Saturday, January 30, 2016

awakened forces

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“Did they tell You stories
‘bout the saints of old?
Stories about their faith?
They say stories like that make a boy grow bold;
Stories like that make a man walk straight.”

~ Rich Mullins, “Boy Like Me / Man Like You.”

winter’s progress

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Latter January days are plotted among the depths of winter’s navigational chart. Today’s distance is far enough away to have lost sight of departure’s shore, yet too far still to detect land on the horizon. Along any lengthy voyage, there arrives a point at which the launch becomes too far away for me to reach back. An about-face would be as perilous as the way forward. And simply by virtue of the distance already covered, there follows the additional virtue of perseverance. Mind says to body, “look how far we’ve gone; we can only continue moving forward.” Mind seems to take for granted that it is of no consideration to stand still. There isn’t enough time to be dropping anchor out at sea. But the driving forces to proceed must be close at hand, and such sources must not drop out of sight.


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Of late, my thoughts have been turning to the idea of how we can sense our own forces. We may not always be aware of the strength we have available to us in our personal reserves, but on some occasions we can sense it. We may even articulate our sources of strength. Admittedly, recollections of “fight-or-flight” crisis reactions can provide instances of reaching for our survival forces. In this instance, I refer to something more subtle and yet also more constant. I have known quiet instances of having been surprised by the realization of assuring strength, even when it was not necessary to call forth any special effort.

The memory of a fleeting impression remains with me, during which I had been simply walking across a busy thoroughfare. It was an early afternoon, and I had completed my day’s work. I might have been en route to a café, striding across Monument Square. I was momentarily and entirely at leisure, with neither backpack nor satchel appended to me. Very simply, hands in pockets, I paced across the bricks and looked upward. Sculpted façade-tops opened to seaside skies. Traversing the oldshoe familiar terracotta plaza, I was instantly astonished by an overspreading sense of completion. The old buildings and cobbled streets appeared as softly near as the flannel of my side pockets. I did not stop walking, and did not even slow my steps. But I comprehended that very moment which remains with me, years later.

sensing forces

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What brings us to sense our forces? I frequently refer to teaching as a labor of love. Lesson planning and prep often feel like rehearsals toward interactive performances. I’ve been doing this for more than two decades, and the cathartic satisfaction always remains. Amidst helping others make artistic and intellectual discoveries, I momentarily forget my troubles. The ability to connect what we know and love- with professional challenges, or with the needs of others- finds us “in our elements.” A sense of strength can certainly manifest at repose, too. A strong sense of strength can settle in, during times of contemplative silence- even without a specific thought, or at times which might appear to be “inactive.”

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The spirit transcends action and place. Reminders of strength can arrive as discreetly as a subtle thought, or solidly as a physical locale: a plain remembrance of my ancestral roots can be as forceful as the view from an ocean crag. I still remember elders telling me to “remember who you are.” Notice how athletes say “playing with confidence” is a decisive factor to their consistency. Still further is an ancient phrase from holy writ, intent to assure humble-hearted listeners they will overcome evil with good, as greater is the Divine that is within you, than that which is in this world.

big shoulders

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The holiday season provided an opportunity to return to Chicago. While driving, strolling the Mag Mile, and peering from CTA trains, I thought about the sensing of strength. When do we “feel our forces,” whether they are stored up within us, or reflected through our prism-like selves? Can we call upon needed strength, when exhaustion and discouragement bring us to disorienting ends of our reserves? In Chicago, I saw family and familiar sights, yet was also reminded of the breadth of this world. Driving more than 2200 miles, and appreciating some unexpected kindnesses, I made note of the present as I looked forward.

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While in Chicago, I went to an Irish tavern to hear a talented local ceilidh group play traditional Celtic music. Having played in many ensembles myself, I know how music shared among a group can generate cleansing joy. This particular group was really radiating cheer, and true to Chicago form they worked in a few jazz tunes. Toward the end of their energetic set, the whole group sang two hymns, beginning with I’ll Fly Away, and ending with How Can I Keep From Singing. I’d never heard folksinging voices interpret these before, and was struck by the spirited intimacy of the latter’s lyrics:

"No storm can shake my inmost calm,
while to that rock I'm clinging.
Since love is lord of heaven and earth
how can I keep from singing?

My life goes on in endless song
above earth's lamentations,
I hear the real, though far-off hymn
How can I keep from singing?"

An awareness of strength involves recollection. While listening to the music, I reached for my notebook and jotted, “remembrance and rejuvenation do not always coincide; spiritual and physical- both are ideally necessary.” Indeed, the ability and application of reaching for sources and reserves of strength is a self-discipline.


