Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Think Globally Act Locally

Unity of Country Souvenir Silver Sculpture
one of my favorites
at the
President`s Center of Culture & Museum
Astana, Kazakhstan
[more from this museum]


D. Patrick Miller:

"The extent to which we think 'world peace' is possible is exactly the extent to which we think our own minds can someday be peaceful through and through. If we cannot understand why distant warring nations fight over territories, national pride, or religious beliefs, then we need look for insight no further than our fight for a parking space, the struggle to procure a prestigious position over our competitors, or the aggressive ministry to convert one more soul to our church."


Patricia Henley:

"They toss little scraps of origami wishes into the fire. June thinks she should wish for World Peace, but she doesn't. She wishes for Local Peace."


Denise Levertov
"We are the humans, men who can make;
whose language imagines mercy,
lovingkindness we have believed one another
mirrored forms of a God we felt as good . . .

nothing we do has the quickness, the sureness,
the deep intelligence living at peace would have."

Rotary Connection: "If Peace Was All We Had"


Maya Angelou:

"I believe that there lives a burning desire in the most sequestered private heart of every American, a desire to belong to a great country. I believe that every citizen wants to stand on the world stage and represent a noble country where the mighty do not always crush the weak and the dream of a democracy is not the sole possession of the strong."

Throwback Post: "On This Day"


Jill Jackson-Miller & Sy Miller
Let peace begin with me
Let this be the moment now
With every step I take
Let this be my solemn vow

To take each moment
And live each moment
To take each moment
And live each moment
To take each moment
And live each moment
In peace eternally

Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me

Let There Be Peace On Earth
Photo taken 4 December 2014


And lastly:

So sad to see such blatant racial profiling.
Was the intent really to raise awareness or merely to
stir up resentment and reinforce hurtful stereotypes?

Sunday, January 27, 2019

The Cat Who Walked Alone

I came across this independent little churchyard cat
at the Parish of Saint Nicholas, Worth, England.

See the resemblance?
Click to Read Kipling's Story

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Sleeping at the Foot of the Bed

James B. Fuqua

Sleepin' at the Foot o' the Bed

Did ye ever sleep at the foot o' the bed
When the weather wuz whizzin' cold,
When the wind wuz a-whistlin' aroun' the house
And the moon wuz yeller ez gold,
And give yore good warm feathers up
To Aunt Lizzie and Uncle Fred --
Too many kinfolks on a bad, raw night
And you wuz sent to the foot o' the bed.
For some dern reason the coldest night of the season
And you wuz sent to the foot o' the bed.

I could allus wait till the old folks et
An then eat the leavin's with grace,
The teacher could keep me after school,
An' I'd still hold a smile on my face,
I could wear the big boys' wore-out clothes
er let sister have my sled,
But it allus did git my nanny goat
to have to sleep at the foot o' the bed;
There's not a location topside o' creation
That I hate like the foot o' the bed.

'Twuz fine enough when the kinfolks come --
the kids brought brand new games,
You could see how fat all the old folks wuz,
and learn all the babies names,
Had biscuits an' custard and chicken pie,
An allus got Sunday fed,
But you knowed dern well when nighttime come on
You wuz headed fer the foot of the bed;
You couldn't git by it, they was no use to try it,
You wuz headed fer the foot o' the bed.

They tell me that some folks don't know whut it is
To have company all over the place,
To rassel fer cover thru a long winter night
with a big foot setting in your face,
Er with cold toenails a-scratchin' your back
An a footboard a scrubbin' yore head;
I'll tell the wide world you ain't lost a thing
Never sleepin' at the foot o' the bed;
You can live jest as gladly an' die jest as sadly
'N' never sleep at the foot o' the bed.

I've done it, an' I've done it a many uv a time
In this land o' brave an' the free,
An' in this all-fired battle of life
It's done left its mark upon me,
Fer I'm allus a-strugglin' around at the foot
Instead of forgin' ahead,
An' I don't think it's caused by a doggone thing
But sleepin' at the foot o' the bed.
I've lost all my claim on fortune an' fame
A-sleepin' at the foot o' the bed.

Lyrics by Luther Patrick, 1894 – May 26, 1957
U.S. Representative from Alabama, author and radio commentator

Sung by Little Jimmy Dickens & Connie Smith

Similar themes and equally humorous:

The Napping House by Audrey & Don Wood

"Grandma's Feather Bed"
sung by John Denver
music & lyrics by Jim Connor


Fuqua, occasionally at the foot . . .

but more often than not,
sleeping in style at the head of the bed!

