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strangely warmed

November 8, 2022 4 comments

In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation: And an assurance was given me, that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death. 

—Rev. John Wesley

“I felt my heart strangely warmed.”

 

It’s good every time I read it. Assurance is the byproduct of an awareness of the presence of grace… truth inside… working in us… in our heart… in our soul… in our mind… even our strength. It’s the end of wondering about it all. We can now finally see AND feel that grace in us. God is our divine parent… and we are God’s beloved children. We have always been so, but now we know it is a love and care that we cannot escape from. —MDP

 

 

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weirdness

October 26, 2022 8 comments

Wednesday nights at my church are interesting. A small group of people gather for a little table fellowship, a meal, a few grins and giggles, a few words from me on stuff I find spiritually interesting, and then they’re off to Bells, and/or Choir practice, and/or their recliners at home. Recently I read some stuff to them about wisdom. One of my favorite authors likens prayer to being awake to God’s presence and being aware of God’s presence.  This is wisdom:

“It is usually over time and with patience that we come to see the wonderful patterns of grace, which is why it takes most of us a long time to be converted. Our focus slowly moves from an initial preoccupation with perfect actions (first half of life issues), to naked presence itself. The code word for that is simply prayer, but it became cheapened by misuse.” -Richard Rohr

I have no idea if my beloved people appreciate or care about the tokens I give them to ponder, but I’m convinced the time-released process will eventually have a positive effect. Maybe. Hopefully.

With that said, I cried this morning as I read from Brian Doyle. Thoughts of my dad, my grandparents, and other lost loved ones came to memory with sorted trinkets of weirdness that are still dear to my heart. Memories are a blessing, most of the time. But physical touch, smell, and tangible presence are all beyond description. I miss them all deeply.

Honestly, I don’t know how Brian’s words will land on you. There is no expectation on my end, only hope that something clicks inside of your spirit, as it did when I read his words. Presence does things like that. The Spirit lands differently on us all. Isn’t that awesome?

Love to you! —MDP

HIS WEIRDNESS

A friend of mine is dying in the fast lane, he says, smiling at the image, for no man ever loved as much as he did zooming those long stretches of highway in the West, where there are no speed limits or curves or cops and nothing to kill you but sudden antelopes. But now he can see his exit up ahead, he says, and he has slowed down to enjoy the ride. He’s been pondering the sparrows, who do not sow and neither do they reap, he says, shuffling into his yard armed with fistfuls of seed.

The woman who loves him watches him go, smiling. There are so very many tiny things that are exactly him and no other man on earth, she says: When he shaves his neck every other day he bangs his razor against the right side of the sink, and there’s a little tiny scatter of hairs, which drives me stark raving insane, because never once in forty years has he remembered to rinse that off, despite one million promises to do exactly that. One time I wrote the words clean the sink! actually in the sink, with a big red arrow pointing to the place where he bangs his razor, which made him laugh so hard I thought he was going to lose a kidney, which he didn’t, nor did he clean the sink. Also he has a pair of boxers that are so incredibly ancient and threadbare you can, I kid you not, see through them. It’s like eight threads with a waistband holding them together, but God forbid he throws them out. I have pointed out to him that this article of clothing is no longer serving the purpose for which it was designed, but he won’t let them go, which tells you something about his commitment, or his craziness. Also he has a weird habit of slicing off the crust of a loaf of bread an inch at a time, which drives me stark raving insane, each piece the size of a quarter, which leaves a naked, crustless loaf of bread on the table, and who wants a loaf that looks like a skinned snake? Also even before he got sick, he shuffled, you know? He never lifts his feet. The kids and I always thought it was because he’s distracted all the time. There are ten things going on in his head at once, and walking properly is just not on his priority list, walking is something he can do on autopilot. But it sounds like there’s a rhinoceros in the hallway, and after you hear that ten thousand times, you want to shriek, My god, will you walk like a normal person! But he’s not normal, you know. That’s the point. Also he hums all the time, and he doesn’t hear it. Every day a new set of songs. Lately it’s all Beach Boys, all the time. He says he used to get in trouble in school when he was a kid because he would be humming during tests and exams and driving the other kids and the teacher stark raving insane. Same thing happened at work, he says: he would be in meetings with his soundtrack going full blast, and after a while he’d wonder why everybody was staring at him. I have been listening to his humming for forty years, and, me personally, I think Van Morrison is the all-time playlist champion, although there was a long stretch there, two or three years, where it was mostly West Coast jazz, Chet Baker and Art Pepper and stuff like that. See, that’ll all be gone when he goes, and that’s what makes me cry at night. Mostly we just try to enjoy the time we have left, but sometimes I think ahead to when the sink will be totally clean in the morning, and that will be awful, or the bread won’t have white holes where he’s cut off pieces of crust the size of a quarter. What kind of raving lunatic would do such a thing? Only him. People think what we’ll miss most is his humor and kindness and all that, which sure we will, but lately I think what we’ll miss the most is his weirdness. His weirdness is what he was. Everybody else saw him as a good guy, but we saw him as the humming rhinoceros in the hallway, you know what I mean? And sometimes I get really scared of waking up in the morning and not hearing that stupid shuffle. I hate that shuffle. I love that shuffle. That’s as close as I can get to what I am trying to say.

