Gentle on My Mind

She has got me thinking. About spiritual practice.

I know I don't fit into the formulas. I just don't. (And she's not suggesting formulas are the answer.)

Yet there are things I do. Directions that capture my attention.

Today, for instance, I am thinking about gentility. It is fascinating to me that some people experience me as gentle and others don't. (I've had comments made in both directions.)

I can't say I understand this very well. I can say it has me curious enough to do some focused musing on the topic of gentility.

My first discovery at dictionary.com makes me laugh. This is not really the gentility I'm seeking...

1. good breeding or refinement
2. affected or pretentious politeness or elegance
3. the status of belonging to polite society
4. members of polite society collectively

My second discovery also makes me laugh. I look up the word gentle and find it can mean quiet. Quiet I am not! :)

Gentle has its down sides: unduly submissive, weak, servile, docile, tame.

And its up sides: peaceful, soothing, tender, humane, merciful, kind, courteous, noble.

One of its antonym sets is: violent, sudden.

Where to begin in pursuit of gentility? I think it doesn't hurt that I'm taking ballet. It trains thoughtfulness, deliberateness into the body. Suddenness is out. It can hurt the muscles and the visual effect. Verbally, I think I tend to be the sudden type. I come from a family that loves to answer quickly. Nothing wrong with that in certain contexts.

But perhaps this is where I'll begin. The issue of suddenness. Maybe tomorrow I'll look into the book of Proverbs and see what I can find. To gently instruct both body and mind.

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Sermon Notes Poetry: Psalm 90

More poetry from the pews. Um, we don't have pews. We have maroon, cushiony chairs. Still, here are the poems...


How busy are you,
you've got edges
of Egypt, entrances
lands on your mind,
questions of who am I
and how will I
be remembered.


Artful life
beautiful life
well-lived life
with hands
established or maybe
work established
of our hands.


Drop rain
in wood, on stream,
drop rain on the way
to bird-woven oceans.


Wise, be
heart skilled,
be craftspeople,
select strands
of dying, be
priestly life-living
be numbered-day


Brevity is
mourning without
death, death without
mourning, death
without sex, or maybe
sex without death.


My life is an hour
and three quarters,
eighteen minutes at best,
I won't even get my
stained glass into the window
before it's time to go.


But I have to admit
that sometimes
my life
feels like an eternity.


Can you believe
we believed enough
to leave—onions, lotus,
hippos in the river,
but when we got where
we were going, we
couldn't leave, believe


Moses's astounding prayer,
fragile sweeping
us like moaning grass,
turning us in time,
saying we are more
than our eighteen minutes,
more than a day.


How do we, tell me
how do we get in
on the deal,
the dwelling-place
God-condo deal
with lotus
floating in the
courtyard pool.


Cana Redux

A prayer for dark times,
exile work captive
land no more
promises mortal hands
rats racing towards
the future, we need
naom and her
sweet Ruth
and perhaps a bit
of the barley harvest,
and... beer?


The Old Man Says

We're going to have
to pray
to ask
to God
to build
to bring,
let's not

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I'm reading a book called Apollo's Angels. It's a beautifully-written history of ballet. Apollo apparently represents the 'body ideal' and of course angels go to the author's assertion that dancers desire to ascend (and as she points out, much of ballet indeed includes sprites, sylphs and other winged things).

The other day, while reading this book, and after having chosen to dance that morning with surrender in mind, I was struck by this quote...

"If anything, ballet is purifying, every movement physically honed and essential, with no superfluity or excess: it is a kind of grace."

I'm not sure that grace is always without superfluity or excess, but this is perhaps the particular grace of ballet.

Thinking on all this, I ended up writing a poem (you are not surprised, yes? :)


Apollo's angels
will come at different hours
lifting high their delicate hands

praising the wind
that wraps itself
around the feet of God

Apollo's angels
will leap in mirrored halls
finding the heart that beats in time

with satined feet;
they will come
waving chiffon on currents of

perfumed air, there will be
no memory of their movements
beyond these bodies

that knew this prayer.

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Cataloging the Day

It's Autumn here in the Northeast. I go outside about three times a day now, sit and watch the trees—the sunrise or sunset or clouds playing at their edges. Sometimes I write a little poetry. This one is about 1/3 catalog-technique. Which is to say, it only has two lines of cataloging.

Sometimes Christians feel they should only catalog the bright side of life. You have probably noticed... I am not that kind of Christian...


has stolen the lilies,
and I am here
touching bronze broken stalks
where pollen-heavy flowers
bent. The air is dry,
the leaves are dry—
so too, a tiny piece
of my heart.

Check out the invitation to write a catalog poem, at TheHighCalling.org.

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