How did we get so lost?

How do homing pigeons do it?  How do dogs find their way home from hundreds of miles away, and how do salmon find the creek they were born in after living thousands of miles away in the ocean for four years? How do bees tell each other where the pollen is?

The current hypothesis is that this must involve the earth’s magnetic field, even though biologists have yet to locate a magnet inside an animal or elucidate how living cells detect magnetism.  Even if magnetism is a key, questions remain: The earth’s magnetic field is drifting over a period of decades, and is hardly stable over evolutionary time.

Tiny tracking devices are available to attach to birds’ legs and fish’s backs, so there is a great deal of data, and yet we don’t know even the rudiments of how they do it.  Stars? Polarized light in the sky? Memorized landscapes? All these cues seem to have a role to play.

People seem to be much worse than animals with navigation skills.  But perhaps it is a skill we have lost with the habits of mind we learn in school.  Native and aboriginal people can still do it, even if they can’t tell us how.

Thomas Alerstam Science Magazine review from 2006. 

1 September 2009

Insight of Morning Hours

Natural inclination
The dove of our heartbeat spreads it around
The tears of rivers flow always
They are tears of unconcealable happiness
They are lakes where snow-white storks lived long ago
No south-westerly settles in the sugar-canes
And even if at a gunshot the clouds lift
And rise into thinner layers
Where the corvettes spread the sails
Down on the earth a shadow searches for its lost body
The weather in the valley which stole it from her
Thickens the mists that hide it
The lake’s treasures are restless, their fur rises
Seaweed and elemental matter stir in the depths
A jellyfish weeps for yesterday’s transparency
Which will return with the first fishing-light
Before winter sets in
Before anyone thinks of lighting the beacon
Under which a blonde woman considers her future
The lighthouse-keeper bends to her lips and kisses them
As mariners kiss their symplegades.

Andreas Embirikos, born this day in 1901, wove psychology and surrealism into sensual poems and a gigantic novel.

In the nineteenth century, intellectual rebellion against constraints of the enlightenment took the form of romanticism and transcendentalism.  In the 20th century, it was surrealism. 

2 September 2009


‘No doubt there are few positions in life that do not throw together some persons who are there by virtue of failure and other persons who are there by virtue of success.’

Erving Goffman

3 September 2009

Getting out of the way of the thing we want most

Hypnotherapist Judith Acosta, writing for OpEdNews, tells us that ‘pursuit of happiness’ gets it all wrong.  We can pursue prosperity or comfort or status in our communities, but happiness is not closely related to any of these things, and is, perhaps, suppressed in the attitude we adopt in order to ‘pursue’ anything. ‘Happiness is secondary to purposefulness, service, and love...It comes when (and maybe even because) we are busy doing something else that we love, giving something to someone we love, or serving some cause that fulfills the reason for our being here.

Drake Bennett, writing in the Boston Globe, reports on new research in economics which tells us that perhaps money can buy happiness, but only as we give it away. ‘Money makes you most happy if you don’t spend it on yourself.

4 September 2009

Physicist and mystic

Don’t imagine that science is antagonistic to mysticism. The mechanistic view of the world that prevailed from Newton through the 19th century may have allowed little room for miracles; but 20th century physics leaves plenty of scope for the imagination and is even suggestive of cosmic unity.

In the 1920s, Wolfgang Pauli figured out that electrons can exist in two states dependent on their magnetic orientation, and that exactly two electrons with the opposite ‘spin’ can occupy exactly the same orbital, ‘in the same place at the same time’.

Carl Jung was the dreamy, new-agey disciple of Freud who took psychiatry into a direction flirting with superstition. After divorcing his wife and winning the Nobel Prize, Pauli became dissolute and joyless. He underwent analysis with Jung, and the two shared views on life and metaphysics in a long and varied correspondence.

Pauli found a sustaining perspective in Jung’s interpretation of his struggles.  Jung was fascinated by Pauli’s dreams, which he declared to be rooted in the collective unconscious.

David Lindorff wrote about their relationship several years ago, and more recently Arthur I. Miller has come out with his own book.