Monday, January 21, 2019

Dissertation, Early Draft

Unlike that dreary law school movie, these scribbled pages show the exhilarating side of the "Paper Chase." The intriguing ideas just kept coming non - stop, and I tried my best to jot them all down for future reference!

These old class notes, providing a sample of how my brain works, must be from one of the last classes I took before writing my dissertation, since it seems that all the main ideas are here! I re - discovered these forgotten pages folded inside my E. T. A. Hoffmann book, which I took off the shelf yesterday to compare a couple of different translations of "Nutcracker." You just never know what you'll come across when re -reading old favorites during the post - holiday season . . .
Additional comments on facebook . . .

Friday, January 18, 2019

Mary Oliver: Rest in Wonder

In Memoriam ~ Mary Oliver
10 September 1935 ~ 17 January 2019
Award - winning American poet and naturalist

The first Mary Oliver poem I ever read,
during a phase of uncertainty:
from The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do . . .

But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save
[emphasis added]

On my blog: November 25, 2009, June 7, 2011,
and January 25, 2016

2. Next came this one, a gift from
my introspective friend Celine:
from The Roses

. . . there is no end,
believe me! to the inventions of summer,
to the happiness your body
is willing to bear.

On my blog: July 28, 2009 & July 12, 2010

3. Observing the Autumnal Equinox:
from Lines Written in the Days of Growing Darkness

Every year we have been
witness to it: how the
world descends

into a rich mash, in order that
it may resume.

On my blog: September 23, 2011 & March 10, 2014

4. Celebrating the miraculous arrival
and inevitable departure of Spring:
from Peonies

The Peonies
This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready
to break my heart . . .

Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass with its terror beneath?

Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and softly,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,

with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
their eagerness
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
nothing forever?

On my blog: May 7, 2012 & May 23, 2015

5. Mary Oliver's "one wild and precious life":
from The Summer Day

I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything have to die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
[emphasis added]

On my blog: July 8, 2012

6. Searching for the Quotidian:
from Whelks, Goldfinches, Poppies, Winter,
Hummingbird Pauses at the Trumpet Vine,

All my life
I have been restless --
I have felt there is something
more wonderful than gloss --
than wholeness --
than staying at home.

I have not been sure what it is.


every year
the hatchlings wake . . .

and love the world.
Is it necessary to say anymore?
Have you heard them singing in the wind,
above the final fields?
Have you ever been so happy in your life?


of course
loss is the great lesson.

But also I say this: that light
is an invitation
to happiness
and that happiness,
when it's done right,
is a kind of holiness.


in this world I am as rich
as I need to be.


Look! for most of the world
is waiting
or remembering --
most of the world is time
when we're not here,


Look, I want to love this world
as though it's the last chance I'm ever going to get
to be alive
and know it.

On my blog: October 24, 2012

7. Acknowledging our humble place in the Animal Kingdom:
from Her Grave

A dog can never tell you what she knows from the
smells of the world, but you know, watching her,
that you know
almost nothing.

On my blog: November 28, 2012 & November 29, 2012

8. Mary Oliver paid all species of fauna and flora their due:
from The Sunflowers

Don't be afraid
to ask them questions!
. . . the long work
of turning their lives
into a celebration
is not easy.

On my blog: August 21, 2013

9. From among so many treasures,
this brief poem remains my favorite.
Yes, this is the entire poem:
The Uses of Sorrow

(In my sleep I dreamed this poem)

Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.

It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.

On my blog: March 21, 2015 & March 29, 2015

10. Vocation and avocation:
from Messenger

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird . . .

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
[emphasis added]

On my blog: April 28, 2016 & May 3, 2016

11. Not only did Mary Oliver the world,
but it also loved her back:
from The Fist

Instead: such patience!
Such willingness

to let us continue!
To hear,
little by little,
the voices -

only, so far, in
pockets of the world -
suggesting the possibilities
of peace?

On my blog: May 24, 2016

12. Writing of her little puppy,
but just as true for my little sons:
from "Percy (Seven)"

Ah, this is the thing that comes to each of us.
The child grows up.
And, according to our own ideas, is practically asunder.

I understand it.
I struggle to celebrate.
I say, with a stiff upper lip familiar to many:

Just look at that curlyhaired child now,
he’s his own man.

