ok, this blog is pretty good at the past and the present, but fails with the future. until now. there’s some neat-o stuff i want to tell you about before it happens, in case you want to experience it for yourself. i think a good way to do this is to append a ‘preview‘ section.
Monday (Part 2)
• 2014-03-03–what’s going on in the ukraine? we watched experts on the agenda–later (or, depending on how you look at it, thousands of years earlier) an egyptologist explained how ancient egyptians prepared for life in the afterlife–bit my tongue, not in good way–this world, full of trouble and woe, is also full of joy and mystery.
The antidote to suffering is spiritual practice, says Les Kaye. Spiritual practice is not about religion, he stresses. It’s about generosity, patience, energy, caring, and wisdom, which are our original qualities, because we are inherently unselfish. (Similarly, Rohr writes that ‘if you were connected inherently with the nature of Being, you would always be united and uniting, you would always do the inherently true thing, and you would always do the morally good thing. This is your deepest nature.’) However, desires obscure that inherent unselfishness; spiritual practice restores it.
Kaye says that’s the point of Buddhism [and, I might add, Lent. To the unexamined practitioner, Lent may be a time when you give something up, but really you are facing yourself and your desires. What you are really giving up, whether Buddhist or Christian or atheist, is your attachment to something, your desire for it. What you are gaining in return is insight to your real self and a little release from suffering. It may seem huge or it may seem like a baby step.] We feel satisfaction, joy, connection, warmth, friendship. We’re not jealous, not competitive, not judgmental.
It starts with meditation, which is really the practice of awareness. Being present, trying not to be distracted. We’re not perfect, but we can apply 100% effort and see beyond appearances, beyond common sense, to the truth of things. We need to pay attention, especially to:
- ordinary things, like the tasks of daily life (we thereby understand that things change, things are impermanent)
- each other (how we should be with each other, rather than in isolation)
- ourself (especially when we are clumsy and we make a mistake–our feelings too, especially suffering–in that way a mistake can be helpful)
Without spiritual practice, we don’t pay attention to things, to each other, and to ourselves, our view of life becomes narrow, we become fooled by appearances, we can’t differ between what is good and what appears to be good, and we become a slave to our desires.
Remember that bit about nourishment? (If you don’t, check this out–see Tuesday.) Further to that, Jean Vanier gives us something to consider: ‘In our deepest selves, below the levels of action and understanding, there is a vulnerable heart, a child who loves but is afraid to love. Silent prayer nourishes this deep place. It is the most important nourishment of all, because it is the most secret and personal.’ Nourishment feeds inner growth: ‘The seed of the Spirit has been planted in each of us. We must learn how to nourish this seed so that it can grow and bear much fruit.’ Suffering is part of the seed too, for ‘there is a presence of God in suffering which can nourish the deepest part of our being.’
What does ‘shrove‘ mean? Dictionary says, ‘To hear the confession of (a person); to impose penance on (a sinner); to grant absolution to (a penitent).’ That’s old-fashioned. Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent, is also known as Pancake Tuesday, when you cook pancakes in fat or butter or oil. The name ‘Mardi Gras‘ (Fat Tuesday–pictured is ‘The Fight Between Carnival And Lent‘, 1559, by Pieter Bruegel the Elder; evidently, this tussle between excess and parsimony has been going on for many years, in many lands, in many ways) reflects this: ‘The practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season’. Shrove comes from shrive, and shrive comes from the Old English scrifan “assign, decree, impose penance,” from German skriban, from Latin scribere “to write”. Shrive-scrife-scribe–I love etymology! And food too! Blintzes, crêpes, and latkes are other kinds of pancakes. Do you know any good recipes?
Did you know that during Lent hundreds of years ago and probably in Europe, the butchers would leave town and go to farms in the country? Business wasn’t so good, with people abstaining, but when the populace ended their fast at Easter, they’d be hungry for fresh meat and the butchers would be ready.
VIDEO: Canada Reads 2014 launch–The theme of Canada Reads 2014 is the book that will change Canada. Each is a powerful story of something we need to change.
• 2014-03-04–this week we went to la mauricie national park (pictured), a little north of montreal, where they are cleaning up logging damage–scientists from the rom went to borneo—rick mercer went down an alley again while we spent another 22 minutes in tim horton’s–brian cox explored why earth is special, our only home (the doc is both informative and beautiful): ‘it must be innately human the desire to understand how it came to be. seen from lunar orbit (‘earthrise’–pictured), the earth looks fragile, but seen by science it has been crafted by life for almost four billion years.’
Today is Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent. ‘Of the 46 days until Easter, six are Sundays. As the Christian designation of Sabbath, Sundays are not included in the fasting period and are instead “feast” days during Lent.’
- Five books to read if you liked Cockroach (2008)
- Five books to read if you liked Half-Blood Blues (2011)
- Five books to read if you liked The Orenda (2013)
- Five books to read if you liked Annabel (2010)
- Five books to read if you liked The Year of the Flood (2009)
Like Canada Reads, poetry can aim to change things. From the introduction to the April 2014 edition of Poetry by Sarah Browning: ‘Split This Rock calls poets to a greater role in public life and fosters a national network of socially engaged poets….
Don’t you hear this hammer ring?I’m gonna split this rockAnd split it wide!When I split this rock,Stand by my side.
