October 26, 2008
Psalm 16~In Your Presence Is Fullness of Joy
Summertime Pastures Shelby County Kentucky
You Will Not Abandon My Soul
Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, "You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you."
As for the saints in the land,
they are the excellent ones,
in whom is all my delight.
The sorrows of those who run after
another god shall multiply;
their drink offerings of blood
I will not pour out
or take their names on my lips.
The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand,
I shall not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad,
and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.
You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Labels: Kentucky, scripture
October 24, 2008
The nave of the Arch abbey church of St. Meinrads Arch Abbey St. Mienrad Indiana. The hub of Benedictine spirituality in the United States, this combination monastery and seminary is a 150 year old experiment in community living. The Abbey Church with its splendid mural of Jesus the Pan creator is stunning. I have enjoyed coming here for the day and participating in the noon worship services here
From Conjectures of A Guilty Bystander, By Thomas Merton,OCSO (1966): This changes nothing in the sense and value of my solitude, for it is in fact the function of solitude to make one realize such things with a clarity that would be impossible to anyone completely immersed in the other cares, the other illusions, and all the automatisms of a tightly collective existence. My solitude, however, is not my own, for I see now how much it belongs to them—and that I have a responsibility for it in their regard, not just in my own. It is because I am one with them that I owe it to them to be alone, and when I am alone, they are not "they" but my own self. There are no strangers!
In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world, the world of renunciation and supposed holiness. The whole illusion of a separate holy existence is a dream. Not that I question the reality of my vocation, or of my monastic life: but the conception of "separation from the world" that we have in the monastery too easily presents itself as a complete illusion: the illusion that by making vows we become a different species of being, pseudo-angels, "spiritual men," men of interior life, what have you.
Certainly these traditional values are very real, but their reality is not of an order outside everyday existence in a contingent world, nor does it entitle one to despise the secular: though "out of the world," we are in the same world as everybody else, the world of the bomb, the world of race hatred, the world of technology, the world of mass media, big business, revolution, and all the rest. We take a different attitude to all these things, for we belong to God. Yet so does everybody else belong to God. We just happen to be conscious of it, and to make a profession out of this consciousness. But does that entitle us to consider ourselves different, or even better, than others? The whole idea is preposterous.
This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud. And I suppose my happiness could have taken form in the words: "Thank God, thank God that I am like other men, that I am only a man among others." To think that for sixteen or seventeen years I have been taking seriously this pure illusion that is implicit in so much of our monastic thinking.
It is a glorious destiny to be a member of the human race, though it is a race dedicated to many absurdities and one which makes many terrible mistakes: yet, with all that, God Himself gloried in becoming a member of the human race. A member of the human race! To think that such a commonplace realization should suddenly seem like news that one holds the winning ticket in a cosmic sweepstakes.
I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now that I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.
This changes nothing in the sense and value of my solitude, for it is in fact the function of solitude to make one realize such things with a clarity that would be impossible to anyone completely immersed in the other cares, the other illusions, and all the automatism's of a tightly collective existence. My solitude, however, is not my own, for I see now how much it belongs to them—and that I have a responsibility for it in their regard, not just in my own. It is because I am one with them that I owe it to them to be alone, and when I am alone, they are not "they" but my own self. There are no strangers!
Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God’s eyes. If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time. There would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed…I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other. But this cannot be seen, only believed and "understood" by a peculiar gift.
Again, that expression, le point vierge, (I cannot translate it) comes in here. At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes of our lives, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our own will. This little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty is the pure glory of God in us. It is, so to speak, His name written in us, as our poverty, as our indigence, as our dependence, as our sonship. It is like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in everybody, and if we could see it we would see these billions of points of light coming together in the face and blaze of a sun that would make all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely…. I have no program for this seeing. It is only given. But the gate of heaven is everywhere. **
** Conjectures of A Guilty Bystander. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1966. 140-142. Reprinted with permission of the publisher and of the Merton
This paragraph from Merton's "Louisville Epiphany" likely the most famous piece written about the city, struck me firmly... I feel this way about this city that has taken me into its self. I have made friends here and connected here in ways that have not happened in any other place I have ever lived... They don't call this the "City of Hospitality" for nothing. I have met so many people and without exception they have been wonderfully cordial and gracious. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the city as a great place to visit for vacation or to relocate
My greatest regret is not spending enough time in the city its self. I was downtown with a friend from Watkins church last Saturday...she had free tickets to the Imax there in the Science Museum
then had lunch at the very cool Lynn's Paradise Cafe
...(I think we saw Bobby Flay
there but Im not sure). I didnt make a huge effort truthfully because I was so taken with the countryside and loved my country drives and I was being careful socially.... It wouldnt do for me to meet someone that I couldnt live without... Maybe someday I can come back for an extended visit and I can explore more of the city
I have been hugely busy working at home on the business, there are hours of listening to David Geller on how his programs work, I have been packing and am nearly done. I have left out what I will need for the next week but soon it will all be whisked into a carton and onward home to the Ozarks.