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Calling forth needed strength occurs to me as a cultivated practice. Now my thoughts turn to occasions of taking charge of situations, and instances of defending undefended individuals. Then I think of less-sentient situations during which I’ve had to create carefully arranged and indexed archives from heaps of barely discernable chaos. And still further, I recall how I’ve been maintaining small measures of constructive calm as a caregiver, by studying philosophy in hospital waiting and recovery rooms. When I could not write, I could find wise words to read and safely inhabit.

With all these things in mind, I considered the subtly strengthening potential of ideas and words. Visiting with a fellow writer provided some insights I might have otherwise overlooked. My friend talked about exercising perspective, and keeping focus upon what is positive. We talked about writing through all sorts of seasons- the rough and the smooth. She described the positive energies immediately at hand, reminding me of the Greek word paraclete, which means the comforter at one’s side. With written words of truths and ideas passed along through the ages, there are assuring words spoken to present-day uncertainties.

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I’ve brought this topic to a few more trusted friends. Through what kinds of situations do we feel our forces? Can we call upon our sources of strength, when it is most needed? I asked another esteemed friend, a fellow that leads a raucous rock band that is constant in performing and recording. He correspondingly perseveres with composing and practicing- to the extent that he told me that as he performs to large crowds, he feels that he’s “not really there.” I interpret that to mean he is not excessively self-focused, but rather moving with the immediacy of the pressured moment. He also says that right before a show, he suppresses his analytical thoughts. Being in one’s element is more about confidence and self-possession that about self-consciousness. When it comes to reaching for inner strength, he described going for solitary walks. The topic prompted us to talk about the importance of place. True to our shared Maine colors, he said his most recharging walks are along seashores.

Physical place is more than merely a point of reference; it can also be inherently a source of strength. Ocean perches and beaches, along with mountain trails, are places by which I find my forces. But to say inherent is as subjective as the interpreting individual. Yet it is easy to consider a physical setting as having intrinsic value. Such perspective attests to the solidity of human thought. Landscapes change, as do their connotations for each of us. Yet for our spirits, the most fluid, most elusive and ethereal references are those which produce our profoundest ground.

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Friday, January 1, 2016

equipped for the new

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"My pipe is out, my glass is dry;
My fire is almost ashes too;
But once again, before you go,
And I prepare to meet the New:
Old Year! a parting word that’s true,
For we’ve been comrades, you and I --
I thank God for each day of you;
There! bless you now! Old Year, good-bye!"

~ Robert W. Service, "The Passing of the Year."

An arduous year has concluded, making way for a new one. Although I speak in relation to the Western calendar, with weeks and months appearing as the dotted lines of municipal peripheries, there remains a sense of new frontiers. We may each mark the anniversaries of our personal milestones, ascribing meanings of our own. But with the prospect of a new year, I noticed time thresholds while routinely re-inking my pen. In this context, some of my everyday routines absorbed the marking of time passing.

In recent years, I have been profoundly engaged in a large project resulting from my rescuing of seventy years of newspaper photographic negatives, which I’ve been organizing and conserving into an exhaustive documentary archive. The trove of many hundreds of thousands of pieces of film had been destined for disposal- but that has surely been prevented. In the almost-daily pursuit of identification and indexing, I’ve been examining- and in a metaphorical sense, inhabiting- each of these images, one at a time, marking their eras, and travelling through the decades from the 1930s to the mid-2000s. As New Year’s Eve approached the present threshold of 2016, I catalogued June of 1954. Amidst descriptive work to index Memorial Day of 1954, the back of my thoughts began to perceive the close of 2015. Yesterday, while identifying the photo (below), of a Mr. Sampson opening his new grocery store in 1954, I mused at my light-table, and noticed the radiating pride of a family businessman. He was surely looking confidently toward the future.

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With my 4x magnifier, I looked closer, and remarked at a gesture of eager preparedness: Mr. Sampson had no less than eight sharpened pencils in his tweed suit pocket, pointed up and at the ready. Hope sprung eternal in Mr. Sampson’s spring of 1954, and I am burrowing through the winter of 2015-2016 determined to be undaunted. It’s a new year. Sharpen the pencils, ink the pen, oil the typewriter carriage, take some deep fresh-air breaths, and persevere. Out with old; be equipped for the new.

