Lofty every day life

That we could “achieve the simplicity that Martin Buber encountered in three rabbis from a Yiddishland that has now vanished:

“‘They spoke about lofty things, very lofty things, but also about the day’s events.  About the lofty things they spoke as though they were events that might take place in their neighborhood, and about this-worldly events they spoke as though they were woven of some celestial material.  In between, they fell silent, but these silences were made up of their common presence.'”

from: The Resurrection by Fabrice Hadjadj

At the Store

At the Store

Clumps of daffodils along the storefront
bend low this morning, late snow
pushing their bright heads down.
The flag snaps and tugs at the pole
beside the door.

The old freezer, full of Maine blueberries
and breaded scallops, mumbles along.
A box of fresh bananas on the floor,
luminous and exotic…
I take what I need from the narrow aisles.

Cousins arrive like themes and variations.
Ansel leans on the counter,
remembering other late spring snows,
the blue snow of ‘32:
Yes, it was, it was blue.
Forrest comes and goes quickly
with a length of stovepipe, telling
about the neighbors’ chimney fire.

The store is a bandstand. All our voices
sound from it, making the same motley
American music Ives heard;
this piece starting quietly,
with the repeated clink of a flagpole
pulley in the doorway of a country store.

“At the Store” by Jane Kenyon from Otherwise. © Graywolf Press, 1997. Reprinted with permission.  (buy now)

Originally posted at The Writer’s Almanac

Lost in a mountain’s attention

Visiting Mountains

The plains ignore us,
but these mountains listen,
an audience of thousands
holding its breath
in each rock. Climbing,
we pick our way
over the skulls of small talk.
On the prairies below us,
the grass leans this way and that
in discussion;
words fly away like corn shucks
over the fields.
Here, lost in a mountain’s
attention, there’s nothing to say.

“Visiting Mountains” by Ted Kooser from Flying at Night. © University of Pittsburgh Press, 1985. Reprinted with permission.  (buy now)

Everything I do will be alive

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“From the age of six I had a mania for drawing the forms of things. By the time I was fifty I had published an infinity of designs; but all I produced before the age of seventy is not worth taking into account. At seventy-three I learned a little about the real structure of nature, of animals, plants, trees, birds, fishes, and insects. In consequence, when I am eighty I shall have made still more progress; at ninety I shall penetrate the mystery of things; at a hundred I shall certainly have reached a marvelous stage; and when I am a hundred and ten everything I do, be it a dot or a line, will be alive. I beg those who live as long as I do to see if I do not keep my word.”

–Kathsushika Hokusai, Japanese artist

The Author of Beauty

“Yes, naturally stupid are all men who have not known God
and who, from the good things that are seen, have not been able to discover Him-who-is,
or, by studying the works, have failed to recognize the Artificer.
Fire however, or wind, or the swift air,
the sphere of the stars, impetuous water, heaven’s lamps,
are what they have held to be the gods who govern the world.

 “If, charmed by their beauty, they have taken things for gods,
let them know how much the Lord of these excels them,
since the very Author of beauty created them.
And if they have been impressed by their power and energy,
let them deduce from these how much mightier is he that has formed them,
since through the grandeur and beauty of the creatures
we may, by analogy, contemplate their Author.”  (Wisdom 13:1-5 JB)