“Silence is the mother of prayer.”
[ – The Way of a Pilgrim; The Pilgrim Follows His Way]

Bon's - flowers

(by permission of Yvonne Campbell)

How then to speak of prayer?  Perhaps, in a poem:

 “… you are not here to verify,
Instruct yourself, or inform curiosity
Or carry report.  You are here to kneel
Where prayer has been valid.  And prayer is more
Than an order of words, the conscious occupation
Of the praying mind, or the sound of the voice praying…”

[T.S.Eliot – Four Quartets]

 A contrast, in prose:

                “…But the central reality of the everyday hour on earth, with a streak of sun on a maple twig and the glimpse of  the eternal Thou, is greater for us than all the enigmatic webs on the brink of being…” [Martin Buber – Tales of the Hasidim]

In I and Thou, Buber draws a comparison between three spheres of relationship, three spheres of being, each of them centered on man:

           “…First, our life with nature, in which the relation clings to the threshold of  speech.
Second, our life with men, in which the relation takes on the form of speech.
Third, our life with spiritual beings, where the relation, being without speech, yet begets it…”

 “…being without speech…”  We come full circle.  “… Silence is the mother of prayer…”  And then, too, something new –

“…and yet begets it…”

Words have meanings, carefully chosen by authors and teachers.  “…mother…”  “begets” Silence is the mother.  The relation begets.  The relation is the little word and between I and Thou, or it is the entire phrase – have it either way.  Still, in talking, in analyzing, we are here, in the second sphere, in our life with men.  In words.  On the computer, moving words out into the ether, attempting to describe the indescribable.  Connecting (or I hope we are!)

Again from Buber in I and Thou:

               “…When a man is together with his wife, the longing of the eternal hills blows around them.”

 I and Thou in the second sphere, here described as being touched by the first sphere, which, like the third, is wordless.    The goal, for Buber, is to have all three spheres permeating one another.  That is, in common terms, heaven on earth and man in the midst.  So, I ask, might this then be the province of prayer?  Is it simplistic to say that it is?  Or, alternately, are these concepts too hard to grasp?  Do we dismiss them and go on about our daily lives?  Yes?  Or No?


Then, look with new eyes at the first of Buber’s spheres of being, at nature.  Look through the eyes of the scientist, at plants in their relationship to one another.  Become, with me, freshly amazed at the interaction between them, only dimly perceived as yet, but there it is!  Plants message one another through their roots (the latest news from the scientific realm) using fungi to communicate with one another about predatory dangers.  Buber would love this, I think.  I do.   You do, too.

Here again, Buber in Tales of the Hasidim:

                 “…The rabbi of Rizhyn said: ‘This is the service man must perform all of his days:  to shape matter into form, to refine the flesh, and to let the light penetrate the darkness until the darkness itself shines and there is no longer any division between the two.  As it is written:
“And there was evening and there was morning – one day.”‘…”

 Lastly, we go back to the beginning verse, from Eliot, and complete it:

“….And what the dead had no speech for, when living,
They can tell you, being dead:  the communication
Of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living…”

[T.S.Eliot – Four Quartets]

…adding only this:

“…Every morning before going to pray Rabbi Uri saw to his house, and said his last goodbye to his wife and children.”

                 [Martin Buber – Tales of the Hasidim]

53 responses to “ON PRAYER

  1. clearly it will take additional readings to comprehend much of this, especially your Buber quotes and the I/thou messages, but it will be worthwhile. i love having it here, and thank you, juliania. your sister’s drawing (is it pastel?) is a lovely accompaniment.

    do you like the green for the quotes? i’ll try to find the instructions on formatting poetry to see if i can reduce the spacing a bit. but even as is, i think it looks very nice.

  2. Thank you, thank you, wendyedavis! It was a mess when I put it up, due to my ignorance of the technique for so doing, and you have made it beautiful! Yes, the green is absolutely appropriate, because the message I get from Buber is the absolute necessity to reconnect with nature – that was what the early hasidim had going for them. Yes, leave it as is – that is just wonderful.

    My sister’s paintings are done in acrylic – she produces them with love as calendar art for family and I love the joy expressed therein.

  3. i had to fiddle a bit, especially because your document, as does Word, pastes in a lot of extraneous html code. but i found this page in the Help menu (hover your mouse under your name in the righthand corner. it’s very good for most things.


    the Shift/enter move was so great to know! i’d just backspace until the lines were one, then hit those keys, and tada! no extra white space. so i thank you for letting me play with it. in the end, i found i had to place your sister’s great painting in the center so as not to muck up the poem.

    and…every time i read your post, i gain a bit more understanding (she sayed hopefully). ;~) later on, as i did with mafr’s first post, i’ll change the More break to make room for new posts to be more visible. looks sublime and so appropriate for the season, eh?

