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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Image and Resolutions


St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows is one of the exceptional holy saints who expressly defined a set of resolutions to live by. One of my favorites, of which he spent a great deal of contemplation over - to be sure, attempts to reconcile our faith with humility in the small things of the world. It’s a simple desire - one that needs no additional explanation. As we ponder the last remaining days of 2012, let us remind ourselves of this need to re-focus and re-prioritize.


 “Faithfulness in little things” is the motto I will always follow in my efforts to reach holiness.




To embrace my inner child,
                To read and pray more with Magnificat,
                                To cherish the desire for learning,
                                                To let go…


I recall some time ago, at a gathering of friends and colleagues, the request you made to me. Although the memory has faded and the resolution is fragmented with tiny little dust, the emotion it conjured up burns ever so bright. The instant, soulful joy of that moment is forever locked down despite my forgetfulness.

What did you say?

Something akin to encouragement in the time of frustration; that I should welcome and entertain opportunities to vent my thoughts to you.  Is that it? Did you really mean it? I can’t truly recall at the moment, so I’ll take it on faith.

Our ships passing...
As the evening came to a close, I prepared once again for the wintery elements. Fitting my wool hat snuggly over my head and ears, I marveled at how similar mine is to yours. Someone made a wry comment at the resemblance between the two (was it the hats or the faces?).  I smiled and so did you; that little whisper of kinship. As I got up from the crowded, boisterous table, not wanting to leave just yet, you said goodbye. My heart leapt at such graceful charm.

Once into the cold December night I paused - with every fiber of my being and all unified desire - I long to tell you a story.







“Do not depend on the hope of results. You may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself. You gradually struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationship that saves everything.”

― Thomas Merton




Wednesday, November 21, 2012

My Life as a Turkey Documentary

The life of jakes, hens, gobblers, toms; it’s a thrilling yet sensitive glimpse into one of nature’s most misunderstood and mysterious creatures – the turkey (Meleagris gallopavo).

Combining unique photography, dry swamp nature scenes, and insight from naturalist Joe Hutto, this PBS special is one not to miss. Gather all your friends and family. What a story. Just fantastic! Plus a great soundtrack to boot, including music from Cat Power, Sarah Harmer and more.

Hint: Ever since childhood I’ve been fascinated with these birds. In fact, I can’t seem to get away from them, especially after an angry one charged across a state highway road, and then dive-bombed right into the front left headlight and grill of my truck last spring causing several hundred dollars’ worth of damage. What?

Turkey boy, you’re a mean one...mister.





Happy Thanksgiving!


PBS Nature Synopsis: After a local farmer left a bowl of eggs on Joe Hutto’s front porch, his life was forever changed. Hutto, possessing a broad background in the natural sciences and an interest in imprinting young animals, incubated the eggs and waited for them to hatch. As the chicks emerged from their shells, they locked eyes with an unusual but dedicated mother. One man’s remarkable experience of raising a group of wild turkey hatchlings to adulthood.

Watch the full episode here


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Pro Orantibus Day


Pope Benedict XVI has set Nov. 21, the Feast of the Presentation of Mary, as a day to pray for cloistered religious. It is called Pro Orantibus Day (“For those who pray”). 

To all who serve in such a dedicated way,
you have our deepest gratitude and appreciation.

Thanks be to God.

Mary, teach us to understand the Brotherhood of Man
in the holiest of ways.
Teach us silence, when we want to gossip and slander.
Teach us to know true happiness and joy in life
through the presence of Christ
in our everyday life.

Give also peace of mind to the sick and suffering,
fill them with your loving trust and hope...
Be their true Star of the Sea -
a lighted ship on the turbulent waves,
set sail to our Father's house.

Most holy Mary, humble servant of the Lord,
pray for us.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Amen.














