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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Christmas Tree

In the evening we light the twenty or so candles on the Christmas tree and sit there in long periods of silence.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

At Midnight Mass

The priest stood there and read In Praise of Christmas Eve by Thomas a Kempis, composed in the year 1395. I was impressed. It was the joy that went out from the words. And perhaps the way the priest delivered them, obviously stirred. It was an overwhelming gladness that sprang from the realization of what happened at the stable in Bethlehem. You could literally feel the enthusiasm of Thomas a Kempis. He was so full of rejoicing that he could hold no more and had to pass it on to his listeners.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Deep Snow

The little Christmas tree I have set up on our terrace outside the dining room is covered and weighted down with snow. The tiny lights have to reflect from deep under the snow and the tree is leaning precariously. There are a few suet feeders on the tree like Christmas decorations that attract the goldfinches, titmice and now and then chickadees. How sparingly they feast.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

As If He Were Still There

Made my way back to Tom's house this morning. Delivered a note of sympathy from my wife. Told Alice how much I admired her loving perseverence during the long ordeal. A short embrace. Then I went to the cemetery and stood looking at the pile of earth with flowers on it. Numb.

Monday, December 12, 2005

From Tamara Deuel ~

Dear Charles,
It is hard for me to express the feelings I have when reading your poem because it is very emotional for me. A deep and incredible poem. Thank you sending it to me. I think that you . . .
I am sending you two of my pictures. They are not the latest but I wanted you to see them.
You are blessed,
Tamara

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Advent Music

Bach's Cantata for the third Sunday in Advent concerns the intense longing of an individual soul for the coming of Christ, quite in keeping with the Advent theme. That strong mystical German tradition: very personal emotions expressed in words we are not accustomed to hearing, but striking and captivating, especially when accompanied by the ingenious scores Bach has created. I am no longer "distracted" by the artistry but am moved by the strong religious impact. Every moment with J. S. Bach is a wonderous gift.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Christmas Tree

Bought a Christmas tree today. All the while thinking about living simply in a society that has everything. Almost any object that one can imagine is available and can be had. Living in such a society poses its own problems: the desire to have is one, dissatisfaction not to have is another. To be satisfied with owning little is an ideal to keep striving for because it frees me from so many things that clutter up my life.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Hubris ~ Knowing Oneself

When studying Greek tragedy I remember our professor telling us how the playwrights used hubris [arrogance, pride] in their plays to demonstate how a protagonist who displayed hubris could be led to his own downfall. The Gods would show their disfavor by allowing him to have even more success, then when he felt himself to have achieved everything he wanted they would let him fall and drive him headlong into on into his own undoing.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Why Auschwitz?

My Auschwitz poem that has lain fallow for a long time keeps coming back, especially now with Tom facing death. Was thinking about how to make the reader see the location from a new perspective, as a mountain. Tom always comes back to that topic. Talks of circling paths. A sacred mountain.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Iraq Quagmire

Agonizing, like very many, over the debacle in Iraq. Too, too many of our boys killed-- and Iraqi civilians: over one hundred thousand, they say. And then this: it has cost over $223,000,000,000 and climbing at a rate of $1,000,000,000 a week.
Defending freedom? Iraq better off now than then?

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Five More Ohio Marines

This morning they reported five more Marines killed in Iraq on a road patrol. It breaks my heart to hear that so many young boys, twenty-year-olds in the blossom of manhood, are being killed. Knowing about the background of our involvement, this is a sacrifice for having made a mistake. What a terrible blame our President has to carry.
On reading about these boys and feeling the pain that the parents and friends of these soldiers are experiencing I sat down and wrote a poem entitled:
Tribute to 20 Ohio Marines

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Evening Star

Stood at my window at half past five and looked out across the tops of the pines and saw the evening star, huge and brilliant, hanging there in the western sky.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Just an Orange

My wife has a bad cold. Is in bed. Yesterday I peeled an orange for her. In the course of the day she mentioned to me, three times, how moved she was by that gesture.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Two Kinds of Prayer

  • The submissive kind: accepting what comes as God's will. Willing to comply.
  • The insistent kind: begging to be heard, tenacious, falling at the Lord's feet and imploring...and not letting go until He hears.
Tom and I fall into these respective categories. Tom is struggling, begging. When I see how positive things are developing I think the Lord might just be hearing his prayer.


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Piano Lesson

While playing the piano I am finding out that the fingers do a lot of things right, if I just let them. That means that I have to stop thinking about fingering the right notes. Focus more on the beauty of the sounds. Maybe this is one of the lessons [for living] I should have learned a long time ago. Learn to forget myself.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Memorial Day in Germany

Yesterday was Memorial Day here and those soldiers killed in W.W.I and W.W.II were commemorated. In church we remembered them with prayers. The priest told of families that had lost sons and up to this very day they are psychologically broken because of that. Of course, I prayed for those soldiers together with all the people in our village.

Would I have shot at them back then? Over the years I have learned what it meant for Germans to live in a totaltarian state, to be terrorized, and to conform or be shot. God spared me the awful situation and the decisions one had to make, living in Germany during Hitler's time. That diabolical charisma. I often ask myself how I would have reacted.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

God Seeker

"No one can seek the Lord who has not already found Him." St. Bernard of Clairvaux
A remarkable statement. What is he driving at?
  • Is he pointing our a natural affinity that has already led us to God, perhaps in our untainted childhood?
  • Or does "our having found Him" refer to the time before Adam's fall? Or in a prior life? Does he see us as creatures of God, whose limited human nature can only search. Have we have already found Him in some prior state but forgotten or lost Him.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

That Autumnal Blaze ~

We feel we have You captured inside our churches. . . but, on afternoons like this, You have escaped our narrow limits and all Your glory is out there in the blazing beauty of our wooded Black Forest landscapes.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Music

Heard a song about New England yesterday on the radio. Quite moving, about fisherman on Cape Cod. For a moment I felt a twitch of homesickness. Would I ever be able to walk in the New England woods and see those landscapes again? Homesickness? Is this perhaps a longing for that other Home?

Monday, November 07, 2005

Pleasing to God

Reading a book about Francis of Assisi by Nikos Kazantzakis. He is portrayed as a merciless ascetic. Hammering down the body until it was ruined, rejecting every human pleasure. Is that the way for us to become saints? Francis knew a loving God. He must certainly have known he would be saved by that love, not by all such efforts of his own.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Mosquito

Last night awakened by a mosquite buzzing around my ear. Helpless to stop it from doing that, so I said: you can stay, but be still and I will be likewise. Feeling the movement of the air above my face I started to think to myself what a wonderful creature that was. Those tiny wings in movement, those tiny muscles. The brain, the vascular system, the nerves, respiration. And all functioning perfectly. What a wonderous creature, a cosmos in itself. Would it be right to destroy such a creation? How can I be so blind as no to see that magnificence?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Distractions

Been without TV now for the last 11 months. I don't miss it at all. It has given me an extra hour a day for other uses. And it is good not to have all those reminders about what I am lacking and what I absolutely need to be happy. My thoughts are not cluttered up by all the goings on. I can live in my own sphere without all the barrages from outside.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Recollection

During my morning walk [it is dark at 7 a.m.] I kept trying to push distractions out of my mind. After all these years why can't I keep fixed on God for those short 25 minutes?