5 September 2009


Familiar backyard
Blink and all is strangely new
Which do you prefer?

— Josh Mitteldorf

6 September 2009

“Labor wants also pride and joy in doing good work, a sense of making or doing something beautiful or useful – to be treated with dignity and respect as brother and sister.”

Thorstein Veblen

7 September 2009

What to believe

Stem cells can grow into new nerves or heart walls or blood vessels to replace damaged body parts.  Stem cells are in short supply in our bodies, because once a stem cell differentiates into a specialized cell, there is no going back

Cell biologists have been working furiously the last 10 years to create human stem cells.  If they could turn differentiated cells back into stem cells, then medical labs could take a few drops of a person’s blood and turn it into a magical healing elixir. This project is progressing nicely at Harvard, Kyoto, La Jolla and elsewhere.

I spoke yesterday with Dr Ilham Abduljadayel who claims to be 20 years ahead of her colleagues.  She says she has been making ‘ips cells’ (induced pluripotent stem cells) from blood cells since 1990, and since 2004 she has run clinics in several Arab countries, curing some people of degenerative diseases, and helping others to heal from burns or injuries.

If true, this is fascinating, and I would want to learn all about how she does it.  How do I decide whether to take the time to investigate her extraordinary claims?  I become aware of social cues that I use routinely to evaluate a person’s credibility, and I realize how culture-bound are all my skills in this area.

The world is full of fascinating and unexpected phenomena that can change what I think is possible.  I can’t investigate them all, but I can keep an open mind, remembering that all I think I know is tentative.

8 September 2009

The workers who laid the cornerstones for a European cathedral may have guessed that the construction would not be completed in time for their grandchildren to worship there. Are there any projects in which we have enough faith to invest, knowing that the first fruits will be harvested a hundred years hence? What would it cost to build a 13th century cathedral in the 21st century?

The stones for Stonehenge were quarried 250 Km away in Preseli Hills, and transported over land and water. The people that built the structure traded with partners as far away as Ireland and France. They must have had standardized measures and a written language – how else would they have cut the stones to right size and shape? And yet, archeological consensus is that they had no metal, but dug their holes with deer antlers and transported the stones over log rollers.

What would it cost today to cut 60 rectangular slabs of stone, 25 tons each, and erect them upright in a 30-meter circle, topped by 15-ton lintels? My guestimate is that it could be done for a hundred million dollars. How would the cost increase if you specified that the contractor was not permitted to use metal tools in cutting the stone or wheels in transporting them? This kind of organized manpower is hard to imagine, even with current population levels. It is difficult to escape the conclusion that social organization 4,000 years ago was a great deal tighter than it is today, and cooperation that much more focused.

The largest projects of our day are the infrastructure for the internet, and the electric grid of North America. But these things were built piecemeal, and benefits were realized all along the way. Putting a man on the moon or sequencing the human genome may be more comparable projects, and these took 8 years each at a cost of roughly $100 billion of today’s dollars (moon) and $2 billion (genome).

It is a weakness and also a strength of modern society that we are more diverse, less doctrinaire in our beliefs.  It is more difficult to get great swaths of humanity to sacrifice their labor and their freedom for an inculcated idea.  As science teaches reasoned skepticism to some, it offers ever better techniques of indoctrination and mass manipulation to others.

When anthropologists of 5,000 years hence sift through our artifacts to discover what was most important to us, what will they work with, and what will they conclude?

9 September 2009

A.D. 1258


2400 B.C.


Quote by Elton Trueblood     |   Art by Jennifer Hathaway

10 September 2009

A man has made at least a start on discovering the meaning of human life when he plants shade trees under which he knows full well he will never sit.

— Elton Trueblood

Dragged from familiar distractions

It’s not just pigeons. Most animals can find their way around, and can point toward home, even when transported blindfolded to a new location. Behavioral scientists haven’t worked out how they do it; but clearly it doesn’t involve the kind of geometrical calculation and map-making upon which humans rely. My hypothesis is that humans have a latent sense of direction, but it has fallen into disuse, as we have learned not to pay attention to it. Cues from our animal navigation system may still be available beneath the level of conscious perception.  (Perhaps we should be studying the navigation of indigenous peoples.)

