“The Seed is in the ground.
Now may we rest in hope
While darkness does its work.”
— Wendell Berry
Was feeling a need for some poetry and opened directly up to this page. I had forgotten — and needed to be reminded — that hope means having the ability to abide darkness. That’s why it’s such a gift.
There’s no accounting for prayer.
“Those pray unceasingly who combine prayer with necessary duties and duties with prayer. Only in this way can we find it practicable to fulfill the commandment to pray always. It consists in regarding the whole of Christian existence as a single great prayer. What we are accustomed to call prayer is only a part of it.”
– Origen, “On Prayer”
Finding ways to do this has been my personal focus lately. An awareness that facilitates this prayer is what I seek. The problem I have had is feeling as if this counts as prayer, giving myself credit for having prayed by simply offering up my mundane activities in prayer.
Of course this is the kind of meddling bullshit my ego introduces into all things. It’s not prayer unless I can count it, track it, claim credit for it….
Maybe the key to praying without ceasing is to quit trying to claim credit, quit paying attention to the artificial division between what is “not prayer” and what is “prayer.” Maybe the key to praying without ceasing is praying without accounting.
Water is heavy silver over stone.
Water is heavy silver over stone’s
Refusal. It does not fall. It fills. It flows
Every crevice, every fault of the stone,
Every hollow. River does not run.
River presses its heavy silver self
Down into stone and stone refuses.
Swirling and leaping into sun, is stone’s
Refusal of the river, not the river.
— Archibald MacLeish
Once in awhile I am so grateful that I am not traveling through adulthood without children to protect me. I am newly 41 years of age, and without kids I would truly feel it. Or worse.
Once again, my kids have stumbled me over a great fun find, Who Needs Donuts by Mark Alan Stamaty. I found the book sitting on a table at the library in the kids section. I read it to the kids last night and then spent about thirty minutes myself just looking at the details in the pictures, like a kid myself. I might have to buy my own copy while it is still in reprint.
Each page of Stamaty’s book mixes the detail of a “Where’s Waldo” scene with a gently surreal absurdist outlook on life. Turns out that the absurdist style got the book panned by overly conservative reviewers at School Library Weekly (they obviously didn’t have children to protect them like I do!) when it was published in the 1970’s and Stamaty gave up children’s book publishing for a life of writing comics for the Village Voice, New York Book Review, and Slate. He was poor and needed to focus on forms that would actually earn him a living. (read a great interview about the book at Rands In Repose) Years later, one of the reviewers apologized to him and said her review was wrong, but it was too late, he had moved on.
So it turns out that if it weren’t for a few stuffy reviewers, Mark Alan Stamaty might well have been be one of the best loved children’s authors both kids and parents alike could adore. Then there would have been the animated series, the merchandising, and just maybe my kids would be watching Stamaty-toons instead of insipid-toons on cable today.
But instead, “Who Needs Donuts” is a rare gem and a “cult classic.” And it looks as if I am joining this particular cult. Thanks to my kids.