Archive for the 'regeneration' Category

Elephants reconfigured

July 21, 2014

Back in April I posted a picture of a broken cup:

Broken Item

It had been broken in transit, during some portion of its journey from original vendor to me.

There’s a mosaic studio down the street, and I brought the pieces of the broken cup in.  The co-owner of the studio and I discussed what might be made out of the pieces, and she started cutting the pieces with a very impressive tool.  She observed the cup was made from good china as she cut.

I left after we had reached a pretty good understanding of what she would make out of it.

Here’s how it turned out:

elephant cup project photo1


Pretty wonderful  —  by which I mean, very wonderful.

It’s for hanging necklaces from.

I had told the co-owner I would like the elephants to be “on parade.”  We had agreed on hooks of some sort underneath — she had thought for hanging keys, I had suggested for hanging necklaces, instead.  When she told me over the phone about how the project was going, during the intervening week, she said she was using “cup hooks” to hang the necklaces from, and I pictured those little metal hooks with a convex shield against the surface the screw goes into — I didn’t realize she meant handles from real china cups.  So I was pleasantly surprised — kind of thrilled — when I went down to pick up my reconfigured broken cup today and saw the real cup handle hooks.

In any event, this sort of thing is a version for me of making lemonade from lemons, of recycling, of finding a way to create from something broken.  I did, though, defer to the co-owner for the actual craftsmanship, although she had offered to teach me how to do it myself.  I’m sure there’s some significance there, it just hasn’t yet occurred to me what it is.  And it took her, a person experienced in this kind of craft, 4 hours to do it, and over the course of a week –twice as long as she anticipated.  So I may not have been incorrect to defer.


Flowering in the compost heap

July 18, 2014

I went out to the compost heap, which is in a back corner of my backyard and under the shade of a neighbor’s tree, so it’s kind of hard to see what’s going on in it from a distance.

I went to put some peach pits into it, and I noticed some burnt-orange-colored day lilies growing out of it.

The day lilies are probably from the bunch of invasive flowers that had taken over one of my gardens that I dug out (most of) a few weeks ago and replaced with some more interesting specimens of flowers.  But the day lilies, and those things that flower in purple clusters, were not flowering then.

So it’s kind of a nice surprise that the day lilies took in the compost heap and bloomed.

A kind of recycling, even if they didn’t actually go to dust first, before they revived.


September 24, 2013

I have encountered a version of what Richard Rohr talks about in today’s Daily Meditation, this “incurable wound at the heart of everything.”

I conceptualized it, when it came to me, as a very limited child who could not get back to godhead, or be easily guided back there by others on the outside.  We had to communicate to her from within and then give her a way of understanding how to fling herself into the arms of the Lord, the universe, however that concept is translated, so she could complete the cycle of death and rebirth.  Her remaining outside of that cycle, sort of marooned on the shoulder of the road, was a sinkhole for humanity generally, however small the hole actually was.  Like a small glitch in some hardware that crashes a computer.  That’s what I “got” when I peeled away all the layers of the onion.

Somehow we communicated to her to fling herself into the arms of a father — it was an emotional concept she did get, and her soul fluttered into the embrace she was able to expect would be there to receive her in a loving way.

What did I uncover?  Father Rohr teaches me that it is a universal issue that we contemplate and then accept as is, we don’t try to fix it.  So what was this disabled child version of mine all about?  Maybe it was a projection of “me” that I didn’t recognize.

But there’s more to it than that, I think.

I don’t think I’m the first to see what I saw or to come up with the kluge to get the child to crossover by conceptualizing God as a/the father.  I think it has been done before, and what was thought to be a helpful metaphor took on an unhelpful life of its own, to wit, some of the beliefs in our religions — God as a cranky old parent, for instance.

Is the wound incurable?  Can a sinkhole be filled?  How do we relate to black holes?

Father Rohr’s teaching makes me think that we need to accept that incurable wound as the entrance to the next phase, a version of “creative destruction” we must tolerate if not embrace.  We need to accept our fall during our physical lives, in order to open our hearts, and we need to accept our death when we move on from this world, we need to recycle — whether we conceptualize it as including reincarnation or just going back to source after a single lifetime.

But maybe Rohr is getting at something else, something that is just wound and not part of a cycle of death and resurrection (resurrection that, if not on earth, then puts us into eternity through reunion with God).  I don’t know.  But I will think about it — I am certainly willing to explore whether a prior conceptualization of mine was a step towards a further understanding.

But sometimes I think we’re just feeling different parts of the elephant, and that what I’ve felt has its own role in our clarifying our collective understanding, too.


November 24, 2012

I wonder if reifying something denatures it, reduces it to a manageable size, similar in one respect to the dynamic within Grover Norquist’s idea of reducing something to be small enough to drown in a bathtub.

