Sunday, November 30, 2008


When I returned from the dog park this morning, I looked around the house and thought, "Man, I need to clean this place from top to bottom and do about five loads of laundry." Then I was hit by an even stronger compulsion to spend some time with Rainer Maria Rilke's Book of Hours, his "love poems to God." I hadn't really been contemplating the devastating events in Mumbai until I got to this, which I offer today as food for thought --

Ich lese es hearus aus deinem Wort

I read it here in your very word,
in the story of the gestures
with which your hands cupped themselves
around our becoming -- limiting, warm.

You said live out loud, and die you said lightly,
and over and over again you said be.

But before the first death came murder.
A fracture broke across the rings you'd ripened.
A screaming shattered the voices

that had just come together to speak you,
to make of you a bridge
over the chasm of everything.

And what they have stammered ever since
are fragments
of your ancient name.

(From the Penguin 100th Anniversary Edition of Rilke's Book of Hours -- Love Poems to God, translated from the German by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Beauty is Always Available

I had a rough weekend and am having a rough beginning of this week, emotionally speaking. Instead of going into the details of why that is the case, which I think would be a form of fruitless dwelling on my sorrows, I instead have decided to post this audio clip.

It is a recording of baritone Robert Merrill and tenor Jussi Bjorling singing a duet from Bizet's "The Pearl Fishers." The first time I heard this duet, I had no idea what these guys were singing about (still don't in fact, although I will be looking that up later today), but I nonetheless instantly got the chills and found myself quietly crying by the time the song ended. That's the power of opera at its greatest.

Pure beauty, this is. When I listen to these two men singing, I am reminded that one always can make a choice to focus on the beautiful instead of the ugly, the good instead of the bad, the calm instead of the inflamed. That is an important reminder for me personally as I work through some difficult issues. I think it also is an important reminder for all of my fellow Americans as we embark upon whichever new course we collectively choose for ourselves tomorrow.