lowman's French Class


April Fool's Day - Let's Wash the Lions

"Poisson d'avril!" and "pesce d'aprile! - in France, Italy, and French speaking Canada, kids and adults run around tacking paper fish to people's backs (without getting caught) & then shouting April Fools!  No one stuck any fish to my back today, but I did have a delicious meal, of "Cabillaud", which is le roi de la mer (King of the sea) in France and known as Cod in USA.  It is a fish that has been eaten in Europe since the Middle Ages. The fishing boats leave from La Rochelle and search the cold, salty North Atlantic waters where the schools of Cabillaud migrate. The dried Cod is called Morue and is often preserved & sold salted within an inch of its life. Once I made the mistake of purchasing the Morue, preparing it lovingly (without rinsing it)=  April Fools!  

In 1508, French poet Eloy d'Amerval referred to a poisson d'avril, literally "April Fish", and in 1539, a Flemish poet, Eduard de Dene, wrote of a nobleman who sent his servants on foolish errands on April 1st. Seems as though the French &  Flemish poets had quite a sense of humor!  One of the first British references appears in the 17th c., writings of John Aubrey, who called it "Fooles holy day" -- on April 1, 1698, on a not very holy fooles errand, several people were tricked into the Tower of London to "see the Lions washed".  
 

Trying to guide us thru the syntax - Ronsenac


All of this "foolishness" makes me think of one of my favorite Tarot cards:  "The Fool"

RaRa - Toujours un Imbécile


The Brilliant David Sedaris

Watch out for paper fish & don't fall for that Lion washing gag again!