This idea occurred to me while I was reading about the movement in Texas to have that state secede from the United States.  I thought about some religions’ interpretation that an angel wanted to secede from some part of creation.

I’ve never bought that version.  I’ve always heard it more impersonally, that what’s being perceived was more like a limb falling from a tree during a storm — damaging perhaps but without mal-intent (or intent of any kind, for that matter).

When I read about Texas, I thought, “Well, maybe finally we reduced that thought form [about fallen angels] to a political movement that, while maybe controversial, isn’t profoundly frightening.”

The real issue of The Fall, the one that actually caused so much damage, lay, in my opinion, in how what fell disturbed, and threatened to disrupt, the equilibrium of the system here.  It not only caused some obvious damage, but it imported something foreign to the system into the mix, like a speck of sand in an oyster, and off we went careering towards instability.  There was nothing inherently wrong with that speck of sand, it just didn’t belong to this type of system we have in our world, it was like a piece to one jigsaw puzzle ending up in the box of another puzzle.  The type of puzzle to which it belonged was an unfortunate match for our type of puzzle, but separating out that issue from the nature of the damage from its impact wasn’t easy, because the damage was so difficult to experience or even to observe.  (And returning the piece to the cosmic Lost and Found was also a technically difficult matter.)

So I’m not happy with (some) Texans’ apparent high displeasure with being part of our union, but at least a political quarrel doesn’t produce the appearance of consequences that seem to threaten our existence for eternity.  So in a peculiar or narrow kind of way, I see the this news event as reflecting progress of a different sort.

China plates

August 30, 2012

I mentioned putting out the best china in my last post.  It was an analogy for using a more enlightened version of ourselves, a version which sometimes is not appreciated by others or is even appropriate to the situation.

So I talked about using paper or plastic dishes instead, the way one would at a picnic or barbeque.

Of course, there my imagery breaks down in its usefulness.  If I’ve got good china in a spiritual sense, when I use the everyday stuff (again, in a spiritual sense), or even paper or plastic, it’s enhanced.  It may look like the store brand of flimsy paper, but it’s actually really strong.  I want to say it’s flexible, resilient, and permeable — but my housewares analogy won’t support that.

People often talk about how their faith allows them to bend like a willow and not break the way something brittle would (of course, willow trees are notoriously easily uprooted, I think, so I’m not sure how far that imagery goes, either).

What I would want to convey, through what imagery I’m not sure, is that once you’ve got your best china, even when you use the everyday or the paper or plastic, it includes the ability to see things in an enlightened way — seeing things as being more in harmony, seeing things less divided into dual categories, and seeing how to re-frame a situation so as to bring to light a positive from it (growing flowers from detritus).

I don’t think we can say the fine china becomes embedded in the casual stuff and have that statement make much sense in the physical world, but that’s what I think happens in terms mental perspective  — when we go back down into the hurly-burly of interactions between people with their egos in pretty full play, we have an extra bit of space from which to observe with detachment before we translate our response into words and action.

What I think I’m looking for is a more helpful image with which to communicate how this enhanced process of responding might be understood.

Mary and Buddha

April 13, 2012

I don’t know if they’re are any stories or jokes about how Mary and Buddha walked into a (coffee?) bar together, but they’re together in statuary under a rose bush in my backyard, near my shed.  I’ve had them both for a while, the Mary one maybe longer.  But I had put her in the shed after a workman seemed (understandably) to assume that I was a believer in a way I’m not, and gave me a discount after glancing at the statue, and I didn’t know what to say.

But we were cleaning out the shed today, and Jordan insisted that she belongs next to the small seated Buddha, and there she is, behind a Bleeding Heart and under a Pink Dawn rose bush grown from a cutting my parents brought up from their home years ago.

I do look to Mary as a source of strength, though, so I’m not being misleading in that way.  When my kids are struggling and I feel distress witnessing what they go through, I think about the fact that in a major religion there’s a major figure who, in part, represents that issue.  That suggests to me that it’s a real and major issue in the world and in other people’s lives, not just in my own.  And her example helps me get through the immediate situation and handle what can feel like a burden in the long term.

Now, what she’s doing next to the Buddha, I’m not sure, but I’ve found myself pairing representations of them together before.  Eventually it will become clearer to me what I’m hearing.  Yesterday I finally realized why I hear the Jewish Mourner’s Kaddish in Hebrew in certain situations — it has to do with renewal, with new growth out of old dead matter, with flowers out of compost, with recycling and the cycle of death and rebirth.  The situations, I think, remind me of those ideas and my mind goes to the prayer and its soothing repetitions of sounds and rhythms.  It’s interesting, I think I posted about that concept of regeneration at Thanksgiving last November; it was, as I recall it, what I was grateful for, that we live in a world where regeneration (and where re-framing how we see something, shifting from something we experience initially as negative to finding something positive or neutral in what we are called upon to do) is possible.  I like how I can get there, to regeneration, from both gratitude and death.