Category Archives: Religion

Old slippers

Old slippersA couple of years ago I bought some dark blue slippers to put on in chapel (a fair amount of rich soil, to say nothing of a variety of natural fertilizers, follows us everywhere we go). Lined in fleece, easy to slip on, soles able to withstand being worn outdoors for the days I forgot I had them on when I returned to work—when I finally had them “broken in” I grew to love them.

Needless to say it wasn’t long before they had molded so comfortably to my feet I began to wear them everywhere on purpose, especially in winter.

Now they are faded and falling seriously to ruin. But they have become my friends and the quintessential example of “comfortable as an old pair of slippers”. I plan to wear them till they fall off my feet. Literally. And that day will definitely been sooner rather than later.

I dread the idea of slipper-shopping, and the inevitable sticker-shock that accompanies the task. New slippers will look ever so much better, but that will just be the outside. No, I’m not looking forward to the day these old friends can’t make it one more step.

Holy One, let me be like these dear slippers: let me not fret over my outer cracks and wrinkles and fading skin, and may I become immensely soft, well-molded, supportive and forgiving where it counts.

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Good Friday

Holy Week is all about weaving:  weaving the strands of those last weeks and days of Jesus’ life into a story that has had amazing staying power. Today, some say, is the real culmination of that story. I’m inclined to think the particular focus of each day is a culmination of its own.

But then, these days I’m given to quantum-world thinking, which allows such things as multiple “bests” without so much as a backward glance.

Clarity and focus

This was the view from my cell window (that would be “bedroom” to normal folk) tonight.  You probably can’t see it in this small shot (though if you click on the photo you’ll see the larger version), but the wind was rising from the west, up the hill, making the lower trees bend and quiver. That’s why they are so blurry while the closer trees are clear.

Isn’t that so much like life … just when I get crisp clarity in one area, another goes blurry on me.  Maybe that’s why the cross appears as a stabilizing feature.

For these and all your many blessings, we thank you, O God our wise Creator.

Back at Holy Cross …

Foggy January morningEighteen committed (read: addicted) yarn-workers gathered this month for a three-day retreat called “Prayerful Stitches”.  Led by two of the brothers, all of us indulged our innate sense that handwork is connected to — in fact, rooted in — the Sacred.

Not only was the retreat a fabulous success, but we were graced by some amazing Handwork of another kind. This foggy morning just begged to be photographed. I took this photo from my room early one morning. The roof (at the bottom) is the monastery refectory; the small bright light (left side, just below middle) is the reflection of the rising sun on the Hudson  River. The fog was still lingering heavily, in spite of the sun’s best efforts to burn it off.

This particular shot was taken through two windows and with a cell phone. Even so, you can probably tell it was Handwork of the highest order.

Just a wee heads-up; this retreat is to be repeated October 14-17, scheduled to coincide with the annual Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival, which will be the Saturday treat of a lifetime if you’ve never been there. My guess is that this will fill up long before the official announcement comes out, so if you’re interested, contact the monastery now!

Morning Promise

I seem to be in a poetry kind of mood lately, so here’s another. This was written early one morning at Holy Cross Monastery. Their refectory (dining room) is essentially round and filled with windows that look north, east and south over the monastery’s vast sloping yard, the Hudson River and the hills beyond. I often sit in the dark room to witness the sunrise. This day was spectacularly beautiful, so I stayed on to see the river itself awaken.

Sadly I didn’t have a camera with me, but a generous and excellent photographer allowed me to use one of her fog-rising-on-river shots. Though this is not the Hudson, the mood evoked that morning is caught to perfection by Virginia Allain. You can visit her blog here, and see more of her amazing photography here.

.

The last drifts of night fog
rise as columns of incense
from the Hudson, an aching
prayer for promised Light;

.

wind disturbs the river’s surface
marking paths of slow and pointless
journeys that linger on
the glassy edge of water
until the river stirs and stretches
and swallows them with the dawn;

solitary crows patrol the river’s
northward line then four
geese vee toward winter warmth
coining energy in the
shelter of each other’s draft

and low-slung clouds lazily haunt
the wake of the geese until
the dry air breaks its fast
on their moist and fated wisps —
a sour skin of smog
all that remains to trap the
morning’s reckless glory

I ride Earth’s back toward the
blinding sacrificial star
that gives us life,
my hasty benedictus a
postscript-pale song of hunger
for the day that
breathes itself into me —
that will become me —
before Earth and I
sail into night.

Temptation

IMG_3752 This just begs for a cute caption, but I’ll refrain. (If anyone else would like to contribute, however, feel free!)

Simon (left) has been encroaching on Smudge’s territory for some time. He finally reached the nose-to-nose range last week. Oh, if only that danged grill weren’t there …