A Lenten Discipline

This year, I will focus on creating
and appreciating creation.

It is too easy to be morose,
to think about our frailty and failings,
both individual and collective.
We are reminded of this
on the incessant evening news.

Three young Muslims were killed today.
A tank car carrying crude oil exploded.
The cease fire is not holding.
Congress has reached an impasse.

The soundtrack of human suffering
plays on the car radio
as we commute to and from
the daily grind.

The numbed mind doesn’t see
the beauty of the young deer
foraging for food,
nibbling on branches
in the waist deep snow.

The numbed mind doesn’t see
the high five
the homeless man gives
to his buddy
who just got a job.

I will remember moments in nature
walking home alone
beside the frozen stream
and pausing to look
at the perfect pattern of ice
jutting out from a rock.

I will remember visits to the museum
walking reverently
towards the masterpiece
and standing to soak in
all the beauty someone else
had managed
to mingle with paint
and adhere to a canvas.

I will remember the cathedral moments
of childhood;
transcendence, and wonder,
of something greater than myself
in crowds of people
like me and yet not like me.

I will remember quiet moments
of childhood;
when I was hurt
or failed
and someone said,
“I love you.”

This year, I will focus on creating
and appreciating creation.

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The Seals

Two atoms collided on a small star
in a distant corner
of the Virgo Supercluster
emitting a small burst of light.

Several minutes later,
that light,
along with the light
of so many other such collisions
reflected off the skin
of a large grey seal
basking on a sand bar
at low tide
on Cape Cod.

This reflected light
entered the eyes
of a man sitting
on the sand
next to his wife
at sunset.

He reached out and touched her hand.

The touch,
the smells of the sea,
the sound of the surf
      and the seals,
fired off synapses
mingling serotonin and memories
in her mind.

Her mother had loved watching the seals.

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What is Poetry?

I moved to New York after dropping out of college,
to be a poet,
but found myself writing computer programs
for an insurance company.

I had pieces published in college literary magazines,
but never had the confidence to become
the next Wallace Stevens.
Anyway, I like programming computers.

Three decades later
I compose my lines
as I drive to work
and wonder,
“What is poetry?”

Now, I write my blog posts
and meeting minutes
in a voice not much different
from my collegiate poems.

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A lenten Reflection

In the middle of the night, the dog wanted to go outside. I pulled the blankets around me more tightly, hoping it was just deer or perhaps a bobcat passing through and he would settle back down shortly. In that half-awake stake, my mind wandered from some dream to a really important Lenten revelation, or so it seemed at the time.

The dog did not settle down, so I took him outside on the leash briefly. He tried to find a place in the deep snow where he could relieve himself, walking in short circles. Finally, he was ready and came back inside. I headed back to bed hoping now I could get a little sleep, but the dog wanted more outside time.

Eventually, I let him outside again and when he came back inside and I returned, again, to my bed, sleep came quickly. Yet with the morning light, that dream and Lenten revelation were gone from my memory. Perhaps they will come back. Perhaps I carry them in my subconscious thoughts right now.

I went to an Ash Wednesday service on the way home. I’ve pondered anew what Lenten disciplines I might adopt, but now the hour is late after a long day, so I’ll head off to bed, and hopefully get a better night sleep.

Then, tomorrow, I can write of state politics, the lunar New Year, Lenten disciplines, perhaps poetry, technology, or some sort of post structuralist thought, but now, I shall sleep.

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Shrove Tuesday

The Shrove Tuesday pancakes and sausage sit in by gut as I surf the web seeking ideas for a Lenten Discipline. What should I give up? What should I take up? I’ve thought of reading some mystic. I’ve thought of reading some poet.

Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn

Perhaps a little T.S. Elliot? Perhaps The Cloud of Unknowing?

After pancakes at church this evening, we burnt last year’s palms for tomorrow’s ashes; the cycle of another year complete.

It seems as if each year, Lent becomes harder. I become more aware of my own short comings, my own frailty. I read the news and become more aware of how broken this world we live in really is.

Tomorrow, I will be reminded again, that I come from dust and to dust I shall return. I’ll pause to think of those who have returned to dust and my friends that mourn. Then, I shall do my exercises as I wait for spring, as I wait for Easter.

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