Humanarium Revisited

Humanarium (Revisited)

(ˈhjuːmən err-e-um)

n. an abstract but primal place. A place where you can be as human as humanly possible and feel no shame, because even shame is on par with pride, justice, and glory.

  1. : a place where you can lean against your enemy almost as equally as your friend and you have nothing to prove.
  2. : a place where one can talk about holiness and earthiness in the same sentence.
    • a : it is difficult to tell if such places are created only by great effort, or rather by merely forgetting that one ever left them.
    • : a place that a good church tries to replicate, but rarely achieves.
  3. : a place where the only way to offend everyone is by being pretentious. But even then, everyone just shakes their head with pursed lips and then pats said pretentious one on the back and moves on, because they are too busy seeking reality.
  4. : a place where one’s age is meaningless. Where one is a child and a burdened adult and in the twilight at the same time.
  5. : a state in which one understands Bob Dylan songs, and/or feels like they are living in a permanent Bob Dylan song.
  6. : a place where children thrive and move and have their being, and elderly smile like no one is watching.
  7. : a space in which one can be honest, not afraid of the consequences.
  8. : a place where one can lift up their head high and not feel above anyone else.
  9. : a space where one can meet God, herself, himself, or their great love–with equal intensity.
  10. : an atmosphere where it’s almost impossible to tell if one is laughing or crying. Or doing both simultaneously. But you have to let them do it. They need it.
  11. : places where a friend, even for only a few minutes, is a friend for a lifetime.
  12. : a place saturated with that feeling, when one has been drinking, that comes after trying to be the life of the party and trying to run away from the party; when you’re right in the zone of total vulnerability and surrender but have not lost any of your faculties.
  13. a place where your political affiliations mean about as much as your hair color.

Seek these places once in a while. Create them when needed.

 

Shine your Light (per Joni Mitchell)

xshine
[OCTOBER 23, 2016]

I saw a video of Prince accepting an award. Terse as he was whenever I saw him, not seeming to enjoy talking publicly outside of music too much, and not dropping many names, one of the few performers that he propped up and praised in that speech was Joni Mitchell.
I wondered why he mentioned her as a prime influence. Of all the people who had influenced him; I just had never known. Indeed, she is amazing. I’m glad he did it.
I think during this season, in this climate, in this hour, a song like this one is very timely; politics aside. I think it may show part of why Prince loved her so much.
(for the audiophiles, here you go)

Shine

Oh let your little light shine
Let your little light shine
·
Shine on Wall Street and Vegas
Place your bets
Shine on the fishermen
With nothing in their nets
Shine on rising oceans and evaporating seas
Shine on our Frankenstein technologies
Shine on science
With its tunnel vision, tunnel vision
Shine on fertile farmlands
Buried under subdivisions
·
Oh let your little light shine
Let your little light shine
·
Shine on the dazzling darkness
That restores us in deep sleep
Shine on what we throw away
And what we keep
Shine on Reverend Pearson
Who threw away
The vain old God
Kept Dickens and Rembrandt and Beethoven
And fresh plowed sod
Shine on good earth, good air, good water
And a safe place
For kids to play
Shine on bombs exploding
Half a mile away
·
Oh let your little light shine
Let your little light shine
·
Shine on world-wide traffic jams
Honking day and night
Shine on another asshole
Passing on the right
Shine on the red light runners
Busy talking on their cell phones
Shine on the Catholic Church
And the prisons that it owns
Shine on all the Churches
They all love less and less
Shine on a hopeful girl
In a dreamy dress
·
Oh let your little light shine
Let your little light shine
Shine on good humor
Shine on good will
Shine on lousy leadership
Licensed to kill
Shine on dying soldiers
In patriotic pain
Shine on mass destruction
In some god’s name
Shine on the pioneers
Those seekers of mental health
Craving simplicity
They traveled inward
Past themselves…
·
May all their little lights shine

[Read more…]

Profound Cries of Joy and Sorrow

Every rose has thorns

 

I was reading Ezra today and these words leaped off the page at me:

(Ch. 3) 11 And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord,

“For he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel.”

And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. 12 But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, though many shouted aloud for joy, 13 so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people’s weeping, for the people shouted with a great shout, and the sound was heard far away.

I could write pages and pages about these last two verses, but I will just write a few thoughts.

[Context note: these are the Jews coming back to their land after a few generations of captivity in exile. They return from Persia to rebuild the city, starting with the temple. The central role the temple played in their lives and their relationship with their God defined them as a people somewhere in their core.]

Knowing this, it makes perfect sense that the young who had heard all these stories about their people and their past would rejoice at the thrill of rebuilding. Juxtapositionally, the older generations are weeping because they have a relationship with the temple from the past and have personally suffered the loss in some way–they know what the former glory of the temple was and mourn the loss of that.

All of this mixed together is life. All of this mixed together is what it is like to be in relationship with someone…with God…to be a person of faith…to strive for what is good and not necessarily what is easy or safe.

I suppose that journeying with God…with the Good…with anything meaningful…will entail this mix of joy and sorrow. I suspect it doesn’t have to be this way. It just happens to be.

“I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the horses the new strength of fear for the last mill so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.”
― C.S. LewisThe Chronicles of Narnia – the Horse and His boy

Oil flake

It was raining the other day, and I happened across this in the parking lot.

IMG_5533

No two oil flakes are alike

The parking lot was recently resurfaced and the surrounding area looked clean and clear. But then there was this spot of oil that ran just enough to lose its oil-slick identity and make this snowflake-like shape.

I love how these mundane and unattractive objects happened to come together to make something that looks beautiful.

Confetti is Glorified Trash

Confetti: Is it a good or a service?

Scraps of joy

Scraps of Joy

 

If you think about it for two seconds, confetti is glorified trash. But of course it is more than that because its purpose is more than the material stuff. The effect is what you pay for. The experience, the fun, the laughter. Once it is down on the ground it is just something to clean up with lingering memories.
[Read more…]

Simplicity in the eyes and ears of a child

This is one of my new favorite images.

With the ears of a child...

Eagerly taking in beauty

Not only because it contains some of my favorite people, but because of the memories I have attached to it. This is now a picture of who they really are and why I love them so much. Incidentally, this is my wife and son along with my sister on the left, listening to an acoustic guitar duo singing folk songs on a Laguna Beach street corner.

Let me share my memories with you.

After listening intently to the singer/musicians for a while, my son couldn’t resist anymore–he hopped down (as much as a 1-year-old can hop) and walked right up to them. He has always been enchanted with guitars, and the singer must of recognized it right away because he crouched down to let my son play his guitar.

A wild-looking, tatted beachcomber walked up and watched this for a moment. Smiling ear to ear, another onlooker said “I think he’s going to grow up to be a musician!” The tatted wanderer just kept smiling and said,

“He already is.”

At the right edge of the picture, you can barely see the waxing entrance of another beach-goer. She appears as if she has been here for years–decades. And many of those years have been unkind to her. She watched this scene with us for a while, until her smiles turned to tears. My wife came alongside her, in her tears also, and held her like a friend. She didn’t know what was happening in this woman’s heart. She didn’t need to–that’s the kind of person my wife is. Never before have I known someone who can peer into another soul so naturally.

The woman told us that this awestruck child was so beautiful and precious because it was evident he was loved so much…that he had a a precious mother who had given her son more in 10 minutes than she had received in her lifetime.

As we walk alongside hundreds of people every day who really know what quiet desperationis, take that extra moment to really look at someone. Dare yourself to see them as they are…and what they dream they could be. Remember that “It is never too late to be what you might have been.”