Jill Bolte Taylor relates the inner experience as her left brain shut down during a massive stroke. Only when the centers of verbal reasoning were silenced did she have immediate access to another kind of experience, another mode of being in which her individuality as a person was recognized as illusion.

Most of us – including Dr Taylor – choose our safe, familiar mode of experiencing the world when we have the choice, but when circumstances drag us, terrified, into unaccustomed frames of reference, the discovery can broaden our perspectives.

11 September 2009

Have you ever said Yes to one joy? O my friends, then you also said Yes to all pain

Immanence, derived from the Latin in manere—‘to remain within’—refers to philosophical and metaphysical theories of divine presence, which hold that some divine being or essence manifests in and through all aspects of the material world. (Wikipedia)

A worthy touchstone to arbitrate between worldviews immanent and transcendent is the désir d’éternité, the “desire to gather together the scattered moments of meaning into some kind of whole.” According to Charles Taylor, who adduces this touchstone, only transcendence has a satisfactory response to its longing: personal immortality. What response, if any, remains for immanence? Must it invent comic masks to hide the frown of an indifferent world? Must it surrender everything to the river of a senseless time? Must it be mute before the anguish of the bereaved? 

In this essay on Nietzsche’s solution to the problem of death, Patrick Lee Miller makes a case for Nietzsche’s theme: that all that we value is made meaningful by the finite context of our lives:

Have you ever said Yes to one joy? O my friends, then you also said Yes to all pain as well. All things are enchained, entwined, enamored — if ever you wanted one time two times, if ever you said: ‘I like you happiness! Whoosh! Moment!’ then you wanted everything back.
— Nietzsche (fr Thus Spake Zarathustra)

Is this the ‘sour grapes ’ phenomenon, or ‘making a virtue of necessity’?  Yes, life needs to be finite—in fact infinity  is only an abstraction, utterly outside our experience or even our imagining.  But why so short? Would it spoil some vast, eternal plan if I were to live 50,000 years, watch many generations of grandchildren develop their own ideas, see the world transformed by unimaginable technologies, and humans evolve through many stages?  I must admit that a lot of things would have to be different...  (—JJM)

A moment is joyful because it is meaningful: being the first member of your family to graduate from college, seeing your newborn child for the first time, finishing the work of art that says everything you wished it would say, and more. But these moments of joy are so meaningful because they are moments in a narrative: a story of financial and familial struggle survived, or of illness and dark nights of the soul overcome...moments must be embedded in finite narratives, narratives of risk and therefore tragedy, circumscribed by death. To love such a moment fully is to love the narrative that constitutes it; and to love such a narrative fully is to love the world in which that narrative unfolds. If Zarathustra be believed, if he be followed as a prophet of immanent spirituality, we must love the whole world, with its pain, illness, betrayal, death. Perhaps this is a world without end, in which case it would seem that infinity has returned in an immanent form, but this cosmic infinity nonetheless maintains the human finitude necessary for our meaning, joy, and creativity.

12 September 2009

busy = numb

It’s the American legacy of Henry Ford: Human time is to be structured scientifically to best effect. We may have various opinion about what are the most worthy goals or the most promising paths toward those goals, but surely we cannot argue with the principle that efficiently directing our time in pursuit of those goals is better than thoughtless and haphazard use of our time.

...except that people whose cultures lead them to ‘use’ time are so often miserable, while cultures in which time is to be ‘inhabited’ support a deal more joy – despite the substantial increment in material prosperity that the efficient use of time affords. 

Somewhere along the way, ‘efficient use of time’ has turned from a strategy to an obsession, and we have ceased to question that it is good for our time to be tightly structured.

Experiment with less busy.  Endure the initial boredom and anxiety of a low-stimulus environment, and see if you break through to a deeper peace.  Re-sensitize yourself to the world of activity and creative effusion that is within you.

— Josh Mitteldorf

13 September 2009

Repeat after me:  Man does not occupy a privileged place in the Universe...

