Posted by: Peadar Ban | July 31, 2014

The Shadow of Self Disclosing Love

THE SHADOW OF SELF DISCLOSING LOVE

The shadow of self disclosing love
Moves across my face  beneath.  Single light,
It.  Like water where bends a supple doe
Drinking.  Like bright leaf in light wind falling.
As geese fly once more twilight high
While velvet night nestles sleeping child
Sighing to silence, a rhapsody resolving,
It’s ended though is never done;

Ending, yet begun again from ending,
Ends springing, singing, soaring, sighing
Slowing, still. Always, in itself, still, one,
Though full it yearns, burns.  This Shadow though one
Being, fulness, thirsts; endless yearning’s
One, all knowing, still and growing
From full being idea flowing, flown
Full, final, final, never done

Turning, leaving, never gone.
Here alone I hear it singing
Silent.  Listen to light in darkness! Staying.
The Shadow of Self Disclosing Love saying
Who is self disclosing love.  Praying.

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July 31, 2014
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Posted by: Peadar Ban | July 24, 2014

Italy: A Vacation Which Became a Pilgrimage (Part Three)

Shaping Up-Shipping Out

Christmas, 2013, was a quiet time.

We decorated our “trees”, two large potted plants: an orange tree which had grown from a baby into a healthy teenager and a hibiscus tree we’d rescued from the wood chipper several years before.  Now it smiled a dozen or so blossoms in succession at us in appreciation two or three times a year, and was especially festive this Christmas season, sporting three huge crimson blooms against its green foliage.  We hung a few bulbs and strung a few lights up, down and around both of them and settled in for a long winter’s night, quietly, peacefully and contentedly.

On Christmas Day, after Mass, we sat and opened our gifts.  Mine was a great surprise.  Santa Mariellen had brought me a Kindle Fire, the big deal of all Kindles, and way beyond anything I might have asked or wished for.  I was, frankly, a little bit surprised and very delighted.  She smiled and I stuttered.  I think I asked her, while thanking her, why she’d done it.  Ever practical, she answered, telling me that now we didn’t need a cargo plane for the books I might, or she might, want to bring with us to Italy.

Now we both had Kindles.  Besides, mine also had a camera which could take videos. We had some tea and I sat looking at the thing.  Later that afternoon, when I trusted myself and it had been charged, I tried the video camera on our little Christmas corner.  It worked!  One can even hear the Christmas music playing softly in the background.

Oh, no!  I won’t show it to you.  There are, really, better things to see in the kitchen sink after supper’s finished and the dishes cleared away to to wait for the scraping and the sloshing. But, while it is only indirectly related to our adventure, I will show you a photo of the orange tree all lit up:

A Christmas Tree Is What You Call It

I cannot remember if it was on Christmas Day exactly, but soon enough anyway we began to have some Big People discussions.

You see, this thing we had started a month or two before had grown.  And, now we needed to get serious about what we’d bring, in what we’d bring it and how we’d manage to move about as easily and comfortably as possible with our “stuff” once it had been brought and we were stuck with it for a month.  We knew we’d get no help from the airlines since most of them charge by the ounce, it seemed, for anything over one checked bag, and that under forty pounds.  But, we were both allowed that one bag, and both allowed one carry on and one other thing that might be classified as a hand bag; that thing you could stow under the seat in front of you and spend the rest of the flight sitting with your knees just under your chin as a result.  As far as I knew, they could weigh three-hundred pounds each.

Looking at the trip, we determined that we both could get away with a week’s worth of clothing, give or take, before we became a hazard to the community.  I wanted to do what Sheila and I had done during one of our trips to Ireland many years ago; take things we could leave behind us as we went.  She had suggested that we simply buy enough cheap underwear to last us the trip, discard what we wore and return home wearing the last set.  This was not something Mariellen thought a good thing and quite possibly an environmental hazard.  There are some differences between them, after all.  Not insurmountable differences, mind you.  And, in eternity, I suspect, there’ll be no need for underwear.

One day, as our planning and figuring continued, I went to the basement and brought up two small suitcases.  We had taken them with us for the trip to Ireland with our granddaughter Carolyn, and then our own excursion to Germany and France after she had gone home.  That had been only two weeks, though.  Would they do for a trip more than twice as long?  Yes they would, I thought, and reasoned that we had packed things, then, that we never even used.  Keeping that in mind we both decided to take only what we’d need, and even that we might trim down after we’d packed, and before we closed the lid and nailed it shut.