Resources: 




Saturday, October 27, 2012

Musical Tag Membership


acapella accordion acoustic afrobeat alt-country ambient americana autumnal balkan banjo beats bloodshot records blue note blue-eyed soul bluegrass blues boogiewoogieflu bossa nova brass cabaret calexico canada celtic chamber pop chanson francaise chicken music christian close harmony cool cool for cats cosmic american music country coversongs dance daptone deep funk delanie and bonnie doo wop downtempo driving late at night dub duo electronic experimental fiddle folk funk glam rock gospel groove guitar gypsy hammond harmonica harp honky tonk house indie instrumental irish jangle pop jazz kora latin left of the dial literate lo-fi lounge neko case new weird america northern soul nouvelle scene francaise nu jazz old-timey piano post-punk psychedelic punk r&b reggae rock and roll rockabilly roma samba ska songs for winding roads soul soul-jazz soundtrack southern soul spotify stax sunshine pop surf rock swamp rock swing traditional trip-hop uptown soul urban backcountry vibes...

Nothing means more than sex pistol bodies, or baby birches (hint Joanna), or behind the scenes, or...

the new (old) sound


Pledge your support here

Friday, September 21, 2012

Autumn Noir Music or All Good Things Come in Three

... the autumnal blossom filled with perfume. Let's breath in the color, let's light the candle...
let's respond to the bell...

Caroline Herring  -  “Camilla” from the album Camilla (Signature Sounds).

Read about the story behind Camilla

Tour: April 6th, 2013 Northfield Arts Guild Theatre, Northfield, MN.
Tags: Folk, Americana

Thank you Caroline... thank you for the musical  inspiration to believe...beyond.




Calexico -  “Splitter” from the album Algiers (Anti).


Visit the Calexico website to read more.

Tour: October 16th, 2012 Fine Line Music Cafe, Minneapolis, MN.
Tags: Rock



Cassandra Wilson -  “Red Guitar” from the album Another Country (Ojah Media Group).


Listen to the NPR Interview.

Tour: Select dates in the USA.
Tags: Jazz, Blues



"The Eve of Autumn", rural St. Louis County, MN





Saturday, July 7, 2012

A box full of memories or the "Thin Places".

A small box containing 1.5 cubic feet of space, filled with everything imaginable. Defined as a heavy duty box for such items as canisters, linens, and clothing, but really more suitable for personal items like tree cones, a rust colored bird candle holder, photographs of nephews, family, and old friends. There’s room for picture calendars of Mary, a crucifix, Howlin Wolf records, St. Jude candles, maps of Germany, and a postcard of autumn. There’s a corner section proudly reserved for poetry by William Stafford and the fictional book Our Lady of the Lost and Found by Diane Schoemperlen. In the opposite corner are small paintings and clippings from that semester when Art History 101 seemed to matter the most.  But in the center, neatly framed, are a lifetime’s worth of memories. 

A story.

              A past and a future.  

                                            The “thin places”. 





Ms. Schoemperlen provides a nice summer reflection below concerning the inherent challenge of knowing ourselves along with an insightful meditation on the human constructs “either/or” versus “both/and.”  It’s taken from the Chapter entitled Grace.

["It was not until I told my story to Mary that I understood that the hardest person in the world to forgive is yourself. And that the hardest person in the world to have faith in is also yourself. I am still trying to reconcile who I am now with who I was then. I know my former self is still there, waving to me through time just a like a phantom limb. I am still trying to figure out how I both am and am not the person I was then, the person I appear to be now, the person I think I am; how I both am and am not the person that I think I am; how I both am and am not the person I will eventually become. If who I am now is the ‘real’ me, then who was the person I used to be: an imposter, a fugitive in disguise, the out-of-focus shadow of my future self? If who I am now is the ‘real’ me, then who is the person I will be twenty or thirty years from now? 
My own penchant for order and clarity does not happily or easily admit the contradictions and the opposites within me. I have problems with paradox. If I am this, then how can I be that? When I was younger, I thought I could be only one or the other.  I did not understand how I could be both.