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Along with the grocery store photo, and numerous sundry group pictures from the society pages, I identified a Mr. Jacobsen (below) at his desk. It seemed insufficient to leave it at that; I enriched the finding aid (the archival term for a collections inventory) with an additional line about the table radio behind him, as well as the pencil. This is more than a portrait for a news item: he is assiduously at work. There are tasks to be completed, and he is ready!

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Today, more than 61 years after the above photos were taken (and they haven’t seen the light of day since), I am gathering my forces to venture into 2016. Indeed, as I write this, I hope to encourage you in your future constructive pursuits. Remaining encouraged is essential.

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Here’s to a New Year of growth and life-giving ventures.
Thank you to each of you, for reading and your encouragement!

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See also : Graphite Archive;

and Typosphere Cheer.

Friday, December 25, 2015


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"Yet in thy dark streets shineth
the everlasting light;
the hopes and fears of all the years
are met in thee tonight."

~ Phillips Brooks (Boston, 19th C.), O Little Town of Bethlehem.

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Monday, November 16, 2015

daylight savings

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“Leave behind sensible perceptions and intellectual efforts,
and all objects of sense and of intelligence, and all things
being and not being, and be raised aloft above knowledge to union,
as far as is attainable, with God who is above every attribute
and knowledge. For by an ecstatic restlessness from yourself
and everything, you will be carried up
to the superessential ray of the Divine Dark.”

~ Dionysius the Areopagite, The Mystical Theology

spanning the darkness

At this time of year, darkness arrives earlier, absorbing horizons seamlessly, over longer spans of time. After enough years of turns around the calendric cycle, I shouldn’t be so shocked at the sudden loss of light. But this year I am taking note. Normally, I’d dismiss the change, much as I’d shrug off a routine decrease of a benefit or some rate increase to a monthly bill. Our adaptive nature may compensate for a continuum of absorption, but it does not regulate reluctance.

Regularly, my workplace phone greeting identifies my department, followed by the respective portion of the day, such as good morning. Often, as I pick up the phone, I look at my watch, to verify whether the moment precedes or has come after transiting the meridian. Late in the day, I check the window. My tendency is to judge between afternoon and evening by sensing the strength of light. The other day, I heard myself say, “good evening,” while answering the phone and looking to the window; my watch read 4:30 in the afternoon.

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Lengthened darkness is surely noticeable while on the road. With earlier sunsets, an evening’s navigation resembles a midnight drive. Beyond my headlights’ reach, the surface ahead, left and right, as well as the sky, have identical textures. Medians and guardrails dissolve into the same crepuscule. Shrouds of darkness can be as forbidding as they are compelling. Philosophers of old referred ambiguously to the symbols of the abyss and the labyrinth. The abyss represents groundless unknowing, a gulf without comprehensible perimeters. It also represents limitless expanse, uncharted potential. The labyrinth symbolizes constraint, rigidity which cannot be transcended, yet still uncertain of the destination. Conversely, guidelines symbolize the certainty of terra cognita and the safety of conformity. Borderless darkness identifies with experiences of both the abyss and the labyrinth. Expanse and narrowness accompany the night voyager, testing whether being rests upon belief.

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Being a torchbearer amidst reduced visibility demands strength of vigilance. Strength is easily taken for granted, and we use it without much thought or notice. Waking from sleep is simultaneous with physical reaching. But strength is indeed cultivated coordination; it doesn’t happen by itself. Vigilantly, we can be more than our impulses. Describing his philosophy of being, in the context of historiography, Ortega y Gasset observed in his poetic plainness:

“Life is given to us; we don’t give it to ourselves, rather we find ourselves in it, suddenly and without knowing how. But the life which is given us is not given us ready-made; we must make it for ourselves, each one their own.”

Carrying the light across the trackless dark requires a supply of healthful provisions of the spirit. Creativity combats monotony. Keeping a constructive course is a balance of exploration and expression. For me, this means continuing to learn and to reflect. Reading and writing have been tandem nutrients, and I’ve found the one needs the other, or both skills will suffer. To pursue studies and the writer’s adventure means persevering as an inquiring observer. I’ll also say, as an observing inquirer. Writing in this spirit is as one keeping watch, making note of the light- especially as it may turn to increase, ever so slowly.

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Expectation is a vital provision, and it is strengthened by an available sense of remembrance. Remembering lights and blessings past has helped me through arduous traversals. Alongside remembering events and gestures is knowing to call upon learned survival skills. I’ve seen sharply-focused routes benefited by healthful diversions that lift the spirit and remind me of the larger context within which my life is actually a small part. Having many artistic and intellectual interests provides various points of reference to distract the natural tendency that dwells upon one perspective. As the popular adage goes, at the occasion of seasonal time change, we “fall back to spring ahead.” Through standard time, a daylight’s savings might help during spells of depletion. The long-range hope must continue to be faith in emergence from obscurity.


