Wednesday, June 27, 2012


There is something I want to do. Correction, I want it done. The area is prepared; the next action is identified. But this project depends on several people not just me. They obviously have priorities that do not include my project. Working with others demands I experience process. My project moves forward only as fast as the slowest member of the team.

We talk about the mental process, the manufacturing process, the decision making process, and due process of law. Then there is processed cheese, processed rubber, and processed information. Job hunting is a process. The inception of a thought must process through the synapses before it achieves recognition, before it can be named.

If there is something that does not involve process, I can’t think of it. A meal, dressing for the day, garbage collection, the hangnail developing on my left thumb, a storm, a sunset, an argument: all take time. I can think of nothing that skips beginning and jumps immediately into the past, fait accompli.

And time is one of the crucial realities of living we cannot control. We may anticipate as we move toward a desirable process like a train trip through Pennsylvania, or a week of vacation at the beach.

At a different time dread overwhelms our emotions; we fearfully trudge through a painful, inevitable process. We endure until the process is finished with us.

Process takes time. Even though nothing can try my patience like waiting for process to unfold, time is necessary. Grace allows others time to proceed on their course as it intersects ours. And through process we learn about ourselves, both good and not so good. It’s about time.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


An assumption necessary for my interior and productive living is that there is a God. Not a dogmatic compilation, nor a wood or metal impressionistic form, but a mysterious being I cannot specifically at this time describe. He is reflected in my potential, but knowing myself I know nothing in me is God. Mystery puts him beyond my control, my shabby attempts to manipulate. All I know of him is what he has chosen to tell me. His self-definition does not bequeath me pellucid clairvoyance or special endurance.  Merely a place in his time.

I am reticent to place money on the first date life materialized. Others may and declare the days of the earth boldly as if their surety matters. A video production at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry seriously pictured life wriggling from a lapping body of water, some ancient primordial ooze. I laughed out loud at the faith required to believe such mud-hued fancy.

I knew a man who rashly told God the date and time creation would burn. He presaged the finality of frog calls at twilight, of murders of crows silently concealing mischief under their wings in the trees jutting from the darkening gulch, of moles spilling up soil from beneath the iris and campanula as my shovel and water hose rest for the day.

When we are tempted to over-define ourselves, time serves as a reminder that life roots about in the landscape and survives or not regardless of our brief tenure. Our evanescence rises and sets with the sun. It’s about time.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


There is something we sense in our bones, we feel with the pulse of our blood from the start. We speak it impatiently at first, until age and experience bring us awareness we can never sufficiently say it so we will come to it prepared and attentive.

It is the surety of personal aging, of slipping from days to years as we appreciate goals accomplished in their time and admit we would do it differently if we had been who we have become.

It is that no one is singular, exempt from the course that follows our ancestors, and the time we have left waits to be gracefully used as we work slower and less, and rest more than work.

We never think we are old, or done with growing. But such possibilities slip in on a contrary breeze, the dim suspicion that our fundamental accumulations clutter and encumber the accommodations we now need for breathing. More and more we gratefully experience our busyness unwind to leisure, and we are content to savor the dimensions of our remaining space.

I am more willing to indulge interior living with less urgency to produce. Like my few essential household supports, I am becoming more form than function. It’s about time.

Saturday, June 9, 2012


The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of contemporary violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence.” Thomas Merton

Merton’s choice of the term “violence” interests me. My thesaurus equates it with madness, struggle, confusion, exhaustion, demonic frenzy. All the antithesis of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.

To try to do too much constricts passion, starving reason and constructive purpose. Violence fights counsel and wisdom from others. It charges in where angels fear to tread. It spearheads solutions when the question has not been clearly defined. It camouflages ambition with good intentions and passion. Perhaps not so much ambition as fear.

Traumatic syndrome is not just a result of military battles. Within homes and professions stress assaults us physically, emotionally and spiritually. If we succumb to the pressures without protecting space for nurture we think violent thoughts, rage at people around us, deplete our energies and ourselves. The organizations and friendships meant to grow us themselves grow into monstrous appetites. 

So, lists are composed of worthwhile options, a hierarchy of emergency, and needs to be read with an eye to living fully in the moment. We assign the A and B and C with an understanding that we will never live these minutes again. We do not "should" on ourselves but breathe through the boundaries, always with an eye for the serendipitous. And a task that doesn't get done because the sun is shining through rain on glorious rhododendruns can be moved to the next day, or the next.

Sounds good.

Sunday, June 3, 2012


The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of contemporary violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence.” Thomas Merton

The posts of May 1 and May 10 may seem disconnected. Sleight of hand and a finger in every pie. Not dissimilar. Our goal may be represented by the Queen of Hearts which, in real life, doesn’t magically appear. Nor is she produced by frenetic shuffling of the deck. She shows up in her time and place, and is preceded by other cards of lesser or greater value as it happens in real life.

A friend called the other morning full of righteous indignation. Someone’s circumstances dealt her a blood-letting blow and my friend rushed into a tirade of what needed to be done. Her passion and ferocity reminded me of the quote from Thomas Merton.

Sleight of hand, the magic pill, the instant solution are the enemies of process. I have come to appreciate the time process demands. It pries our fingers off the situation and gives us space to consider various options. Or, perhaps there is no solution in a timely fashion as we define it. Or perhaps we are not equipped to view the concomitants, quandary and need.

All I know is what I know. And I don’t know much. Seemingly obvious statements but very difficult to live with so much to do, places to go, social media to log onto, etc. Stop the flow of violence with a deep breath and observation of the various greens in nature. A coloration we do nothing to produce. Or just log out and breathe.