Over the next few weeks while as a combination quartermaster and load-master I experimented with my suitcase, filling and emptying it with bits and pieces of clothes and stuff until I began dreaming of doing just that in Purgatory for a million years, Mariellen continued to fill in the blanks on accommodations and transportation.  One of the highlights during this time was her telling me she had succeeded in getting us booked on the Bernina Express between Switzerland and Italy.  Though I’d never heard of it, that doesn’t mean a darn thing.  It’s a rather famous scenic train trip from Chur, a little town about an hour by train from Zurich, that climbs through the Alps to the Bernina Pass and then wanders back down to Tirano, Italy.  That filled several evenings of happy conversations about mountains and valleys, swift rivers and steep cliffs.

Luggage?  We didn’t talk about it. But what we did talk about as the days grew longer, and morning came earlier, was this.  We were quite settled on not doing any driving at all in Italy.  Shanks mare would be our primary way of getting about.  Trains between cities would handle long distances and when we needed it, we’d take a bus or metro where we could.

Now, about the only places on me that ain’t yet arthritic are my ear lobes and nose end; and God help me if they start to go.  So, I knew, and she knew who had begun having her own “old people” pains, we needed to get into shape, and stay that way if we were going to do what we intended.  And, that meant THE GYM! I was already a member of a nearby Gold’s Gym, but had rarely visited its spartan environs.  All that clanging metal, those mirrors, those girls with more muscles than me and guys with more muscles than Everest I found a disincentive to health and fitness.

But, we needed to do something like this or we’d be spending the last three weeks in some orthopedic hospital in Tuscany.  Great, views, I guess, but not the trip of a lifetime.

So, twice a week, and sometimes more, from February to a couple of days before D-Day(for depart) she and I, the oddest couple in the place, pumped iron, bounced balls, stretched things to the breaking point and ellipticated our way half way to the moon it seemed.  I even developed two pack abs.

Other preparations were underway, too.  Like England in 1943, the house became a staging area; each room and its available surfaces were commandeered for the various puttings in and takings out of what we might never need but couldn’t think of living without.  Along the way I got pretty good at folding things tightly and keeping them that way.  Why, I got so good at it that I could fold my jeans so tightly I could probably have carried an extra pair in the back pocket of the jeans I was wearing.  We finished up packing the night before we would leave and rested without ever having to sit on a suitcase to get it closed.

I was well pleased.  Both of the bags we would check were under the weight limit.  Why, we even had room for more, if more were needed in the things we’d chosen to carry on. Our flight would leave sometime in the early evening the next day, May 26, and our neighbor, Miriam, would drive us to the bus station for the first leg of our trip at 3:00PM.

We were ready. I didn’t sleep a wink.

Just before Miriam came, I opened my suitcase and removed two shirts and one pair of slacks.  Never liked ‘em anyway.

Posted by: Peadar Ban | July 9, 2014

Italy: A Vacation Which Became A Pilgrimage (Part Two)

What Started Out As… 

The reader will recall that my wife and I had been thinking seriously about taking a cruise in the western Mediterranean; a week long cruise which left from Civitavecchia and made a large circle through that part of the wide world to Livorno, Cannes, Palma de Mallorca, Barcelona, and Naples before returning to Civitavecchia a week later.  Like most such cruises one spent at least part of a day in each port.  Typically, that meant a mad dash through throngs of peddlers to where the real shopping was; with time enough, if one was lucky, for a few cool ones and a dish of the local gruel while sitting at a less than completely crowded seaside cafe before the whistle blew and we all left Dodge.

These things are really like appetizers, introductions, though I well know there’s a considerable crowd of folks who think  it’s really the things to do.  Having spent seven hours in Spain, they have “done” it, and can add it to the score sheet, the ledger.  What matters most, I suppose, are the buffets, shows and casinos on board, and the stories you can tell around the grill.

I suppose.

We were interested for some of those reasons, of course.  For a while I’d been curious to see what went on beyond the three mile limit. And, to be honest, we did indeed want a peek at some of the places the ship would visit, a life-sized, real life peek.  Our trip up the Rhine a couple of years ago had given us a plate full of “starters” for places I hadn’t really payed much attention to before.  We both wanted to build on that.  Besides, Mariellen herself was eager to spend some time at sea, really at sea.  I would have taken a tug along the same course for that opportunity.

