Friday, April 24, 2015

The Wisdom of Baba Dada

There are those who say, "Be here now." I was there yesterday.

There is no large and difficult task that can't be made into a movie of the week.

A waist is a terrible thing to mind.

Even the enlightened soul sometimes needs a flashlight.

Smiling is one of the highest signs of medication.

Let he who is without Zen cast the first koan.

One who tries to win by losing wins only at losing.

You either do, or don't do. But not doing may be doing, and doing may be not doing. It all depends on what you are doing.

History is often just officially approved legends.

The rich get richer, the poor get billed.

When reality proves too much, deny it.

Wealth can't make you happy, but it can pay the bills.

He who is full of himself has no room for anyone else.

Go beyond detachment to infinite indifference.

He who talks a lot often has little to say.

The more you do the more you do. Just be sure to clean up after what you do do.

The path to true wisdom begins with the aardvark.

One who heeds the advice of others always has someone to blame.

Whether you choose or don't choose you choose.

Birth is the beginning of death, death is the beginning of life, life is the beginning of beginning, and beginning begins to begin when you are ready to begin at the beginning.

The enlightened soul practices passionate indifference.

Unrestrained freedom is a prison.

The worker deserves his wages - and a coffee break.

When you really consider my words you will realize I have nothing to say.

Acknowledging virtue means denying popular delusions.

For the partisan, truth is negotiable.

Your underwear is fourth dimensional.

Fornicators are unfaithful to themselves.

Nourish your soul and you will never die.

Keep an eye on the man who picks his toes in public indifference.

Translation is the uncle of the essential.

Never underestimate the power of repeated ovine ignorance.

Never engage in a pregnant circle dance with a knowing man.

We cling to shadows to avoid loneliness.

That which is the most private is often the most universal.

It might seem irrational for a rational person to attempt rational discussion with an irrational person, but such irrational rational discussion might make the irrational rational.

Pax et bonum

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Story of Milo (A Baba Dada Tale)

There once was a boy name Milo who was afraid of his shadow.

He believed his shadow was after him, and that if it ever caught him, it would do terrible things to him. He believed other shadows were also after him.

So whenever he saw his shadow, or any shadow, he would run as fast as he could to find a safe place to hide. Some days he would stay in hiding until the sun went down or it was so cloudy there were no shadows. He would huddle away from the light, crying. The other boys and girls, and even many adults, laughed at him and would say cruel things.

Gradually, Milo went out of his home less and less, then not at all. His parents tried everything they could to get him out. Coaxing. Bribes. Yelling. Threats. A wooden spoon.

Nothing worked.

So they turned to Baba Dada.

Baba Dada sat with Milo in the living room.

“You are afraid of shadows, my little sprout?” Baba Dada said.

The boy warily nodded his head.

Baba Dada leaned close and said in almost a whisper, “I am afraid of shadows.”

Milo’s eyes widened.

“But,” Baba Dada continued, “I AM a shadow. So are you. So are your parents. So is that stuffed aardvark on the coffee table, which is also a shadow.”

Milo looked puzzled.

“We live in a world of shadows,” Baba Dada said. “And as shadows other shadows can hurt us.”

With that, Baba Dada pinched Milo’s arm. Milo yelped.

“The shadow that is me hurt the shadow that is you,” Baba Dada said.

But then he turned on a lamp next to the chair where Milo was sitting. He moved his hand between the lamp and Milo, the shadow of his hand touching Milo. Baba Dada pinched the air, the shadow of his hand closing on Milo's arm.

“Did you feel that?” Baba Dada asked.

Milo nodded no.

“That is a shadow of my shadow,” Baba Dada said. “A shadow can hurt a shadow, but a shadow of a shadow cannot hurt a shadow. Shadows of shadows are two manifestations away from reality. Do you see?”

Milo nodded.

“Shadows of shadows are harmless,” Baba Dada explained. “Shadows are dangerous to fellow shadows. And reality? Hoo Boy! But ours is not to worry about reality, only to seek it and know it and ignore it, and to understand and live with the shadows that we are.”

There was a glint of understanding in Milo’s eyes.

"So your shadow cannot harm you," Baba Dada said. "But the shadow you can hurt that shadow."

He turned off the lamp, and the shadow of his hand disappeared.

"Poof. I have control over my shadow."

Milo smiled.

"So you see, sprout, you have nothing to fear from your shadow. But it has much to fear from you. Growl at it!"

Baba Dada turned on the lamp and pointed to the wall. Milo saw his shadow there.

"Growl," Baba Dada said.

Milo growled.

"Now turn off the lamp."

Milo did. The shadow was gone.

"Poof," Baba Dada said.

Milo laughed. "Poof! Grrr."

“And now,” Baba Dada chuckled, “I think milk and cookies are what we need.”

“Shadow milk and cookies,” Milo said, smiling ever so slightly.