  4. I have read this twice. Maybe it’s cause I do not believe, that I don’t understand some of it.

    But many (not every) days, when I am in the right mood, as you say, this involves being quiet, I am astounded by even the smallest living things, how hard it is for so many things to survive at all. How short some lives are, how complicated and mysterious they are, the idea of plants communicating through their roots seems like science fiction.

    beautiful artwork.


  5. Thank you, mafr1! I was hoping to make this a contemplative piece accessible to all, since I firmly believe the detractors of current attitudes on faith have a lot of truth in their objections. So I am really grateful for your input.

    On that plant question, I think it was David Attenborough on one of his nature programs that pointed out giraffes have to be really quick when they are munching on acacia leaves – the plants quickly realize they are under attack and do make their new leaves bitter very rapidly, and this chemical change somehow gets transferred to nearby bushes, so that the giraffes have to constantly move on in search of new bushes to harvest. However they do this, I find it fascinating.

  6. I have been thinking just in the last little while, that I am some kind of animist or spiritualist, or pagan I guess it is. That every living thing has/is something beyond its physical self, something spiritual. And as they say that every object in the universe is affected by the gravitational pull of every other object, no matter how distant, that somehow every living thing is connected to every other living thing. this is incapable of being scientifically tested. And It sounds silly, but that’s what I’m starting to believe.

  7. It doesn’t sound silly to me at all, mafr1, nor even exclusively animist or pagan, though if you are comfortable with that position, so be it. I well remember that one of my college professors, in analyzing the Hebrew language of Genesis, pointed out that the text for the creation of plants says “the grass grassed” – that is, in response to the divine command, grass itself actively took on the task of being what it was supposed to be.

    And we see that it does still – sometimes in places we don’t want it to be!

  8. mafr, just for now, because i do have further things to say on prayer, polytheism, and some of my proclivities, but am pressed for time just now, i wanted to leave this link to a post my friend obey published awhile back at fdl, and we discussed my penchant for spirituality v. theism. i hope it interests you, and yeppers, i’m the person he was corresponding with that led to the post.


    but i’ll try to come back to tune up what i mean…as far as i’m able. it’s hard since it’s often hard to put what we feel and see into words that have meaning for others.

  9. ok thank you both. I will read that.

    unrelated, but, here is a beautiful, happy love song from Ethiopia.

  10. I Hope that’s ok….

  11. Dear mafr,

    it’s not only ok, it’s…wonderful. please know that the celebration of love, wherever we may find it…makes the world one notch better. aren’t they lovely? in my nap dream earlier, i was conversing both in this forum and in real life (well, dreamland real). she was familiar, and had a lovely black face with eyes more round than oval, black hair, and a gorgeous smile. the synchronicity is luscious: she was asking me if she could post more videos; i suggested two at a time, explained More breaks, etc.

    there are times when i believe that if i could…i would live most of my life in the dreamland, where i can create the body and life (even the periodic nightmares) that seem so much richer and full of possibilities than this realm often seems. i haven’t learned to fly in my dreams, but oh, so many other forms of motion are available to me. i even invent things to help… ;~)

    please; if there is ever a problem (and i can’t imagine one), i’ll let you know. i am meanwhile, so glad that you are here, and know more good folks will come (plus a few others we will deal with, since we have no control over the eyes that read or comment here.

    thank you for the song and dance, mafr.

  12. Too many good lines in one song?

    Maybe, baby, wild turkey egg omelets on my mind.


    Sharing my daily blessings. Thanks for the post.

  13. wonderful hearing the Band, and how apropos, nonquixote. We were assuming it was Levon singing, but I guess it was richard manuel. but…they didn’t say anything about barbequed bankster, lol.

    luscious flowers on your stream, and what’s that crazy lily? but arrgh; i am sooo allergic to turkey eggs, hearing of them is hard. goose eggs, too.

    i had been thinking about the ways that many sorts of love, generosity and appreciation amount to acts of prayer, so thank you for sharing your blessing with us.

    sleep well, dream well, amigo.

  14. If blogs had a theme song, that band tune would be the one for this site.

    I read through the article on belief/non belief, it’s well written, but for the most part, beyond me. I’ve experienced some of the things he mentioned, and that you mention above though. I did just the other day, sun, sky and clouds, although I thought it might have been a “flashback”

    The flickr nest picture is outstanding.