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Light sources needn’t be limited to short days and lamps. As in any embarkation, knowledge of resources is essential. That means discerning the present and knowing what is needed. A cultivated sense of direction helps me to stay on course. But navigating is no passive thing. When protracted darkness remains unilluminated, the aspiring soul must know to be lit by the night. Saints and sages of old teach us to unrelentingly reach for the Divine, come what may. Dionysius wrote of God as the Hidden Dark, above all things manifest, and above thought. Our thoughts are, after all, limited to dealing with what is differentiated and related. Yet although God cannot be fully known, continued Dionysius, we can nevertheless reach and experience the attributes of God.

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Truly a torchbearer in the darkness of the 9th century, Johannes Scottus Eriugena was known to say, “there are as many theophanies as there are saintly souls.” Eriugena was the remarkable scholar brought from Ireland to the royal court of France, to translate classical philosophical works from Greek into Latin. Among the manuscripts he translated were those of Dionysius. His crowning work was the astonishingly innovative Periphyseon, a complex work that was widely appreciated centuries later. Eriugena built brightly in the shadows of his times, explaining how Divine manifestations are understandable to us as processions. He wrote that God may be comprehended as darkness, due to God’s transcendence. This darkness is actually lux excellentiam, the ineffable light which simply appears dark because of its transcendent intensity. Creation, observed Eriugena, is a paradox, as the original darkness of God, which is no-thing, becomes light; it becomes something. Eriugena inspires readers to sense the similarities between source and destination, between creation and regathering. He preserved sources, while producing sources based upon his experience and learning.

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One wonders if thinkers such as Eriugena considered their own times as “dark ages.” Apparently, their greater efforts were invested in pedagogy and preserving knowledge; they may not have thought to editorialize in writing. Perhaps the greater work was to persevere, to keep on going. Carrying light through darkness, even discovering luminous mysteries by darkness itself, is incidental. Perhaps it happens as we persist, as we endure without losing sight of transcendent holiness, holding fast to what is good. But “holding fast” mustn’t be mistaken with inactivity, or clutching as we might hold on to objects. Endurance manifests as something productive, as forward progress. A life’s pilgrimage is a human’s longterm project. What is needed, in order to find light amidst undefined darkness? What is the proper equipage? That is itself a mystery, wrapped in mystery. More concretely is the vitality of encouraging and comforting others, aware to receive encouragement and comfort from others. Maintaining essentials in clear view needn’t depend upon available light, considering its unpredictability. Deep within the crucible, as I see it, is to be consistent and close to the Source of life and goodness through the unknowing.

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Friday, October 30, 2015

almost real

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“I see my way as birds their trackless way.
I shall arrive! What time, what circuit first,
I ask not: but unless God sends His hail
Or blinding fireballs, sleet or stifling snow,
In some time, His good time, I shall arrive;
He guides me and the bird. In His good time!”

~ Robert Browning, Paracelsus.


For personal causes of self-education, health, and post-work-week sanity, I made one of my usual monthly drives to Boston. There, I visit with friends, and enjoy a full day of study and writing at the Athenaeum. The drive from Portland divides in half: an hour to the Portsmouth area, followed by another hour which is mostly taken up with northeastern Massachusetts. As Interstate 95 merges with an infamous expressway known as 128, thoughtful drivers- including me- are brought to heighten all senses. I must defend against unpredictable right-side passers, tailgaters, and nonsignalers. At the Peabody split, I reflexively disengage cruise control. Committed to making the most of extremely valuable time off, I tune in to AM radio stations with road and traffic reports, ready to divert as needed so that I can get to Boston as efficiently as possible.

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At the lower end of the kilohertz scale, my radio picked up one of those abundant money programmes on the airwaves. Another “financial expert,” from the syndicated world sounded very far away from New England, telling me about what I don’t have, and what I should do with that nonexistent pile of loot that I should have by now. Thanks a lot. After a short listen, I moved on to a station with a traffic update. My thoughts lingered a bit longer with the financial broadcaster’s words and yet another reason to acknowledge what has been unattainable. Surely, I know enough to look and listen askance at these market-driven programmes, aimed at a broad spectrum of potential buyers. Not all of us can buy. Notwithstanding, my thoughts accompanied me, beyond the Reading-Wakefield merge, onto I-93, and off through Medford Square. Dashes of autumn foliage helped to lighten my thoughts, diverting them away from my case of the almosts. I refer to my chronic recounting of how I nearly made better choices, and was almost hired for this-and-that job: Almost, but not quite catching the brass rings of my wishes. During a traffic light breather, I looked over at my typewriter on the back seat. Saturday, sunshine, library books, and Beacon Hill awaiting, surpassed my sighs.