Before the Copernican revolution, the prevailing view was that this universe is our universe, with man at the center. How embarrassing that serious scientists and philosophers were so self-important!

But in the twentieth century, it may be that physical cosmology has made the opposite mistake: it is a matter of faith more than of evidence that the universe is homogeneous on a large scale, so that the vista from every vantage looks just about the same as every other.

This is an assumption that arose when Einstein in 1917 was faced with the formidable task of solving the field equations of General Relativity. The equations are absurdly intractable, and can be solved only for the most trivial kind of geometry. So he solved the very simplest case, and assumed that the Universe was the same at every point.

Einstein actually thought it a reasonable assumption that stars were uniformly distributed throughout the universe. Galaxies were still unknown! Edwin Hubble discovered just a few years afterward that our Milky Way is one galaxy among many.

For awhile it was assumed that galaxies were uniformly distributed through space; but then surveys of the sky showed that galaxies tend to come in clusters. Perhaps clusters of galaxies are uniformly distributed in space, then?  But no – galaxies appear to be hierarchically clumped together on the largest scales we can observe.

What justification remains for regarding the Universe as homogeneous? The 3 degree cosmic microwave background radiation is thought to be a fossil from the era of the Big Bang, and the CMB varies only very slightly as you pan across the sky. Whew!

But then, a few years ago, Kate Land and João Magueijo of Imperial College London demonstrated a statistical alignment of the irregularities in the CMB. They called it the ‘axis of evil’, and it has since been confirmed by other observers.

It’s not quite enough to send us back to solve those messy Einstein field equations. Cosmologists are still solving the equations they know how to solve. Maybe the keys really were under the lamp post all along!  Meanwhile, cosmological theory has become burdened with dark energy and other articles of faith that make the theory quite vulnerable and ripe for new ideas; but if Einstein himself couldn’t solve those equations, who are we...

14 September 2009

the apotheosis of cognitive dissonance

It’s not so much that we care for children because we love them as that we love them because we care for them.

Allison Gopnik 

15 September 2009

Do we dream of romantic love because community has failed us?

The couple is like the final stage of the great social debacle. It’s the oasis in the middle of the human desert. Under the auspices of “intimacy,” we come to it looking for everything that has so obviously deserted contemporary social relations: warmth, simplicity, truth, a life without theater or spectator. But once the romantic high has passed, “intimacy” strips itself bare: it is itself a social invention, it speaks the language of glamour magazines and psychology; like everything else, it is bolstered with so many strategies to the point of nausea. There is no more truth here than elsewhere; here, too, lies and the laws of estrangement dominate. And when, by good fortune, one discovers this truth, it demands a sharing that belies the very form of the couple. What allows beings to love each other is also what makes them lovable, and ruins the utopia of autism-for-two...

From flirtation to divorce, from cohabitation to stepfamilies, everyone feels the inanity of the sad family nucleus, but most seem to believe that it would be sadder still to renounce it. The family is no longer so much the suffocation of maternal control or the patriarchy of beatings as it is this infantile abandon to a fuzzy dependency, where everything is familiar, this carefree moment in the face of a world that nobody can deny is breaking down, a world where “becoming self-sufficient” is a euphemism for “having found a boss.”

— translated from an essay published in France in 2005 by The Invisible Committee,
The Coming Insurrection

16 September 2009

The Lovers (1928)


Ecstatic bird songs pound
the hollow vastness of the sky
with metallic clinkings—
beating color up into it
at a far edge,—beating it, beating it
with rising, triumphant ardor,—
stirring it into warmth,
quickening in it a spreading change,—
bursting wildly against it as
dividing the horizon, a heavy sun
lifts himself—is lifted—
bit by bit above the edge
of things,—runs free at last
out into the open—!lumbering
glorified in full release upward—
songs cease.

William Carlos Williams, born this day in 1883

(How would the practice of medicine be different if doctors devoted themselves to poetry (or art or music) when they got home from work?)

