Sunday, March 22, 2009

Haiku alert and Thoughts on a sunshiney day At a lakeside park

Had a job I liked.
"Each person their book, each book
Its person" was good.

Changes certainly arrive
Clouding my spring with shadows.
I number my days.

The March lamb watches
As I wander the lakeshore.
She doesn't know my grief.

I warned of haiku.
The warm sun heats poetry
In the changes' midst.

Seeking open jobs.
God gives growth outside of my
Comfortable past.

Rippling waves roll in
And draw my mind to vision.
Pachomius calls.

Old dreams return in
The vacuum of my purpose.
Is this an exit?

Don't say I didn't give warning. Weather forecasts I saw during the week called for rain, clouds, and chilly temps. yesterday. I ran into Trinity in the morning to use the computers and get some job search books, planning to go home and clean my desk in the afternoon. Instead I ended up at Independence Grove in Libertyville walking around the lake meditating on scripture, my new life situation, and composing haiku.

One of my goals for the first two weeks after my black Friday was to spend time examining myself and listening to God for direction. I didn't want to leap at library jobs without some sense of confirmation that that's where I should be. My first haiku draws on Indian library theorist S.R. Ranganathan's 2nd and 3rd law of library science. The first is, "Books are for use." The second is, "Every reader his (or her) book" The third, "Every book its reader." I am personally committed to the idea that reading, and by extension any encounter with media, is [potentially] transformative. There are people walking about whose lives could be changed by an encounter with the right book. One of the joys of working in a library was knowing that I was contributing to that process. I was recommending resources for the library to purchase and trying to make those resources discoverable in our catalog in such a way that once found the reader could be linked to other resources that were related in some way. Not always on, say, a Tuesday afternoon, but whenever I stepped back out of the workflow and thought about what I was attempting to do, I took great satisfaction in being part of that process. Even moreso when I was a direct part of helping someone find what they were looking for, or what they could have been looking for had they known it existed. To zoom out yet another level, the thing that we encounter in the books, the music, the movies that changes and the encounters we seek through those means are tastes of the true encounter with God and at Trinity I was a part of facilitating that encounter as well. I want to continue to be part of those encounters, even if it means taking time away from the library work to get a library degree or if it means moving from the secondary to the primary encounters.

Another thing that struck me on my walk was the return of an old dream. For a long time I've wanted to thought about forming a semi-monastic community that would host a retreat for pastors and lay people. I sat on the shore of the lake and watch the wind blow in little waves and thought how I'd love to have a big house or a couple of houses on a lake shore where people could come for rest and prayer when they were weary. In some of the fuller pictures in my mind there would be a community like a Bruderhof that lived and worshipped there with whom the visitors could join in worship and for meals or not, as they preferred. Maybe we would live together but work in a nearby town or towns. It's never been a developed vision in my mind but it came in strong on Saturday afternoon. I'd like the community to be self-sustaining so that it wouldn't have to raise support or charge fees from visitors, though it would accept voluntary donations if people felt so led. Obviously such a place would have a nice library.

Just some of my thoughts from Saturday. The main thing I know about my situation is that there are opportunities here now, or on their way, that I would never have seen if I was still cloistered beneath Aragorn and the Argonath cataloging DVDs.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Update with Patrick's Breastplate

Quick update: I'm doing pretty good with the whole job thing. There are a few reasons that I think it was a good thing for me and I hope that it will be a good thing for Trinity in the future. I'll blog more about some of that later this week probably. Also, by way of fair warning, there may be haiku. My feelings are a mix of sad and excited, but mostly I'm just myself. I've got other stuff to think about.

You may have noticed that it is St. Paddy's day. The following is the hymn attributed to St. Patrick and known as the "Lorica" or "Breastplate of St. Patrick" in Joseph Sanderson's translation. Let's worship forever the God of Patrick's worship.

I bind myself to-day
To a strong power, an invocation of the Trinity.
I believe in a Threeness, with confession of a Oneness,
in the Creator of Judgment.

I bind myself to-day
To the power of the birth of Christ, with his baptism,
To the power of the crucifixion, with his burial,
To the power of his resurrection, with his ascension,
To the power of his coming to the judgment of doom.

