Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Idle Thoughts

While I sit comfortably in my Starbucks couch and muse over our financial crisis, a number of things rumble on through. Like the hand wave at church:

A couple weeks ago I attended a daily mass in a Manhattan church. Pretty big church, people spread out, but enough people present so that everyone was just a couple pews from everyone else, at most.

At the Sign of Peace, many people just stood in place and gave a polite wave. Often they were just a few feet from one another, but they wouldn't reach out their hand.

Have you had this experience? I'm guessing that you have. I'm thinking of writing a little article about it, and talking about the value of shaking off the inertia and actually shaking hands with people you don't know.

How do you feel about the hand wave? Any thoughts or personal reflections on the Sign of Peace?


The other idle thought -- after my post about poetry, my friend Ken wrote: "Beautiful. And sad. I don't know what to think. My brain is full anyway with political whateverness, impending financial doom, visions of a post-apocalyptic world with people driving around in shopping carts, and--in the midst of all of this--the presence of the Cubs and the Brewers in the playoffs. Surely we are living in end times."

I have to say, the idea of driving around in shopping carts sounds AWESOME. But the contents of Ken's mind resonated with me. And I thought, we should all have ourselves a little poem to work with to fend off the demons.

Here's one I like.

When Death Comes

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps his purse shut:
when death comes
like the measle pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending as all music does toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was a bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited the world.

Mary Oliver


Ken said...

Thanks for the reference in your blog. (I have blog-cred now!) The poem you posted is wonderful--thank you for putting it there.

And for the wave, I posit the following possible causes:
1. People are preparing for the onset of cold and flu season.
2. Manhattan is the world's largest elevator, where folks are conditioned not to make eye contact with each other, much less touch each other. (The effect, I suspect, is heightened if the wave is accompanied by a non-vocalized mouthing of the word "peace".)
3. In a world dominated by virtual communication (this blog is an example), it takes a lot of physical and psychic energy to walk closer to someone and touch them. Intimacy issues.

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