17 September 2009

The vanity of human wishes

Where then shall Hope and Fear their Objects find?
Must dull Suspence corrupt the stagnant Mind?
Must helpless Man, in Ignorance sedate,
Swim darkling down the Current of his Fate?
Must no Dislike alarm, no Wishes rise,
No Cries attempt the Mercies of the Skies?
Enquirer, cease, Petitions yet remain,
Which Heav’n may hear, nor deem Religion vain.
Still raise for Good the supplicating Voice,
But leave to Heav’n the Measure and the Choice.
Safe in his Pow’r, whose Eyes discern afar
The secret Ambush of a specious Pray’r.
Implore his Aid, in his Decisions rest,
Secure whate’er he gives, he gives the best.
Yet with the Sense of sacred Presence prest,
When strong Devotion fills thy glowing Breast,
Pour forth thy Fervours for a healthful Mind,
Obedient Passions, and a Will resign’d;
For Love, which scarce collective Man can fill;
For Patience sov’reign o’er transmuted Ill;
For Faith, that panting for a happier Seat,
Thinks Death kind Nature’s Signal of Retreat:
These Goods for Man the Laws of Heav’n ordain,
These Goods he grants, who grants the Pow’r to gain;
With these celestial Wisdom calms the Mind,
And makes the Happiness she does not find.

Samuel Johnson the generalist was the giant voice of enlightened reason among English men of letters in the 18th Century.  He became depressed, had no place in his philosophy for irrational sentiments, and fancied himself mad.  Singlehanded, he gave us the first English dictionary.  But Johnson lived larger than his legacy, and bequeathed us most notably the subject matter for the most famous biography in the English language.

“Always set high value on spontaneous kindness. He whose inclination prompts him to cultivate your friendship of his own accord will love you more than one whom you have been at pains to attach to you.”

Samuel Johnson, 300 years old today

18 September 2009

portrait by Joshua Reynolds

What would get me out of my house and into a synagogue?

I know what I am supposed to say: a short, well–crafted naturalist liturgy that draws on tradition while honoring science and avoiding supernaturalism; a service punctuated with minutes (rather than moments) of true silence inviting me to realize God rather than talk about God; an honest engagement with Torah that blends cutting edge Bible study (literary, historical, philosophical, etc.) with the mytho-poetic spirituality of scholars and mystics like Joseph Campbell; a sermon that sets out some challenging proposal, and which morphs into an open–ended and passionate discussion among the congregants; and music that is more than just entertaining and professional, but that uses chazanut (cantorial singing), Hebrew chanting, and Hasidic niggunim (melodies) to create opportunities for spiritual awakening and transformation.

That’s what I should say. And I wouldn’t be lying if I said it. But I might be thinking wishfully. The truth is, even if all this were offered, I still might stay home. I wonder if the reason Jews don’t go to shul is that they don’t want to; and that even if it was tailor–made for them, they still might not go. I may have simply grown too selfish for shul; too fond of solitude to tolerate community; too comfortable with silence to tolerate words; too taken with my own ideas and those of the scholars I read and study to entertain the ideas of others.

In short, I may be too full of myself to make room for others. I actually prefer davvenen (praying) alone. I will get up at dawn tomorrow (Rosh haShanah morning) and walk for miles along the banks of Stones River. I will talk with God, and sing to Her. I will review and give thanks for the year just past, and free myself as best I can to welcome the year about to unfold. I will, Shabbos aside, do tashlich and symbolically toss all I needlessly cling to into the water, inviting freshness into my life. And then I will go home, shower, and study Torah the rest of the day. My minyan (prayer quorum) will be the trees of the forest, and among my rabbis will be Martin Buber and Baruch Spinoza. I will be alone with my books, my thoughts, and my life.

This isn’t very Jewish, I know. And some will think it very sad. But I will be quietly happy. True, if a few people, a minyan even, wanted to join me, I would enjoy that as well. But all the Jews I know will be in shul. Somebody must be doing something right.

— from the blog of Rami Shapiro

19 September 2009

Asking for help

All religious and moral philosophies agree on the basics of human morality: help other people, don’t hurt them.  Why is it that there is so little agreement on the particulars?  If people’s needs were predominantly physical (food, clothing, shelter) then it would be easy to define what behaviors constitute helping and which constitute hurting.  It’s the complexity of human psychology that makes it so hard to know what to do most of the time.  An offer of help can appear imperious.  An honest expression of need can be disarming or even empowering.

