Arts

The Arts section of Orient Lodge

Kintsugi

It was a special vase
full of magic and grace
that we acquired
fifteen years ago.

Over the years
it had tumbles
gained cracks
but stayed intact.

Yesterday
in was smashed
beyond repair
and I just don’t care
any more.

So I sat under the broom tree
with the prophets of old
and sulked.
Then the Lord came to me
and said,
“You know that’s not true.
You know you care
more than you can stand.”

I replied,
“Yes Lord,
but I just don’t have the energy
to pick up
all the broken pieces.”

Then the Lord replied,
“but I do.”
So the Master Craftsman
gathered several apprentices
and we all worked together
picking up the broken pieces
building a new vase
with the cracks filled with gold
even stronger
and more beautiful
than before.

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Fiftieth Birthday

(For Kim on her Fiftieth Birthday)

Half century seems nigh unto eternity
to the young
but to others
fifty is the new twenty one.

Her daily grind was littered
with death and disappointment
but still on the weekends
a young girl
eagerly rode
wild and free
on her loving pony
over back woods trails
in the memories
and body
of a chronically ill mother
as she looked on
to her daughter’s bliss.

In the midst
of all the pain and suffering,
of the mother,
of the daughter,
of the world;
each day
contained the hope
of enjoying the world
God had made
especially for her.

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#MakeItHappen #WhatIMake and Why: A Post Modern Secular Online Video Gospel

This summer, students and teachers at Amity High School in Woodbridge, CT read the book The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope. The Facebook Cliff Notes version of this says:

A Malawian teenage, William Kamkwamba, taught himself how to build a windmill out of junk and bring power to his village. He then went on to build a second, larger windmill to power irrigation pumps. He did this all from books he read in the library.

A slightly longer version can be found in this Ted Talk.

This could be a great starting point for a discussion of colonial and post-colonial literature, perhaps starting with Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, followed by Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart”. This could then be followed by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “Half of a Yellow Sun”. Those looking for other forms of accessing some of this might want to watch the movie, “Half of a Yellow Sun”, or Adichie’s TED talk, The danger of a single story . Yes, I realize that Conrad’s Congo, Achebe and Adichie’s Nigeria and Kamkwamba’s Malawi are very different places, but I’m guessing some important things could be discovered.

Perhaps part of that lesson is that what we make matters, and how we make it happens matters. The bigger question is why. Perhaps it could lead to discussions of business ethics, or even deeper into existential questions.

I might start with Matthew 22:37-40

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

To me, this is what it all boils down to. The problem is, that in our post-modern secular world, if you start talking about the Bible, God, Prophets, and commandments, you are likely to lose a lot of people. What might this be like in today’s post-modern secular world?

If you were to choose a few videos that grappled with these bigger questions, that go to the core of your existence, what would they be? What would you want people to watch? Would it be some of these TED talks? Talks about creativity?

There are a couple that I would suggest. I might start off with the abridged version of David Foster Wallace’s commencement speech, This is Water. This challenges us to think about who are neighbor really is. Yes, it starts off with the privileged white college graduate as a neighbor and doesn’t get to issues of racism and post colonialism, but it is an important start.

Once you have started thinking about having a little more empathy for those around you, the next video I would watch might be Validation. We need to find out how the people around us need validation and start there.

With these as a solid base, then we can start looking at things like education with Sir Ken Robinson’s Changing Education Paradigms and Taylor Mali on "What Teachers Make"

We can move on to talk about the role of gaming, with Jane McGonigal’s Gaming can make a better world and The game that can give you 10 extra years of life.

We can learn from Brene Brown’s The Power of Vulnerability and Listening to shame.

Without really thinking about those around us, about loving God and neighbor, we may end up just building bankrupt casinos ruining the lives of customers and vendors as we try to make American great again.

What videos would you recommend? What do you make? How do you make it happen? Why?

A Burning Speck of Star Dust

The rain and clouds have dispersed
and the night is noisy.
Cicadas and bullfrogs
fill the soundscape.
In the distance
an owl hoots
and some coyotes respond.

Sixty miles overhead
a speck of star dust
left behind
by some visiting comet
hits the atmosphere
and starts to glow
before becoming
completely vaporized.

It is dark in the neighborhood
most of the humans are sleeping
and no outdoor lights are visible.
On a distant road
a car can be heard
driven somewhere
by someone
not noticing the show
and, oh,
there’s another shooting star.

Unlike on radio
or television
where dead air
is to be avoided
and viewers become
quickly impatient
we wait on the porch
for the next flash.

We count the seconds
one thousand one
one thousand two
as we wait for another;
just one more piece
of celestial candy
before we return
to bed.

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Tai Chi with Seals

With skins of freshly picked
wild blueberries
lingering on my lips
and the oil
of freshly crushed
sassafras leaves
on my ankles
and wrisrs
to ward off
those pesky black flies
that interrupt
concentration,
I faced the sea.

With knees slightly bent,
wrists, elbows, and shoulders
relaxed,
I inhaled
and felt the energy
of the vast ocean and sky
gather
in my belly
and then down
through the soles of my feet
through the sand
and into the sea
where the seals
gently waited
and watched.

They watched
as I struck
the tiger pose,
unafraid.

They seemed more curious
about the deer pose
and they joined with the seabirds
who seemed amused
at the human
standing on one leg
flapping his arms
like an awkward crane.

Once more,
I sank my chi
thanked the birds
and seals
that joined me
and sent them
good fishing energy.

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