Words to Live By: Van Jones

I’m still spending a large amount of my time and energy keeping track of the Occupy movement, reading articles and trying to respond coherently to criticisms like this:

and reposting clever (and relevant) things like this:

But it is individuals and movements like Van Jones and the American Dream Movement that continue to hold my attention.  And Jones doesn’t let us off easy.

We talk collective. We talk Kumbaya. We talk solidarity forever. But we have enacted the most individualistic strategy in the republic. Me, myself, my group, my cause, my brand, my thing … If we can be as warm and sharing and kind as the Tea Party — which one might suspect is a relatively low barwe might be able to do something for our country. That’s the invitation to you.

Sitting around and talking isn’t enough anymore.  Neither is being critical and fragmentary, pitting one progressive issue against another to a resulting gain of nothing for no one.  Real unity and ACTION is a necessity, and anyone who cares about anything needs to be part of it.

But you have to ask yourself a question as a person, as a father, and as a movement: What happens when you have a big dream, and it gets crushed? … Do you just lay there forever, or do you get back up with a bigger dream? Were back now with an even bigger dream.

Read the whole article here.

A brief reflection on the residue of my year without SWM authors.

I find that I’m angry when I get to the end of a poem I love on Poetry Daily to discover it was written by a man.  This anger is unfounded, and often I don’t research far enough to see if the author is privileged in other spheres.  But I am immediately, somewhat irrationally, filled with a jolt of hostility.  How can something so beautiful be written by someone privileged?  Why do I enjoy it?  Should I feel guilty for doing so?

Just questions, musings to hold for now and discuss when possible.

The poem today was particularly lovely though- ‘The Previous Tenants’ by Rodney Jones.

(just as an fyi: Rodney is in fact culturally privileged in nearly every way, apart from class perhaps as he is originally from rural Alabama)

Movements of the Moment and a Happy List

Between the Occupy movement and the Keystone XL Pipeline protests there has been much as of late to get excited about.  At the very least important progressive issues are taking center stage in the media, and at best real change in our world is fermenting.

As I spend hours in a tantalizing mixture of passionate conversation, media research, and imagining ways that we might actually, finally, start asking the important questions about our society rather than ‘how can we sort of balance the budget while still maintaining the status quo, and thus neglecting all the important programs that make people and culture thrive?’, I’m finding internal tension building.  I’m forgetting to breathe, and I’m tending toward anger and blame rather than compassion.

To rectify this, or at least make small internal movements toward calm and compassion, here is my present moment happy list, a resurrection of a delightful pasttime my high school BFF Susan and I undertook quite extensively.

1. Brief glimpses of glorious autumn sunsets from the windows at work before I head into an evening meeting.

2. Coco Rosie.

3. Weddings, somewhat in spite of myself, and the ensuing emotion.  I finally posted the album of my own celebration.

4. Winter squash, large and small, from the tiny gourds that I used as the cake topper for my brother in law’s wedding cake last weekend to the enormous Cinderella squash they let us take home from the decorations stash.

5. Reading graphic novels again, and finding series on my own (though your past recommendations have been marvelous, Caleb, and I do enjoy receiving Locke and Key from you), and discovering the relatively extensive collection held by the Hennepin County Library.

What is your happy list these days?

Words to Live By: Kallistos Ware

“That is what the world needs above all else: not people who “say prayers” with greater or lesser regularity, but people who are prayers.”

Kallistos Ware

How can my whole life be a prayer, a hymn to something greater than myself and any understanding of reality than I will ever truly grasp?

In the midst of the busy work that is often the to-do lists of day to day life as well as my general pessimism about the future of humanity and the planet as we know it, I often forget that even this one life I have to live is something holy.  Beyond any religion, beyond doctrine, beyond language even.  Mere existence is breathtaking, and my thanks should be living as prayer.

An emotion with no name.

Life is a beautiful, complex, sometimes painful and often marvelous creature that more often than not is indescribable when at it’s most poignant.  So when I found this excerpt from ‘The Eyes of the Soul’ by Hugh Brockman Ripman in the latest issue of Parabola magazine that nearly perfectly describes my internal reaction to said poignancy, I knew I had to record and share it.

Feelings of like nature were sometimes produced by impressions reaching him through eye or ear- a sunset or a symphony, the flash of a bird’s wing against the blue of the sky, the voice of a mother crooning to her child.  At times for a whole week he would be filled by this sense of expectancy, of being on the verge of revelation.  At such times all his senses were unusually sharp, as though stripped of a covering which normally muffled them, and he felt an emotion to which he could give no name.  It was a kind of pleasant melancholy, painfully intense under the stimulus of certain impressions, as though he were a musical instrument, the strings of which lay in his heart and were plucked, and in the pain of the plucking was born the beauty of the note.

Blessed be the beauty and pain, friends, family and strangers, dusk and sunrise, and the glorious sensory overload that is October.