Let’s go feed the sparrows with him. You will not be surprised to hear that he has a weird thing going with feeding the birds: a different seed every week, and he keeps track of which ones they like. He has a piece of paper pinned up on the garage near the bird feeder with his charts on it and also, God help me, a section for comments from the birds, with a little tiny pencil. I told you the man was a total nut. Did you think I was kidding? I was not kidding. What kind of man would go to the trouble of making a pencil exactly two centimeters long? It works too. He tested it, of course. And it tells you something about him that, deep in his heart, he wouldn’t be surprised if someday he shuffled out to feed the birds and found a tiny complaint written there. Nobody who ever lived would be happier to find a complaint from the sparrows about the seed of the week, believe me. He’ll probably write a little tiny reply from the management, you know? With a promise to do better.

—Bryan Doyle, The Sun Magazine (Issue 428) “His Weirdness” August 2011.

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holy tears

October 12, 2022 8 comments

The ancient East understood there to be different types of tears, some of spiritual origin and import, or others not. Spiritual tears in themselves were variously categorized and described. They could have purifying power. They might function differently for those just beginning on spiritual journey and for those far along. They could be provoked by memory of sin and well as consideration of the goodness of God, the desire for heaven, the fear of hell, or the thought of judgment.

Overwhelmingly, tears were understood as a gracious God-given gift, a wonderful physical sign that the inner world of a person was being transformed. There is in these ancient Eastern masters a sense of the ongoing cleansing taking place as a person draws nearer to God. Tears thus become, in a sense, a sign of the continuing power of the baptismal waters to redeem the created world.

—Wendy M. Wright, “Tears of a Greening Heart,” Weavings

Overwhelmingly, tears were understood as a gracious God-given gift, a wonderful physical sign that the inner world of a person was being transformed.”

 

I find this somewhat comforting and confirming of something that I have thought and experience for a really long time. Although I’ve not used the words “spiritual tears,” I have believed that tears often signal the Spirit’s working inside of my stodgy heart works. Dry seasons, life pressures, disappointments, betrayals, fatigue, and other hard things can quickly dry up the life-giving moisture inside our emotional eco system. The Spirit’s interruption to those rhythms of thorns and thistle seem to show up when we least expect it, but mostly need it. Often… people get agitated or embarrassed by those sudden flashes of tears. I’ve come to believe that tears signal not so much our over-whelming grief… as more of a reminder that the presence of God is “there” in the moment, up close, soothing and comforting our thirst for living waters. If I’m right… those tears are pure gift! —MDP

 

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second half of life stuff

September 14, 2022 8 comments

What is God doing in the Scripture really? With that question in mind, I want to give you an operative principle, which, I believe, had it been used in the last 500 years, would have ensured a much more exciting and positive Christian history. If you’re meditating on a Bible text, Hebrew or Christian, and if you see God operating at a lesser level than the best person you know, then that text is not authentic revelation. “God is love” (1 John 4 16), and no person you meet could possibly be more loving than the Source of love itself. It is as simple as that. You now have a foundational hermeneutic (interpretive key) for interpreting all Scripture wisely. Literalism is the lowest and most narrow hermeneutic for understanding conversation in general and sacred text in particular.