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Almosts have persistent ways of infiltrating streams of thought. Though I’m grateful for the gift of lucid, long-range memory, I’m also aware of the burden attached to razor-sharp recall. Remembering things I’ve almost accomplished, almost said, and ideas almost developed stirs my perspective into self-casting as a perennial underachiever. In a general sense, perhaps it is a human ache to desire to live up to one’s potential. In The Luminous Trail, Rufus Jones strikes a chord in his discourse about roads that evolve as we live:

“There is in most of us a vast acreage of our inner estate which has never been touched by the plow. It remains uncultivated. We are this; we have been this, but how much more we might be! Coming to ourself, our true self, and reaching out with divine help and the gift of Grace to win the whole of ourself is to be ‘spiritual-minded.’”

In that Grace is the ability to be unfettered by defeatism. In defeatism, I refer much more easily to unaccomplished ventures, than to vanquished waters long under the bridge. Navigating the turbidity of almost has the added afflication of the indefinite. This kind of wilderness has undefined limits; the traveller cannot see the end. The pilgrimage is accompanied by thirst, by longing for a satisfying stability and permanence. Living a long succession of almosts is wearying, as is the vigilance of keeping watch for an arrival into fulfillment. But even our most established days are temporal at best. Many of us know about fleeting moments in a theoretical sense, but very few apply that awareness as practical knowledge. How much sensible theory has become lived practice? Perhaps the core of each almost reveals the temporariness of what seems solid to our mortal senses.

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holding pattern

An unending chain of almosts, combined with short-range visibility, makes for a provisional view of life in all its dimensions. Athletes experiencing their version of almosts are prone to exclaim “wait ‘til next year,” having the advantage of an off-season during which they can recondition before re-entering their respective arenas. That is surely not how most of us live. If “offseasons” are preparatory spans of time, the average working person must intertwine active, vigilant forays with short and intermittent respites. I’ve learned to do this with occasional retreats. Tirelessly working, while waiting for my fortunes to improve, seems like a life spent in preparation for tailwinds that do not manifest. With undetectable boundaries, the provisional is undefined.

Pursuing a preparatory path is safely familiar, and not altogether without achievement. My student days, primarily dedicated to postgraduate life and employment has continued on with scholarship as intense as my job adventures and related searches. Scholarly life is inherently preparatory. Studies and research anticipate application. Critical reads, note taking, and indexing bridge discovery with future reference. Looking forward through the temporal can lose the present, relegating life to a perpetual holding pattern.

Living in a constant state of preparation is its own form of almost. In a continuity of those turbulent and tentative student years, renting my home and keeping my living simple, makes it easier to uproot as opportunities arise. Parallel to that, I have not ceased in my quest for better and more stable work. Living portably awaits the fulfillment of the almosts. Putting away money for the future reflects thirst to bring the temporal into port.

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The provisional should be just as it says, and not a permanent condition of unease. Over time, there develops a sense of the overdue, and at worst, the too-late. The latter becomes something to avoid and to be feared. Another pitfall to beware of is the notion of rehearsing for the real thing. Perceiving the present and continuing to do so, as treading water, devalues the voyage. Banking up energy, resources, and knowledge may be wise and prudent, but if it’s in anticipation of the real thing, there comes the question of whether there is a real and an almost real. Is the unsatisfactory ephemeral as real as any other circumstance? Perhaps it is more real, existing in the amenable present, and compared to the anticipated which does not exist yet. As unsuitable as it may be, present and temporal conditions are as real as foreshadows of hoped-for reality.

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From this lookout, straining ahead for improved reality to materialize, and struggling with the ill-fitting aspects of the present, there remains a reckoning with the past. As in archival processing, there are arrangements and descriptions of life’s chapters, based upon their points of origin and provenance. Are the organized documents through time’s continuum informative artifacts, or evidentiary references for condemnation? Commenting on our developing understanding of history, the philosopher Ortega y Gasset observed that our changes in thinking do not negate timeless truths, but rather that we change as we see truths anew that we hadn’t previously seen. He wrote about a progress in modern historiography that departed from the 18th century penchant for “cataloguing failures.” Like Gasset, I’m less interested in a sense of exoneration, and more drawn to redeeming my remaining time. Assurance of heading in a worthy direction would inform me that I am not obstructing my own progress. As surely as I write these words, the story continues to be composed.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2015


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“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.”