“Ha!” Baba Dada laughed. “We have a Baba Dada shadow in training!”

They spent the next hour drinking milk, eating cookies and playing shadow games on the wall.

Baba Dada showed Milo how to make many creatures’ shadows.

Milo was very good with rabbits and fish.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Fraternity as Family

Last night at our Fraternity meeting several people noted that with the Fraternity they felt as if they were among family - something they sensed even before beginning formation and being professed.

I understood what they were saying. My Fraternity is indeed like a family in so many ways to me. I can be myself in many ways I can't even be with some members of my biological family.

One person noted, however, that it took many years before he came to that realization, and only after he discovered he could not pursue priesthood. He needed to grow before he was ready to see what the Fraternity was.

I also understood that. I remember my first encounter with the Fraternity nearly 30 years ago. I went to a Fraternity picnic with a friend who was a Secular Franciscan.

I was in the midst of my progressive Catholic phase. I looked at the Franciscans as nice, but kind of quirky, quaint, and old-fashioned for my taste. I viewed them as representing the "old Church." 

I had a lot of growing to do before I was ready to see the Secular Franciscans for who they truly were.

Then in 2008, after my pursuit of the diaconate proved a dead end, I thought of checking out the Franciscans again. I went to my first meeting in September of that year, and things just clicked. Some of the same people, the same spirituality, but this time it clicked.

I'd found a home and family.

And this July I will mark 4 years of being a professed member.


Pax et bonum

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Morality vs. Mystery Plays (Miller vs. Williams)

One of the recent books I read was 100 Essays I Don't Have Time To Write by playwright Sarah Ruhl.

I enjoyed many of these short essays - about writing plays, acting in plays, audiences, parenthood, and so on.

One of the observations Ruhl made was that American playwrights tend to fall into two school -- that of Arthur Miller, and that of Tennessee Williams. Miller, she suggests, carries on the tradition of Morality plays - plays with scaffolding, architecture, building to a moral - and Williams tends to be in the tradition of Mystery plays, full of emotion, and poetry, focusing on the moment.

It's an interesting observation - one that resonate with me. I've always preferred the Miller form of drama to the Williams one. My own plays tends to be Milleresque morality plays. Even when I experiment with Dada dramas - which would seem to suggest celebrating the moment in the Williams/Mystery style - there's always an underlying moral message.

Food for thought.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Catholic theater dreams

I'm in the process of getting ready to apply for a teaching position to a new school - a small orthodox Catholic one. There are many reasons to apply there - the spirituality, the academic program, the opportunity to closely with students in a way I can't at a larger school, and so on.

But lately I've been thinking about another reason.


At my previous school - a small religious one - I wrote and directed all the plays. I wrote for the actors I had, creating characters based on the personalities and abilities of the students. I was also able to control what went into the play, making sure they fit the Christian environment.

I can imagine me at a small Catholic school creating plays about spirituality and saints, and, of course, doing ones that have appropriate humor. I'm big on humor.

So one of my dreams is if I am hired helping to create plays for my students, or adapting classic plays and especially some with spiritual roots.

Of course, there may be no opening, or I might not get hired. I'll just stay where I am then - there is much that is good about my current school.

But I can hope!

Pax et bonum

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Stations of the Cross in Reparation for Abortion pictures

Some images for the 2015 Stations of the Cross in Reparation for Abortion march on Good Friday. 

I'm pleased to see so many young people.

We will win through the power of prayer.

Pax et bonum

Face palm time - again (liturgical violations)

The Good Looking One and I decided to go to our parish for Good Friday services rather than the Trappist Abbey we've been going to for years on Good Friday. We've been more comfortable lately at the parish as some of the liturgical improprieties have been corrected (after questions by me, and I suspect word from the chancery).

One of the violations had been lay preaching.

I got uneasy a few weeks ago when at a Mass honoring teens Father gave a short homily, then allowed one of the teens to speak during the homily time - instead of at the appropriate time at the beginning or end of Mass. I meant to say something to Father, but didn't get a chance after that Mass, and then time passed, and, well, it seems Father gets a troubled look on his face when I approach him - too many questions on my part? So I said nothing, hoping it was an anomaly. Sigh - a sin of omission?

Anyway, after the Gospel readings concluded Good Friday, the priest and deacon sat, and the religious sister who had been the main lay preaching culprit got up and delivered a brief talk. During the time in missalette that clearly said "homily." While the priest and deacon sat.

Now I know that the Good Friday service isn't a Mass, but it is clearly not one of the services when lay preaching is allowed. I went home and did some research - and it is not permitted for a lay person to preach at the service, especially with a priest and a deacon present.

Is the pastor stretching the rules as he has been done before? And this comes on top of that teen preaching. What more violations or stretching will there be?

Do I say something to him, or have we gotten beyond that? Do I just write to the bishop with questions?  Mulling over what to do.