Haven’t you read text and not know what to think? See, for example, where Yahweh presumably tells the Israelites to kill every Canaanite in sight—men, women and children—and then imposes a ban on every pagan town, telling the Israelites to enter, burn, and destroy everything in sight (as in Joshua 6—7). Do you really think that God is talking? I don’t think so. They have created God in their own image instead of letting God re-create them in his image.

“Well,” you say, “it is in the Bible, and that makes it true and right.” That is why we have to use a whole different lens for interpreting any authoritative text. How we deal with sacred texts is how we deal with reality in general. And how we deal with reality in general is how we deal with sacred text. And both reality and all sacred text are also fragmented and imperfect (1 Corinthians 13:12). It takes a certain level of human and spiritual maturity to interpret scripture. Vengeful and petty people find vengeful and hateful text (and they are there, but some find them even when they are not there)! Loving and peaceful people will hold out until a text resounds deep within them (and there are plenty there!). In short, only love can handle big truth.

+Adapted from the webcast “A Teaching on Wondrous Encounters”

 

That is why we have to use a whole different lens for interpreting any authoritative text. How we deal with sacred texts is how we deal with reality in general. —Richard Rohr OFM

 

It takes a fairly big investment of years, time, concentration, openness, and honesty to come into agreement with what Rohr is suggesting here. I’m not sure you can just start here. It might even be the second half of your life before you’re even willing to consider that this might be true. Honestly, it is much easier to just swallow what your pastor says (or church teaches) and live inside literalism. I’ve been there, and I know it uncomplicates (to a certain extent) where one might stand. But there are a million collisions with life that requires us to back up and contemplate what the deeper… more inherent truth might be (besides a chapter and verse response). What more aligns with the true nature of the Triune God? I say it all the time, biblically versed individuals (especially literalist) can be some of the meanest, nastiest, judgmental, and life-sucking people walking on this planet. Even Jesus asked us to live in a way and do things that are next to impossible to do without a serious download of Spirit and deep character development (i.e. love your neighbor as yourself). Ask yourself: What reflects Jesus and the goodness of God? In my estimation… that’s the better place to start. —MDP

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non-polar thinking

August 31, 2022 2 comments

Non-dual thinking is a way of seeing that refuses to eliminate the negative, the problematic, the threatening parts of everything. Non-dual thinking does not divide the field of the naked-now, but receives it all. This demands some degree of real detachment from the self. The non-dual/contemplative mind holds truth humbly, knowing that if it is true, it is in its own best argument.

Non-polar thinking (if you prefer that phrase) teaches you how to hold creative tensions, how to live with paradox and contradictions, how not to run from mystery, and therefore how to practice what all religions teach as necessary: compassion, mercy, loving kindness, patience, forgiveness, and humility.

—Adapted from The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See, Richard Rohr

For whatever reason, this really caught my attention when I first read it. It reminds me of Peter’s message:

Beloved friends, if life gets extremely difficult, with many tests, don’t be bewildered as though something strange were overwhelming you. Instead, continue to rejoice, for you, in a measure, have shared in the sufferings of the Anointed One so that you can share in the revelation of his glory and celebrate with even greater gladness!” (1 Peter 4:12-13, TPT).

It’s a jolt to remember that we should not be too surprised when life goes sideways at times. In fact, that is the perfect proving ground (agitation, life pangs, disappointment, failure, rejection, etc.) for the manifestation of the things that Rohr mentions:

compassion, mercy, loving kindness, patience, forgiveness, and humility.

Those things are very much a part of the “Fruits of the Spirit” package, and that can’t really be faked very well while under pressure. Either you ooze the juice of the fruit—or you do not.

If the truth were to be known, marriage or covenant partnership might be the most perfect proving ground for what’s really inside us. Patti and I have been married 45 years, and even after all these years, we still have “come to Jesus” talks where we must be painfully real about how the relationship is going. It’s not always pleasant and I don’t always like how I respond to the process, but I always feel that we come out stronger and clearer in what we envision for our life together. Fortunately, we’re never too surprised that we get crossways with each other. We’re both strong, we’re both somewhat opinionated, and we’re both certain that we’re right in our positions. Like I said, those seasons of stretching are good proving grounds for what’s really in us. Fertile soil for good growth has all kinds of critters in it. The contemplative and the willingness to listen beyond words forces you to get good with the messy and complicated.