From a very early age, we are indoctrinated into seeing the world in pairs of opposites. Think of all those children’s books in which the world is so clearly and cleverly laid out in two by two: big and little, boy and girl, stop and go, up and down, happy and sad. Perhaps it is some unconscious atavistic longing for the simplicity of the old mechanistic  universe (where there were no contradictions and all mysteries could be solved) that keeps clinging to these tidy constructs: yes and no, weak and strong, give and take, love and hate, heaven and earth. Perhaps it is some subliminal collective nostalgia for the good old days of Plato and Heraclitus (before Einstein and relativity, Heisenberg and uncertainty, quantum physics and chaos theory) that keeps us stuck in the resolute land of opposites: body and soul, lost and found, life and death, good and evil, truth and lies.

Fact and fiction.
Victim and villain.
Alpha and omega.
Beginning and ending.
Virgin and mother.
Human and divine.
It is time now to venture out of the comforting land of either/or opposites and travel into the uncertain territory of both/and. Time to realize that irony is not cynicism, paradox is not chaos, and prayer is not wishful thinking. Time to accept the possibility that these, irony, paradox, and prayer are still points, the thin places, the perfect quantum qualities. It is time now to admit that reality is not simple as we would like it to be and that, given half the chance, it will indeed expand to fill the space available."] pgs, 262-263.



Upon first reading, I struggled with the book Our Lady of the Lost and Found. What’s it really about? Fact versus fiction? An essay or stage play? A singular example of true friendship? Anything? 

I put it back on the lower bookshelf rack last year mildly disappointed with what I interpreted to be a distinctive lack of flow between chapters.  Resolved to the “fact” that the book was less story and more history.  I let it bake in the oven so to speak - allowing significant time to process the “art of novel” approach. I did some research, read some reviews. Slowly, sloooowly began to understand context and juxtaposition - the relationship between history and fiction.

I revisited the book in May of this year. Mary’s month. This time around things clicked. By reading a chapter or two at a time, I ignored my perceived need for continuity simply absorbing the themes and the clever dialogue. All in all, a unique reading experience. Try it out, little by little. Anticipate the joy in your encounter with Mary.  For lovers of lists and philosophical musings as well.  


Resources



Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Independence Day Prayer

" Independence Flag on the shores of Lake Superior. "

Prayer with Our Lady... 

Instead of the growing number of political signs mushroom sprouting throughout the state, perhaps what we  need are prayer signs. Sacred lawn art if you will. Maybe folks would pause, if only for a moment.  A brief respite from the endless banter of the season. Maybe. I can't think of a better image than Our Lady of Guadalupe. Try planting that on the busy boulevard of life. Just sayin.


"No Slogan Needed."
It's 6 pm now


Happy 4th of July! 


Resources
Painting Survives Fire

Just a Few Duluth Flood Resources


General

MPR- Duluth 4th of July... Open for Business!

Northland Flood 2012

Lake Voice News- Last Chance Liquor Owner Recalls 1972 Floods.



Video & Photos



Miracle (Prayer)

MPR- Duluth Flood Photos Pt. 1.

MPR- Duluth Flood Photos Pt. 2.

City Pages- Ten Jaw Dropping Photos.

PDD- Flooding in Duluth & North Shore.


Weather & Climate


Definitions

MPR- Scientists will learn from Duluth Flooding

 
Climate Central- A Warming Climate?

 MPR- Climate Change & Rebuilding Plans

Climate Crocks-Duluth Storm: Yet Another Postcard from the Future 






City of Duluth

City of Duluth- Flood Information

Parks and Recreation- Parks and trails in the area will be relying partly on volunteers to clean up after the flooding. To help clean up Duluth city parks and trails, contact Cheryl Skafte at 218-730-4334 or cskafte@duluthmn.gov


How You Can Help

Contact list.

United Way of Greater Duluth.

Red Cross- The city of Duluth is directing donations to the Red Cross at 800-733-2767. Donors also can text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation or send checks to the Northland Chapter of the American Red Cross at 2524 Maple Grove Road, Duluth, MN 55811.


Tiny Wilco, opening set @ Bayfront Park
City Pages- Wilco Lend Helping Hand to Duluth Flood Victims.

TwinPorts Bridge Festival feat. The Jawhawks & Trampled by Turtles, plus many more!

30 Days Foundation Facebook.

Donate through your local church or Parish.






Natural Resources




Cyclists of the Gitchee Gumee Shores- Bike trail cleanup.