Of course we can reach out to others by offering to help.  But ironically, it is often a more effective icebreaker to reach out by asking for help.  Offering help can make the other person feel beholden.  No matter how sincere the generosity behind it, the gesture risks a response of suspicion if the relationship is not already strong enough to support the expectation of unselfish aid.  Asking for help puts you in a vulnerable position, and allows your new friend to feel generous.  Of course, it works most reliably if what you’re asking is of genuine benefit, yet is easy and convenient for the other.  But sometimes asking someone genuinely to go out of his way for you can be a powerfully open way to begin a friendship, or to deepen an acquaintance.

Even better than asking for help or offering help is to find opportunities for synergy.  What mutual project can we pursue more effectively if we cooperate and coordinate than if we both went about it separately?

Someday we will live in a community that actually encourages human contact, with a culture that is more supportive of cooperative relationship.  Until that time, we find opportunities where we can to reach through alienating social norms and make human contact.

– Josh Mitteldorf

20 September 2009

Today is Peace One Day

Peace does not happen because we bear no ill will to any other person.  Peace does not happen because we are tolerant and forbearing. 

Peace comes when the deceptions, distortions and defamations that are used to create hostility are publicly revealed.

Peace comes when we demand an end to war.

Filmmaker Jeremy Gilley has done what he could.  Now it’s our turn.

Governments create war.
“It is the peoples of this world who can create peace.”

Ahmad Fawzi

21 September 2009

Mathematical horror show

The structure of a Bach fugue seems so tightly determined as to be inexorable.  The amazing thing is that within this structure he is able to create such extraordinarily human drama.

Two centuries later, in a very different style, Bartok was able to perform a similar feat.  His music also is tightly structured, while taking the listener on a satisfying journey.

On this page, Larry Solomon expertly pulls apart the Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta by Bartok and shows us patterns that make the notes seem almost mathematically determined.  And yet, when we listen, the drama unfolds with all the haunting drama of a Hitchcock movie. 

Listen to opening fugue of Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta as performed by Charles Dutoit and the Montreal Symphony

22 September 2009

Reading Sartre to a Pear Tree

When I was pruning a dead limb
from a dying pear tree, I thought
for some reason of a line from Sartre:
We must act out passion before we can feel it.
Though my favorite line has always been:
I confused things with their names: that is belief.
And the impatient sound the rain
was making on the stone steps—
the great embellishment as monologue
or messenger or megaphone—made me think
next of a quote from Rilke spilling and chastising
from the page: I won’t endure these half-filled
human masks. So do we mourn the pear
that never was by imagining Eve’s teeth marks
pressing into the white fruit? Or do we quote
a few last lines in the rain to a severed limb
and then toss it in the buttonbushes?

Doug Ramspeck

23 September 2009

Spreading the work around

Fancy a three-day weekend – not just once in a while but week in week out?

You may think your bosses or teachers would never agree to it, but the evidence suggests that employers, employees and the environment all benefit.

The four-day week comes in two flavours. One option is to switch from five 8-hour days to four 10-hour days, meaning overall hours stay the same.

The second form of the four-day week is to work the same number of hours per day for four days only, with a corresponding 20 per cent pay cut for employees.

Either way, the hope is that by shutting down buildings for an extra day each week, energy bills would be slashed by up to a fifth....

It was the crash of 1929 that led to the five-day week.  ‘Before that, it was common to work six-day weeks with 12 to 14-hour days.  When the Great Depression hit, the idea was to share work around to get more people into employment.’  [Rex Facer of Brigham Young University]

—from a New Scientist Article by David Cohen

I find this quite plausible.  Unemployment is a far greater problem than underproduction in the West, and vast resources are wasted in competing for scarce jobs, which is a zero-sum game. 