Recently, I’ve been pondering two questions that I think fit loosely into the genre of Rohr’s article. I don’t necessarily like the questions, but I think it might be important to face them from time to time. I wish the first question was “unthinkable,” but because I don’t want it on my plate or anywhere near my table, I’m willing to consider it’s all too often reality. I truly think it’s important to look at them and bring an honest response.

QUESTION ONE: If my mate (i.e. husband, wife, partner, significant other) announced that he or she was leaving the marriage without warning or negotiation, would it be justified at any level because of my actions, lack of actions, abuse, infidelity, lack of care, or love?

I realize that what would be considered “justified cause” would be dependent upon the individual wounded in the relationship or the damage done by some abuse or neglect of either or both parties. Real integrity with the question would probably trigger us in our culpability in what “justified” would mean. To be fair, I’ve been guilty of things that could be considered justified means. These are things that I know I’ve done that were not helpful or edifying to the relationship. But grace, and my wife’s love for me, saved the day. Just saying.

QUESTION TWO:  What would need to change in me that would validate trust (again) and promote the perpetual promise that I made when we cut covenant in marriage?

I’ve always been told that you can’t fix the “other” in your relationships. That means we only have real control or leverage with ourselves, and that’s where the work needs to happen.

Why these two questions? The only thing I got here is, why not? If I’m better for my [spouse, life partner, mate, soul mate], who is 50 percent of me, and better for myself when I’m oozing those fruit juices, especially while under strenuous pressure or complex issues, then it’s another chance to shine the goodness that resonates from my center. Honestly, facing these questions can be helpful to anyone who sincerely wants to uphold his or her side of the covenant. Even if your marriage is good and healthy, the questions make their way inside of us. If you’re aware of potential “just cause” issues, take the time to own and deal with them, repent of them, and say whatever needs to be said to the one wounded by such actions. This is the work of covenant. It should be normal, and it’s definitely necessary.

And, it’s not always bold and outrageously obvious. There can be danger in the hidden, vague and fuzzy gray. This is the crux of non-polar thinking. It appears to be imperative for healthy relationships of all kinds. —MDP

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it’s in the package

August 17, 2022 3 comments

We do not begin life on our own. We do not finish it on our own. Life, especially when we experience by faith the complex interplay of creation and salvation, is not fashioned out of our own genetic lumber and cultural warehouses. It is not hammered together with the planks and nails of our thoughts and dreams, or feelings and fancies. We are not self-sufficient. We enter a world that is created by God, that already has a rich history and is crowded with committed participants—a world of animals and mountains, of politics and religion; a world where people build houses and raise children, where volcanoes erupt lava and rivers flow to the sea; a world in which, however carefully we observe and watch and study it, surprising things keep on taking place (like rocks turning into pools of water). We keep on being surprised because we are in on something beyond our management, something over our heads.

In prayer we realize and practice our part in this intricate involvement with absolutely everything that is, no matter how remote it seems to us or how indifferent we are to it. This prayer is not an emotional or aesthetic sideline that we indulge in after our real work is done; it is the connective tissue of our far-flung existence. The world of creation interpenetrates the world of redemption. The world of redemption interpenetrates the world of creation. The extravagantly orchestrated skies and the exuberantly fashioned earth are not background to provide a little beauty on the periphery of the godlike ego; they are the large beauty in which we find our true home, room in which to live the cross and Christ expansively, openhearted in praise.

—From Earth and Altar by Eugene Peterson

I love this. Peterson offers a wonderful reminder that there is more for us to consider… more to regard… when beholding God’s creation. No doubt, it is exhilarating to see Colorado’s purple mountain majesty, aqua-blue waters of the Caribbean, and the grasslands of Kentucky! Drive through the Black Hills of Wyoming! It’s gorgeous in every direction! Yet, I wonder if we ever consider that this is part of God’s love package? In other words, I think it’s safe to say, God is emotionally vested in ALL of creation. Do we realize that? Do we care about that?