Superior Hiking Trail- Volunteers will be needed to assess trail conditions and help replace bridges. To volunteer, call 218-834-2700 or email volunteer@shta.org

City Pages- Lake Superior Run-Off.


Funding Available

Springboard for the Arts has made emergency funds available for artists affected by the flooding in Duluth and northeast Minnesota. Springboard’s Emergency Relief Fund will help pay up to $500 of an unpaid bill that has directly resulted from the flooding – for example, professional cleaning or replacement of damaged items. How to apply.



Thursday, May 24, 2012

For the Love of Children...and Elephants too

I'm sure to be chastised for recognizing a film that un-arguably demonstrates the oft-used pillars of indie-aesthetic and sentimental melodrama. But I'm willing to take that risk simply because I adore this film.  Owl and the Sparrow shines brighter and finishes better than most work coming out of the USA today and let's face it - we all need a dose of smile once in awhile.

Patience... an open-mind, and a willing attention-span required.



 A random film review captures the essence of how really precious children are:
["Stephane Gauger loves the children of his native Vietnam - all of them. Owl and the Sparrow is an unabashedly poetic and sentimental film about the hardships too many children face, and a compelling invitation to share his compassion for them. Working as writer, director, and cinematographer combined, and with a small crew and limited budget, one suspects Mr. Gauger has poured all of himself into this film, and I applaud his passion and accomplishment. The central story revolves around Thuy, a 10-year-old orphan who runs away from an abusive uncle who has taken her in for the cheap labor she provides, preferring to fend for herself on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) instead. Thankfully, Gauger spares us the uglier and grittier fates Thuy might well have met there. Nevertheless, the film conveys the atmosphere of the life a child faces on the city's streets with greater authenticity and power than any I've seen since Three Seasons (Vietnam, 1999). Led by a captivating performance by first-time actress Han Thi Pham, and Gauger's gripping cinematography, the film engages us emotionally in Thuy's quest, while reminding us at the same time that Thuy's is but one of too many such stories. I highly recommend Owl and the Sparrow to all whose hearts are moved by the plight of children at risk around the world. The Owl and the Sparrow is far more than just an evening's entertainment."]
May we be filled with hope that has no limit...


Resources:

Slant Mag Review

IFA Film Review



Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Masterton

Now that the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs are almost over we can all breathe freely and hope for more sportsmanship like play as the quest unfolds. But the dilemma on everyone's mind still seems to be - what’s it going to take to reduce the silly goon tactics and overtly aggressive body contact so rampant in the NHL? More fines, increased suspensions, anger management classes… what about public service work in Taiwan?

What’s your suggestion?


Everyone knows the prestige and glory that comes with winning the Cup right? Sure-thing.  What I’m really interested in knowing is why hockey fans rarely discuss the other key trophy the NHL gives out at the end of the season? That is, when it's finally over…over...overtime.  Often referred to as the comeback player of the year award, The Masterton (Minnesota North Stars) is given to the player "who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey.” Lofty goals aside, this is cool... admit it.

Ohhhhhhhhh, how I wish this honor was getting the attention it so deserves… unless your 2012 nominee Daniel Alfredsson of course. But boys will be boys. What?

Read more here.

One more thing - do we need really need to hear from GM Brian “the Brain” Burke again? NHL blogger Brian Stubits captures the moment:

[…Burke does make a pretty good point about something else, something I've been saying in this blog through the first week as well. It's a damn shame what's going on with all of these hits and suspensions because it's distracting from the actual games, which so far have been excellently entertaining. Of course, Burke had his own awesome way of putting it.

'This is like people complaining about the rain at Woodstock," Burke said. "Yes, there was lots of mud, but it was the greatest music gathering in history.'

Maybe he's righter than even he thinks. There was a lot of mud at Woodstock but that's part of what made it so amazing, isn't it? Maybe in some twisted way the nastiness is making the already-great playoffs even better, if at least only in the intrigue factor. When bad blood builds, it often does make for a more compelling series to watch.] 

Ummm, how long is it before the next winter Olympics? Anyone?