What we would get was a huge thing with 15 or 16 decks, and all the trimmings.  But, more on that later.

With the reservations made we realized that we had Rome on each end of the cruise, waiting.  What could we do there?  We had, after all, just laid out the price of two seats on the 50 yard line at the Stupid Bowl, or darn near it, for a week among several thousand of our closest friends, emphasis on the close.   Over the course of the next few weeks “there” became quite a few places spread across the peninsula from Rome to Milan.  We dreamed aloud, and wished to each other of where and how, and how long.  She set to work, she did, and planned a perfect itinerary for us.  What had started out as a week on the water, and two half days getting there and getting back home became almost a month before and after that trip; a month, almost, by train;  zig-zagging from Milan to Venice, and then to Florence, Siena, Assisi and Rome.

Rome, being Rome, was special.  We decided to spend five days there before the trip and another eight days there after it was over, trading our sea legs for our land legs.  Well, the decision really wasn’t like that.  Mariellen said something like “Dear, do you think it would be good to…”  And I said something like, “That sounds good. ”  Sometimes I said, “Why not?”  Often I simply said, “O.K.”   I don’t think I ever said “Make it so.”  I know I thought of saying it once or twice, but I have been a husband long enough to know not to be so cavalier about my safety.

Two things really impressed me during the several months that she worked on building this excursion: It was her idea, I am pretty sure, to travel by rail once we had gotten over there; except, of course, when we would be on board our cruise ship.  I never said it aloud, but the idea of driving in Italy gave me nightmares.  Actually having seen  what driving in Italy really was like still gives me nightmares.  Finally, it was her idea to arrange for us to fly into Zurich on Icelandic Air, and return home via Aer Lingus with a stop-over in Dublin.  That was because they were the cheapest fares.

There was another reason for Zurich as our port of entry:  She really wanted to fly into Switzerland because that would mean we could connect with Milan via a scenic rail trip through the Alps. We had spent a day in Lucerne at the end of our river cruise, famous for cheese, wine and a big lake beneath some bigger mountains, and had seen the mountains for exactly twenty minutes.  Someone had drawn the drapes of thick clouds that covered them, a mercy that allowed us the merest peak at their snow robed majesties.  It was good advertising, anyway, because we immediately wanted more.

So, when Mariellen discovered this “little engine that could trip” through the mountains that would drop us on Italy’s northern frontier after four hours through troll country in terms that made it sound like a once in a lifetime thing my first thought was, “How many times can you do that?”  Telling me all about it, and showing it to me on the map allowed me to say, “Gee, that sounds great.”

Turns out, I was right.

Well the thing took shape bit by bit over the next month or so.  Every couple of days, it became more real as she’d report on another reservation made in another place, travel to another city via another train, some of them very new, clean and zippy things with more legroom than I’ve ever experienced, enough room for another two legs if I needed them; some of them tired old work horses “gaily” decorated, lamentably, with what seems to have become the major form of artistic expression in Europe, graffiti.  (Put your money in spray paint producers over there.) I’ll confess that as this happened and Mariellen began to get more excited about it, and as I did too, I also began to get a little apprehensive; especially I felt this way after my birthday.  I was now 72, and beginning to feel it

Silly me.  She had that covered, too.  We began training twice a week at a nearby gym.  Mountains?  Bring ‘em!

Posted by: Peadar Ban | June 30, 2014

Italy: A Vacation That Became A Pilgrimage (Part One)

A Steal of A Deal:

We had returned from our two weeks in Ireland and Germany, parts of which I have told about here ( and not finished telling ) over the past dozen or so months. Winter was settling in with all of winter’s gifts…and woes.  And Mariellen, God bless her, was exploring ways in which we might put it all behind us.  I remained in blithe ignorance of her secret plans and plots; except for the occasional snatch of conversation, that is.  “We had such a wonderful time in Ireland with Carolyn, and wasn’t the week in Cologne and Strasbourg just great?  Where do you think we ought to go next, Dear?”  She would put the question innocently enough, and just as innocently, I would answer without any thought of cost, logistics, planning or execution.

