Thursday, July 22, 2010

Bay Head and Rokeby

Bay Head -- those in our family know what Bay Head is.

Rokeby is the 43-room house on the Hudson River owned by Livingstons and Astors, now inhabitaed by impecunious descendants. Very different. But in a New York Times article today, there are a couple of points worth taking note of:

"Like most family histories, Rokeby's story is wildly subjective, and its 'truth" depends on your vantage point."

"It's the place that makes my heart sing and my head ache. But it's kind of amazing that 50 years later, Rokeby is intact, family owned, and debt free."

Here's the line we might need to heed:

"The between people needing space and the stuff needing space, because nothing can be thrown away."

Think: Attic.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Creating Sabbath Peace

Creating Sabbath Peace Amid the Noise is an article I want to ponder.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Rituals -- family and monastic

Procession is a form of ritual walking. A family may process into the dining room on a special occasion. A procession invites the spirits of the occasion to be present, and it renders the place of gathering the hopeful goal of labyrinthine mystery. Thomas Moore, Meditations. p. 60

Tradition is a pool of imagination, and not a basis for authority. ...Traditional rituals and images rise out of an historical fog in which founders and authorities are more mythological than persona, and in which so many different layers of meaning lie packed together that the sacred literature becomes genuine poetry. ...We could be guided by countless generations of ancestors without becoming oppressed by the words and structures they have left behind." p. 84

Why I like Gregorian chant

Modal chants mirror and model the monastic life. "It doesn't have the drive toward ending or the insistent relationships between notes and chords that modern music has. Endings and climaxes appear melodically, for the most part, with a felt lift in song and a sure entropy in musical energy. Thomas Moore, "Meditations," p. 38

Sometimes...monks wil land upon a note and sing it in florid fashion, one syllable of text for fifty notes of chant. Melisma, they call it. Living a melismatic life -- we may stop on an experience, a place, a person, or a memory and rhapsodize in imagination (draw, contemplate, build, paint, or dance). (Versus living one point after another,) ...stopping for melisma gives the soul its reason for being. p. 44

"Silence is not the absence of sound, but a "toning down of inner and outer static...allows many sounds to reach awareness...(nature) was well as conscience, daydreams, intuitions, inhibitions, and wishes. One cultivates silence not by forcing the ears not to hear, but by turning up the volume on the music of the world and the soul. p. 68

Monastery bells: "Overtones are those elements in every experience that last long after the literal act -- memories, shock, emotional residues, reactional behavior. They are also the meanings and implications of deeds, their nuances and reverberation...Monks are more interested in these (overtones) than in the literal facts. They are professionals in spiritual resonance. When the bell rings, they stop and listen." p. 98

Listening, obeying

"Obedience means to listen closely to others for words of direction. . . I can see the deep will that guides me in the thoughts and reflections of my neighbor." Thomas Moore, Meditations, p. 12

"To have a conversation with Christ...just keep listening until you hear something, said my novice master...Now, having read Jung, Ficino, Yeats, Rilke, and Dickinson, I've discovered how to listen meditatively." p. 13

"Wasted time is usually good soul time... But there is something especially fruitful in a regulated life...The ritual quality of appointed times releases us from the burdens of free will." p. 83

"The truly artful life, not the merely aesthetic one, is religious, and vice versa." p. 105

To Keep or Not to Keep?

Advice for those trying to pare down their possessions: (Me).

"What does it take to really own and possess? It means loving a thing so much that one can't be parted from it, can't stand to see it neglected and misused, can't trust that someone else will care for it sufficiently.

" shopping, buying, and possessing we are never satisfied -- (which) indicates that we never fully possess or fully own. "

from Meditations, Thomas Moore, p. 22