Resources:

Brendan Shanahan (VP of NHL Player Safety ) on the 25 game suspension.
Eugene Melnyk (Ottawa Senators Owner) on dealing with repeat offenders.
Mike Yeo (Minnesota Wild Coach) on the 2011-2012 season.
The State of Hockey.




Saturday, February 18, 2012

I Did It My Way or I Did It God's Way: My Morning Notes w/Fr. Larry Richards


Let’s always remind ourselves that we are a people of love.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation (i.e. confession) is not meant to be a shameful or judgmental chastisement by the priest but an experience of the love and mercy of Christ.

Although it may seem that sinful acts / behaviors are personal in nature and have no direct impact on anyone else, it’s important to recognize how seriously damaging these can be in our community. 

Any community for that matter.  

Violations of the Ten Commandments have repercussions- a ripple effect from personal to social. 


Each time we sin, we nail Christ to the cross. We participate in His death. But the whole reason Christ came into being, came into the world, is to save us from our sin. The closer we are to recognizing sin, the closer we are to Christ. The more we are filled with the Holy Spirit, the greater our awareness of sin. Therefore, every sin we confess to a priest is taken up by Christ and delivered to His cross. That is His true sacrifice. 

Stop making excuses for not going to confession. Really, just stop it. 

Let’s understand and pray about the fact that we are “...temples of the living God” (2 Cor 6:16). True integrity is living life each day reflecting on this hidden truth.


We are all called to Holiness... we should strive for Holiness. 

Drawing: Chia Yew Hang
The Examination of Conscience.

Remember, the greatest sin is our stubborn, selfish pride. 
***












Surrendering by way of an active prayer-life: Prayer is getting to know God’s will, not just simply rattling off a laundry list of our personal needs and desires. Communication in prayer is two-way. We offer, we petition, we praise, and then we LISTEN…. each and every day. We open ourselves and surrender our will to the Father (this is key – understanding also Christ’s relationship to God the Father). There are many ways we can do this – it’s about developing an active prayer life (Mark 1: 11; Matthew 16:15-25).

The importance of Eucharistic Adoration.

Psalm 46:11 (i.e.“Shut Up and Listen").

Best reference of the conference is St. John Vianney's The Glorious Duty of Man: To Pray and To Love,  from Catechetical Instructions (Catechisme sur la priere: A. Monnin, Esprit du Cure d'Ars, Paris 1899, pp. 87-89)



[My little children, reflect on these words: the Christian’s treasure is not on earth but in heaven. Our thoughts, then, ought to be directed to where our treasure is. This is the glorious duty of man: to pray and to love. If you pray and love, that is where a man’s happiness lies. 
Prayer is nothing else but union with God. When one has a heart that is pure and united with God, he is given a kind of serenity and sweetness that makes him ecstatic, a light that surrounds him with marvelous brightness. In this intimate union, God and soul are fused together like two bits of wax that no one can ever pull apart. This union of God with a tiny creature is a lovely thing. It is a happiness beyond understanding.We had become unworthy to pray, but God in his goodness allowed us to speak with him. Our prayer is incense that gives him the greatest pleasure. 
My little children, your hearts are small, but prayer stretches them and makes them capable of loving God. Through prayer we receive a foretaste of heaven and something of paradise comes down upon us. Prayer never leaves us without sweetness. It is honey that flows into the soul and makes all things sweet. When we pray properly, sorrows disappear like snow before the sun. 
Prayer also makes time pass quickly and with such great delight that one does not notice its length. Listen: Once when I was a purveyor in Bresse and most of my companions were ill, I had to make a long journey. I prayed to the good God, and, believe me, the time did not seem long. 
Some men immerse themselves as deeply in prayer as fish in water, because they give themselves as fish in water, because they give themselves totally to God. There is no division in their hearts. O, how I love these noble souls! Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Colette used to see our Lord and talk to him just as we talk to one another. 
How unlike them we are! How often we come to church with no idea of what to do or what to ask for. And yet, whenever we go to any human being, we know well enough why we go. And still worse, there are some who speak to the good God like this: “I will only say a couple of things to you, and then I will be rid of you.” I often think that when we come to adore the Lord, we would receive everything we ask for, if we would ask with living faith and with a pure heart.] 