My idea of doing something like what we had just done is along the lines of most ideas I have.  Should I ever be placed in charge of planning something great, like a Presidential Inauguration or a Pontifical High Mass in St. Peter’s I would simply tell folks, “Show up at about 11:00am.  Things should be over at about 1:00pm.  Then we’ll go downstairs for some sandwiches and beer.  No shorts or bare feet.”  Had I planned the Normandy Invasion, a mob of us would have kicked in the door early one morning, and beat the snot out of everyone….in Peoria, I suppose.

Mariellen’s different.  Her Normandy would have taken place after Mass on a sunny day in May.  The Other Guys, having been properly informed of an invasion, would have welcomed us on the beach with some cold cuts and cheese, beer for the enlisted swine and chilled Riesling for the officers; then they would have cheerfully surrendered Europe and gone marching home.  Of course I’m exaggerating, but only a little bit.  The rain does indeed never fall until after sundown when my wife plans.  Her predecessor was of the same smoothly efficient character.  It was Sheila who taught me about “hospital corners”.  Before meeting her I’d as soon have stuffed an undershirt between the mattress and box spring as the edge of a sheet.

Anyway, a week or so after this short exchange, Mariellen wondered aloud if we should think about taking a cruise.  And I wondered right back at her.  Where, my wondering led me to mention, would the cruise take us?  Then she said she had found a very good deal on Norwegian Cruise lines for a 7 day cruise around the western Mediterranean.

Full disclosure, here.  After I left high school I was a merchant mariner for a while.   The months I spent at sea have supplied me with a lifetime of dreams and memories.  I loved the idea of going back and was enthusiastic about going…as soon as possible.  Further full disclosure:  When Mariellen says she has found a very good deal, you can bet it is even better than the deal the Dutch got on Manhattan.

Well, this trip would wait a while.  It was a whole year and a half away, and pretty darn cheap for what they were giving us: seven days at sea, seven ports, a room with a view and slippers at Macy’s basement prices.  I’m lying about the slippers, but we did get cutely folded towels.  The added benefit was that we would have paid for it months before we left for Rome (Italy, not New York.)  We would catch the ship in Civitavecchia, Rome’s port city these days, and sail to seven ports around, really, the northwestern Mediterranean; reaching port in the morning and sailing in the evening.

One of the ports of call, the one that interested me the most, was Barcelona, Spain, the home of the architect Antoni Gaudi and his masterpiece, La Sagrada Familia.  The others could wait.  They would be nice to see, even Rome, I admitted in my quiet moments, but this one place where this one building was, was all that was in my bucket, on my list, when I learned what the tour’s itinerary was.  It didn’t take long to make up our minds and decide to go.

OK, Rome would be nice, but we would be in and out on both ends of the trip.  What would be the sense of investing too much time in thinking what one could do in Rome…the Eternal City, after all…during an afternoon or two.  I began to think of other places we might spend a few days in either before or after the cruise to my own personal Shangri La.

Someone else was also thinking about the same thing.  And, therein lies the tale I hope to tell; a tale of adventures, laughs, great meals in great places, unexpected friends and unexpected enemies, mild difficulties and little discomforts, incredible beauty and surpassing  joy.  I say I hope to tell it because I know the teller of the tale; someone who is easily distracted; distracted by something like this, for instance.

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Somewhere at Sea on the Mediterranean

 

Posted by: Peadar Ban | May 19, 2014

Wearing The Very Stars

This poem below is something I wrote after reading and thinking about another poem called “Visitation” by Trevor Erickson which appears in the current edition of StAR, The St. Austin Review .

 

WEARING THE VERY STARS

“I must to my kinswoman go
Beyond the fields of home.
This little town leave upon the rising road
Through wind twisted olive groves
And over shining crystal streams.

Go to the Hill Country by paths so old
Now, deep ruts among rock and stone.”
She does not go alone. No!
Eternity she carries, her son, God’s own
Within.  So much more she is than seems.

Such a cargo slows her youthful haste
While dark eyes: grim, rude, cruel, stare
Out at easy prey along the lonely way.
But stare is all that they do. “Another day,”
They growl, slink away.  She confounds, confuses cruelty.

Pausing at the highest peak
She waits the waning day,
The reverence of constellations;
Receives the sun’s glowing robes
The ministry of the silver moon.

Mary, wearing the very stars, walks on.

