Courting, Courtesy, and Culture

If you are a queen, encountering another queen for the first time, how do you behave?    Do you ignore her?  Do you bow?  Do you wait for her to speak first?  Do you take up as much space as possible, or as little as possible?  Do you make sure she knows that she should scrape and beg for any favor from you?  Or do you perhaps exchange polite formalities, only to eventually more gently indicate that she may send you tribute in the form of deference, tokens of respect and flattery, and that if she would like any of that from you, she will need to provide twice as much.  Or, what if that queen happens to be 7 years old, and you are 22?  Do you condescend and manipulate, or do you resolve to welcome her to your court, realizing she may become a lifelong ally who may defend your right to rule when you are 80?  Is this my life?  Is this your life?

 

Let us say that instead of all of these things, you clap your hands and greet her with praise of this glad and lucky moment in which your realm may now glory in its new royal friendship.  Perhaps you throw a banquet, or maybe just invite her to your coffee klatsch.  The benefits of this may be increased commerce, safety, education, appropriate mates (finally!) for your royal offspring, and connections to realms on her borders but beyond yours.  She may turn out to have a formidable navy, or a reputation for her ability to persuade the Mongols to buy her lace instead of slaughtering her archers.  She may have underemployed musicians that she can send to your court in exchange for access to salt.

 

But let us say that instead of launching into a discussion of these benefits you may afford one another, you open wide your eyes, and look at this creature before you.  In the middle of exclaiming your poem about this day of great fortune to your entourage and hers, your voice trails off as you notice the exquisite tendriled embroidery on her iridescent gown, somehow mirrored in variation by the twists and plaits and spirals within her headdress, and you gasp as you realize that her entourage is in fact arranged, person by person, in a larger version of the same motif.  Your mind wanders, as your eyes trail this shape through her hair, her clothes, and these magnificent people.  You finish up your poem, as neatly and thoughtfully as you can, because you can’t quite remember what you were going to say anymore.  In response, a pearl-encrusted group of young musicians with curious instruments swings around and offers you a suite of what must be mermaid music, so smooth, undulating, and entrancing that you find yourself waving your arms in what you hope later is a majestic manner.  You swoon, in fact.  The queen begins a song in her language, whatever that might be, and while you understand not one word, the song, the shimmering warmth in her voice, and the quality of her expression let you know that your welcome has touched her heart.

 

We have all had meetings like this.  You meet someone, an equal of some sort, and instead of working to find a way to find inequality and a bit of a foot in the door to some kind of dominance, or instead of finding some kind of deal for future strategic enrichment, you simply gasp and hang your mouth open at the sheer luck of meeting such an entrancing creation.

 

Whom have you met lately?  Who touches your heart?

 

AB

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Tidework – Prayer for 21 October 2010

Silvered orb shining through your garment of Night, you loose the armor of the sleeping seed, the youth inside, drowning him, tearing at him.  Your fearful grip holds his death, his only chance to grow the green grail, sweet tendriled wings of life and love, flower, fragrance, fruit, and seed.

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Streamwork – Prayer for 20 October, 2010

“Like as an hart, desireth the waterbrooks, so longeth my soul for thee…” Oh heart that sings into my ear, waterspring that floods my eyes and opens my breath, let us part the grasses, brambles and vines to cause new streams to flow into parched land. Let us call the fishes, frogs, turtles, worms, rushes, slimy algaes, beavers, kingfishers and floating waterbugs to a congress of water wilderness, all working together to bring streams to life. Let us call to the sun to warm the waters and invite newcomers. As we thunder across the creek beds, cooling our heels, we give thanks for all that gives form, boundary, and echo to the bubbling Word of creation.

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The Sincerity of Crocodiles

Some of my kin have made themselves unwelcome by their tendency to weep when the name of a dead loved one comes up.  Others of my kin express disgust that those weepy people have not earned the right to grieve so promiscuously, to indulge their tears ostentatiously, and to upstage the grief of those who hold a closer tie to the dead.

