Passport. My renewed passport arrived this week. It contains “sensitive electronics,” so I should not “bend, perforate, or expose to extreme temperatures.” On the pages for stamps of Visas are quotations by George Washington, Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy, Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Lyndon Johnson, Anna Julia Cooper, and Ellison Onizuki. There are excerpts from the Declaration of Independence, the inscription on the Golden Spike at Promontory Point, and an excerpt from the Mohawk Thanksgiving address. These quotations are impressed on photos of the Liberty Bell, a tall ship sailing, a lighthouse at a harbor, a bald eagle, buffalo grazing, Mt. Rushmore, a steamboat on the Mississippi River, a farmer in the Great Plains plowing with oxen, cowboys driving longhorn cattle, a steam locomotive, a bear catching a fish, a totem pole, and the Statue of Liberty. On the inside of the back cover is a photo of a space craft between Earth and the moon. On the page opposite identification, there is the Preamble to the Constitution. It is an excellent celebrations of our heritage.
Viewing. “Nebraska” (2013). An adult son learns to understand, respect, and love his father. The representation of his love is moving. Only one other character, perhaps, has any chance of such spiritual growth. It is a bleak and inspirational look at life.
Reading. Poetry. William Butler Yeats, Crossways (1896). On the fourth reading of these sixteen poems, I became an admirer of six. There are three ballads that end the set: “The Ballad of Father O’Hart,” “The Ballad of Moll Magee,” and “The Ballad of the Foxhunter.” Each, according to Yeats’s notes, is based on Irish sources. “The Stolen Child” is a song to seduce children to go away with faeries, contrasting the delights of the land of the faeries with the plights of humans. “The Falling of the Leaves” is a melancholy song in autumn of “the waning of love.” “The Indian upon God” describes what God must be to moorfowl, lotus, roebuck, and peacock. The peacock, “He is a monstrous peacock, and He waveth all the night / His languid tail above us, lit with myriad spots of light.” “The Sad Shepherd,” “a man whom Sorrow named friend” finds no consolation in the ocean, in the stars, in dewdrops, or in seashells. Also in this collection is the ever-popular and justly famous “Down by the Salley Gardens,” set to music by Benjamin Britten. Many of the poems are set in and around Sligo, a place to visit with my new passport.
Corpus Christi. June 22. There were organ, a brass quartet, and tympani, which played a prelude and accompanied the Entrance, “All Creatures of Our God and King,” the Gloria and Alleluia, the Offertory (“One Faith in Christ”), and the mass responses. In the homily, Fr. Paul reminded us that the Eucharist gives us transformation. We become like Christ. The challenge is to show the Eucharistic presence in our lives. There was a procession to three outdoor altars, as the choir, accompanied by brass, sang “We Are the Body of Christ,” “Beautiful Savior,” “Humbly, Lord, We Worship You,” and “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence. When the Blessed Sacrament was returned to the altar, the choir sang, “Come Adore This Wondrous Presence.” Then followed a time of silent adoration. I stayed a good long time.
At the Outer Banks. June 17 – June 20
(1) At the Alligator River. We are stopped to allow a barge through. The bridge is low above the water, and we leave Red Car to stand at the edge and admire the choppy dark blue water and the vistas of the river and shoreline. It’s a good surprise that we must stop both going and returning.
(2) Walking on the beach at Nags Head, early morning. There are small quick birds at ocean’s edge and low flying squadrons of larger birds at the waves just before they break. There are a few shells, all imperfect. The sky has changed from a smear of orange, yellow, and red of sunrise to a light blue clarity. I walk in packed sand, closer to the water than to the sand beach. There is a lone surf fisherman. On the beach a beautiful woman practices T’ai Chi. I don’t know if in her meditation she sees me, but as I pass and as she turns away in a movement and pose, she gives me a warm, placid smile, a morning blessing.
(3) At Pea Island Wildlife Refuge. We arrive near dusk and walk to the end of a trail and climb the observation tower there. Under arbors, we brush away insects and stinging flies. We admire the light from Bodie Island Lighthouse, and as we return to the car, we notice a single dim star in the north-western sky.
(4) At night, thunder boomed, and sharp, bright white lightning split the sky above the ocean. The brilliant forks of the lightning seemed to stop just before hitting the water. Once, between single bolts were two parallel bolts. All of the lightning seemed to be deliberately hurled.