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May 19. 2014

Posted by: Peadar Ban | May 14, 2014

FOUR AM, MAY 14. 2014

Four AM, May 14, 2014

It was just four the big clock’s numbers read
When I woke up and saw them from my bed.
Calm, night ruled quietly.  The sun slept still
Miles away beyond the woods and homes and hills,
Beyond the river running down to the sea
When I rose and left my bed silently.

Downstairs I put the kettle on to boil
And put a tea bag in my mug and all.
The while waiting I thought to go outside
To see how was the world; a thing I’ve tried
And liked doing since I was a young boy.
Alone while the world awakes is a joy.

I can imagine myself witnessing
Creation’s wondrous leap first light always brings
To mind, or listen for wind’s first breath drawn
As if the world is happy for the dawn.

A mist of rain, droplets whispering, fell
Softly on my face, the rain’s sound and smell
A welcome at the break of day beyond
River’s deep run.  Above my head I found
No stars at all, but thinnest ragged scree
Of clouds between time here, eternity
Whitened shade of blue above, shallow sea.

I went back when robins in the trees awoke
To choir morning’s coming as day broke.

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May 14, 2014

Posted by: Peadar Ban | May 5, 2014

HERE COMES EVERYBODY!

I’m not a linear thinker, and have never been.  I’m as undisciplined as a small child in a big garden, a little stream on a slight slope, stopped briefly and re-directed to a place I never thought of going.  I am a meander, a ramble.  Hence this longish thing.  Follow me, if you will.  Or not.

I’ve never read it, but in “Finnegan’s Wake” there are many references to a character, variously named..one of which is something like Humphrey Chimpden Earwick.. who goes by the initials HCE. Some have told me that James Joyce meant HCE to mean, also, “Here Comes Everybody”, and to stand, somehow, for the Catholic Church, which is open to all; nothing required up front but Faith.

It has been said for as long as I can remember that Faith is a gift, and gifts need unwrapping. I was born into a family of Catholics who came from a long line of Catholics.  So you could say I never had a choice about being a Catholic.

But, I do have a choice about staying a Catholic, a choice about un-wrapping, about using the gift.  So have we all the same choice.

My grandmothers were Catholics, one from Leighlinbridge, a small village in County Clare, then still a part of The British Empire, whom many probably thought at the time would last a thousand years; and the other, a child of the great Irish diasporsa, the long “bleeding out” of Ireland’s life under England’s “loving” care, was born in Five Points; that neighborhood of some notoriety in NYC. Her father, an immigrant from Dublin, was a fireman. From them both through my own mother and father I draw my faith, and was born into what we Catholics sometimes call “The Family of Faith”.

Ella Mc Gowan, the New York Irish girl, was born in 1880. Catherine Fanning was born shortly after, in 1881. Nanny was a toddler and Grandma just barely 6 months old when Angelo Roncalli entered the “family” in a little town in Italy. They have a much younger brother, Karol Wojtyla, who was born in 1920.  It’s a big family; the biggest in the history of the world!

I’ve been reading a book written by G.K. Chesterton called “Heretics”.  Chesterton joined my family when he had grown up.  I like reading the things he’s written.  Besides being very, very smart, he doesn’t allow his smartness to get in the way of his wit, nor pitch his message too high above anyone inclined to listen to what he’s saying.  This book “Heretics” is where Chesterton argues against a lot of the attitudes and ideas which people at the beginning of the last century found very attractive, bright, shiny and new.  They are attitudes and ideas that seemed to me as he shined a bright light on and took an amusing glance at their advocates and the ideas themselves to be a bit like crib toys dangled above infants to amuse and distract them, but of no real or lasting value.  Funnily enough, considering their very obvious lunacy and uselessness, a lot of them are still pretty popular today.

The chapter I’m reading in the book right now is called On Certain Modern Writers and The Institution of The Family .  It’s a wonderful little essay about what we all think may be a good thing but which on closer examination turns out to be not so good at all; the idea that big globs of us all gathered together in one place..in big cities, or metropolitan areas, say…are better for a number of reasons than little towns.  In the main, he says, big places allow us to be alone, to get away from the “maddening” crowd, to pick and choose our own associates, friends, interests.  GK thinks this stinks, attitude and fact, and proposes the ancient institution of the family as the best place to be (and small places, hamlets, villages, towns along with them) simply for the fact that they do not afford us the luxury of anonymity.  One of the points he makes is this one:

“The best way that a man could test his readiness to encounter the common variety of mankind would be to climb down a chimney into any house at random, and get on as well as possible with the people inside. And that is essentially what each one of us did on the day that he was born.