  15. juliania, i realize that i was answering mafr, when it was you he was addressing; i apologize for that. got ahead myself on okaying his embedding the video, since he’d been concerned about taking up too much bandwidth and all.

    perhaps the hardest bits for me in all this is the implication that god created the universe, thus it came into being with a fully-formed design, as illustrated by your saying, for instance: ‘…that is, in response to the divine command, grass itself actively took on the task of being what it was supposed to be’.

    the imagery of buber’s three spheres morphing, blending…is intriguing, but hard to grasp. although i can feel that he wants us to feel the tensions built up at the edge of speech, almost like a birth. but there must have been so many things he’d noticed or read to cause him to see it this way. i’m sorry to be failing in understanding… but i will say that i do love to pray, and only learned that i did after being in (first Navajo and Ute, then our own) sweat lodge ceremonies.

    the fire-heated volcanic rocks were brought into the lodge and sage sprinkled on them, and periodically water, creating voice after their initial silence, and yes: they were considered almost live beings, and never used a second time, as it was said that their spirits had been this been depleted. the prayers were most often sung, but depending on the sweat leader, my understanding was that we were attentively, purposefully, acting almost as conduits amplifying the messages from the mother out and beyond to the four directions, emblems of forces of nature…with colors and properties assigned to each direction. yes, many spoke of ‘the creator’, and for some that meant ‘god’, but not all. and not for me, since i’m pretty agnostic on the issue of god being…well, *being*.

    more soon; life is beckoning. love, wd

  16. it may not have been fair to drop obey’s post in, since in some respects, it was the comments it elicited that caused it to be even more interesting. i may not have been the only one trying to separate monotheistic belief and spirituality, but obey cried foul; i tried to make a case for it several ways.

    one of his largest claims was that if i or others gave credence to what i’d maybe call…directed intentionality alchemy…we were assigning agency to that object, force…thus theism. the short version for me is that given that the inhabitants of the earth, and the earth itself, are all made of stardust, and all elements and beings vibrate, and affect each other, with the messages that we try lovingly to bring to bear on any entities, perhaps have the power to change them, even imperceptibly, one by one. once upon a time i did a meditation workshop with ben bentoff who said that clearly if enough people prayed or focused their attentions on say, a rock that had meaning for them, that rock would indeed gain power. but tangentially, i either believe or need to believe, that we collectively can change poisons into medicines, maybe in the same way that plants *speak* to each other, or masaru emoto showed in the ‘hidden messages of water’ experiments.

    mr. wd once expressed his belief that the best prayers were ones of appreciation, and i’ve come to try every night before i sleep to spend some time doing that, then listening in stillness, and watching the images that come, even the ones that seem to be in my eyelids. (crazy ole crone).

    ahem. words. words. wish i could use fewer and still express what i think i mean.

  17. Everything is most fair and most beautiful, Wendy and others! Apologies – I have had to get my garden going this morning, a must because we are having hot, hot weather that ramps up the wind around noon – so I stuck my head down and mulched and watered and mulched again.

    We will certainly have difficulties sorting out our spirituality theist or nontheist, but do feel free to put forward what is personal to you – I used Buber because I didn’t want to limit to a Christian perspective and find a lot that I agree with him on. Some things I don’t. You most certainly don’t have to agree with me!

    Thank you, mafr and nonquixote for the joyous videos that penetrate the darkness and transfigure it as well. Wendy, even honest theologians will agree with you that the existence of God cannot be proven. Nor can it be proven otherwise. Buber approaches the question through relationships – that is what the three spheres have to tell us in common, not that they are any definite form but that they are the three relationship sequences that center on man.

    I wanted very much to demonstrate a different way of thinking about theology – the word used to mean poetry about God, so that is why my little piece takes the form that it does. But feel free to home in on any part of it and argue the point with me – I would totally love that!

    My children being mostly Buddhist, I will at some point put up that perspective as I understand it in a very limited way, not having ever been a practising Buddhist myself – what I remember presently is that in a gathering with Christians the Dalai Lama had much to say comparing his faith. He did say, however, that whatever path one is on, it was important to stay on that path, not to attempt to fuse some kind of absolute togetherness. One path or another, since they each have a poetic and mindful consistency.

    So, with respect for each, exploring the differences might be very helpful. The flowers are all different, after all!

  18. Gosh that was a long thread you linked back to, Wendy, and I’m embarrassed how much of it was self-important me. I’m not sure we added much to Obey’s careful exploration of the issues – that was the best part of it.

    I should indeed be silent, and look after my garden! Thank you.