~ Matthew 5:7.

In the spiritual life, there is excessive emphasis on two extremes: the discovery of the start, and the finish line. But the indefinite crucible is equivalent to what chess players call the middle game. This is where drudgery and alienation happen, not at the opposite ends of the voyage. Deserted stretches of the middle game are the places of trial, and often the places of abandonment of faith. For some, however, the long stretches of practical life provide the stages for acquisition and success. For most of us, those unglamorous highways, with their innumerable offramps and detours, navigate the territory routed between the bulleted items on our résumés. Ungrudging contentment with ignominy is itself a gallant act of forgiveness.

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I remember the heart-wrenching defeat of having been eliminated from the candidacy search for the job I wanted most, out of any job I’ve ever applied for. It was the position I desired all through the sacrifices of graduate school life, with all pertaining compromises and debts. Anticipating the opening, I volunteered two full-term practica at that university, hoping to impress them and show them what a good fit I’d be. Well, after the door closed between my steps and that land of Canaan, I eventually reached out to the out-of-stater they hired, and collegially treated them to lunch- saying nothing about the process, but instead took the role of introducer to this area and the local professional community. I’ve also continued supporting the university, as a professional and as a neighbor. I care very much about the success of the school. Are these such grand gestures? Perhaps, though I’m not sure. But they are decent gestures. I’m not certain about how forgiving I’ve been, but I do know that is the sentiment I most prefer.

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Back when I worked in a small college, I befriended the chaplain, and immensely enjoyed helping his ministry as a volunteer. One day, I went to him for a few good words, after having experienced a crippling heartbreak. He could see how demoralized I’d been, and how aimless the road ahead looked. He said, “you feel cursed, don’t you?” I was so choked, I could merely nod. “Well, don’t be cursed. Be blessed.” He told me to consider myself spared, and that he knew a few things I didn’t know. “Really,” he said. “Be blessed. And if you don’t know what to do, just do the next right thing you know to do.”

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What does it mean to be blessed, and how do we know when we are? How do we know when we are agents of blessing? In essence, it may not be for us to know. Doing the right, or decent, thing might be the more important matter. Holy writ offers us the Beattitudes, and these help balance human perspective as it concerns defeat and humility. We are told that the honorable approach to others and to life, whether or not we are appreciated, is to respond peaceably and with genuine civility. The “blessed are you” sayings of the Gospel are the basics which inform our specifics. For the many of us that must rely upon intangibles, we must find our luxuries in the unseen. We must find our recognition in assurances without plaques, titles, or lucrative portfolios.

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We deliver provisions and furniture into swanky addresses, and then go home to gritty flats at night. The extent of our summer breezes and sunshine happens during commutes and snippets of weekends. Our oceanfront property is the city pier. We help others celebrate, and do so with honest cheer. We wish success to others. We conscientiously welcome and include the hirees that have bested us. Blessed are we!

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If you wished you were blessed, well then, blessed are you. Blessed are you that consciously remember where you came from; you will be remembered. Blessed are those who look forward, along with those who strive to improve themselves. Blessed are those who are concerned with the well-being of those around them; there will surely be pleasant surprises from unexpected directions.

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Blessed are those who yield to the right-of-way, and refuse to tailgate. Blessed are those who patiently wait their turn, and those who drive and walk gently upon this earth. You know you’re doing the right thing, following the high road that is worthy of community life. Blessed are those who recognize the unacknowledged and applaud the overlooked. Friendships are cultivated unawares every day, with each kind gesture. Blessed are those who leave disproportionately large tips at eateries. Servers bring food and drink right to your seat, and you are paying yourself with the goodness you show to your neighbors that serve you.

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When you contemplate the beauty of creation, blessed are you. When you choose to see what is good, even when it is not obvious, blessed are you. When you boldly hope against the apparent and the predictable, blessed are you. Welcoming the ungrateful; deferring in respect; listening at meetings; playing fair; defending the bullied; voting your conscience; extending understanding; concealing your generosity.
Blessed are you. Blessed are you. Blessed are you.

Sixty floors rise above the sidewalks of Boston’s Downtown Crossing, and the developers are calling it “The Neighborhood in the Clouds.”
Still, the meek have a kingdom in heaven. Be blessed.

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