Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Sermon to the Snakes

"What is the whole of our existence," said Father Damien, practicing his sermon from the new pulpit, "but the sound of an appalling love?"

The snakes slid quietly among the feet of the empty pews.

"What is the question we spend our entire lives asking? Our question is this: Are we loved? I don't mean by one another. Are we loved by the one who made us? Constantly, we look for evidence. In the gifts we are given--children, good weather, money, a happy marriage perhaps--we find assurance. In contrast, our pains, illnesses, the deaths of those we love, our poverty, our innocent misfortunes--those we take as signs that God has somehow turned away. But, my friends, what exactly is love here? How to define it? Does God's love work in our lives? Or is God's love, perhaps, something very different from what we think we know?

"Divine love may be so large it cannot see us.

"Or it may be so infinitely tiny that it works on a level where it directs us like an unknown substance buried in our blood.

"Or it may be transparent, an invisible screen, a filter through which we see and hear all that is created.

"Oh my friends..."

The snakes lifted their bullet-smooth heads, flickered their tongues to catch the vibrations of the sounds the being made somewhere before them.

"I am like you," said Father Damien to the snakes, "curious and small." He dropped his arms. "Like you, I poise alertly and open my senses to try to read the air, the clouds, the sun's slant, the little movements of the animals, all in the hope I will learn the secret of whether I am loved."

The snakes coiled and recoiled, curved over and underneath themselves.

"If I am loved," Father Damien went on, "it is a merciless and exacting love against which I have no defense. If I am not loved, then I am being pitilessly manipulated by a force I cannot withstand, either, and so it is all the same. I must do what I must do. Go in peace."

He lifted his hand, blessed the snakes, and then lay down full length in a pew and slept there for the rest of the afternoon.

Louise Erdrich
The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse
(c) 2001
2002 paperpack, HarperPerennial, pp. 226-227

Friday, January 8, 2010

Beautiful +Maya, the photogenic feline

She looks like this, lying on her side with a paw over her nose and her fuzzy tummy showing, but she's under the desk lamp right now, snoozing on the wooden desk next to me.

I really need to start taking pictures again.

I tried out the camera on my new BlackBerry (free when I joined up with CREDO Mobile) and its first picture (if you don't count the two accidental ones) was this. Speaking of fuzzy.

+Maya Pavlova is still the most beautiful cat on the planet. And soft! Must be the organic cat food.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Epiphany: another image

Best to let this one speak for itself.

"Epiphany," by Janet McKenzie (c) 2003.
For more on this work and on the artist, see here and here (on that site, there's more on "Epiphany" here).

Epiphany: we're in reruns again

Forgive us. We've been having what some would vaguely but appropriately refer to as "writing issues" here at Acts of Hope, or maybe that's "no-writing issues." Either way, we are being ecological again this year, as we were last Epiphany, and we are recycling. That's a more positive way of putting it than saying we are laggards. Well, +Maya Pavlova is no laggard. I am.

So, once again, here is an old sermon. Epiphany only comes once a year, so perhaps most of you had forgotten it by now. Blessed feast. Don't let Herod haunt you.
"The Magi," by He Qi

Monday, January 4, 2010

RIP Mary Daly, feminist thinker and teacher, wild star

"There are and will be those who think I have gone overboard. Let them rest assured that this assessment is correct, probably beyond their wildest imagination, and that I will continue to do so." - Mary Daly, 1928-2010

More on this pioneering thinker here and here.

Mary Daly died this morning. Obituaries should be forthcoming in the next couple of days. Blaze on, Mary.

Photograph by Gail Bryan (c) 1992