This is, indeed, the sublime and special romance of the family. It is romantic because it is a toss-up. It is romantic because it is everything that its enemies call it. It is romantic because it is arbitrary. It is romantic because it is there. So long as you have groups of men chosen rationally, you have some special or sectarian atmosphere. It is when you have groups of men chosen irrationally that you have men. The element of adventure begins to exist; for an adventure is, by its nature, a thing that comes to us. It is a thing that chooses us, not a thing that we choose.”

My sister, Stephanie Ann Teresa Gallaher-Morse, and I have often referred to our family, the people we lived among, including my grandmothers, as we grew up, and the things which occurred there, as a long day’s journey.  Anyone who has graduated high school will know what we are speaking about; the surface storms, sometimes violent and long lasting, the treacherous currents to be learned, the open waters and pleasant climates, and the deep undercurrent of love.  It would have served as well to refer to our growing up as a streetcar ride; one that still continues in the strong light of day.  It was certainly an education.  It was from time to time as well a crucible, a refining fire.

Another book that I am wandering slowly through is John Henry Cardinal Newman’s “Essay On The Development of Doctrine”.  I’d offer you a quote from his book, but there isn’t really anything short enough to take from it unless I was writing at least a thousand word introduction and another 2 or 3 thousand words after the quote as an explanation.  I love his writing, but, Lord, he knows how to fill a page.  I’ve never been there, but I find myself imagining that reading Newman is closest to taking a walk in Shanghai, with little or no knowledge of Chinese and no road map; an exhilarating and at times fearful experience where you wonder why you ever started, and where that was, but enjoy the magnificent structures along the way while looking forward to finishing, hopefully before Christmas.  He spends a lot of time on heresies, too, and heretics.

He reminds me of something I once told an attorney who was the “mouthpiece” for a fellow I was interested in putting away for a long while.  During the course of a very long afternoon of steadily applied pressure on my part to his client’s ability to withstand it, he interrupted me to ask what was my intention.  I replied that my intention was to sail the battleship Missouri into his harbor and blow him and his client out of the water.  Four years and a lot of work later I did just that.  The client went to jail, bankrupt and penniless.  His lawyer went into therapy after suffering some kind of mental crisis.  Newman’s “little” essay does just that, like snow on Mount Zalman; glistening in the distance, but also tearing down grain by grain by grain, the heap of stone it covers.

And, then there’s a short piece, an editorial I’ve recently read in “Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity“.  At least that’s what I think it calls itself.  The short piece is by a fellow whose writing I like to read because what he writes is true; true the way granite is true; true the way an oak is true; true the way, sometimes, a mighty wind is true; hard, and beautiful and occasionally very frightening.  In this article, Anthony Esolen, blows a trumpet, a horn like Gideon’s, against the heretics, and says to the “family”, “Gather and stand against our newest, our latest enemy.”  Read the article and find out who that is and what the fight is about.  I couldn’t help thinking that, as usual, like Gideon we’re up against tough odds.  I also couldn’t help thinking, as I read it, of Henry V’s little talk to his Band of Brothers, the other members of The Family, the ones still at or near to, Home.

Bl. Cardinal Newman’s long essay about the development of doctrine is at once a defense of and an attack against everyone in the long history of the Catholic Church who thought they had a better idea.  If my guess is anywhere near correct “better ideas” started popping up almost as soon as they could. As he says in more ways than one, and Chesterton too, they soon splinter, mutate into thousands of variations.  It’s a lucky thing St. Thomas still had Jesus around, you know, or all those Synods and Councils wouldn’t have had much to do back in the day; and maybe Rome would be a small town with barely a memory of what it used to be.  One of the best things Christ did, after saving the world, was tell St. Peter what he had to do.

The point about families is that they need heads, someone in charge, or the kids fight in the back of the car for the window seat, Mom wants to go “this way”, and Billy would rather play ball than mow the lawn.  And, no one wants to wash the dishes.  Pretty soon, the place looks like Dogpatch.  Unless….