I have been amazed at how things have sort of pulled together in the last two weeks. My time with my therapist has yielded some interesting fruit with regard to my issues with anger. I have spent a lot of time praying about my relationship with Woody and how I can better cope with the irrational behaviour that seems to make me sink into irrationality. Woody does things that make no sense to me and that have very large implications for my future. Woody doesnt understand this of course and even as we were planning his arrival here a situation came up that was a real problem for me and he did get that it was a problem after a while but it was a stretch for him. I cant turn off my feelings and his lack of concern for consequences of his actions make it unlikely that anything will change...
The stress that I felt at this potentially damaging issue and my inability to have any control over what happened stressed me out to the point of misery. I am unable to just let it go. I have had a life time of people taking advantage of me and my situation and I am fed up and not going to allow it anymore. Yes some things are unavoidable, and yes to be concerned over every little detail of life is a touch over the top... but for some one who became self directed only 20 years ago...( I was so mentally ill I couldnt plan a menu or make a grocery list and follow it through) every time I can take care of myself in the face of someone that wants my life to be crazy is a triumph...
Mark asked me to watch out for the smallest thing that shows me that Woody wants to change and grow...I will watch... and try to keep an open mind...
I drove up to St. Meinrads a few days ago...and I have spent a lot of time these past few months looking inward. This has been a sort of retreat, a rather extended one for sure. I know that I learned a lot of things about myself many things not recorded here. I was profoundly effected by being self directed self contained and leaning on God for direction and not having to dwell to much on the needs of another. This sadly shows me that I have failed in community living and hope to work on being positive and work towards my own goals.
I will never have enough positives to say about the people that I interacted with and befriended during this time. Even the neighbors in the development gave me food for thought. I will miss the peace and quiet and the sound of my own soul. I fear that I will lose myself again once I go home. I pray rather that this personal retreat will extend its self.
Labels: Dreams, Kentucky, Louisville, Woody
October 18, 2008
...Its Way Past Midnight....
Aloha, the state of mind that surrounds you when you are in love with your best friend. My kitties...maybe now Woody's kitties Makoa and KaNani sweetly sleeping...
a journal entry...
...there is a stillness in the apartment that amazes me considering I am surrounded by 50 other humans living in this building.I never hear anyone else... One of the joys of living here is the profound respect they all have for each other's space. I am free to listen to music or to silence... to play with Bella, cuddle her in my lap...Take her for long walks on sidewalks and golfcart paths...It kills me that I am doing things here that I love and likely wont be able to do at home. I am leaving this light bright and airy space for a cold dirty cramped house that I will be sharing with two cats and a human that will not want me there.
I am feeling very lonely and sad tonight. Leaving Louisville is surrounding me like a suffocating blanket. I went to church tonight and realized in 15 days I wont ever see these people again. It kills me. I have made more real friends at the church here that want more than to just converse on sunday...felt more accepted. One of the reasons I think is not having Woody around, not that hes unfriendly but I think I hang with a younger crowd when hes not with me... I dont know
I have been mulling over today's counseling appointment. My counselor has been trying to get me to see a couple of points. 1. that God is for me..(Zephhaniah 3:17)
2. my anger over my life is unproductive and sinful.(more scripture than I am able to list...) I havent been able to deal with it in a way that seems pleasing to God, my life has suffered because of this. I know that he is right about this in the sense that according to the Bible I havent been able to handle the pain of this relationship in the most Godly fashion...but I have run out of...I have nothing left to give. Woody knows this... that is why hed rather that I didnt come home.
Im not sure if anyone wants me home. I have had a few contacts from people over these past seven months. My neigbors stopped calling me. Its been 6 months since I have heard from anyone at Methodist Church... The RCIA director called once from St Bernards and I have been in communication with my Cannon Lawyer...my annulment of my marriage to The Engineer is progressing. By the time its done I will likely need to get one for my marriage to Woody... I will never get to the altar for the sacrament at this rate I will spend the rest of my natural life in Magisterial Purgatory...
My partner from the Nightshift at Thisplace has done very well since my departure we had a long conversation the other night... and I have gotten email from her. My landlord called wanting to know when I was starting up as he has a pile of jewelry he wants fixed...
