In certain ways, writing is a form of prayer - Denise Levertov
|New Orleans sidewalk - Leon Trice|
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.
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|
But mostly I find God these days in the landscape which surrounds me in France.
|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|
|A Bee & a Field Fly - Haley Mellin painting|
|Butterflies - Charras|
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
|Break dancers - Marche des Douves|
|Le Miroir, Bordeaux, May 2017|
|Street Musician - Bordeaux|
|Bordeaux - May, 2017|
|Cherub Fountain, Bordeaux, May 2017|
|Magritte Sky - Bordeaux|
|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|
|Bordeaux Brocante - May, 2017|
|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.
The Joyful Mysteries
|Bordeaux - Key of Destiny|
|Thalia - Muse of Comedy & Lyric Poetry|
|Thalia Street Tile - New Orleans|