Sometimes, you have to send one of the older guys out to get some of the younger kids in from play, or from having wandered to far.  They never really want to go, so you tell them, “I’m sending  you.  You tell them I said ‘Come home, or else’ “.  And, every once in a while you’ve go to “go to Law”, as they say in Blighty, and make sure Jones behind you stops letting his kids take your apples; or worse, “war” for want of a better word, just to keep the family and what it stands for together and safe.

Grandma and Nanny would understand that, break out the beads and fight their way, too.  Then, watch out!  Because here comes Everybody.

Posted by: Peadar Ban | April 11, 2014

Ink Is What A Pen Needs

INK IS WHAT A PEN NEEDS

I wrote and sealed a letter just the other day
Then took it to the curb and placed it
In the box where it lay and waited
As did I
For the mailman to come by;
And I have to say
I enjoyed the exercise.

Before I wrote a word I sat and thought
Of what to tell my friend.
How I might begin, and how end;
What to put between
The end and the beginning…
Whether the letter should be long, or short.

Then I boiled some water and brewed a cup of tea,
Found a pen, one that still had ink.
(That should have been easy, one would think,
Here where pens proliferate like weeds.
But, no!  Each one I picked and tried
Was dry.)

Who would dare read dry pen impressions,
Faint, brailish dry pen scrapings?
For letters, philosophies or screeds
Ink as well as mind is what a pen needs.

I found one though, and sat down to begin;
Tea beside me
World outside me
April bright and new
In the morning when
I began to write to you.

peg
04/09/2013

Posted by: Peadar Ban | April 4, 2014

Today April 4, 2014: Omphaloskepsis

EXPLAIN HOPE

6:30AM, April 4, 2014

6:30AM, April 4, 2014

Briefly I sat amid the log shadows of the new day and looked east at the bare branches of Spring, the rude dampness of pale green lawns, felt the still coolness against my cheek while tiny birds and bully jays scattered the seed I’d put out for them yesterday in the streaming sun, while near the fence one last lump of snow died, longed for last July, un-mourned this morning.  A few hours ago it was a madman’s dream, a mother’s hope, a child’s imagining, an old man’s ancient memory awake. I know because before I went up to bed I stood and looked about, and felt frost fingers caress my face, saw the neighbor’s drive covered in chaotic chalk scribbles where the kids had played under the ancient unseen stars behind their scrim of daylight blue, the unheard sounds of swirling galaxies, the first chord-burst of being at the beginning and the steady drone of time since.  Yes, I stood cloaked in night and saw the day done, gone only hours by, gone down the stream of years and centuries into the Sea of What Has Been. How silly, I thought, standing there, sitting here I think now, to say:
“Could the day, each day, have no meaning at all?”

What is the purpose of sunlight beyond mere stimulation of life in sleeping seeds (on just one place in the universe?), beyond mere stimulation of neurons deep in my brain?  Why does it exist except as product of force, heat and photonic speed? Why the light of galaxies beyond a trillion trillion miles, beyond a billion years, and between? traveling across emptiness, down passing years for my eyes each night, whether they are there or not, to see?  Are they mere random, rainbowed, things; or more than that?  Why a tiny flower’s shy color beneath a waking bush of still sleeping
leaf and blossoms or the beauty of their plumage, even the subtle gray of stubborn doves, on birds bouncing on the first sweet currents of the day.  Can it simply be that they are and that they have no meaning at all; that nothing means anything.
All merely is?

Explain then, love, joy, desire, sadness, anger, friendship to me. Reactions, only, to some stimuli?  Explain mere appreciation to me.  Explain order or chaos, the chaos of a snail’s track on the sand, a squirrel’s hurried search across the lawn for last year’s fallen seeds.  Chaos, order?  Order, chaos?  Explain the order growth and learning
bring to a child’s brain.  Explain the chaos of a toddler, the chaos of a puppy, the chaos of a storm across the wide deep sea, the chaos of a waterfall.  Explain the pain of illness, the peace of death, the comfort of mourning.  And explain the fact that I or anyone, can sit and write this while a
Jay calls Morning to light the new day.

If nothing has an end, nothing has a meaning.
If nothing has a meaning, nothing has worth.
If nothing has worth, nothing matters.
If nothing matters, everything is useless, futile, unnecessary.

Explain hope!