  19. i didn’t read the comments again, but my memory (albetit self-centered) was that we added a lot. ;-) but then he and i had done all that correspondence back in the day, and when i mentioned long afterward that i’d kept it in a word.doc, he asked me to send it to him. after he put up the post, i realized that i hadn’t send him the bits i’d written, silly woman. wish i had, since his memory was inaccurate on certain bits.

    i wish i understood enough so i could argue any of it. and philosophy not being my strong suit, as i said i can feel how much study lies beneath his words. i did read some web pages about him, his history and capsules of some of his work, and still so much is just inscrutable to me. almost too many words underpinning his ideas of the importance of using words ever so carefully, lol.

    i did find this one quote that seemed good, even if again, i’m sure i don’t grasp all its meaning all at first blush:

    “Every morning
    I shall concern myself anew about the boundary
    Between the love-deed-Yes and the power-deed-No
    And pressing forward honor reality.
    We cannot avoid
    Using power,
    Cannot escape the compulsion
    To afflict the world,
    So let us, cautious in diction
    And mighty in contradiction,
    Love powerfully.”

    As i said upstream, there are ways of doing that are informed by some aspirational ‘beingness’ that can amount to prayers, and are certainly ‘mitzvahs’.

  20. oh, and i did forget to mention that the dalai lama’s admonition to ‘pick a path and stay on it’ is just silly, or is for me. can’t tell you how many times i’ve searched for a path…that ended up being uncomfortable. we celebrated many different cultural/religious holidays while the kids were growing up, took them to different churches here and there…then ended up rounding up a bunch of folks to explore whether or not we might create our own quasi-church. most of us were probably atheists, apatheists, kinda-unitarians, etc., and we took turns for a number of months bringing a sunday service, always at our house, then had a potluck afterward.

    when our turn came, we held a sweat, and both of decided that that ritual served us better than any of the head trips other folks expounded, anywhere from science of mind to course in miracles, i don’t remember what all. and we pretty much stuck with that. and for me, the way i knew it was time to build the fire and heat the rocks was when i sorely knew i had a song to sing. ;~)

    i can and do know how useful ritual can be, though. for two years i was the corniest kind of buddhist, nichiren shoshu, entailing chanting sutras and one mantra twice a day. it ordered and grounded my life when at a time when i needed it badly.

    eeek; here comes the wind. look out mama! the chokecherries are in blossom, and the scent is heady, if just a tad cloying like orange blossoms can be. once experienced, some scents you always remember, eh?

  21. Well, I don’t think your experience is different from what I remember the Dalai Lama said – I didn’t say ‘pick a path’ but ‘whatever path you are on, stay on it’ which to me doesn’t mean that you can’t reach the end of it and find it unsatisfactory after that – you did what you did for two years and as you say it ordered and grounded your life. What I was trying to say is that each religious path has its own consistency but is very different, so trying to be a buddhist whilst reading the Torah probably wouldn’t work.

    My kids were in Orthodoxy with me growing up, but then they each took a slightly different path. I certainly did also going to college, and then came where I now am quite by chance, certainly not by my own design. Here’s how T.S. Eliot expresses it at the end of his poem:

    “With the drawing of this Love and the voice of this Calling…”

    It’s one way to see it, so I expect you could say the theistic difference is that one recognizes being called into a relationship, while responding to the task, whatever it is. There’s something really joyful in that -( you could express it as ‘going with the flow’.) Just the idea that what you ought to be doing will be presented to you somewhere along the way quite unexpectedly – I’ve had that experience more as I’ve aged. And that God, (or your internal voice if you like) is not an ‘it’ but a thou to be listened to or ignored, as often happens. (Obey was having trouble with personhood; for me it only makes sense, like fractals. As is important in relationships between people, so to on the larger ‘out there’ level – to me it computes.)

    And Wendy, I want to return to what you were saying earlier:

    “…perhaps the hardest bits for me in all this is the implication that god created the universe, thus it came into being with a fully-formed design, as illustrated by your saying, for instance: ‘…that is, in response to the divine command, grass itself actively took on the task of being what it was supposed to be’…”

    I’m sorry if my poor description made everything sound so pat. In the hasidic view (and this is all surmise – how could we know such things? That’s why it’s poetry, myth if you like) there was more a gentle push being given at creation and then men, plants, animals carried on with the actual creating, so that is what the plants are actively doing, not according to any set plan but according to their own creativity and desire for life. So, in this scenario, man needs God – but God also needs man,and plants and animals and mountains doing their own thing, for it all to work. It may be a very lopsided relationship,(there’s a whole universe out there, for crying out loud!) but it must be reciprocal or we are just automatons – and we know we are not. We affect things – badly a lot; well when we are in sync with our souls.

    And you are absolutely spot on (as my sister would say) with the song – there has to be joy or there is nothing.

  22. yes, i quoted you incorrectly, sorry. i was thinking of thomas merton, too, as i’ve liked so many things he’d said. as i’d remembered it, he was not only a trappist monk but a buddhist, but looking into it, he tried to blend the two, even wrote a couple books about it, and said…ah, they’re crap. no religious words can capture buddhist experiences, or something like that.

    guess for me, so much of it entails too many words that mean too many different things to different of us, and i can start getting a headache. but as far as god creating the world, what works for me (perhaps a dodge) is that folks who say that god may have been the electrical spark that caused life to begin to percolate, seems about right to me.

    and i may be a bit odd in that i reckon it doesn’t matter whether or not i ‘believe’ as long as i don’t fear damnation for *not*, and live life as consciously as i can. my friend tracy nelson used to write emails about the gnostics, and i liked their conceptualizations from what she told me.

