Catching Up with 2 Poetic Images From Daily Living

I’ve thought about updating here numerous times since I arrived in Fall Village, CT 10 days ago.  Alas, I’m rarely sitting down at my laptop when I’m not exhausted.  I find myself quite content amid a flurry of work and snow.  However, I must get two ideas out before they are lost.

On the train to NYC I found a large, carpeted floor space in the last car to rest my weary back. I took my usual three deep breaths and a lower back disc slipped back into alignment. For about 3 years I’ve been able (or had to) do this a few times a day.  When the alignment is sufficiently off, my low back experiences a painful constriction of motion until this “crack” occurs.  This restores motion and eases painful pressure.

Prone on the train, a constellation of aging, body deterioration, and the soul’s growth connected in my mind’s night sky. Twenty years of ‘adult’ responses to anxiety and stimuli erode the body.  My lower back pain demands reduction of built up tension.  Breathing deeper, as this crack requires, calms nerves. Aches of aging train the spirit to confront its repression and shadow preparing for the long dark night of adulthood.

I’m the retreat manager for a silent retreat this week (and next). I watched the fire I made today and considered the fire’s molecular balance. At some point the oxygen which fuels the fire becomes a gust extinguishing the flame. Can a surplus of fuel kill the spark, like flooding the gas tank?  That thought could end here, but I’ll stretch it below.

Rededicating the Israelite’s Temple by rekindling the Ner Tamid (eternal flame) is the central activity in the Chanukah story.  (I say story because the Talmudic Aggadah, or post-Temple rabbinic elaboration upon previous sacred texts, not the Torah itself, suggests the miraculously long-lasting oil was the Divine’s doing.)  This Temple was designed to channel humankind’s tendency to worship away from concrete pagan deities to a Divine whose justice and mercy extend beyond place and time.  “No Man shall see my face and live,” Moses is told.  How do we capture what is beyond our understanding?  How to we buoy our lives with the fuel of sacred connection with a) destroying all b) lose own spark through too much exposure?

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