On my blog: June 2, 2016

13. And lastly, a poem for the winter, about snow, about saving
yourself and putting "your own life in proportion." In is entirety:
Logan International

In the city called Wait,
also known as the airport,
you might think about your life --
there is not much else to do.
For one thing,
there is too much luggage,
and you're truly lugging it --
you and, it seems, everyone.

What is it, that you need so badly?
Think about this.

Earlier, in another city,
you're on the tarmac, a lost hour.
You're going to miss your connection, and you know it,
and you do.
You're headed for five hours of nothing.
And how long can you think about your own life?

What I did, to save myself,
was to look for children, the very young ones
who couldn't even know where they were going, or why.
Some of them were fussing, of course.
Many of them were beautifully Hispanic.

The storm was still busy outside, and snow falling
anywhere, any time, is a wonder.
But even more wonderful, and maybe the only thing
to put your own life in proportion
were the babies, the little ones, hot and tired,
but still
gurgling, chuckling, as they looked --
wherever they were going, or not yet going,
in their weary parents' arms (no!
their lucky parents' arms) --
upon this broken world.
[emphasis added]

On my blog: May 28, 2016
“Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.”

from the poem "Sometimes"
in the collection Red Bird

Rest in Peace Mary Oliver,
Rest in Wonder, Rest in Astonishment!

14. Morning Glory

15. The Ordinary Daily Presentations & Mindful

16. The Peonies Have Their Day

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Resolutions for the New Year

1. Start Fresh

2. Drink Deep

3. Run With the Wind*

4. Live in the "Golden Envelope of Light"**

Spiced Coffee at Town & Gown Bistro

"Gilgamesh, whither rovest thou?
The life thou pursuest thou shalt not find.
When the gods created humankind,
Death for us they set aside,
Life in their own hands retaining.
Thou, Gilgamesh, let full be thy belly
Make thou merry by day and by night.
Of each day make thou a feast of rejoicing,
Day and night dance thou and play
Let thy garments be sparkling and fresh,
Thy head be washed, bathe thou in water.
Pay heed to the little one that holds thy hand,
Let thy spouse delight in thy bosom,
For this is the task of humankind.

~From The Epic of Gilgamesh ~ Tablet X
~Translated by E. A. Speiser

For additional New Year Poems:

"i am running into a new year" by Lucille ~ Clifton
** "in celebration of surviving" by Chuck Miller

see my current posts

Ghost of Myself


Ghost of the Girl in the Pepsi Ad

@ The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker
A literary blog of connection & coincidence;
custom & ceremony


Saturday, January 12, 2019

A Patience Larger Than Time

Three Grandmothers

After Epiphany . . . the Flight Into Egypt

Could these grandmothers be the Wise Ones,
departing "for their own country another way?"

Could this family's decision be to
"take the young child and . . . flee to Egypt?"
(Matthew 2: 12 - 14)

A Decision to Move

Both pantings by Yerbolat Tolepbay (b (1955)
At the National Museum of Kazakhstan

Neither look back upon Thy starry country,
Nor hear what rumors crowd across the dark . . .
Go, Child of God, upon the singing desert,
Where, with eyes of flame,
The roaming lion keeps thy road from harm . . .

~ Thomas Merton ~


. . . O terrified birds in your nest,
Close wings on doubt, and rise, and come.
The corn shimmers with darkness, and the road
Is strong enough to bear the feet of God. . . .
. . . knowing at last . . .
A patience larger than time.

~ Vincent Buckley ~

Click to read more poems
about the flight into Egypt


National Museum in Astana, Kazakhstan
By Night

By Day

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Three More Wise Ones

Words of Ancestors ~ Bakhytzhan Myrzakhmetov
Canvas & oil, 1997
1. The Three Kings

Where do we go from here?
We left our country,
Bore gifts,
Followed a star.
We were questioned.
We answered.
We reached our objective.
We enjoyed the trip.
Then we came back by a different way.
And now the people are demonstrating in the streets.
They say they don’t need the Kings any more.
They did very well in our absence.
Everything was all right without us.
They are out on the streets with placards:
Wise Men? What’s wise about them?
There are plenty of Wise Men,
And who needs them?—and so on.

Perhaps they will be better off without us,
But where do we go from here?