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Saint of the Day

St. Isidore of Seville (560-636)
Isidore was a bishop in Spain. He promoted science and established schools and convents. He was a prolific writer who mastered all branches of knowledge of his day. A Doctor of the Church, his writings include a dictionary and an encyclopedia.

Reflections from the Saints

If a man wants to be always in God’s company, he must pray regularly and read regularly. When we pray, we talk to God; when we read, God talks to us.

– St. Isidore of Seville

Scripture Verse of the Day

Ephesians 4:1-3

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Life in Christ: Catechism #2203

In creating man and woman, God instituted the human family and endowed it with its fundamental constitution. Its members are persons equal in dignity. For the common good of its members and of society, the family necessarily has manifold responsibilities, rights, and duties.

One Minute Meditations

Charity
I am glad that you feel concern for your brothers: there is no better proof of your mutual charity. Take care, however, that your concern does not degenerate into anxiety.

– St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way

Posted by: Peadar Ban | March 31, 2014

Today, March 31, 2014 (A Pleasant Ache)

The Lamb of March seems this morning to have been kidnapped.  A cold rain, a bit of sleet, greeted me this morning; little pellets nipping at the windows.  Rain had come on with serious purpose yesterday, slacked off a bit in the afternoon, and returned with renewed vigor during the night.

April, that cruel month, will seem a pussycat compared to the past four weeks.  For all of that, though, the dearest freshness shows itself everywhere, even on gray, ice coated mornings.  Below the bare branches of the dwarf spireas at the front of the house tiny crocus leaves peek. Brave and eager for the light, heedless of the cold still lingering in the frost filled soil, the little green exclamations stab upward into Spring while most of Winter, long wished away, unfriendly lingers.

The rain has done its work though, along with the steady climb of the temperature.  Only across the street do continents of snow stay, sullen in the shade of dark pines; gray brutish things avoided by children now interested in bikes and jump ropes and the first few ball games.  All that remains nearby, here, are some Lonely Isles, and snow-pelagos beneath the trees where squirrels busily hunt for last year’s hidden harvest, and neighborhood cats wait patiently for them to walk into their mouths; or birds to fall there.

Don’t keep score.  Birds and squirrels know who and where they are.  They meet far above them to scold feline presumption and insolence and sing warnings to any newcomers.

Now the sun brushes aside the thinning cloud curtain.  Perhaps it means today to send Winter at last away.

Such being the case, I will oil my leaf rakes and get ready to ache this evening from shoulders to toes.  It will be a pleasant ache.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Here are some bits of stuff to read and wonder about.  I call them News Flashes From Home.  They are all about the same thing, really.  It never changes.  Strangely enough, though, it never gets old, arriving fresh on the doorstep every day.  Actually it arrives continuously.  One only needs to think, to read, to listen:

Saint of the Day

St. Benjamin (5th century)
Benjamin was a deacon was released from prison on the condition that he would never preach where he could be heard by the royal court. Thus, he became a street preacher. He was eventually arrested, tortured and martyred.

Reflections from the Saints

Without humility, there is no way of conquering anger.

– St. John Climacus

Scripture Verse of the Day

Hebrews 10:23

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.

Life in Christ: Catechism #2199

The fourth commandment is addressed expressly to children in their relationship to their father and mother, because this relationship is the most universal. It likewise concerns the ties of kinship between members of the extended family. It requires honor, affection, and gratitude toward elders and ancestors. Finally, it extends to the duties of pupils to teachers, employees to employers, subordinates to leaders, citizens to their country, and to those who administer or govern it. This commandment includes and presupposes the duties of parents, instructors, teachers, leaders, magistrates, those who govern, all who exercise authority over others or over a community of persons.

One Minute Meditations

Fruitfulness
My child, all the seas of this world are ours and the places where it is harder to fish are the places where it is all the more necessary.

– St. Josemaria Escriva
I’ve been thinking for the past few minutes about the first and the last little “flashes” together.  Two names flashed into my head in connection with them: St. Maximilian Kolbe and Larry, a schizophrenic man in my town here, who wanders the streets, dressed in rags and patches…looking “like a mountebank” to steal a phrase from Trollope… sleeping under a bridge in all kinds of weather and prays constantly; fishermen, both,  in hard and necessary places.
I like what the Catechism says about the presupposing done in the Fourth Commandment about the duties of “all who exercise authority”.  Don’t you?
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________
Here are two pieces of music for your Spring listening.

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