"Week to week
I love her.
The shrine reminds me of an Orthodox Christian Icon. In many of those devotional paintings, when Mary or Jesus or a prophet is depicted, they are shown bursting through ordinary reality to reveal the Absolute. I’ve seen several Russian icons where angels are shown holding back the sky so that we may see what is hidden by the quotidian.
And so it is with this altar. The blue panel covered with gold fleur-de-lis has burst open down the middle to reveal Mary - Queen of Peace - standing in a boat flanked by two angels sheltering Her with their golden wings. Surrounding everyone is a flaming nimbus as seen in lots of Buddhist iconography.
I'll miss Her when St John's finally closes and everyone moves back to the newly renovated Cathedral Church of St Paul. I have a suspicion that a polychrome, white-skinned, blue-eyed rendering of the Mother of Christ won’t quite fit the modern design sensibilities of the redone Cathedral. I get it. Times change.
Perhaps someone will rescue Her who will display Her in a venue that allows lots of people to visit with Her and sit for a time in Her gentle, welcoming presence.
Dear God, I hope she doesn’t end up mouldering away in some dusty old second hand building supply place in Boston, like these guys did..
“I could ask you as a parent and any other parent that’s listening with a young child, you know, say a child over 3 but under 12. And if you just observe them and don’t try and direct them and watch what it is they like to do in play, you often will see a key to their innate talents. And if those talents are given fairly free reign, then you see that there is a union between self and talent. And that this is nature’s way of sort of saying this is who you are and what you are. And I’m sure if you go back and think about both of your children or yourself and go back to your earliest emotion-laden, visual, and visceral memories of what really gave you joy, you’ll have some sense of what was natural for you and where your talents lie”
We did this organically - making it up as we went along - but much along the lines of what Stuart Brown writes above. When the kids came, it seemed all we did was watch them and marvel at what these tiny, chaotic, adorable humans were doing. We often wondered aloud what we did before the kids joined us. With enough watching and tons of conversation, we discovered what they loved. Quite naturally, humans do this - given the barest amount of encouragement - they figure out what they love. From our end, we tried to the best of our abilities to support their interests and deeply enjoy them becoming themselves..
That’s the other thing - we really, truly, enjoyed the children. And - when we witnessed them doing what their hearts told them to do, well - that was as close to parental heaven as one can get, if you ask me.
It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t a straight line by any means. It was amazing though.. There were things they tried that were not their true path. Those things eventually were dropped. Some experiences hurt - bad. Sometimes new choices seemed to us like sharp right turns away from where they were previously headed - and it was like - hold on tight! What guided us was our basic unshakable belief in the wisdom of their own hearts and minds.
Our kids are still the most mysterious and magical people Doff and I know. We still love to witness their lives. They do great work in the world. What they do resonates with them and comes out of a deep sense of who they discovered themselves to be, way back when.
Even better, they are happy.
The F/V Kirsten Lee’s battle scars and corrosion are central to her beauty. She’s a fiberglass hulled vessel, so when paint wears away, it exposes the fiberglass canvas underneath. It’s a different look than with metal hull oxidation. While metal oxidation reminds me of maps of off-world terrain, the exposed fiberglass sheets on the Kirsten Lee hint at gessoed canvas on a stretcher in some Rocky Neck studio..
The very cool thing about the Kirsten Lee is this: She’ll keep creating herself as time goes on - and all without a single misplaced stroke of color or scratch or slice or divot.
She’s a master
"One hour and then another.
Inexorably march, step by step.
Whenever I meet you, we each smile.
But who is it who drags your corpse around?"
~ Chan Master Hsu Yun (Empty Cloud)
Seventy two degrees Fahrenheit - that’s what Carl’s in-dash temperature gauge read when we pulled into the muddy, cramped spot at Sandy Point. A strong breeze blew steady up-island, making flags stand straight out and snap snap snap. The ground was mostly clear. “Mostly clear” means that there was still snow here and there in the shady spots as well as two foot deep snow drifts on parts of the lower access road. Imagining how deep those drifts had to have been back in February to survive until a seventy two degree day in April gave me pause.
Seventy two degrees with a stiff wind - well - things feel a lot cooler than you would think. Despite that - Sandy Point’s small parking lot was jammed. Jammed. People on the beach, people who have been longing for the merest hint of warmth or thaw were roaming around in neon orange shorts and bathing suits and tank tops and flip flops.
Victory over snow and arctic temperatures was declared today. Giddy celebration broke out all over the COTGWW. We never fully trust this spring warmth and so we enjoy it completely and all at once - with abandon - and with flip flops on a northern Atlantic beach in mid-April.
This is New England after all. Even when it’s hot, there’s still a frozen core at the very heart of things. Coal-black, flinty-schist, knife-edge, motherfucking cold. New Englanders know that Winter really never goes away. It just holds its breath and submerges for a while. We know that in no time at all Winter will poke its snout out of the depths and exhale great frozen gales - and we’ll be back in it - back to normal - back to when all it ever does is snow.
"The problem with orthodoxy is that it’s always superficial. If I say I believe in the Four Noble Truths and you say you believe in the Four Noble Truths, that does not necessarily mean we agree. Our interpretation of the Four Noble Truths might be wildly different. This goes for pretty much anything we might agree upon. It applies to any religion or, indeed, to any other branch of human learning and inquiry. Even science works like this to some extent.
Orthodoxy is related to certainty. We humans spend lots of our energy searching for certainty. We like certainty because it makes us feel secure. On some level, there are things we can be reasonably certain about. I have to do my laundry today. Last I looked, there was a laundromat on the corner of Sunset and Parkman, about a block away from where I live. In a little while, I will take my laundry basket out of the closet and walk up there with it, reasonably secure in the knowledge that the laundromat will still be there when I arrive. If it’s not there, I’ll have a problem.
In matters of religion we’re seeking a similar kind of certainty but in a very different area. Religions try to sell you on the idea that if you do the right things you’ll go to heaven after you die, or get some other reward like a better reincarnation. There is no way to verify this, so you have to take it on faith. I have never found this idea worth even considering very deeply. It’s dumb."