~ Muriel Spark (1918 - 2006)
Silk Road ~ Sagyntai Alimbetov
Canvas & oil, 1998
2. Christmas Carol

The kings they came from out the south,
All dressed in ermine fine;
They bore Him gold and chrysoprase,
And gifts of precious wine.

The shepherds came from out the north,
Their coats were brown and old;
They brought Him little new-born lambs—
They had not any gold.

The wise men came from out the east,
And they were wrapped in white;
The star that led them all the way
Did glorify the night.

The angels came from heaven high,
And they were clad with wings;
And lo, they brought a joyful song
The host of heaven sings.

The kings they knocked upon the door,
The wise men entered in,
The shepherds followed after them
To hear the song begin.

The angels sang through all the night
Until the rising sun,
But little Jesus fell asleep
Before the song was done.

~ Sara Teasdale (1884- 1933)
Golden Steppes ~ Kazakbay Azhibekuly (b 1966)
Canvas & oil, 1997
3. St. Helen’s Prayer
to the Three Magi on the Feast of the Epiphany

Everyone in Jerusalem remarked on Helena’s vigour. The old lady was positively indefatigable, they all said. But in truth she was very weary. Winter set in. The convent was exposed, damp and chill. It was not thus, in Dalmatia, that she had planned her old age. She seemed to have come to the end of her questions. No one was helpful. No one was hopeful. At Christmas she had not the strength to ride out with the procession to Bethlehem. She went to communion in the convent chapel and that day allowed the nuns to make a fuss of her, spending the feast crouched over a wood fire which they lit for her in her room.

But by Twelfth Night she rallied and on the eve set out by litter along the five rough miles to the shrine of the Nativity. There was no throng of pilgrims. [Bishop] Macarius and his people kept Epiphany in their own church. Only the little community of Bethlehem greeted her and led her to the room they had prepared. She rested there dozing until an hour before dawn when they called her and led her out under the stars, then down onto the stable-cave, where they made a place for her on the women’s side of the small, packed congregation.

The low vault was full of lamps and the air close and still. Silver bells announced the coming of the three vested, bearded monks, who prostrated themselves before the altar. So the long liturgy began.

Helena knew little Greek and her thoughts were not in the words nor anywhere in the immediate scene. She forgot even her quest and was dead to everything except the swaddled child long ago and those three royal sages who had come from so far to adore him.

“This is my day, she thought, “and these are my kind.”

Perhaps she apprehended that her fame, like theirs, would live in one historic act of devotion; that she too had emerged from a kind of ‘ουτοπία’ [Utopia] or nameless realm and would vanish like them in the sinking nursery fire-light among the picture-books and the day’s toys.

“Like me,” she said to them, “you were late in coming. The shepherds were here long before; even the cattle. They had joined the chorus of angels before you were on your way. For you the primordial discipline of the heavens was relaxed and a new defiant light blazed among the disconcerted stars.

“How laboriously you came, taking sights and calculations, where the shepherds had run barefoot! How odd you looked on the road, attended by what outlandish liveries, laden with such preposterous gifts!

“You came at length to the final stage of your pilgrimage and the great star stood still above you. What did you do? You stopped to call on King Herod. Deadly exchange of compliments in which there began that unended war of mobs and magistrates against the innocent!

“Yet you came, and were not turned away. You too found room at the manger. Your gifts were not needed, but they were accepted and put carefully by, for they were brought with love. In that new order of charity that had just come to life there was room for you too. You were not lower in the eyes of the holy family than the ox or the ass.

“You are my especial patrons,” said Helena, “and patrons of all late-comers, of all who have had a tedious journey to make to the truth, of all who are confused with knowledge and speculation, of all who through politeness make themselves partners in guilt, of all who stand in danger by reason of their talents.

“Dear cousins, pray for me,” said Helena, “and for my poor overloaded son [the Emperor Constantine himself, who was still unbaptized]. May he, too, before the end find kneeling-space in the straw. Pray for the great, lest they perish utterly. And pray for Lactantius and Marcias and the young poets of Trèves and for the souls of my wild, blind ancestors; for their sly foe Odysseus and for the great Longinus.

“For His sake who did not reject your curious gifts, pray always for the learned, the oblique, the delicate. Let them not be quite forgotten at the Throne of God when the simple come into their kingdom.”

