Untitled, by Diana Maus, http://mosaicmoods.wordpress.com/

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Let me share something with you:  I am an inclusionist: Whenever someone agrees with me and then says “but”, I always wish the conjunction was “and”.  I wrote a piece about diplomacy-- employing the hope that all nations could, at some point, sit around a table, and when one voiced an opinion, the other would say, “Yes, I see your point, AND let me add…” 
Rachel Reman told a story about her grandfather:  he told her that in the beginning, through some accident, light became shattered through all living things, and it is our job in our lifetime to try and piece together as much of that light as we can.  It is a fable, a myth, and when I shared it, a friend wrote me suggesting 'BUT that scattering of light was no accident.' EinsteinsBicycle
This adds another element to the original story:  What caused, or who caused the scattering of light, or was it just a 'big bang'? Is there any reality in this story, or is it simply a harmless myth told to a child.
 It is so difficult for me to live in two worlds: a world of  the spirit and a world of science.   I tend to like my faith reinforced by fact; I am more comfortable if I can combine my religiosity and my reason.  I would like to say that the light shattered for a reason, AND perhaps it was an intended natural accident. 
 Taking that as a clue, I have dabbled in quantum physics, and been fascinated with the idea of light being dual in nature:  it can be seen as a ray or beam, and it can decide to change itself into particles.  A miracle in science!   There are other unexplained scientific miracles, and through these studies some of our scientists have become believers in an Original Force or a God. It may be that we just don't understand enough to know what is really happening, but perhaps the 'AND' is appropriate here; it is the nature of light itself to shatter, or not--as it wishes.  Maybe light is God...AND, as we said, maybe we just don't understand what light really is. 
We have great arguments in the US about this – both religionists and scientists lean toward being exclusionists and tend to  constantly say “but” to the other side, not willing to see that there are many facets to this prism.    For many years I have searched how one could bring these two worlds together, and the use of the conjunction 'AND' seems to be the only answer.   I am not a genius and I have to rely on others to tell me what science is all about, but I am trying to open my heart and mind--to put Einstein’s E=MC2 together with what the mystics and my religious beliefs tell me.   Here are some religious quotes about light:  
In John 8:12 Jesus proclaims-seemingly out of the blue-"I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

 Ahura Mazda, in the Zorastrian religion, represented light, truth, and goodness, all of which that faith believes are necessary for one to show love.

 The Quran calls the Prophet a lamp of Divine radiance. “So it is those who believe in him, honour him, help him, and follow the light which is sent down with him,- it is they who will prosper.” (7:157) It is this Light( Nur) of Mohammad that enables the Sufi to arrive at the Reality of God.
Qumran Gnostics, sectarians in Palestine, divided humanity into two camps: The “Sons of Light,” who were good and blessed by God–referring to the sectarians themselves, and the “Sons of Darkness,” who were evil and accursed – referring to everyone else (Jews and gentiles alike). They believed that in the End of Days these two camps would battle each other, as described in detail in the scroll now known as “The War of the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness.”  This is a somewhat scary vision in the year 2011!
In most of these visions light has been interpreted as ‘the way we see things’ and the sons of Darkness are those who don’t see the light. Instead of a ‘me vs. them’ philosophy, suppose the light being referred to is seen as energy.  Energy is in all things, and although it travels from one thing to another, there is a limited amount in the universe.  Energy equals mass times the speed of light squared.
 Simply stated, light is nature's way of transferring energy through space--light is energy.  Through light we can take the sun’s energy and heat our homes with it.  Energy depends on mass and mass on energy.  What is energy?  This is the unknowable.  All we know about energy is that it is the ability of an object to do work.  One kind of energy can be transferred into another type:  steam from water can be transferred through a turbine into electricity.  I am beginning to conceive of my body, filled with energy (light) that can choose how to use this energy.  Since energy cannot be destroyed at death this energy becomes part of the total energy of the universe until it is used again.
   To summarize the mental path I am personally exploring: our words are probably all saying the same thing: light (love, goodness) is part of us and of all living things.  We use it and share our light (energy) with the world and, and as Rachel's grandfather said,  to collect as much of this energy and light into one place as we can. 
 We are somewhat like amachine, created to use energy for some purpose.  What purpose?   This is a personal pathway.  Our problem comes when we conclude that only ‘my people’ have the light, and the Other lives in Darkness.   AND is such a little word, but dreadfully important.  

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Thru Thick and Thin


My friend, Dwight, just emailed a quote from Henry David Thoreau that had something to tell me:

The seeds of the summer are getting dry & falling from a thousand nodding heads. If I did not know you through thick & thin how should I know you at all

I might have passed this by unnoticed yesterday, but, today, it teases my mind. This is the nature of Higher Laws; we see things when we are meant to see them. Friendship is that very human interaction which we applaud but don’t often look at closely. How well can I know you, if I don’t know you in good times and hard times? How well can I know you if I do not welcome your faults as well as your talents? How well do I know you if I am content to pass you by with a Cherrio, have a good day? How well will I know you if I stand at my window watching trouble visit you, my neighbor, and do nothing?