Final thoughts:  continue to foster and sustain relationships with immediate family members. Tell them how much you love them. What truly matters in the end are the those whom we love. Please remain a people of love; but speak the truth in a loving manner. Always remember,  we are not meant to be judgmental of others...

***

Resources:


Meet Fr. Larry Richards




Thursday, February 2, 2012

On Passing


It's often with great surprise and affectionate sadness when we hear about the passing of someone we admire.

The word gets around fast.

            You can almost feel its powerful vibration.

A growing, intensified pulse of emotion that penetrates the heart so quickly one ignores the well intentioned voice mails, tweets, or causal conversations.
 
Death is like that… in its temporary vanity.

                                                Only Love remains.  

The truly under-rated and gifted Polish poet Wistlawa Szymborska (1923 – 2012) passed away this week at her Krakow home. 

Although my appreciation for her work blossomed in the last year or so, her insightful and intelligent poetry continues to be a soulful treasure chest worthy of continued exploration, even now at this critical juncture! I can only hope others will learn...

He
re’s one from my earmarked anthology entitled Poems New and Collected (Harcourt,1998).
 



On Death, Without Exaggeration

Photo: AFP/Getty
It can’t take a joke,
find a star, make a bridge.
it knows nothing about weaving, mining, farming,

building ships, or baking cakes.

In our planning for tomorrow,
it has the final word,

which is always beside the point.

It can’t even get the things done
that are part of its trade;
dig, a grave,
make a coffin,

clean up after itself.

Preoccupied with killing,
it does the job awkwardly,
without system or skill.
As though each of us were its first kill.

Oh, it has its triumphs,
but look at its countless defeats,
missed blows,
and repeat attempts!

Sometimes it isn’t strong enough
to swat a fly from the air.
Many are the caterpillars
that have outcrawled it.

All those bulbs, pods,
tentacles, fins, trachea,
nuptial plumage, and winter fur
show that it has fallen behind
with its halfhearted work.

III will won’t help
and even our lending a hand with wars and coups,d’etat
is so far not enough.

Hearts beat inside eggs.
Babies’ skeletons grow.
Seeds, hard at work, sprout their first tiny pair of leaves
and sometimes even tall trees far away.

Whoever claims that it’s omnipotent
is himself living proof
that it’s not.

There’s no life
That couldn’t be immortal
if only for a moment.

Death
always arrives by that very moment too late.

In vain it tugs at the knob
of the invisible door.
As far as you’ve come
can’t be undone.

© Wislawa Szymborska, S. Baranczak & C. Cavanagh


Resources:







Monday, January 16, 2012

A Reflection on Belief and Suffering feat. Jeff Tweedy

An excerpt from the Sunken Treasure DVD -  a tour of the Pacific Northwest back in 2006...on creativity and suffering, and the boundaries between artist and fan. I believe Paul Simon has been channeling similar topics lately.

Photo: BW Trout, 2011
"There are people that love me, and that's really nice...I feel that, and it's really nice. I respect it. [However], people mis-understand that relationship quite a bit. They don't necessarily believe in me, they believe in themselves....
Kim Gordon from Sonic Youth once said, 'People pay to see people believe in themselves'. I think that's a very true statement. One of the things I really think is going on there is that... well, it's just like with people claiming that a piece of music makes them feel [a certain way]. I think that the opposite is probably true in that they have that feeling and the piece of music allows them to recognize it. I feel very flattered that people put me at the center of it. I enjoy that, it's nice. But, I think I have to be really rational about it, and remember that it's really coming from them.
The thing I bristle at is the idea that artists or musicians, or people that are creative, suffer more than anybody else. I think that is patently false. I think that everyone suffers...I think the world is kind of built on how well you cope with your suffering, how well you transcend it, move [beyond] it, and what you learn from it. I'm no different from anyone else in that regard. I just try to keep moving..."
 The new Wilco album is entitled The Whole Love on dBPM Records. Go get it today.