~ Evelyn Waugh (1903 - 1966)
from Chapter 9 ~ “Epiphany” ~ of his novel Helena
Thanks to Peter Bunder
for including this selection for Epiphany
in the Good Shepherd Bulletin
on Sunday, 14 January 2018


All artwork above from the
President`s Center of Culture & Museum
Astana, Kazakhstan


More Magi
Medellín Magi
Magi and Fruitcake
"The Magi" ~ Peter, Paul & Mary

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Medellín Magi

Huge Wise Ones from the Medellín Alumbrados ~ 2016

"Three for the kings
bringing gold, bringing myrrh, bringing incense . . . "

1. Song of the Camels
Not born to the forest are we,
Not born to the plain,
To the grass and the shadowing tree
And the splashing of rain.
Only the sand we know
And the cloudless sky.
The mirage and the deep-sunk well
And the stars on high.
To the sound of our bells we came
With huge soft stride,
Kings riding upon our backs,
Slaves at our side.
Out of the east drawn on
By a dream and a star,
Seeking the hills and the groves
Where the fixed towns are.
Our goal was no palace gate,
No temple of old,
But a child on his mother's lap
In the cloudy cold.
The olives were windy and white,
Dust swirled through the town,
As all in their royal robes
Our masters knelt down.

~ Elizabeth Coatsworth (1893 – 1986)

2. The Journey Of The Magi
A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year

For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.
And the camels galled, sorefooted, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
and running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arriving at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you might say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

~ T. S. Eliot (1888 - 1965)
Collected Poems, 1909-1962
This poem has been shared here under fair use guidelines.

3. The Meeting Place
(after Rubens: The Adoration of the Magi, 1634)
It was the arrival of the Kings
that caught us unawares;

we'd looked on the woman in the barn,
curiosity you could call it,
something to do on a cold winters night;
we'd wished her well—
that was the best we could do, she was in pain,
and the next thing we knew
she was lying on the straw
—the little there was of it—
and there was a baby in her arms.

It was as I say the Kings
that caught us unawares—
Women have babies every other day,
not that we are there—
lets call it a common occurrence though,
giving birth. But Kings
appearing in a stable with a
'Is this the place?' and kneeling,
each with his gift held out towards the child!

They didn't even notice us.
Their robes trailed on the floor,
rich, lined robes that money couldn't buy.
What must this child be
to bring Kings from distant lands
with costly incense and gold?
What could a tiny baby make of that?

And what were we to make of it?
was it angels falling through the air,
entwined and falling as if from the rafters
to where the gaze of the Kings met the child's
—assuming the child could see?

What would the mother do with the gift?
What would become of the child?
And we'll never admit there are angels

or that between one man's eye and another's
is a holy place, a space where a king could be
at one with a naked child,
at one with an astonished soldier.

~ Christopher Pilling (b 1936)
[I first heard this poem, given as a reading
entitled "A Soldier’s Recollection," at
Ex Cathedra, 21 Dec 2017, Birmingham, UK]

More Magi
Three More Wise Ones
Magi and Fruitcake
"The Magi" ~ Peter, Paul & Mary

Thursday, January 3, 2019

The Sun Returns

Sunrise on the 10th Day of Christmas

The Winter Solstice was two weeks ago and Earth's perihelion is today. Is it just a coincidence that the Earth is closest to the Sun a mere two weeks after the shortest day? Yes, mostly, kind of. It was not ever thus; it will not be ever so, just as the North Star will not always be Polaris, no matter how constant it may seem to be in our day and age.

I'm reminded of that mystical line in "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing," when the Messiah arrives "Late in time." Or even better, the closing stanza of "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear":

For lo!, the days are hastening on,
By prophet bards foretold,
When with the ever-circling years
Comes round the age of gold . . .

(Wikipedia & The New Oxford Book of Carols give this version)

For lo! the days are hastening on,
By prophets seen of old,
When with the ever-circling years
Shall come the time foretold . . .

(this version from the Episcopal Hymnal &
The Reader's Digest Merry Christmas Songbook)

Lyrics by Edmund H. Sears (1810 - 1876)

Peter, Paul, and Mary capture the mystery in their prophetic lyrics:

And the wisemen spoke of peace on earth,
Of harmony and struggle.
Know you now a cycle's gone and a new one is revealed
In the weaving of your fingers . . .

We are "invited by our culture and by the shortened days to a time of reflection" (Peter Bunder). On one of the darkest nights, the Child is born. Fast away the old year passes, and the days hasten on. A fortnight later, the Wise Men arrive, the days lengthen visibly, and we shift our focus to yet another ever - circling year.