Strange Conversation in a Music Store

“Man, did I get wasted last night!”

“I was listening to a sensitive performance of Beethoven’s 6th Symphony on the radio.  It really moved me.”

“I was doing V.O. shots.  And reds.  Man, did I get wasted.”

“I’ve been practicing Bach’s D Minor Toccata and Fugue when there aren’t any customers.  I can play the Toccata though, but I’m only beginning the Fugue.”

“I was beyond high.  I was WAS-TED!”

“The keyboard is the most graphic representation of music of any instrument.  All the tonal relationships are there in the keys, visibly.”

His interlocutor shook his head, “Say what?!  So do you want to go into the stock room and get high?”

“Doesn’t it make you paranoid to deal with the public when you’re high?”

“No.  Because you know you’re high and they know you’re high and you sell them organs.”

“OK.”

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Perpetual Spring

As I age, the world ages with me

As it always has

Things I treasure go out of style

Live music, blues, jazz, the symphony

Peace and love

Mozart went out of style

And nobody knows where he is buried

Who performed for princes, kings, queens

High art, technique, form fail

Churches dwindle, consolidate, close

Zoroaster, Moses, Jesus shrugged off

They follow Zeus, Apollo, Heracles

 

There is no perpetual spring

There follows summer, autumn, winter, and spring again

As I autumn, I can’t see spring again

No, I don’t see spring

I will be leaving this world

And I look toward another

And as my world dies, perhaps it is well that I also with it

I think less of my legacy than I do my potential

In my autumn I see perpetual springtime

The Footfall

I have lost and been broken

In brokenness, I am humble

I have won and been elated

In elation, I know pride

Knowing extremes, I walk a measured pace

In full awareness that pride posits humility

 

A bowed tree will never right

The sky will never ground

I walk a middle way

Clouds are more or less fog

In brokenness I see pride

In elation, humility

And neither really matters in the long run

 

The page my pen darkens

How my face meets the face of the other

The soul of a heart that touches

The footfall placed in front of another

The planet’s ambulant circuity

The galaxy’s aeonic spiral

The electron’s quantum shell

Measure time and times and half a time

All I really know is the footfall placed in front of another

A Metaphor and a Reality

The Jordan River and the Ganges

Stink

No one cares what it means

To the people who drink their waters

To the planet

To church and temple

The Jordan River and the Ganges

Stink

The Blues Musician Plays

The blues musician plays out of dejection

Racial rejection

Keeping the beat

The rhythm of the street

The blues musician plays

Making the groove

The dancers move

Another city, a ride in the van

In a world that doesn’t accept the man

The blues musician plays

The dominant race hears

Unconcerned with his bitter, choked tears

And now new beats reject him again

The audiences age and wane

The blues musician plays

A world of rejection, of dejection

The blues musician plays

Faith in Unbelief

I am one struggling to have faith in unbelief.

Contrary to many, I feel that religion is a positive force in the world.  Where else will a person find teachings that oppose the excessive consumption, greed, and vanity of western capitalist culture?  Where else will a person be valued not by the clothes they wear, but by who they are?

The May meeting of the Faith and Order Convening table of the National Council of Churches of Christ USA just concluded.  There are 38 different Christian denominations that are members of the NCCC USA.  I think that we do a pretty good job of working together considering the differences among our 38 denominations.  Some may find it hard to believe that there are 38 different Christian denominations–and I don’t think that there should be.

As a Swedenborgian in the NCCC USA, I have an uphill battle.  Despite the good will we have for one another, there are still religious prejudices.  Although there is an impressive list of poets, philosophers, and literati who have been avid readers of Swedenborg, the Swedenborgian connection has been actively suppressed.  Scholars and theologians don’t want a Swedenborg in their world.

For things like this, and other division-causing reasons, some have turned away from religion.  Perhaps many.  As a believer, this concerns me.  Religion has taught me so much wisdom, and has guided me out of hellish behaviours that I can’t imagine life without it.

But spiritual people, who aren’t religious, do find guidance and a higher power.  Where, I wonder, and how do such people find their way to God?  I know that God flows into every heart and mind and guides.  Even without God, people live good lives and have conscience.

I would have to have a trust in humanity to believe that without the nurture of religion, people will find their way to a life dedicated to others, and not themselves.  To believe that unbelievers have it in them to save themselves and the world around them, and to care.  Robert Frost puts it well, “Whether we have it in us to save ourselves unaided.”  It’s that “unaided” that gives me pause.  Without God, without religion, where does humanity find that power to save–save themselves, and the world?

I am one struggling to have faith in unbelief.

Sonnet: Carol and the Limits of Language

When Shakespeare sought to praise his love

He found that words and language failed

No metaphor or symbol was enough

Every comparison simply paled

 

If no one used our language better

And the words of our best poet wouldn’t do

How could I arrange line, word, and letter

And begin to rightly praise you?

 

Only with the language of my heart

And only with the truth that’s in my eyes

Can I begin to hope to try a start

To rightly tell the beauty that in you lies

 

The limitations of the written word

Will never speak as loving hearts when heard.

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