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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Of birds and scientist

Bro. Juniper was explaining to me how bird nests are tiny histories of the local flora, for the birds collect whatever twigs to construct their nests from the local supply, so that the nests collected a century or two ago may contain twigs from trees and shrubs that no longer grow in the area. Most of America has been invaded (or evolved?) with non-native plants since the migration of Europeans, so a nest collected in the mid-1700s may have twigs of trees that have since disappeared, well perhaps disappear is too mysterious of a term, for there is no mystery, the pioneers felled the trees to "clear" the land, to make room for farming. So while these hardy pioneers were chopping the trees down, the frantic birds were like tiny scientists, hurriedly collecting specimens before it was too late.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Before it is too late

Extremely busy. Bro. Sedwick deemed that the warming globe will produce a devilishly hot summer, and with little time left, he had us go to work cleaning and repairing all the swamp coolers. A most devilish task, indeed, especially the ones atop the roof. So far I have collected six very well constructed nests which I gave to Bro. Juniper, for he is a nest collector.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Just Imagine

Last evening many of us were seated around the large table, still in the courtyard. Just enough light for a few of us to thumb through some books of quotes and still be able to read the tiny print, although Bro. Simon lit a candle and let it drip a bit before affixing it to the table top (I should note that the large table was constructed years ago from heavy raw cottonwood planks and the surface is now as complicated as a topography map with scars and markings that have become our history). Before long those of us with books were seated beside Bro. Simon, and with but candlelight were able to find several quotes that stirred our imagination.

"Imagination is more important
than knowledge, for knowledge
is limited while imagination
embraces the entire world."
-- Albert Einstein

"Hope lies in dreams, in imagination
and in the courage of those who
dare to make dreams into reality."
--Jonas Salk

I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge --
that myth is more potent than history.
I believe that dreams are more powerful than facts --
That hope always triumphs over experience --
That laughter is the only cure for grief.
And I believe that love is stronger than death."
--Robert Fulghum

"Imagination is the eye of the soul."
-- Joseph Joubert

Nor do I hear in my imagination the
parts successively, I hear them all at
once. What a delight this is!
All this inventing, this producing, takes
place in a pleasing, lively dream."
--Mozart

"Only in men's imagination does every truth
find an effective and undeniable existence.
Imagination, not invention, is the
supreme master of art as of life."
--Joseph Conrad

"The man who has no
imagination has no wings."
--Muhammed Ali

Friday, May 11, 2007

In His Image, In His Imagination!

Isaiah 11:6-9

Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; The calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them.

The cow and the bear shall be neighbors, together their young shall rest; the lion shall eat hay like the ox.

The baby shall play by the cobra's den, and the child lay his hand on the adder's lair.

There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD, as water covers the sea.

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All week Bro. Juniper has been carefully painting with a small, narrow brush white paint atop the numerous chalked poems and quotes that now cover nearly every inch of the concrete floor of the dining hall. The grand wooden table and chairs are all still outdoors in the courtyard, but now with the rapidly rising desert temperatures, we decided that our days of meals outdoors are numbered. It seems we all have been reluctant to move back into the dining hall and erase with our sandals the spontaneous outpouring of chalked words to earth that we all delighted in doing for a short few days. I'm afraid if we had a larger expanse of concrete floor we would still be marking the earth with imaginations. Imagination. That got me to thinking, for if we had no imagination, then this life and this universe would be a terrifying place indeed. I have already described the reality of what takes place within ourselves, and all around us -- violence! If one were to take a microscopic look into our own body, and the same close-up view of our immediate surroundings, one would be shocked at the countless wars going on, wars of survival. Yet we humans were given by God imagination. Just as Isaiah imagines a peaceful kingdom, we go about our daily lives with imaginations of peace, and these imaginations keep us from returning to the animal state. If we can imagine peace, we can move toward peace, we can even become peaceful, even while dwelling among the unpeaceful kingdom that surrounds us. Don't sell imagination short. Imagination isn't self delusion. Imagination isn't fantasy. Imagination isn't untruth. Imagination is what motivates the scientist, as well as the artist, as well as the theologian, as well as the little child. Thank God for being created in His Image, in His Imagination!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Violence begets violence?

Matters such as "violence" and our response to it as humans, as children of God, as Jews or as Christians, is a constant "battle" in our minds. And how ironic, our minds must battle thought in order to quell our troubled actions. I believe "violence" was an evolutionary necessity that got us to the point of evolving from animal to human, where now as humans we can look at all other creatures yet cannot condemn them for their every moment of their life of violence, for violence is survival -- the tiger brings down the gazelle, the hawk takes the hare, the trout the caddisfly -- it is God's way for creatures to survive. But by the breath of God we became human with minds that are self aware and imaginative and are capable of figuring out how not to live violently. Yet here we are, with some of that DNA that still carries the violence of the animal kingdom, yet stamped with the image of God that gives us the potential to be peaceful humans. And so with that war within us the question becomes, will we be guided by our genes, or by God's want for us?

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

May Day!

This morning I found that the large wooden dining table and all the wooden chairs are now in the courtyard, I fear the dining room has been transformed into a huge chalkboard! This one caught my eye, for someone had chalked William Blake's poem in a spiral, the word "I" begins in the center and around and around the words go! I wish I could duplicate the spiral poem here, but the message is revealing enough, I have been pondering it all morning.

I laid me down upon a bank,
Where Love lay sleeping;
I heard among the rushes dank
Weeping, weeping.

Then I went to the heath and the wild,
To the thistles and thorns of the waste;
And they told me how they were beguiled,
Driven out, and compelled to the chaste.

I went to the Garden of Love,
And saw what I never had seen;
A Chapel was built in the midst,
Where I used to play on the green.

And the gates of this Chapel were shut
And "Thou shalt not," writ over the door;
So I turned to the Garden of Love
That so many sweet flowers bore.

And I saw it was filled with graves,
And tombstones where flowers should be;
And priests in black gowns were walking their rounds,
And binding with briars my joys and desires.