Langston Hughes wrote this poem, “Big Buddy” — from which Split This Rock draws its inspiration and name — during the Great Depression. It was a time when artists and writers felt especially called to help split the rock of injustice, wherever they found it, and to stand in solidarity with others who were attempting the same. Poets today find themselves similarly called. They are giving name to the injustices of this world and exploring alternatives to war and violence, to the mad pursuit of material gain, to the impoverishment of the many, and the destruction of the earth. As another of our great role models, Adrienne Rich, has written:
When poetry lays its hand on our shoulder … we are, to an almost physical degree, touched and moved. The imagination’s roads open before us, giving the lie to that slammed and bolted door, that razor-wired fence, that brute dictum “There is no alternative.”
Indeed, poetry can remind us of the true stories of our lives, rescuing those stories from the forces bent on shaping us to their purposes: that we become silent, fearful, distracted by mass entertainment and celebrity culture. Split This Rock celebrates and promotes poets doing this important work.’
Canada Reads 2014. And the winner is… nyah, that’ll spoil it.
• 2014-03-06–cb and i studied mk:1 9-20, 35. it struck me that we need temptation to grow, like a plant needs gravity to grow. i know that intellectually, but how do i feel it, how do i unite head and heart? or will we always fear the beasts in the desert? lent is a good time to face temptation. sue and i watched the agenda, about mammography, the scar project (pictured–coming to toronto in 2014, 03-28 to 04-06, to the edward day gallery), csec, and buzzfeed.
Jian Ghomeshi featured the panelist and the author of this year’s Canada Reads winner. ‘Following the finale, CBC Books asked the audience which of the five Canada Reads contenders should have won the 2014 battle of the books. Jian revealed the People’s Choice winner on today’s show, and it looks like the general public is in sync with the panelists!’
A new short film, shot and directed by Ian Mackenzie, called The Making Of Humans, is about Stephen Jenkinson, who founded, with his partner Nathalie, the Orphan Wisdom School: ‘The relentless pursuit of self reliance and self improvement is rooted in our lost connection to common stories, homeland and ancestors that bind and unite us. The times now demand that we recognize the world’s suffering in our own.’
• 2014-03-07–experiencing a taste of spring, we went to grounded coffee, saw scott and nicole.–during day 1 and day 2 of canada reads 2014 the panelists debated. i agree with much of stephen lewis’ apocalyptic sense, though i find sarah gradon’s positivity uplifting; however, wab kinew speaks of a needed reconciliation of cultures and that seeing the orenda‘s violence as reprehensible (instead as something honourable) is another form of assimilation; meanwhile, donovan bailey had a difficult time defending an otherwise excellent book, half-blood blues, as relevant and canadian, when it takes place in europe during wwii, and samantha bee also had a difficult defending the reprehensible protagonist and his madness in cockroach. nevertheless, the panelists’ humour, whether you’re apocalyptic or not, goes a long way. will it go the distance?
The NFB reports that film-maker Alanis Obomsawin has been honoured with a humanitarian award. ‘One of Canada’s most distinguished artists, Ms. Obomsawin was recently awarded the Humanitarian Award for Exceptional Contributions to Community & Public Service by the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television.’ Watch Alanis Obomsawin’s films on NFB.ca.
• 2014-03-09–dean potter is extreme. he climbs without ropes, wire-walks without a safety, base jumps, and ‘flies’ (glides, actually, like a flying squirrel). however, life for him is made more real by his extremity.–re-enacting preparations for a tudor whitsun market day five hundred years ago involved such activities as goat cheese making, sheep shearing, spinning and weaving, and getting the geese there, somehow.
Julia invites us to join her ‘on a journey of discovering how wild edible plants and green smoothies can help improve your health and well-being. I’m passionate about edible weeds and leafy greens and I want to show you how to use these highly nutritious foods to boost your health and vitality. My intention is for this site to be a resource for anyone interested in learning how to identify edible weeds and to incorporate them into a healthy diet high in raw foods.’
You are what you eat. What are you eating? Maybe this will help. Let me explain a little: the triangle on the right shows the caloric ratio of fat (red), protein (blue), and carbs (green). On the left is a picture of how filling and nutritious a food is. The classic snack, potato chips, is neither filling nor nutritious–have some, and five minutes you want more–whereas my favourite, raw broccoli bits, is both filling and nutritious. But sometimes you don’t care whether it’s filling or nutritious, just fun. And that’s okay, as long as you know who you are and what you’re eating.
• 2014-03-10–the peaceful warrior says a paradox is one of the three constants in the universe (the others are change and humour). rohr defines a paradox as a ‘seeming contradiction which is not really contradictory at all if looked at from another angle or through a larger frame. A paradox always demands a change on the side of the observer. If we look at almost all things honestly we see everything has a character of paradox to it.’ i think a paradox tells me i’m onto something. it’s like a compass, pointing true north, pointing home.–‘Only 38.8% of eligible Canadian voters between the ages of 18 and 24 voted in the 2011 federal election. The Agenda brings together a cross-section of millenials – the engaged, enraged, and apathetic – to discuss their views on the state of our democracy.’–days 3 and 4 of canada reads 2014 were passionate, often funny, and at times fiery.
Weird Al purposely makes jokes. ‘When Weird Al asked Kurt Cobain if he could do the parody [of Smells Like Teen Spirit], Kurt asked, Is it going to be about food? and Al assured him it was about how the lyrics are hard to understand and Cobain said, Oh, sure, of course, that’s funny.’
As a kid, maybe 8 or 9, Swingin’ Bach Guitar got me into jazz. ELP’s Pictures At An Exhibition got me into prog rock. Switched-On Bach got me into electronica. What was I listening to? I didn’t know it had a name.
TVO celebrates Water Week, 2014-03-17 to 23.