I bind myself to-day
To the power of the ranks of cherubim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the service of the archangels,
In the hope of resurrection unto reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In the predictions of prophets,
In the preachings of apostles,
In the faiths of confessors,
In the purity of holy virgins,
In the acts of righteous men.

I bind myself to-day
To the power of Heaven,
The light of sun,
The brightness of moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depths of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The firmness of rocks.

I bind myself to-day
To the power of God to guide me,
The might of God to uphold me,
The wisdom of God to teach me,
The eye of God to watch over me,
The ear of God to hear me,
The word of god to speak for me,
The hand of God to protect me,
The way of God to lie before me,
The shield of God to shelter me,
The host of God to defend me,
Against the snares of demons,
Against the temptations of vices,
Against the lusts of nature,
Against every man who meditates injury to me,
Whether far nor near,
Alone and in a multitude.

I summon to-day around me all these powers
Against every hostile merciless power directed against
my body and my soul;
Against the incantations of false prophets,
Against the black laws of heathenism,
Against the false laws of heretics,
Against the deceit of idolatry,
Against the spells of women and smiths and Druids,
Against all knowledge which hath defiled man's body and soul.

Christ protect me to-day
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wound,
That I may receive a multitude of rewards.

Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right, Christ at my left,
Christ in breadth, Christ in length,
Christ in height.

Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks to me,
Christ in the eye of every man that sees me,
Christ in the ear of every man that hears me.

I bind myself to-day
To a strong power, an invocation of the Trinity.
I believe in a Threeness, with confession of a Oneness,
in the Creator of Judgment.

Salvation is the Lord's,
Salvation is the Lord's.
Salvation is Christ's.
Let thy salvation, O Lord, be ever with us.

Friday, March 13, 2009


The Crossing, a Christian Celtic/Folk music group took Robert Burns' dirge poem "Winter" and gave it a chorus and a melody that I love. Here are the words with the chorus:

The wintry wind extends his blast,
And hail and rain dost blow;
Or, the stormy north sends driving forth
the blinding sleet and snow:
While tumbling brown, the burn comes down,
And roars from bank to brae;
And bird and beast in covert rest,
And pass the heartless day.

"The sweeping blast, the sky o'ercast,"
The joyless winter-day
Let others fear, to me more dear
Than all the pride of May:
The tempest's howl, it soothes my soul
My griefs it seems to join;
The leafless trees my fancy please,
Their fate resembles mine!

Through the night, through the night
Through the night and all
Tho' all my strength be sorely spent
And stars do die and fall
To thee my King I gladly cling
When black winds howl and blow
When all is done and battle won
Let Christ receive my soul

Thou power supreme, whose mighty scheme
These woes of mine fulfill
Here, firm, I rest, they must be best,
Because they are thy will!
Then all I want, (Oh! do thou grant
This one request of mine!)
Since to enjoy thou dost deny,
Assist me to resign.

Through the night, through the night
Through the night and all
Tho' all my strength be sorely spent
And stars do die and fall
To thee my King I gladly cling
When black winds howl and blow
When all is done and battle won
Let Christ receive my soul

I remember singing that at the top of my voice while peddling my bike up the hill to the Welch's outside Northfield the night I saw Braveheart. I love the imagery and the determination. As it happens, I do also like winter. I brought that cd in to the office today. Mostly I was bringing in a bunch of Irish-ish stuff to listen to going into St. Paddy's day. Trinity laid me off today. I'm really glad I brought the Crossing in with me so I can listen to "Winter".

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Quote about Spiritual Disciplines

"Fastings, vigils, meditations on the Scriptures, self-denial, and the abnegation of all possessions are not perfection in themselves, but aids to perfection. The end of the science of holiness does not lie in these practices, but by means of them we arrive at the end. He will practice these exercises to no purpose who is contented with these as if they were the highest good. A man must not fix his heart simply on these, but must extend his efforts towards the attainment of his end. It is for the sake of the end that these things should be cultivated. It is a vain thing for a man to possess the implements of an art and to be ignorant of its purpose, for in it is all that is of any value." Abba Moses

Or to put it in other, more authoritative words, "I have desired mercy rather than sacrifice." Prayer and scripture and all other disciplines and religious actions are worthwhile only insomuch as they lead on to love for our neighbors and, above all, love for God.