  23. my apology for “missing,” the fact this diary was authored by juliania.

    I did not eat the turkey eggs, but the thought crossed my mind. I saw in the fading light what appeared to be a large out of place mushroom (thinking out of season puffball?) sitting in the brush as I was gathering wild leeks (ramps) and asparagus. I approached and the mushroom took flight. I had my camera in my pocket as I usually do. Snapped a few pics and left. I can see the hen on her nest as I work part of my garden during the day this morning. One egg a day, usually 10-12 eggs per hen and she sits there 28 days. Meditation deluxe.

    Alter boy from the last five years of Latin in the USA, RCC, I am not a religious scholar, but I feel the spiritual in my sense of it, practically experience karma, on the front and back side, and follow a path of doing least harm, expressing gratitude and paying things forward as one falls in to the numerous opportunities to do so, if one stays tuned to them as they occur.

    Aspiring to be remembered as this individual in the blog title and walking through carpets of trillium, Peace and Resolve.


  24. you will be remembered as such, my fine feathered wren friend. the chadwick page reminded me of these folks, who cause me to try to be glad when i would rather suddenly eeek! when little deva snakes made themselves known in my garden… ;-)


    gratitude; yes…as we are able, and for me, also, actively loving people we don’t even much like. such is so very possible, i’ve learned. (i learned it from doing thirty years of bodywork, which is very intimate. i’d find i had to extend my love to many sorts of clients, and only ever declined two or three in all those years. some folks are toxic enough that no protective energy bubble i could cocoon myself in could save me from contracting bits of their spiritual illnesses physically.)

    i always love your sign-offs, dear wren. and peace to you.

  25. Wendy, thanks for sending me over to check out Thomas Merton as the wiki on him expresses what I was trying to say.

    “Merton was not interested in what these traditions had to offer as doctrines and institutions, but was deeply interested in what each said of the depth of human experience. This is not to say that Merton believed that these religions did not have valuable rituals or practices for him and other Christians, but that, doctrinally, Merton was so committed to Christianity and he felt that practitioners of other faiths were so committed to their own doctrines that any discussion of doctrine would be useless for all involved.”

    Your poem above does sound Gnostic to me, with its emphasis on power. I myself have a hard time understanding powerful love, how we might embody it. Lack of power is more understandable to me; I think it is more often where we find ourselves. Scary and risky, and humbling, but real.

    This is at the heart of the Christian message – as Paul describes, I think, out of love for mankind God emptied himself into human form, a sacrifice on his part, as parents make sacrifices for their children. The approachable aspect of God, where thinking of him as an electric spark – you want to be at a safe distance from that.

    As far as what any of us ‘believe’, I like Buber’s words – we ‘take our stand’. Our belief is the metaphysical ground on which we stand, and as Merton thought, a very hard area to discuss helpfully. But how we approach human experience is fertile ground indeed.

  26. Beautiful words, nonquixote. I had to wiki ‘trillium’ and found that indeed you do get carpets of the lovely things. And this:

    “Picking a trillium seriously injures the plant by preventing the leaf-like bracts from producing food for the next year. A plant takes many years to recover.”

    It’s what we learn from plants, I think. They sacrifice to serve in quiet ways. And I think their very being is such a mystery, giving to us the very breath we need. How is that even possible, this relationship?

  27. [query point: as I post I get the following:


    I have no idea what this means.]

  28. uh…well. it was sorta by way of a li’l bit of humor/fun. it’s a cafe, ww! (at least for the time being… the software allows us to make any prompts we like, so….

  29. i do appreciate how you try to make theism more philosophically palatable to some of heathens, j. and i’ll not say again how much i don’t care for paul.

    but as to power, i think that too many of the best people fear power, and is one of the main reasons we find ourselves where we are, imo. yes, all the dictae about power and corruptibility, etc. but Love? perhaps it can be deadly in the sense that it’s always uneven in relationships, posing a danger. and for far too many it’s about the return of love, and those measurements, and most people who find it lacking, i’d submit either can’t be filled because their own reservoirs are lacking, this may be far too greedy for it (including envy, suspicion, etc.)

    but i think above we must have been speaking broadly of platonic love, given without measure, and yes: powerful! just as healing power is both yin and yang, and a healer needs to intuit the difference. ‘tough love’ has sadly deteriorated into cliche by now, bastardized almost to cruelty. once upon a time it meant forced accountability, and was needed because we as children weren’t taught to be responsible for what we did, but were instead, authoritarianly punished instead. [well, i deleted a few sentences that because they were tangential.]

    but when our spirit guides, thought adjustors, angels, however you name them let us know what’s needed to heal, whether it be a human or a society, yes: we should feel the power of it, and act on it, imo. even when we sense that it won’t necessarily be effective in the near future.

    but yeah: paul had to go against jesus’s orders and make a church around him; look what happened, lol.

