Sunday, June 21, 2009


Yes, I've been silent, really neglectful for 21 days, but have both excuses and explanations. The biggest excuse is that Dr. Funk and I positively wore ourselves out with Boston Early Music Festival performances. The smaller excuses are far less interesting and so I won't bore you with them. The Festival, by the way, was truly amazing.

And now we have all this rain, which is a current subject. I have an understanding of the world that probably comes from having nearly exited it: that there is amazing beauty in every day, regardless of the weather. Some time ago I set myself the objective of putting on paper the beauty that I find even on a cold and rainy day in March. I assure you that I see the beauty depicted in the photo above, but unfortunately my camera didn't. This image represents quite a struggle, which has been going on for some time now. At one point I thought I would have to declare a failure, but I had a specific reason to persevere.

This view is from the footbridge that leads over the Muddy River on the path from Beth Israel to the Longwood "T" stop, a route well travelled by me. It happens that the people at Beth Israel have requested some of my work for the walls of the Radiology department, a place with which I'm very familiar. One of the people I've been talking too about this has actually told me that these images have caused her to pay more attention while she's moving through the world, more attention to the beauty around her, and that has caused her to appreciate it more. I was very pleased about that! But a rainy march day?

Yes, a rainy march day, when the buds on the maple trees are just starting to create a red haze in the woods, and willows are pushing out their tiny catkins and the ground is glowing with the acid green of emerging grass and damp moss. Next March, on such a day, as you are hurrying on your, way look up and say to yourself "if I were never to see this again....."

Being the hearty Episcopalian that I've become I can't say much about what is and what isn't, about certainties and acting "As if" things were true, or certain, or able to be known; but I do feel that what ever the ultimate answer is, however a covenant may be kept or broken, that gratitude and appreciation will keep most of the celestial bases covered, and keep our own heart happy.

Which is another thing I find I share with the BI!

Monday, June 1, 2009


Below is one of the last poems written by Gerard Manely Hopkins.

I seldom play the "favorites" game, thinking it a little silly, and a lot limiting, to be so focused on a color or a composer or a painter that all others are somehow relegated to a place of less enjoyment. I think this is true of Poetry as well, but in the case of poetry an answer is easy for me: Gerard Manely Hopkins. I was introduced to his poem "Kingfishers" in my freshman year in college and was stunned by it's beauty. If I may call myself a poet then I must acknowledge Hopkins as my inspiration. I am far from alone in that. I suppose I am also not alone in feeling that my relationship with his poems is very personal, indeed, that the ideas expressed in the poem "Kingfishers" have been a lifelong guide to me, a constant focus for meditation.

I have just finished Paul Mariani's very beautiful and challenging biography of Hopkins and feel that it is appropriate to share my responses to Hopkins' poetry. This will form one of my series of posts, please be patient.

I learn from Mariani's biography that Hopkins often prayed in a kind of retrospect, feeling that as time did not apply to God, to pray now about something that had happened in the past was appropriate. It that spirit I hope that my tribute might provide a drop or two of whatever rain Hopkins' roots did find.

THOU art indeed just, Lord, if I contend
With thee; but, sir, so what I plead is just.
Why do sinners’ ways prosper? and why must
Disappointment all I endeavour end?
Wert thou my enemy, O thou my friend, 5
How wouldst thou worse, I wonder, than thou dost
Defeat, thwart me? Oh, the sots and thralls of lust
Do in spare hours more thrive than I that spend,
Sir, life upon thy cause. See, banks and brakes
Now leavèd how thick! lacèd they are again 10
With fretty chervil, look, and fresh wind shakes
Them; birds build—but not I build; no, but strain,
Time’s eunuch, and not breed one work that wakes.
Mine, O thou lord of life, send my roots rain.