I notice there is a lot of disdain for “conservationist i.e. environmental activist,” especially when it comes to the economy (which is often our fear induced bottom line), but we all could do with a little more environmental sensitivity and nature care when it comes to honoring the vastness of the God’s love. God loves what God creates. Of course… that is you and me, but it also includes what is on, above, and below the planet’s natural surface. —MDP

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compassionate listening

July 27, 2022 4 comments

Father Richard shares his experience of how challenging it is to hear each other without agenda or defensiveness:

Can we take responsibility for the fact that we push people to polarized positions when we do not (or will not) stand in the compassionate middle? I think of how often, during my talks, someone raises a hand and says, “I disagree with what you just said.” Often, they did not hear or understand what I said, and they don’t have the humility to ask, in a non-accusatory way: “Did I hear you correctly in saying . . . ?” or “What do you mean when you say . . . ?” Of course, sometimes I am wrong, but such a mentality does not encourage dialogue or mutuality. Unfortunately, my response also often suffers because of the negative energy generated. I am then defensive or biting my tongue to control my own judgments or desire to attack back. The result is a half response, at best, because the environment is not safe and congenial.

Responses of this sort are usually full of assumptions: “I did understand you. I know your motivation. I know what you’re trying to say. Therefore, I actually have the need and right to attack you.” Normally, neither person grows or expands in such a context. The truth is not well served, because neither individual feels secure, respected, or connected. Unfortunately, this has become the state of our public discourse.

Fortunately, there will always be people who have the grace and the ability to engage in reflective listening, to ask, “Richard, did I understand what you were saying?” and repeat back to me their perception of what I said. Normally then I can clarify, or perhaps admit that I have communicated poorly or am, in fact, incorrect. When we can listen and respond in that way, each person is treated with the respect and dignity they deserve as children of God. Each person feels heard, and misunderstandings are clarified compassionately.

Unfortunately, that is not the way the ego likes to work. Opposition gives us a sense of standing for something, a false sense of independence, power, and control. Compassion and humility don’t give us a sense of control or psychic comfort. We have to be willing to let go of our moral high ground and hear the truth that the other person may be speaking, even if it is only ten percent of what they are saying. Compassion and dialogue are essentially vulnerable positions. If we are into control and predictability, we will seldom descend into the vulnerability of undefended listening or the scariness of dialogue. If we are incapable of hearing others, we will also be incapable of hearing God. If we spend all day controlling and blocking others, why would we change when we kneel to pray?

—Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Wisdom Pattern: Order, Disorder, Reorder (Cincinnati, OH: Franciscan Media, 2001, 2020), 56–57.

You might have to read this more than once. There’s a lot going on in this teaching. The Body of Christ could use a serious download in this area. I’m certain I need it as much as the next person. There’s no easy in this. —MDP

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choice and love

July 14, 2022 4 comments

As many mystics and saints throughout history have said, God created because God needed something to love beyond the internal love of the Trinity. And then, to take this one step further, God created humans so that one species could love God back freely. Robots cannot love. Trees cannot love consciously, at least in the way we understand consciousness. Now set this parallel to your relationship with your own children. Your fondest desire, maybe at an unconscious level, if you consciously conceived a child, was to bring forth a love object. “I want to love this child in every way I can, and even hope that this child will love me in return. And the way I love them, paradoxically, becomes their empowerment to love me back. Now apply this pattern to God and us.

I think this is why the reproductive process is given to us in this unique and special way, precisely so that we can experience the reciprocal character of love. God is creating an object of love that God can totally give himself to, so that eventually we will be capable of freely loving God back in the same way. Humans are like two-way mirrors, both receiving and reflecting. Humans are like tuning forks that pick up a tone and hand it on as resonance.

+Adapted from The Cosmic Christ, Richard Rohr OFM

This is another way of understanding why freewill is so important to humanity. God continues to risk and trust us to choose (for ourselves) God… to serve God… to love God. Without freewill… any love  of God (even ours) is worthless and ultimately meaningless. Frankly, without choice… it’s something else altogether. —MDP

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no pushing

June 1, 2022 4 comments

This is one good thing that silence and waiting has taught me: our lives are always useable by God. We need not always be effective, but only transparent and vulnerable. Then we are instruments, no matter what we do. Silence is the ability to trust that God is acting, teaching, and using me—even before I perform or after my seeming failures. Silence is the necessary space around things that allows them to develop and flourish without my pushing.

God takes it from there, and there is not much point in comparing who is better, right, higher, lower, or supposedly saved. We are all partial images slowly coming into focus, as long as we allow and filter the Light and Love of God, which longs to shine through us—as us!