  30. This is the trillium variety that is so very prolific where I am residing. We will shortly be seeing various purple and yellow orchids, otherwise know as lady slippers.

    I’ve enjoyed following the conversation. Thank you both.

  31. “uh…well. it was sorta by way of a li’l bit of humor/fun. it’s a cafe, ww! (at least for the time being… the software allows us to make any prompts we like, so….”

    Oh, I am very dense! I was thinking it was an automatic thing for ordering books or whatever from some impersonal connection to segue forward into cartland – I completely didn’t get it. Story of my life!

  32. on the other hand, you appear to be not alone. not one soul has laughed at the site’s subtitle, lol. story of my life: i always think i’m funny as all giddy-up; many seem to…politely not notice… ;-)

    i added the ‘dear’ so it would seem more southerly….grits n fried fascist…like that. and see? in the white box: ‘enter your comment here’?

  33. Those are lovely, nonquixote – they remind me of the cana lilies that in New Zealand amazingly grow on the banks of creeks in farms from childhood memories, and in my grandmother’s garden…

  34. Wendy, I will have some fried green tomatoes, please. Mine in the garden are not yet ready but I’m a sucker for those!

    I am not sure how you think Paul went against Jesus’ orders. There was a church before he came into the picture, so if it is that which isn’t a good thing, that not good thing began at Pentecost, which is the time of the Holy Spirit.

    The command Paul is given by Jesus through Ananias goes this way:
    “But the Lord said to him [Ananias] ‘Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.'”[Acts 15-16]

    He did that to the best of his abilities, and it wasn’t an easy road.

  35. i’ll have to take your word for it then juliania, if my understanding is incorrect.

    but i did want to say that i’d thought more about power, love, the creative v receptive, and remembered the things i’d read about the abrahamic religions taking complete power away from women. another gripe. but: i think that even if i did believe in god, i would not subscribe to the point of view that jesus died for our sins, period. i think we have none to forgive. which then moots all the points about baptisms before burials are allowed in sanctified ground, getting to heaven, etc.

    i DO think christ was simply an amazing prophet, and we would all do well to live his life as we are told he did, but even then…i don’t believe the bible represents much historical accuracy, given how many texts were left out, for one. but all of those dissents mean i am not a christian; if you don’t believe in the resurrection, well….that’s the ballgame.

    but seriously i need to sign off from this thread to do other things. i’ll bring your fried green tomatoes, and we’ll try not to scorch them. ;~)

  36. realitychecker1

    I must have come thru the wrong door. I was looking for Argument. (h/t Monty Python) ;-)

  37. “Let me try again, wendy. You don’t have to believe what Christians believe because Buber certainly didn’t, and Buddhists, many of them, don’t believe in God. An atheistic stance is helpful when Christ is not being preached in a consistent manner by many who say they are Christian. Then, I go with the atheist points wholeheartedly. That was the point of my quote above from wiki about Thomas Merton – he was eager to explore other religious frameworks, not for their dogma (which belief in the Resurrection is) but for their exploration of the human condition.

    We could argue dogma all day and both get headaches – I really didn’t want to do that here. It’s fine if you don’t believe in the Resurrection. That is not the ballgame; it really isn’t. But I think we have in common that there are more things to heaven and earth, Horatio, and I do think we are responsible for some pretty unfortunate happenings to the planet, even we who sit under our electric lights and warm ourselves with what hisses through pipelines. And at times for family disruptions – oh yes, I am plenty responsible for those! But again, that’s dogma and we can agree to disagree…”

  38. My sister, (who painted the lovely illustration to my essay) furnished me with this poem I’d sent her ages back – glad to see my message in a different form here!

    A Poem

    Go to the garden
    Sit, and see
    Our plants as people, servants we
    Bent to our will
    And they comply
    For if they do not they will die;
    And even if they do, we take
    No second thought with hoe or rake
    To gather what we will.

    No sound of scream
    Invades the air
    Milk pure their juices disappear
    Into the thirsty earth, as mead.

    And so, like earth,
    We are sustained
    By plants who spend their lives
    They to both earth and humans lend
    The bounty of a loving friend.

    Thus is our kinship forged through toil –
    Small miracle of seed and soil.