Soon I will have to leave my Haven on the Green and return to the real world where some huge challenges await me... Im going to have to "Bring It" on a lot of levels...the prospect leaves me in a cold sweat...
Labels: Annabelle, Artisans Fine Jewelry Repair, Business start up, Catholic, Kentucky, Louisville, Marriage, Pen Pals
October 12, 2008
Isaiah 58- True and False Righteousness
How far to Bethlehem? The First United Methodist Church, Bethlehem Ky
True and False Righteousness
"Cry aloud; do not hold back;
lift up your voice like a trumpet;
declare to my people their transgression,
to the house of Jacob their sins.
Yet they seek me daily
and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that did righteousness
and did not forsake the judgment of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments;
they delight to draw near to God.
'Why have we fasted, and you see it not?
Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?'
Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure,
and oppress all your workers.
Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
and to hit with a wicked fist.
Fasting like yours this day
will not make your voice to be heard on high.
Is such the fast that I choose,
a day for a person to humble himself?
Is it to bow down his head like a reed,
and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him?
Will you call this a fast,
and a day acceptable to the Lord?
"Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry, and he will say, 'Here I am.'
If you take away the yoke from your midst,
the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
if you pour yourself out for the hungry
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
and your gloom be as the noonday.
And the Lord will guide you continually
and satisfy your desire in scorched places
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters do not fail.
And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to dwell in."
"If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath,
from doing your pleasure on my holy day,
and call the Sabbath a delight
and the holy day of the Lord honorable;
if you honor it, not going your own ways,
or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly;
then you shall take delight in the Lord,
and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;
I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken."
The hills a fire Trees just starting to turn. Kentucky River State Park near Owenton KY
Labels: Kentucky, scripture, UMC
October 11, 2008
Highways and Byways
Horse Fences and Sailboats, the sweet life in Prospect KY
I had a hard time titling this post. I have had another week of incredible sweetness tempered by the bitterness of the loses financial and personal, but only material things these are. I am constantly reminded that God is good and my intrests are at the forefront of His heart. This is a very hard thing for me to focus on as for most yea all of my life it has been the others in my life that have received much of the good and I the short end of the stick. this past seven months has been while not an easy time for me, a time to sit back and enjoy a respite and feel like the good is pouring into my life I shall ever be grateful for it.
Fields of Gold, fallow pasture and an abandoned tobacco barn or shed... near Owenton KY
I have been working hard on the business making calls and re thinking the whole thing. I redid the layout incorporating the many sugestions that I received from various sources and now have something that more resembles a jewelry store. With the huge hits that retirees have taken this week on their portfolios there have been questions about if I should open up at all. One of Woody's stockbroker friends said that if I opened today I would be shut down and out of money in six months. He could be right. If I was only dependent on the retirees patronage,
Bella vista is not all seinors anymore, of the total population 78 percent still work and 65 percent are under the age of 55. So I think that the pensioner issue isnt as important. I had yet again another lady from the area tell me that she has work for me to do, will I be open for Christmas? I hope so.
I have figured out what the barest minimum amount of buildout I would need to be functional, it only takes half of the money that I have left. Squeeking by I can do this, but barely, its going to be hard.
Autumn Pastures, Trimble County KY
I took Annabelle for a playdate at her groomer this week. she loves little dog day...A day when the groomer has only toy dogs for boarding and grooming. Margerite calls me and I run her over there. She also gets a "fluff and fold" and this time one of the girls painted her nails a pretty racy red...
With the baby looked after,I then took a long drive down Hwy 22 to Owenton, KY. Its a beautiful rural area full of horse farms and tobacco fields. We had gotten some much needed rainfall earlier in the week and the moisture washed the air making it feel smooth and less dusty. Because it was so nice, horses; mares and their foals were turned out into newly greened pastures and were playing racing around. I would stop and take photos of the leaves turning brilliant red, of the green fields contrasting with the black tobacco barns, and the golden leaves curing inside. I hate the way this plant kills people, but nothing is sweeter smelling than a cart of the freshly cut leaves that have been bundled up and are being trundled up out of the fields pulled behind a tractor or in the case of the Amish farms I passed, a pair of Belgian draft horses as golden blonde as the harvest they were hauling up to the rows of curing barns...
Tobacco Barn Henry County KY
The sun has a mystical quality about it at this time of year. It sheds a golden glow on the earth as it passes in the hours of the day. Green seems greener and blue seems even brighter blue. The Ohio River placid and low was a serene blue reflecting the few little clouds as they passed by... The sunlight cause the wavelets turned up by a passing barge to sparkle as thought they had been sprinkled with a glittering dash of starlight. Its as magical as a place and time get. Perhaps its my romantic soul saving up moments against the future that might not be so pleasent.
