Love Took My Hand

George Herbert

George Herbert, Anglican priest, and Metaphysical poet, died on the first of March in 1633. He was only thirty-nine. Today the Anglican church honors him with a feast. He deserves it.I've been told the Simone Weil had an ecstatic experience on hearing his poem Love. I'm pretty sure it must be true... … [Read more...]

A Brief Meditation on Bob Dylan, Or, Maybe It’s about Cleopatra


So far I'm finding the aches and pains that accompany aging are more annoying than anything else.And then.I'm trying to decide which is more disconcerting.We get AARP magazine at home. The latest issue just arrived. That it is addressed to my wife, who is three years younger than me. Or, that the cover story features Bob Dylan.I was aware it was coming.But. We all know we're going to die, too.But Bob Dylan on the cover of AARP...Me, I've always been an admirer of the … [Read more...]

A Feast for Frederick Douglass


Once again those lovely Episcopalians have come through. On this day in their liturgical calendar they celebrate the life and work of Frederick Douglass. While I prefer to acknowledge special and holy people on their birthdays the Christian liturgical calendar in all its variations tends to celebrate their lives on the anniversary of their deaths, the time they go to their glory. And I admit as a marker of the totality of their lives it works just fine...Also for Douglass, as there is no … [Read more...]

Oh, my goodness! It’s Fat Tuesday!


It almost slipped by me.One of my favorite not exactly religious holidays, the day before my liturgically minded Christian friends go into their long "fast." (Scare quotes because, hey, its not really a fast, is it?)I don't really know how old this event is, but I suspect it dates from about five minutes after the inauguration of Ash Wednesday...In any case, enjoy, friends.Enjoy... … [Read more...]

Ten Spiritual Novels that Set the Course of My Life

mist of avalon

On Facebook I saw a list purporting to be ten spiritual novels that one absolutely must read. I thought three of them might fit on such a list. I then googled around a bit about spiritual fiction. It revealed some good stuff, and along with that a bunch that reminded me of theologian James Luther Adams' dry observation that "nothing sells like ego wrapped in idealism."That set me to thinking about what novels have touched my heart on my path, what set, or reset me along the way at important … [Read more...]

And a Lovely Valentine’s Day to All!


Beyond the conspiracies of the greeting card, chocolate, and flower cartels to squeeze every last possible dollar out of the public, Valentine’s Day is our culture's great celebration of romantic love.There are various myths associated with the origins of Valentine's day. I gather pretty much all of them are bogus, at least so far as history is concerned. I guess that's romantic love for you. A fascinating mixture of deception and hope and, well, something else.The true in this is that a … [Read more...]

And a Blessed Darwin Day to All!

darwin toast

Charles Darwin was born on this day in 1809.A great article at Wikipedia notes how his birthday has been observed as something special since his death in 1882. But in 1909 on the centenary of his birth a number of events marked the day out, including a gathering of over four hundred scientists and others at Cambridge where papers were read, and another event was held at the American Museum of Natural History, including the unveiling of a bronze bust of the master.Throughout the … [Read more...]

A Feast for a Poet


Some, most, all, I really don't know but I hope all, variations on the Anglican calendar mark out today as a feast for the seventh century poet Caedmon. He is the earliest English poet that we can name. A monk in the monastery of the equally, if not more remarkable abbess Hilda of Whitby. The story has it that he was a lay brother charged with tending the monastery's animals. He is thought to have been illiterate. One night he had a dream in which "someone" came to him and told him to sing to … [Read more...]

No Steps, No Strategies

mazu polishing

As a young monk Mazu was practicing at Chuanfa temple. One day while it wasn’t a regular meditation period, he was sitting in formal zazen. Master Huairang Nanyue, one of the most renowned of the Sixth Ancestor, Huineng’s Dharma successors, saw him sitting there. He saw something of value in the young monk, and walked over to him.When the young monk looked up, the master asked, “Why are you sitting in meditation?” Ma replied, “Because I want to become a Buddha.” The old man immediately sat d … [Read more...]

The Beatles Live on Ed Sullivan

Beatles Ed Sullivan

On this day in 1964.This little world would never be the same... … [Read more...]