  39. You always come through the right door, rc. I wish I was as familiar with the wonderful Monty Python as you are – it must boost flagging spirits to have that laughter at your fingertips – all that comes to me at the moment is ‘walk this way.’ So, please, walk this way, just a little!

  40. realitychecker1

    AND, as to walking this way . . . ;-)

    You can’t leave now, my Enter key is working again lol!!!

  41. glad you posted a comment on juliania’s thread, realitychecker. i’d just kept refreshing an open tab, and missed j’s two posts.

    juliania, i’m sorry if i erred by bringing in dogma, but somewhere upthread i’d thought you’d encouraged us to argue with you. hell, given i’d had such a hard time taking your, ts elliot’s, or buber’s meanings some of the time, at least i could find something to discuss on my lower level of understanding.

    your poem is very lovely, and i think that many people who believe that eating plants requires acknowledgment of some reciprocity would find it a balm.

    which leads me to another admission. when nonquixote presented his credo so simply and directly, i thought about whether i could enunciate one. nope; every sentence i tried out caused me to think of caveats i’d have to add. ;-)

    yes, we have a lot in common, and i’m glad of it, and i appreciate your giving us the chance to hear others’ words on the human condition.

  42. i hope that’s the video you wanted, rc. i’d tried to make a tiny url out of your long one, and it failed. sorry, dear.

  43. realitychecker1

    Thanks, Wendy, that’s the sketch, any version is good/ Dunno why my link didn’t work, I did it the same way as the first one.

  44. my fault entirely; just tried to shorten it, tiny url blew it. are your drapes dusty, perhaps?

  45. I am so happy to read that rc has done well with his surgery – for some reason I was thinking it would be on his birthday Tuesday, but that is very good news indeed!

    I found this lovely passage in Buber’s “Tales of the Hasidim”, which I think bears on what we are discussing here:

    “Concerning the words in the Scriptures: ‘He is thy psalm and He is thy God,’ Rabbi Pinhas said the following:

    “He is your psalm and he is also your God. The prayer a man says, the prayer, in itself, is God. It is not as if you were asking something of a friend. He is different and your words are different. It is not so in prayer, for prayer unites the principles. When a man who is praying thinks his prayer is something apart from God, he is like a suppliant to whom the king gives what he has begged from him. But he who knows that prayer in itself is God, is like the king’s son who takes whatever he wants from the stores of his father.'”

    Here I will also say that the prayer I was intending to give for a good outcome to rc’s surgery will still be given and in that it already has been operative. Eve of your birthday, rc, as intended!

    I think that there is in plants that uniting of principles, that fusion. But I agree wholeheartedly, Wendy, with your point that these are not easily discussed approaches to the subject, that they raise rather than answer questions – Buber’s ‘Tales’ are full of the concept that teachers who can answer questions are to be shunned, so skepticism is a fundamental part of the entire ‘ball of wax’ – which is what I was trying to say above, but not well at all. It has taken me a while to have anything worthwhile to add, and I apologize for that.

  46. i’m not sure of the difference between Suppliants and Supplicants (not that it may matter), juliania, but i did Giggle the differences between new and old testament intercessory prayers and understand a bit better now.

    if psalms are indeed praises, as the definition says, and buber says that there is no separation between prayer and god, just at first glance, i might go with pslams as poems of thanks, if i have any of it right. yes, these things are very awkward for me to discuss, especially as most of my considerations along these lines are image based, as in ‘the pictures inside myself’. you are conversant with the verbiage from many sources, which is good, but not always useful to me if i can’t create mind-pictures from them.

    let me see if i can explain a bit, using toby’s surgery as a case in point. itried long ago to explain some of this to my Xianist sister-in-law, who knew from that day forward (buttressed by other of her observations of me, lol) that i would be going to hell, and that made her so sad. ever since her family gaze at me with their outer eye corners turned down… (ooooh, such a pity!’, lol)

    i can’t even remember how or where i learned the rough concept of ‘the wheel of life’, or that ‘being on the wheel’ meant a beneficial alignment with Life, both searching deep within us to be in harmony with it, and perhaps it included consciously broadcasting our life forces as most morally certain, spiritually healthy, and yeppers, as powerful, too, but with a soupcon of acceptance of our limitations along those lines.

    alas, the interludes i set aside for intentionally directing any and all of that toward tobias and his surgeon were amiss temporally, as mary said the surgery of course was delayed, lol. but: as ever, i tried to use the silence to go within my own self, to heal me as well as send those same messages to them. cuz in the end, it seems that prayers/thoughts of appreciation, plus setting the stage of good causes often reaping good effects, makes sense to me. and i don’t mind if any of it calls it ‘the wheel of life or god much.

    does that make sense?

