The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.
Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made
is star-stuff too?
– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –
dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.
Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.
Friday, 9 March 2012
reasons for jubilation
2 The new green accessories to the bare thorn branches; and fat apple tree waking-up buds
3 Such huge starry faces on the celandines this year!
4 Plump purple sprouting broccoli in the veg garden – the third variety to flower, so we've been eating it since July and looks like it'll continue a bit
5 A pair of house sparrows (YES!) in the courtyard – never thought I could feel so joyful at the sight of a little brown jobbie that was so plentiful in my childhood. Woke to the monotonous cheep cheep cheep of a pair at my daughter's, yesterday, too – am glad that at tough times such seemingly little things can still make me smile.*
6 Excellent poetry performance by Bickleigh on Exe (one of the nicest friendliest primary schools I've ever worked in, and the class I worked with are currently rearing 100 salmon from eggs they've hatched in a tank to release into a tributary of the Exe) and Bow schools at Exeter Phoenix. I was slightly nervous – you come in and do a poetry hit and run raid; you don't always know whether what you've planted sprouts and grows, and you don't usually get to taste the fruit. Anthony, my poet-colleague, and I were really excited and proud of the pupils at the results.
7 Oh yes the cover to my new collection – look right if you haven't yet spotted it. Out in a few weeks!
8 An insightful and well-written article by Bryan Appleyard in last week's New Statesman on the militant intolerance of the new atheism, as promoted by Mr Dawkins. Appleyard explores a concern I have, and the source of a number of – errr, lively – debates between self and TM: the need to reduce (as I see it) everything to something amenable to the scientific method, and its rigorous rationalism (it should be said that though TM has a metaphysical outlook he is primarily a rationalist, albeit not at all of the Dawkins' variety; his perspective is that of the truth-seeker, and his conviction is that ultimately the rational mind should be able to explain everything).
I guess for me I have no problems with allowing some mysteries to simply be that, and explanation and analytical understanding is of less relevance than other aspects of spiritual practice: eg how our value system, whatever it is, informs the way we live, and how we integrate, crudely, the needs of the head with the needs of the heart.
Of course there is room for both – indeed both are crucial – but some things simply aren't amenable to rational explanation, or at least not without losing their essence; it's the wrong language for the movements of the heart. Examples are love, meaning, soulful/transcendent experience, art, mythology, music, poetry... These experiences do not happen in the harsh light of the rational gaze and its certainties, but need moistness, shade, mystery.
Appleyard: 'Explaining religion – or indeed the human experience – in scientific terms is futile. "It would be as bizarre as to launch a scientific investigation into the truth of Anna Karenina or love," [Alain] de Botton says. "It's a symptom of the misplaced confidence of science... It's a kind of category error..."' (http://www.newstatesman.com/religion/2012/02/neo-atheism-atheists-dawkins)
To be fair, the article following Appleyard's in the NS, by Richard Dawkins, is also sane and justifiable, and makes a good case; until he starts mudslinging, at the end.
OK, to work – masses piled up...
* House sparrows, it seems, may be deterred from nesting where they always have, in close proximity to human dwellings, by EMR – electromagnetic radiation – in this case the frequency of radiowaves emitted not only by mobile phones but also by cordless indoor phones. There's a suggestion that bees too are affected by these waves. There is of course also the knock-on effect of massively destructive and widespread pesticide and herbicide use; in a society where systems thinking is not the norm, there's an absence of perception about what happens when you erase 'weeds', and insects, in an ecosystem. Perhaps you'll forgive me a little plea, or at least a suggestion: switch your mobile off when not in use; if you need to buy a new house-phone make it corded; try and buy, if you don't already, some organic foods which at least don't require the application of destructive chemicals; plant a bee plant this year...
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