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Robinson Jeffers, burnout and beauty

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My friend Honestpoet Robinson Jeffersencouraged me to look into the poetry of Robinson Jeffers. I looked for him in Wikipedia, and found some pretty compelling comments:

…Jeffers continued to explore the questions of how human beings could find their proper relationship (free of human egocentrism) with the divinity of the beauty of things.

Mankind was too self-centered, he complained, and too indifferent to the “astonishing beauty of things”.

In January of 2002 I had what we used to call a “nervous breakdown.” Utterly disabled, off work for months, I could feel almost nothing but loss.

Beauty was the path that opened the possibility of healing. It started with a counselor’s suggestion that I learn about delight (which, in those parched beginnings, meant a cup of coffee and a newspaper at the health-food co-op).  Eventually, I came to agree with Joan Chittister, who wrote, “A loss of commitment to beauty is the surest sign that we have lost our way to God.” (Illuminated Life: Monastic Wisdom for Seekers of God).

Much has happened since then. But as I read this poem of Jeffers this morning, I felt called again to the life of healing-by-beauty, thus permitting (what seems to me to be) one gentle, feather’s-weight sensitization to its inventor’s whispers.

Thanks, HP – you have helped me.

Love The Wild Swan
“I hate my verses, every line, every word.
Oh pale and brittle pencils ever to try
One grass-blade’s curve, or the throat of one bird
That clings to twig, ruffled against white sky.
Oh cracked and twilight mirrors ever to catch
One color, one glinting
Hash, of the splendor of things.
Unlucky hunter, Oh bullets of wax,
The lion beauty, the wild-swan wings, the storm of the wings.”
–This wild swan of a world is no hunter’s game.
Better bullets than yours would miss the white breast
Better mirrors than yours would crack in the flame.
Does it matter whether you hate your . . . self?
At least Love your eyes that can see, your mind that can
Hear the music, the thunder of the wings. Love the wild swan.
Robinson Jeffers

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Written by Monte

April 18, 2007 at 12:16 pm

My unrespectable hero (sermon of Sep 16, ’07)

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I loved preaching this sermon; even more, I loved preparing it. Discovering afresh who Jesus is and what his passions are still breathes life into my heart. May it serve you, so.

Two shepherds. Which best represents a Bible figure?

good-shepherd.jpgshepherd boy

Proper 19 (24) September 16, 2007
Luke 15:1-10; 1 Timothy 1:12-17; Jeremiah 4:11-12,22-28; Psalm 14

We sang Cry of My Heart; Shout to the North; Above All; Be the Centre

And the sermon:

[With the opening of the Luke verses on the video screen, I moved between parts of the congregation, asking the people on one side to be the group described in the first verse. The first group’s job was to appear disreputable, which was really pretty funny.] Read the rest of this entry »

The Return of the Prodigal (readings for Sunday, March 18, 2007)

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Here’s the wonderful, familiar story we call the Prodigal Son.  And listen to what Richard Swanson has to say about familiar stories:

This is a story that is so well known that it is impossible to read, impossible to hear, impossible to interpret. It is a good principle of interpretation:  if everybody know what a text means, begin with the guess that nobody knows what the text means. At the least, any story that everybody knows will be a story that nobody has listened to closely for a long time. Stories require more attention than that. Every story has worlds of meaning that open themselves only to prodding and provocation. And that is what we don’t do to stories that everybody knows and loves.

Let the provoking begin.  (Provoking the Gospel of Luke: A Storyteller’s Commentary, Year C)

Click for larger image at ArtchiveLuke 15 Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

Then Jesus told them this parable . . .

The Parable of the Lost Son
“There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with … Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

March 12, 2007 at 11:11 pm

Refusing control: Jesus’ three temptations

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The 3rd Temptation - NinanA sermon for the first Sunday in Lent; February 25, 2007
Luke 4:1-13;Romans 10:8-13;Psalm 91:1-2,9-16;Deuteronomy 26:1-11

Come, Now Is The Time
You Are My All In All
This Is My Father’s World
Be Thou My Vision

Richard Swanson (in Provoking the Gospel of Luke) says if you were from another planet, dropped in, and listened to Christians, you might think they believed in two Gods – a good one and a bad one – whom they call God and Satan. With 1st century Jews, it wasn’t so – Satan was the tester, the accuser. His job was to travel the earth and look for things that weren’t true, weren’t sound, and expose them before God. “Aha! See, God? See?” Think of Job: “Here’s one, God. He isn’t true. He’s just happy because you give him lots of good stuff.”

But Luke’s first readers would never have seen the accuser as anything like God in power. “This is my Father’s world” would have been the attitude – and even “though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler, yet.”

And so this tempter comes to find what’s unsound in Jesus.

Now again, remember the last thing that happened – what’s the context here? It was Jesus’ baptism, and a voice that said, “You are my Son…” And what’s the tester’s first phrase to Jesus? “If you are the Son of God …”

Perhaps Jesus thought, “Was the voice true? Did I even really hear it? Who am I, really?” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

March 7, 2007 at 11:08 pm