But, as I sat there, my heart closed to the parish again. The positive feelings that had grown after many of the abuses ceased last fall disappeared.

I will not be rejoining the choir - I don't want to get caught like this again. I will continue to go to the parish when the music group I am in is playing, but otherwise I will minimize my attendance at this particular church - there are other options. As for the collection basket - my funds will go elsewhere.

Pax et bonum

Friday, April 3, 2015

The Stations of the Cross in Reparation for Abortion

I joined with some 200 other people for the annual Good Friday Stations of the Cross for Life.

We started out at a local Catholic high school for a prayer service, then marched to the office of Dr. Morris Wortman, a local doctor whose practice includes murdering babies.

The Stations include not only prayers about abortion - but also about euthanasia, the death penalty, economic justice, and concern for refugees and prisoners, and so on.

We also pray for Dr. Wortman and his staff that they realize what they are doing and will stop, and for the women they victimize that they might find healing.

I'll post some pictures tomorrow.

Pax et bonum

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Haiku published in a new anthology

The Rochester Area Haiku Poets put out an anthology this spring - last ginkgo leaf - featuring local haiku poets, and the collection includes some of mine:

mother's rosary -
threads still hold
where links have broken

Father's Day -
the coolness
of his headstone

just before dawn
saving the end of the book
for later

winter moonlight -
the rise and fall of her
remaining breast

clear summer night -
my ex-wife's voice
when my daughter speaks

April morning –
cardinals in conclave
at the bird feeder

animal carcass
on the shoulder of the road
I don’t look – I look

your coffee cup
still on the table
half full

All of mine had been published previously, but it was nice to see them come out again, and to be featured among the haiku of so many fine poets. 
Pax et bonum

St. John Paul the Great, 10th anniversary

Ten years ago today, St. John Paul II went home. In his 26 years as pontiff, he transformed the Church - and in my view, got it back on track.

Shortly after his passing, the Cardinals gathered in Rome to select Pope Benedict XVI. At the time, I wrote the following haiku:

April morning -
cardinals in conclave
at the bird feeder

Pax et bonum

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Governor Pence bans all official travel to New York

Indiana Governor Mike Pence has announced a ban on government-funded travel to New York by Indiana state employees.

Until further notice, Indiana state employees will not be approved to travel to New York for conferences, workshops, or meetings connected with their state jobs. The ban does not cover individuals traveling to New York for personal reasons and at their own expense.

"We are concerned about the values represented by conditions in New York," Governor Pence explained. "We believe those values counter those held by the people of Indiana, and as public representatives of the people we should not give the impression that we condone or accept New York's values."

The governor cited violent crime statistics and high std rates connected with New York, and corruption by New York officials and employees as some of the signs that the state does not share the values of the people of Indiana. He also noted that the last three governors of New York, including current Governor Andrew Cuomo, have been guilty of sexual activities that run counter to the values of the people of Indiana.

"We will consider removing the ban when New York and its political leaders set more appropriate examples," the governor said.

The ban follows a ban issued by New York Governor Cuomo on New York state employees traveling to Indiana in light of Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Governor Pence denied any connection between his action and that of Governor Cuomo.

"My concern is entirely about the moral values of the people of my state and the fact the New York through its actions and policies does not share those values," he said.

Pax et bonum

Olaf, A Viking Saint ... well, I guess ...

Last year I took a DNA test to find out my ancestry. I figured Irish would come out on top, but then I thought that Scottish would somehow come out second as my mother was from Scotland (though I suspected she had Irish roots). I then thought that given the stories of my paternal grandmother's roots - Pennsylvania Dutch - some German would be in the mix.

I got a surprise.

Irish did finish first. But second was Scandinavian - or, given the history of Ireland and Scotland, Viking.

Scottish/Great Britain came in third. And fourth was Iberian Peninsula??? Spanish? (From the wreck of the Armada - or from merchants who set up shop in Ireland?) Then came Western Europe (the German).

The official breakdown was:

Ireland - 56 %
Scandinavia - 16 %
Great Britain - 10 %
Iberian Peninsula - 8 %
Western Europe - 5 %
A few odd traces - 3 %
The Viking and Spanish traces were a surprise, especially with the Vikings being second. Then again, they did a lot of raiding of Ireland's coasts, so plausible.

While skimming through a prayer book I came across mention of St. Olaf being a Viking saint, so I looked him up thinking he'd be someone I might want to research.

Apparently he did convert, and according to stories worked to stamp out pagan beliefs and brought in bishops and missionaries, and even prayed as he died after a battle during which some of his own people turned against him. But a lot of the stories about him also involve wars, ambition, and even brutality. I guess that's fitting for a Viking - but for a saint?

He was apparently declared a saint by popular acclamation shortly after he died, and was eventually recognized by Rome. He was more popular after he died, I guess. And he has become a national hero of sorts.

I'll toast him with some mead, but I think I'll focus more on the Irish saints for now.

Pax et bonum