Today was a good day for me and my friends in our little knitting group at Golden Pond Retirement Village in Golden, Colorado. We have been meeting long enough now, that even our silences are rich with thought. I know that my friends here cherish this time each Friday; we chat and share and use the knitting as our excuse to be together.

There are usually about six of us around the table, and the more we express what we are thinking, the closer we feel. Most are a bit older than I, and only one is still with her husband. I have to tell you, these are wise older women; wise enough to know that they do not want to live with their children, thank you, but thoughtful enough to realize that the step they took to sell their homes, dispose of most of their belongings and move to Golden Pond was probably the most profound change they had ever undergone.

One said, “You give up your car, your privacy, your home—almost everything!” And, the question is, what can make the day seem bright when all that is gone? “Our children have a right to their own lives, and they want me to be happy, and…and what?” Before we left we had acknowledged the fact that late in life friends are a more important part of our lives than ever before. P said, “I’ve lost two friends since I moved here 18 months ago,” and it was clear that the thought saddened her. V, the chipper one from New Mexico added, “Yes, I moved here to be with my son’s family, and look what happened—he was transferred to California. I can’t afford to make another major move.”

Rather than feeling abandoned, V now has the friends she is making at a very late time in her life.

I remember a poem I learned as a child: “Hold fast to friends, we lightly say, but as they pass along the way, fill up the gap with newer friends, til time the adjective amends.”

Yes, for my friends at Golden Pond friendship is a very important commodity—through thick and thin.

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Defeat Better Than Victory

Of Human Bondage, by Somerset Maugham should probably be on the reading list of every English 101 class, in every university in the English speaking world. Why?  Because it is the story of a young man’s universal search for self, and is probably one of the best written fictional works of the twentieth century.

 Although it takes place over 100 years ago, it is humanly insightful today as it was when written.  Philip’s search: his embarrassments, his feelings of inferiority, his unrelenting and incomprehensible  passion for another are all as real today as then.  For our part, it helps us see what we can become in the eyes of others:

 In Bondage, Philip, age 19 and full of the steam of youthful energy, returns home from Germany to the Parish where his aunt and uncle still live:

 Philip realized that they had done with life, these two quiet little people:  they belonged to a past generation, and they were waiting there patiently, rather stupidly, for death; and he, in his vigour and his youth, thirsting for excitement and adventure, was appalled at the waste.  They had done nothing, and when they went it would be just as if they had never been.  He felt a great pity for Aunt Louisa, and he loved her suddenly because she loved him.

To ‘have done’ with life…what a shame, what a waste, what a trap that can easily ensnare us.  How do we get to such a deplorable place?  It is not the physical act of aging alone that can trap us.  It is more that we build a cage of limited expectations.  We wake, we eat, we breathe, and in a kind of somnambulistic state we follow our dusty routine and habitual activities and then we sleep again, only to repeat the process. Day after day we ‘wait stupidly for death.’    

But where does the trap begin?  And is this simple act of two people living their aging life truly a trap?  In the conclusion of Bondage Philip considers marriage and realizes that it will mean limiting the scope of his travels and experiences.  He writes:

What did he care for Spain and its cities, Cordova, Toledo, Leon; what to him were the pagodas of Burmah and the lagoons of South Sea Islands?  America was here and now.  It seemed to him that all his life he had followed the ideas that other people, by their words or their writings, had instilled into him, and never the desires of his own heart.  Always his course had been swayed by what he thought he should do and never by what he wanted with his whole soul to do.

 He put all that aside now with a gesture of impatience.  He had lived always in the future, with the present always, always had slipped through his fingers.  His ideals?  He thought of his desire to make a design, intricate and beautiful, out of the myriad, meaningless facts of his life:  had he not seen also that the simplest pattern, that in which a man was born, worked, married, had children and died was likewise the most perfect?  It might be that to surrender to happiness was to accept defeat but it was a defeat better than many victories.

The Tao would advise us to look carefully at the rock that we find in our path—it may be made of pure gold.  If we are living our dream and not the dream of some one else, "America is here and now."

Friday, August 5, 2011

Give Me a Woman Who Has Lived

If we'd moved her,
she'd still have 'em,

the ad for Acme
Moving says, with a photo

of Venus de Milo.
But who, intact,

would Venus be?
Some standard-issue

ingénue. Give me
a woman who's lived

a little, who's wrapped
her arms around the ages

and come up lacking: that's
the stone that can move me.

"Truth in Advertising" by Andrea Cohen