As stars within a galaxy explode into place, burn, collide, smash, ingest, implode, freeze, and scorch, as our star the Sun radiates its heat with tongues of flame, providing all our warmth and hope for life; as our Earth freezes into the goose-bumps of glaciers, bursts into tears, sloshes us in tsunamis, hurricanes, and ensuing mudslides, adjusts her fertility in a necklace of earthquakes; as our fellow Inhabitants swarm the earth, eat us and each other, destroy our food, become our food, eat our children even as they amuse our children; as we ourselves embody a galaxy of life to the one-celled organisms that inhabit our guts and membranous interiors such as eyes and noses in varieties greater than the number of the cells containing our own DNA; as such miracles come to pass, we struggle with the silly obstacle of Death.  What does our own death matter in the beauty and viciousness and miracle of all this?

We cannot hope to avoid death, not even through a legacy that a generation can squander or forget, a genetic bloodline that can easily die out, or even by leaving the world “a better place” – unrelenting demolition of the world we love takes place now.    Eternal Life hangs on aborting that other kind of Death, the isolation of not belonging to the whole of this spectacular life.

A mama crocodile gives birth to horrifyingly cute baby crocodiles, horrifying because we know that not much time will pass before our own babies will qualify as lunch to this brood, but still cute, because we love babies.  Do the tears that gush from her eyes as she munches on some other mother’s baby come from her grief?  Do crocodiles feel grief the way elephants, primates, and whales do?  Even for members of another species, the way our children do for puppies and kittens?  Perhaps not.  But do not be so certain that her tears mean less than yours.

When we grieve, we pay the price of belonging to the beauty in all Life, belonging to the harmony of the galactic spheres, to the ornaments of birdsong, to the flowers that thrive in the snow. Grief comes as we perceive the beauty of what we have lost, what more beauty we lose at every moment, what beauty we will still lose, and yet treasures, indulges, and pays promiscuously the full measure of the beauty that belongs to all of us who have tears to pay for it.

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Happy Birthday Jesse Pie!

To the Girl who just didn’t Stop
Who Would Not, Could not Sleep;
To the Girl who Wore Us All Out
Danced In Each of Us, her many Pairs of Dancing Shoes
To wear with her most BeautifulDresses.
Jesse had no Dresses, for only BeautifulDresses belonged to her.
And we pushed against her feet
Against her dance floor just to dance with her.
Her shoes, her friends, her dance partners
Her furniture – she wore us out!
Why would anyone sleep when you can run for your life, slam your body into your Nanny, your Dog, your Mom, your Dad, your hundred Best Friends, and squeeze the breath out of them with hugs made of steely 2-year-old arms and a Scream declaring your ecstasy at their arrival?
To the Girl with the Smile-and-a-Half, with sparks busting out her eyes, a screech of volcanic laughter, a rainstorm of tears and lightning,
To the Girl who just didn’t Stop!
Don’t stop!
At Seventeen, you’ve only just started.
Happy Birthday, Jesse Pie!
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A Musical Invitation: Celebration of the Life of Taffy Glasner

 

Friday, the 13th of June, 2008

Good Afternoon! For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Taffy’s niece, Anne.

I’m very grateful, that for the last 2 months, I’ve had the opportunity to stay with Taffy and Lanie, with the idea, as Taf would put it, of “making myself useful”. Mostly, I gave myself the task of making sure Taffy ate, and ate well. So she did, and generally, I made myself useful.

On evening, after dinner, as Taffy was coasting off to sleep, she asked me, simply:

“So where do YOU think I’m going?”

I thought for a minute, and said, “Do you remember those Madeleine L’Engle books, A Wrinkle in Time, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, and all those? Remember how in her book, Many Waters, the twins move in and out of dimensions that are part of their Pattern? In other books, she calls that Pattern a Spiral, but now I’m thinking of it as a Harmony, a Chord, or even a Motif. Taf, “ I said, “I think you already ‘go there’ all of the time, in the dimensions that are part of your Pattern, your Spiral, your Harmony. You do it when you sleep, you do it when you sing, and you do it when you play piano. You do it every time you visit the music you love. Your Pattern, your Spiral, your Harmony, is revealed by what you LOVE.”

And, in her usual way, she said, “Well, that sounds reasonable.” And she drifted off to sleep.

So my invitation to you today, is to visit with Taffy in her dimension, but HERE, in all of this music that she LOVED. I invite you to know her fully: from the sacred, formal, intricate harmonies of Bach, to passionate love songs, to inventive compositions of young minds, and to the sounds of Pan pipes, at first pastoral, but finally, of another world.

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