    on the last bit you said about buber: that meshes with many of the buddhist parables i’ve read. wish i could think of an example right now (smile). but thanks for coming back and adding more.

    oh, and i’d meant to say about toby: actually *picturing* it all going well, and visualizing him on the other side of it healing well and the surgery having made him healthier in other respects as well. guts are sooooo important. but then, i also told him that if he didn’t take my advice about probiotics i’d come kick him in the ass, as well. ;~)

  47. Woops, you’ve got me – ‘suppliant’ – ‘supplicant’? (My ancient Webster makes them interchangeable.) But also, you are ahead of me on the difference between old and new testament intercessory prayers – woah! I followed you to Giggle (doesn’t that sound like fun) and I see yes, indeed, treatises have been written on the subject. Never knew that before. And I sort of don’t think I agree. After all, Jesus himself on the cross prays to his father from a psalm of David: ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ (Somehow I don’t think I’d be heaven bound either, by your in-laws’ standard.)

    All I was ‘on’ about was, firstly just enjoying the fusion aspect of prayer as I said, and secondly on intercession – having a bit of fun with the Eternal Now (I think it’s sometimes allowed. Not too often, just sometimes.) So, my coming scheduled prayer will just meld into all the better ones that came before, yours included, since time really doesn’t matter (or even exist) in that Now. Sort of like your wheel. Which reminds me of that wonderful song Paul of Peter, Paul, and Mary sings about the Great Mandala, isn’t it? Sends shivers up my spine, so beautiful.

    I truly haven’t had anything to contribute for yeah this lengthy space of time, and sometimes as you well know, you just have to wait. It took the good rabbi to get me going, not to mention Isaiah88 over at fdl. I can’t even pretend to have had a hernia operation though I’m positive that was a factor! (Blaming you for my torpor, rc – why not?)

  48. Sorry, I misspoke – it was Peter Yarrow. This with Richie Havens is what I was remembering:

    No analysis. I think it is a mysterious song, so beautiful it could well be a prayer.

  49. it’s one of my very favorites, and i’ve used this exact version on several diaries; whooosh. it is indeed a prayer, and the way that the tragic images almost force us to imagine…a more just world in twenty directions… oy. i had such great battles with my pop over viet nam; had i been a son, we may have gone through something like this. i ‘dematriculated’ from CU after kent state (i was there just before boulder), when we were trying to shut down all the colleges in the country. my pop…disowned me. rough, but we did end up talking when my mother tried to commit suicide a couple times. we…had to. and to this day i still communicate with his face in the sky. and it seems that he’s learned a few things by now. ;~)

    is ‘eternal now’ from t.s. eliot ? sounds as though it might be. oh, to make up for all the things i never read, never learned… shall i put books under my pillow and hope i learn by osmosis? yes, our prayers, good thoughts and healing energies will blend and travel, and reach toby, each other, and the collective consciousness/noosphere, of that…i have faith.

  50. You already have it in your bones, wendy – no need to read. For me, reading was liberation – from the age of six when kids could still travel on foot and alone – I clearly remember my first visit to the library in our new town all by myself, choosing all by myself what I wanted to read – that library was at least a mile from my house – walking back on my own with my book of dinosaurs! My parents did not read to me. This was my place to be, mine exclusively. That’s why I read.

    Here’s how Eliot begins his “Four Quartets”, which are his last series of poems written before and during the London blitz. (He and Pasternak have this in common – they both served as night watchers for fires in that war.)

    “Time present and time past
    Are both perhaps present in time future,
    And time future contained in time past.
    If all time is eternally present
    All time is unredeemable.
    What might have been is an abstraction
    Remaining a perpetual possibility
    Only in a world of speculation.
    What might have been and what has been
    Point to one end, which is always present.”

    I used to try to puzzle how this all made sense, till I realized – only just now! – it doesn’t. What is present in these lines is the scheme for four poems, represented by each of the sentences. (At least, that’s what I think.) So, the whole sequence passes through the problematic second sentence, ending in that ‘eternal now’.

    See, you touched right on it, and I’m only just figuring it out!

  51. aha! then it may have been you who showed us that from mr. eliot (one L, one T, whassup with dat?)!

    but, lol, i may have been informed by Dr. Who (pbs time-Lord series) and watching many Nova episodes on quantum theory, ‘fabric of the cosmos’ space-time bending, etc. many times in hopes that some of it would sink into my noggin and stay. but, oh…those memory engrams just won’t quite gel for me any longer. who knows? maybe being a forgetful ditz was written in the stars eons ago… ;~) but as far as i can tell, theoretical physics is catching up to that dear poet. how cool is that? (and i did giggle ‘the eternal now’, and found boatloads of contexts in which it’s been used. too many to check out more than the sources, really. so this one is perfect for now; thank you.

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