24 September 2009

Transcending self

Love is, in fact, an intensification of life, a completeness, a fullness, a wholeness of life...Life curves upward to a peak of intensity, a high point of value and meaning, at which all its latent creative possibilities go into action and the person transcends himself or herself in encounter, response, and communion with another.  It is for this that we came into the world—this communion and self-transcendence.    We do not become fully human until we give ourselves to each other in love...

I cannot find myself in myself, but only in another...

Love is not only a special way of being alive, it is the perfection of life.  He who loves is more alive and more real than he was.

—from Love and Living, posthumously edited from the writings of Thomas Merton

25 September 2009

“If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?”

— T. S. Eliot, born this day in 1888

“Most of the trouble in the world is caused by men wanting to be important.”

26 September 2009

The American Dream

Let those whose work is to establish a predictable stasis for themselves and their families toil on. For my part, I will strive to grow my own resourcefulness and the resilience of my community, to create a tolerance for ambiguity, and relish of an uncertain future.
— A.E.

I dreamed I was on a roller coaster, curled up with eyes gently closed. I opened my eyes and sat up to find the cushion to which I was clinging detached in my hand, my body flying through space amid the latticework. I awoke in the air, thrilled that I was able to dream this without the terror of a nightmare, only to find that I was still dreaming, and the house was full of children and parents who had spent the night spread out on my living room floor. The only bathroom was a construction site, through which we moved in twos and threes. Pancakes, anyone? 

27 September 2009


O Lord, of Thy heavenly bounties deprive me not.
O Lord, deliver me from the eternal torments.
O Lord, forgive me if I have sinned in my mind or my thought, whether in word or in deed.
O Lord, free me from all ignorance and forgetfulness, from despondency and stony
O Lord, deliver me from every temptation.
O Lord, enlighten my heart which evil desires have darkened.
O Lord, as a man I have sinned, have though mercy on me, as the God full of compassion,
    seeing the feebleness of my soul.
O Lord, send down Thy grace to help me, that I may glorify Thy name.
O Lord Jesus Christ, write me down in the book of life and grant unto me a good end.
O Lord my God, even if I had not done anything good before Thee, do Thou help me,
    in Thy grace, to make a good beginning.
O Lord, sprinkle into my heart the dew of Thy grace.
O Lord of heaven and earth, remember me, Thy sinful servant, full of shame and impurity,
    in Thy kingdom. Amen
O Lord, receive me in my penitence.
O Lord, forsake me not.
O Lord, lead me not into misfortune.
O Lord, quicken in me a good thought.
O Lord, give me tears and remembrance of death, and contrition.
O Lord, make me solicitous of confessing my sins.
O Lord, give me humility, chastity and obedience.
O Lord, give me patience, magnanimity and meekness.
O Lord, implant in me the root of all good - Thy fear in my heart.
O Lord, vouchsafe that I may love Thee from all my soul and mind and in everything
    do Thy will.
O Lord, shelter me from certain men, from demons and passions, and from any other
    unbecoming thing.
O Lord, Thou knowest that Thou dost as Thy willest, let then Thy will be done in me, sinner,
    for blessed art Thou unto the ages. Amen.

Listen to Litany of Arvo Pärt, performed by Hilliard Ensemble and Tallinn Chamber Orchestra under Tonu Kaljuste

28 September 2009

Impossible dreams

“One man scorned and covered with scars still strove with his last ounce of courage to reach the unreachable stars; and the world will be better for this.”

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, born this day in 1547

“Too much sanity may be madness and the maddest of all, to see life as it is and not as it should be.”

29 September 2009

        (in case you were wondering)

You are the future,
the red sky before sunrise
over the fields of time.

You are the cock’s crow when night is done,
you are the dew and the bells of matins,
maiden, stranger, mother, death.

You create yourself in ever-changing shapes
that rise from the stuff of our days—
unsung, unmourned, undescribed,
like a forest we never knew.

You are the deep innerness of all things,
the last word that can never be spoken.
To each of us you reveal yourself differently:
to the ship as coastline, to the shore as a ship.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke (from Book of the Hours: Love Poems to God)
     (Thanks as always to Joe Riley at

30 September 2009

Queen of Hearts — Archive of past entries. Bullfrog Design