Dancing the Noise Away..

“When the sun rises, I go to work;                                                                   When the sun goes down, I take my rest;                                                                                                                   I dig the well from which I drink;                                                                                                                    I farm the soil that yields my food.                                                                                                                I share creation; kings do no more.”

(trans. By Y.S.Han, in the Christian Century, 1927. This poem is recognized as one of the oldest Chinese folk poems, roughly dated 2500 B.C.E.)

Once upon a time, We were in rhythm, and We danced, We: the Universe, My Ancestors, and Yours. We were indistinguishable then and for a long long time: animated Starstuff at the mercy and the glory of Winds and Waves, Thunder and Moonlight. It was hard to say where You began and where I began and where Your reach ended and where My steps stopped, etcetera etcetera times a billion or two, such was the Eternality and the Encompassing Everything of the Dance.

We danced in the soil to the beat of the sun,

we danced in the rain when there was nowhere to run,

and we danced all night to beat of our hearts.

When we danced that way, we danced as One.

And then one of us rose from the common dust and the rest of us followed and one of us would get ahead and the others would catch up, pass by, get there first, not make room, “Move along now” etcetera etcetera times a billion or two and the Rhythms seemed harder and harder and harder to hear.

And then on May 14, 1801, it became Silent. (Pick a date, they’re all arbitrary, all contrived, all confusing- in fact it may have been a spring day in the 17th Century, or Christmas Day, 1822- the dates, after all, are part of the suffocating, stultifying, stupefying of humanly concocted Noise that hinders our hearing even of our own heartbeats.

It became silent and then..the noise, the real noise the noise of iron-slurried coal and the noise of generators burning and of locomotives and rifles and the noise of screams and steam in heat-searing shudders and the tearing apart of mountains and bird’s nests, of rivers and negros’ backs. And the dancing stopped here and there, then mostly here and there and everywhere..

Many of our moonlit sisters and sun dwelling brothers died under the weight, the crush of the discordances. They rolled over in sweat-wet beds and could stand it no longer and died of any number of medical maladies all of which were hatched in Noise.

And we descended into hell.                                                                               And on the right day, we rose again.

That day, too, is arbitrary and for many (most?) still unrealized, but on that day, a day of particular noise, a day of eye-burning smoke

and ice melt

and fuel spills

and fish kills

and land fills

and death knells,

the Music was heard, again..

By, some on the wind;

by others, on the waves;

by all with ears to hear..

in the beating of our Heart(s).

and some of us remembered

and some of those who remembered,

Danced.

And the rest of us will, too,

and then all of us,

because the noise of silence and

darkness of being still

not-by-choice

could no longer be tolerated

and the jagged edges of the dance floor need to be smooth again

because that’s what we are always moving toward,

that’s where we will learn to breathe again

one by one,

etcetera etcetera times a billion or two,

then to Dance.

2010, David B.Weber

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It was 45 years ago today: the Beatles on Ed Sullivan; “behold! old things are passed away; all things become new!”

It was February 9, 1964- a Sunday. 8 o’clock EST. And most of America- one of the largest viewing audiences ever- turned to The Ed Sullivan Show. (for my family, that was the CBS affiliate Channel 27- WKBN in Youngstown, Ohio. I include that information only to warn you of the abundance of minor minutiae with which my mind bulges and may threaten at times to overwhelm unaware readers. )

We had been hearing a lot about the Beatles (“Haha! Are they buggy?”  “What’s next, the Spiders?”). We knew, from the 6:30 Huntley-Brinkley Report (Channel 21, WFMJ, NBC) that these four had long hair.  It’s hard to believe that those two words, when used in connection with a male, were once considered oxymoronic. Long Hair..my goodness, what was wrong with us? Had World War II, followed by fifteen years of full employment, constantly pregnant mothers, and Senator McCarthy-shaped grey flannel suits lulled us into utterly unimaginative stupidity? Were these moments of making fun of long-haired boys and (horror of horrors!) long-haired men, the true birthdays of the really screwy right-wing in America? (not to be confused with the concurrent but not screwy right-wing Barry Goldwater, who, I’m almost positive, was also watching Ed Sullivan this night, without making lame long hair comments). Was it making fun of long hairs which evolved into the hating of gays,  lamenting liberated women, shooting gooks with glee, and being afraid of all darker-than-Caucasian humans?

