Preparing to mow the other day, I saw what I thought was a piece of paper by the stump of the pear tree lost in the storm. It was what looked like an oyster mushroom, as if suddenly delivered there from the grocer’s shelf. I did not save it or eat it; Max shredded it, and “I missed my chance with one of the Lords of Life.”
Weeding, I thought it would be fun to have a wheelbarrow. I don’t need one, but it would be fun. I could load all of the weeds to the woods behind the lot or to the garbage can. I could dig holes and haul dirt from one place to another. If it were red, I could let it fill with rainwater and put cut-outs of white chickens beside it to make a tableau vivant of the famous poem by Williams. I could set up displays in it for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, etc. I like that my grandfather, Pop, called his wheelbarrow a Georgia buggy. If I were to buy a Georgia buggy, what to name it? Not Pop, for he never approved or my zaniness. Who did? Probably it would earn its own name, as did Max, the mower, and Sue Henrietta, the water hose.
At a local cafe. The Ladies Who Lunch. They chit. They chat. They chit-chat. They chatter. While they wait for their food, while they eat their food, incessant talk. They giggle-laugh. One brays. Three are at a table behind me, two at the table in front of me, two are at tables on either side. Prattle in surround-sound! Bon appetit!
The Wayne Shorter Jazz Quartet performance at Wait Chapel at Wake Forest was brilliant. Each musician was a master of his instrument. The jazz was symphonic. I liked when there was a duet between the bass and percussion, playing with the piano, and commented upon from time to time by the sax. My companion, who invited me, hated it. During the second piece she sat with her hands over her ears. After three pieces, she said that this was not the jazz she knew. She said she would wait for me in the lobby. After the performance she said, “There’s the one who invites groups. I’m going to kid her.” When she went to her and I heard, “That was terrible!” I left to go to the restroom. Ah, Eva.
My plan was to arrive early in Winston-Salem to find lunch before attending a poetry reading. Just down the street was the Lighthouse Restaurant, to which I was drawn, for I have always fancied the sea. It was closed on weekends. But I was fortunate to find close by Flashback Smoothies on Brookstown Avenue. They serve hot dogs, hamburgers, deli sandwiches, milk shakes, and smoothies. It’s a small place with a bench and a counter for two and two tables for two outside. Metal plaques of vintage trucks and cars and Smokey the Bear and Jesus-Is-My-Buddy-Pal music playing quietly. The service is friendly and attentive, as are the fellow customers. The hot dogs were in a toasted bun on a paper tray and wrapped in foil. The all-the-way order was fine: condiments and onions were all blended in to a smooth chili sauce. Delicious. The receipt invited following on Twitter and Facebook and gave a website with the following encouragement: May God bless you. John 3:16. A small and wonderful place. Go!
Poetry reading was attended by the poet, his wife, and four friends. A good and rare reunion. The poet read one poem which I had taught to eighth graders in the 1980’s and ended the reading, before I could request it, with my favorite poem from the book. Buy it. Read it. Cold Spring Rising by John York.
A sudden invitation to attend a performance of Brigadoon at Burning Coals Theatre Company in Raleigh. The production was excellent. (Here’s a review, of sorts): Natalie Reder (Fiona) delighted the audience with a fresh and convincing performance of a woman who is completely in charge of her feelings and awaiting romance. Julie Oliver (Mrs. Lundy) cast enchantment over the audience as she explained the miracle and magic of Brigadoon. Eve Butler (Maggie) gave a rousing and enthusiastic performance; her leading the chorus in “My Mother’s Wedding Day” was a show-stopper. Ben Morris, as Harry, the malcontent, gave an appropriate and impressive understated portrayal, as did Fred Corlett, as his grieving father. There are three crucial scenes: one with the song “There But For You Go I,” in which Tommy convinces himself to stay in Brigadoon, the scene in which his friend convinces him to leave Brigadoon, and the scene with the song “From This Day On,” in which Tommy faces his qualms about staying with Fiona. They must be balanced and convincing. The problem may be with the writing; I’ve not read the script. But I’m not sure that the emotional tensions were fully realized. That said, it was an enjoyable, a good performance. I was glad to get this unexpected experience. Hooray for spur-of-the-moment opportunities.
Reading for the week: Joseph Campbell, Thou Art That. The book is assembled from lectures. The central idea is that language of religion must be considered as symbol and metaphor. Here are 8 quotations of the 30 I wrote down for continued consideration and meditation: (1) “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you.” Who and what is in Heaven? God is in Heaven. Where is God? Within you. (2) Eternity is neither future, nor past, but now. It is not of the nature of time at all, in fact, but a dimension, so to say, of now and forever, a dimension of the consciousness of being that is to be found and experienced within, upon which, when found, one may ride through time and through the whole length of one’s days. (3) No way or path! Because where there is a way or path, it is someone else’s path. (4) The problem for and the function of religion in this age is to awaken the heart. When the clergy do not or cannot awaken the heart, that tells us that they are unable to interpret the symbols through which they are supposed to enlighten and spiritually nourish their people. When instead, the clergy talk of ethical and political problems, that consitutes a bertayal of the human race. This substitution of social work, or heavy involvement in regulating the intimate decisions of family life, has nothing to do with the real calling of the clergy to open to their people the dimensions of the meaning of the Death, Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus. These latter constitute a system of symbols that work perfectly. (5) It is inevitable that children should be taught in purely concerte terms. But then the child grows up and realizes who Santa Claus is. He is really Daddy. So, too, we must grow in the same way in learning about God and the institutional churches must grow in presenting the message of symbols to adults. (6) What is the kingdom? It lies in our realization of the ubiquity of the divine presence in our neighbors, in our enemies, in all of us. (7) …we live in the stars and we are finally moved by awe to our greatest adventures. Easter and Passover, particularly, remind us that we have to let go in order to enter it. (8) If you take in some traditional image proposed to you by your own religious tradition, your own society’s religious lore, proposing it to yourself for active meditation, without any strict game rules defining the sorts of thoughts you must bear in mind in relation to it…letting your own psyche enjoy and develop it, you may fine yourself running into imageries, experiences, and amplifications that do not fit into the patterns of the tradition in which you have been trained. What are you going to do about that? Are you going to let yourself go, following your own activated imagination? Or are you going to cut the run short at some critical point?
Number 8 gives me a start for a new type of meditation. And I’ll do the former, let myself go and follow my “own activated imagination” I’ll start with “star.”
Thanks for reading. I hope your week will be good.