+Adapted from Contemplation in Action, by Richard Rohr OFM

Truly beautiful stuff here! Those words, “…without my pushing,” pretty much summarize the whole notion of Jesus’ words: “the kingdom suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.” We struggle with taking our hands off of what we want, think, or certainly know. We probably need more silence… more listening… less talking… less stubborn demanding and insistence that we know better. I know that is definitely true for myself! —MDP

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pregnant with awful

May 18, 2022 4 comments

I’m knocking on your reality door again with another one of Brian Doyle’s contributions in his book One Long River of Song.  I’ve already told you what I think of him and this book he wrote.  When I read something like what I’m about to share with you, it makes me want to take all the people I really love and care about and just shake the crap out of them. Not because I’m better, smarter, perfect, or right, but because we’re not always paying attention (mea culpa) to the small things that are not very small at all. Even in marriage one plus one doesn’t make two! It makes one, and there are a lot of words said at weddings AND funerals that I’m not sure we understand very well in the moment. And… if we do grow into understanding, then it begs the question: are we serious about what we promised and cut covenant for? I wonder sometimes about you and me on this topic.

Okay, that’s enough from me.  Here’s Brian.  Thanks for checking in. —MDP

PS – I’ve cried every time I’ve read this.  Maybe more out of gratitude that my stupidity hasn’t marked my name in this story at this time in my life. —MDP

EVERYONE THINKS THAT AWFUL COMES BY ITSELF, BUT IT DOESN’T

I know a guy whose wife fell in love with another man. She told him about it first thing in the morning on a summer day. She then went to start the coffee.

What did you do? I asked.

Just lay a bed, he said, listening to her puttering in the kitchen. Everyone thinks that awful comes by itself, but it doesn’t. It comes hand in hand with normal. No one talks about this. You’re watching the basketball game when the phone rings and you find out your grandfather didn’t wake up this morning. At the scene of the terrible car crash there’s a baseball glove that fell out of one of the cars. The awful is inside the normal. Like normal is pregnant with awful. We know this, but we don’t talk about it. The guy has a stroke at his desk, but no one knows because he has the door closed, which everyone takes as a sign he’s on it important call. I just lay a bed. It wasn’t heavy, like I couldn’t move or anything. It wasn’t dramatic. I was just listening. She got the coffee ready and I shuffled out and we had coffee and didn’t say anything. No words came to mind. That’s another thing no one says—that when you are completely shocked and horrified and broken and aghast, you don’t actually rage and weep and storm out of the house. Or at least I didn’t. Maybe some people do. But I don’t think so. I think probably most people are like me and just continue along, doing what they were going to do. I took a shower and got dressed and went to work. My brother says I must have been in shock, but I don’t know about that. I mean, I was shocked, sure I was. But I think it’s more that there had been a terrible car crash and I was noticing the normal. It was a Saturday, so the kids were sleeping in. I go to work on Saturdays, so I went to work. Lovely day, one of those days when you see dragonflies all day long. Dragonflies are very cool. People think you look for metaphors after something like that, but I think we just keep walking. That’s what I think. I mean, of course I thought about stuff like should we get divorced and how could she fall in love with another guy and how come she fell out of love with me, but mostly I thought about the kids. Sometimes I thought about the other guy, but not so much. I did wonder if we could ever get it together again, but not too much. I went to the bank and to pick up a suit at the tailor. I had a hard few moments there, because the tailor gave me an envelope with the stuff that had been in my suit pockets. This was my best suit, so I wore it for dates and weddings and wakes. There were a couple of Mass cards from funerals and wedding invites, but also there were two tampons just in case she needed them, and a photo of us at a wedding on the beach, and a ring our daughter had given me, one of those rings that you can make whistle. That rings nailed me. You would think it would be the photo of us beaming on the beach, but it was the ring.

A soldier friend of mine tells me the same thing happens when you are in a fight: that everything is normal, and then it isn’t, and then it’s normal again, except there are guys screaming or crumpled and not screaming. You get up cautiously from where you were kneeling, and you look around and everything’s just like it was a minute ago, coffee and dragonflies and the kids sleeping in, and then you just keep moving. It’s sort of boring, I guess, from a certain perspective.

—Brian Doyle One Long River of Song

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