“C’mon, now..here they are- they’re on now. Hurry!” we hollered from the TV room to the adults who were pretending indifference in the living room but proved by their crowding into the doorway that they really were curious-as-hell, too.  “Shhhhhh…here’s Ed Sullivan ‘blah, blah, blah…and now youngsters from Liverpool that call themselves the Beatles..blah, blah..Ladies and Gentlemen, the Beatles!'”

“All my lovin’, I will send to you..” Those are the first Beatle words we heard- live- in America. Later in the song, names were superimposed over the screen: Paul, George, Ringo, and (ohmy) John-sorry girls, he’s married. Really!

“She loves you, yeah yeah yeah..” would become the signature we knew the Beatles by that first year. “Yeah, yeah, yeah” sang kids wearing mop-wigs on high school stages. “Yeah,yeah,yeah” drew editorial cartoonists trying (usually in vain) to understand wtf was happening.  “Yeah, yeah, yeah” we 14 to 19 year olds sang with our 49 cent singles and 3.99 LPs, by the millions.

The Beatles sang happy; we wanted to be happy like that. We wanted to forget the drums of Pennsylvania Avenue from just three months before. We wanted something- anything, please God- besides another night of Mitch Miller or Lawrence Welk.

 “..and when I touch you I feel happy, inside; it’s such a feeling that my love, I can’t hide,

I can’t hide..

I can’t hide..!”

It’s odd now, very odd but  amazingly fun, to think about the impact the Beatles were to have on us after this night as we listened to each one of many (thank God for all of them!) new songs. Ever gotten tired of hearing Baby Boomers tell anyone who will listen where they were when they heard President Kennedy had been shot? Ask one of us instead where we were the first time we heard “Hey Jude.” Listen instead to us try to explain our first encounter with clean and sober consciousness-expanding as we listened to the White Album. Go ahead and giggle at our efforts to properly explain; we can’t. But most of us wouldn’t change a moment of those times, either. (Just for a moment, you 48-65 year olds, remember the absolute thrill- the thrill you have never experienced to that degree since then when opening a package of anything- the thrill of running your thumbnail down the cellophane of new and pristine Sgt.Pepper’s or Abbey Road or Magical Mystery Tour. Sweet, huh?) 

Wow! Forty-five years ago, right about now.

“C’mon, now..here they are- they’re on now. Hurry!”

Close your eyes, listen..hear them? Of course you can. I can, too.

Yeah, yeah, yeah..

A Respite from the Muck and Mire of Fundamentalism

I find the whole subject of fundamentalism tortuous. But I also know that one of the best ways to eradicate bacteria and mold is to expose them to the Light. So I will continue doing that, but I needed a break, and Graciel offered me one today with “What Do You Love?”at her blog, Evenstar Art, which everyone should go read frequently. It’s an antidote for many things. She writes:

“Today, I want you to quiet your monkey-mind. The part of your mind that swings wildly from one illusion to another. From one worry to another. From one judgement to another. I want you to practice focusing the part of your mind that leads you into made-up trouble on something positive. Practice focusing for one minute. Yes, just one minute. I want you to think about what you love. Not who you love. That’s another minute. This minute, I want you to think about what you love. Because it takes a bit of concentration and the monkey-mind must come to a rest while thinking positive thoughts.”

So here is my own one minute (or so) list of things I love:

*the golden finches which devour the sunflower seeds I put out for them this time of year

*the two soaring pines in the neighbor’s yard and the two single-note wind chimes that hang from them

*Wednesday nights

*the vultures at the lake, so crazily beautiful in their bigness and boldness

*sitting outside when the coyotes across the highway begin their howling

*the house in Ohio where I grew up. I walk through it frequently in memory

*Salem and Lola (OK, I’m cheating- they are both who’s to me, but since they are dogs I’m passing them off here as what’s)

*pick a beach, any one where salt water is lapping will do

*van Gogh’s “Starry Night”

*Madonna singing “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina” (Yes, I know, odd. Deal with it.)

