Category Archives: Uncategorized

Beauty Needs a Lover

Monks & Mannequins

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Beauty needs a lover. Without a lover beauty is not beauty.  It is life.  Almost.  A seed.  That is how it seems to me.  Things are not beautiful in and of themselves unless I notice them in and of themselves.  The moment my eye catches it, “Ah!  Yes!” then it unfolds and becomes beautiful.  Do you see what I mean?

If something is not beautiful this does not mean that it is ugly.  It’s just not yet, beautiful.  Almost though.  It’s a threshold, a doorway.  Almost anything you interact with becomes beautiful if you open your eyes, reach out your hand, breath it in.

Beauty is a relationship, a discovery, a beholding, even a bewilderment.  It is a recurring accident if you let it.

One of my favorite moments of beauty comes from Helen Keller, reaching out her hand to the world.  In her own words:

“We walked down the…

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Me and My Dad

Monks & Mannequins

girl:butterfly

My father and I have not always been close. Growing up, he was my father, that was it. He patted me on the head on his way out the door to work and let me sit on his knee when he got home but as far as connecting in a deeper way that didn’t happen till much later in my life. Like almost every American family my father was almost always the one carrying the weight of “bringing home the bacon.” Unfortunately this meant that having time to get to know me was scant. I never knew what I was missing out until life hit me with a ton of bricks; my parents divorced.

Never did I dream that this dreadful event would bring anything good with it. But, I lucked out. My junior year my dad took over the responsibility of carting me to and from work and school.

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All Ears

Monks & Mannequins

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Prayer is a mysterious and murky business. That much is clear. It’s one of those things we do without thinking. A little like breathing. Or pacing. Or riding streets.  Even people who don’t believe in prayer kind of pray.

It’s probably the go-to-church praying that gets some people wound up. All menu, no food. I don’t know.

As the writer Frederick Buechner likes to say regarding church attendance:  “If it doesn’t ruin my day it was a good experience.”

They say AA is where atheists go to pray. It’s true, I’ve been there. Not that everybody who attends AA is an atheist. It just gets real basic in those meetings. Not at all like church. You’re expected to be honest and speak candidly because your life depends upon it. Kind of at the level of what writer Anne Lamott talks about in her new book: Help,Thanks,Wow: TheThree Essential Prayers.

I…

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Becoming Who You Are

Monks & Mannequins

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It came to me the other day, not exactly in a flash, somewhat tentatively, a flicker at first: most, if not all of my heroes were passive, not passive in the usual sense of disinterested and unengaged.

No, they were all very much engaged and present but not preoccupied by followers.

Maybe that is a better word: present. Each of them accepted their own souls. They lived into their names. They found themselves, as the saying goes and lived into that gift.

James Baldwin, Nelson Mandela, Jesus, Jean Michel Basquiat, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, John Coltrane, Gandhi, Thomas Merton to name a few. They wrote books, painted on walls or canvases, changed their minds, sat in prison, or on a bus, played an instrument, walked peacefully, prayed or submitted to a cruel death.

Curiously, by doing these “passive” things, by being present to themselves, they shifted the world.

chris woodhull

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aesthetic outburst

Monks & Mannequins

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What a wonder it would be if we believed. That life is meaningful. Or better yet, precious. That beauty is necessary. That children deserve our full attention and teach us things. That babies are works of art. That books are thresholds. That meals are shared. That silence is the doorway to sound. That laughter belongs in our hearts as much as kindness and generosity.

What a wonder it would be if we washed dishes by hand. Ironed our own shirt and trousers, slowly. Took pictures. Painted. Rang doorbells. Threw parties for whoever comes to mind.

What a wonder it would be if we slowed down and noticed who we were with. Who loves us. Who said hello this morning. Who let us go first. Who thought of us. Who taught us to tie our shoes or ride a bike.

What a wonder it would be if we

delayed our concerns

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Prayer

Monks & Mannequins

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Every day I want to speak with you. And every day something more important
calls for my attention—the drugstore, the beauty products, the luggage

I need to buy for the trip.
Even now I can hardly sit here

among the falling piles of paper and clothing, the garbage trucks outside
already screeching and banging.

The mystics say you are as close as my own breath.
Why do I flee from you?

My days and nights pour through me like complaints
and become a story I forgot to tell.

Help me. Even as I write these words I am planning
to rise from the chair as soon as I finish this sentence.

by Marie Howe

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Rorschach

Monks & Mannequins

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I went to therapy, every week for about a year.

My mother drove me up to the office complex. I stepped out her silver Honda CRV and walked up the fake stone steps.

I opened the door and entered a world of soft Christian music wafting an air conditioned message of “Jesus is our lord and savior” in an overcrowded space of ugly wholesale dining room furniture and plastic plants, a kind of televangelist set.

It was a safe place I suppose and I hated it.

Don’t get me wrong, I really wanted to like it. I knew in some way I needed help and this did seem like a place that could help.

I am a white teenage girl with divorcing parents; I am sure that is a huge pie slice in some demographic chart. I really wanted to feel like a character in a teen drama. “Poor Paris.”…

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to respect and rejoice

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“To be sensual, I think, is to respect and rejoice in the force of life, of life itself, and to be present in all that one does, from the effort of loving to the breaking of bread.” 

– James Baldwin

aesthetic outburst

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What a wonder it would be if we believed. That life is meaningful. Or better yet, precious. That beauty is necessary. That children deserve our full attention and teach us things. That babies are works of art. That books are thresholds. That meals are shared. That silence is the doorway to sound. That laughter belongs in our hearts as much as kindness and generosity.

What a wonder it would be if we washed dishes by hand. Ironed our own shirt and trousers, slowly. Took pictures. Painted. Rang doorbells. Threw parties for whoever comes to mind.

What a wonder it would be if we slowed down and noticed who we were with. Who loves us. Who said hello this morning. Who let us go first. Who thought of us. Who taught us to tie our shoes or ride a bike.

What a wonder it would be if we

delayed our concerns

and fell in love.

christopher

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go tell it on the mountain

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James Baldwin and Jesus never met. Or perhaps, I should say, that if they had, Baldwin did not talk much about it. At least not in public. Baldwin did not consider himself a Christian. He said as much. He grew up in a very strict, somewhat brutal Christian home and was a child preacher for a brief time to please his father. When he walked away, he walked away from it all.

It’s strange, he certainly lived in a way that Jesus would have found blessed. Jesus would have told his story in a parable. Perhaps he did. His life was sacrificial. His life was rooted in love. He considered people very important.

“From my point of view — no label, no slogan, no party, no skin color, and indeed, no religion is more important than the human being.” Jesus would have been delighted with these words.

While Baldwin did not consider himself a Christian, Jesus considered himself a human being in much the same way Baldwin lived his life and this – Jesus believing in him – is as much an active faith as the other way around.

(James Baldwin, Beauford Delaney, 1963 Pastel on paper.)

christopher

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