*thinking about and writing Sunday messages

*listening to stories that have never been told before

*Rumi

*the Moon, as it rises between those same two pine trees

*reading (again) Matthew 5- 7, and 25; John 1, 14, and 15; Genesis; and Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, and Revelation (the latter three because it’s just so strange for them to be in the Bible)

Yes, that took me more than a minute. You have my (and, I think, Graciel’s) permission to take more than a minute with your own list, too.

New Year Promises (to myself)

 

To see, as God sees, I must quiet my imagination. I must see only what is there in front of me, and not what is being pushed in from the sides of my vision by others. I must see blue in its own magnificence, and not in the remembered shadows of a swimming pool. I must see you in the image of God and not in the reflection of myself onto you. Therein, are the visions of God.

To hear, as God hears, I must focus on that which normally cannot be heard over the din of human chatter and mechanized noise. I must hear the wind, and the cicadas, and the sounds of grass, in their symphonic harmonies. I must hear the sun on my skin and listen for my pulse. Therein, are the sounds of God.

To touch, as God touches, I must caress rather than grab, cup rather than pull, and learn of what I am touching rather than manipulating it. I must know that which I touch as a part of myself and not as a thing distinct and separate from me. I must be gentle in both love and fear. Therein, are the textures of God

To smell, as God smells, I must breathe deeply and discover the essence of the flower, the food, or the person toward which I lean. I must not evaluate, categorize, or criticize; I must seek the smells which are unique to every being, the eternal signature of their very nature. Therein, are the fragrances of God.

To taste, as God tastes, I must open my senses in anticipation, and not close them tightly in defense of memory. I must seek the ocean’s saltiness, the sky’s freshness, the kiss of winter cold, and the satisfaction of springtime rain. I allow tradition to act as a condiment rather than a definition, and permit even that which is bitter to be revelatory. Therein, is the palate of God.

I must run toward opportunities to experience that which is not-yet-known, with the same speed I move toward the comfort of that which is God-affirming. I must be ready, anticipating, and excited about the new, even as I am strengthened by that which is already known.

Rumi – Why I love him..

A Teacher’s Pay, by Rumi

God has said Be Moderate with eating and drinking,
but never, Be Satisfied when taking in light.

God offers a teacher the treasures of the world,
and the teacher responds, “To be in love with God

and expect to be paid for it!” A servant wants
to be rewarded for what he does. A lover wants

only to be in love’s presence, that ocean
whose depth will never be known.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I love Rumi. It’s that simple. I know, I know: Join the bandwagon. But there’s a reason bandwagons exist, isn’t there?

There are those men and women who are able to reach far beyond the superficialities of gender, nationality, or even time, and expose that which is in themselves in such a way that it is begun to be revealed in ourselves. We are probably not- not yet– as eloquent as they are about what we have discovered in ourselves, through their courage in writing; but isn’t it thrilling to know that what they have uncovered strikes a chord within us- one that we are able to begin to hear?

I love Rumi because he makes my body sing.

He tells me why I can lose myself in the magenta of a swamp mallow, or in the flight of a heron from one side of the lake to the other. I look up at the sky and know almost nothing about what I’m seeing, but I love looking anyway. And I share that ignorance with everyone at some point in the depths of space- we are all a part of a Mystery whose depth cannot be known, yet we are attracted to it, bound together by our attraction to it, and each other, and all that is.

My curiosity is insatiable. Don’t tell me to put a lid on it or tear away at the edges of it! There is Light there somewhere and what I know is that the Light will lead to more Light, and that it someday will absorb me and on that day I will be a part of the symphony and I, and you, and the swamp mallow, and the heron, and you, too, will resound eternally.

Rumi tells me it’s OK to think that way. I believe him.