I have taken drives nearly every day this week which has slowed down the process a bit as far as working on the shop, but it has been so fun to find places that I havent seen up till now.
One bit of drama. I had left my ring that I cast at Conners with JC Inc the people that I met with last week that will be coming along side to help me. This ring I had carved and cast in 14kt clean scrap (yes you can use scrap gold for casting a new peice with the use of a bit of fresh karat gold and some chemicals with a high enough heat, I didnt know this until I did it myself...) I struggled with setting the stone that I set because the setting head was crooked and the stone was way out of make. Charlie offered no help as the oval was not in his program and he was bugged that I often went on with what I felt I needed to do regardless of his lack of teaching. Sadly I needed to learn this to prepare to take the JA test, and my poor showing on this was one of the reasons that I didnt press on with this program
Anyway I destroyed the old head that I had cast in the ring trying to get the slightly too large stone into a space that was higher on one side than the other. I have a lot of work to get this right but in the mean time I needed to give JC a chance to show me how they worked so I left the ring to be set with a new head that I had bought and a lovely white spinel that sparkles like a diamond.
When I didnt see the package by tuesday I was a bit concerned, but weds and thursday I was a bit distracted. By friday I was frantic. I got the UPS tracking and found out that the package had been delivered to a wrong address with in the development and the drive had put the managers name down as the signee and she wasnt even in that day. We had a mad scramble in the managers office turning the place upside down, still nothing.
I filed a report with UPS and spent a night wondering if I would be happy with a remade ring. No What really worryed me was that the people that I thought would save me with my shop had let me down on the first go round. How would I deal with my clients if this was their precious thing... I got sick in the bathroom and answered an ad on a online job site for a new call center in Bentonville fearing that all was lost...
Well in a bin of mail to be returned was the UPS package. It had been mis-adressed and my name was not on the label, so no one knew who to give the little box to. As I pulled the ring out of the wrapping tissue I felt not only a huge sense of relief that the lost was found but that the folks at JC hadnt let me down. I may still need to take that job for a bit, we shall see how things are in Arkansas with the economy, but I know that I will get my shop open eventually...
In the mean time I have this little reminder that I can do it...with a little help from my friends...
The symbol of a new future, The lost and found ring...
Labels: Annabelle, Artisans Fine Jewelry Repair, Bella Vista, Business start up, Conner School, Kentucky, Louisville
October 05, 2008
Psalm 73~Who Have I But You
The Parsons Cornfield...taken on the grounds of the parsonage of the First Baptist Church, Paint Lick Kentucky
Truly God is good to Israel,
To such as are pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled;
My steps had nearly slipped.
For I was envious of the boastful,
When I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
For there are no pangs in their death,
But their strength is firm.
They are not in trouble as other men,
Nor are they plagued like other men.
Therefore pride serves as their necklace;
Violence covers them like a garment.
Their eyes bulge with abundance;
They have more than heart could wish.
They scoff and speak wickedly concerning oppression;
They speak loftily.
They set their mouth against the heavens,
And their tongue walks through the earth.
Therefore his people return here,
And waters of a full cup are drained by them.
And they say, "How does God know?
And is there knowledge in the Most High?"
Behold, these are the ungodly,
Who are always at ease;
They increase in riches.
Surely I have cleansed my heart in vain,
And washed my hands in innocence.
For all day long I have been plagued,
And chastened every morning.
If I had said, "I will speak thus,"
Behold, I would have been untrue to the generation of Your children.
When I thought how to understand this,
It was too painful for me--
Until I went into the sanctuary of God;
Then I understood their end.
Surely You set them in slippery places;
You cast them down to destruction.
Oh, how they are brought to desolation, as in a moment!
They are utterly consumed with terrors.
As a dream when one awakes,
So, Lord, when You awake,
You shall despise their image.
Thus my heart was grieved,
And I was vexed in my mind.
I was so foolish and ignorant;
I was like a beast before You.
Nevertheless I am continually with You;
You hold me by my right hand.
You will guide me with Your counsel,
And afterward receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart fail;
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
For indeed, those who are far from You shall perish;
You have destroyed all those who desert You for harlotry.
But it is good for me to draw near to God;
I have put my trust in the Lord God,
That I may declare all Your works.
Labels: Kentucky, scripture
October 03, 2008
The Bend In The River
The bend in the mighty Ohio near Warsaw KY
The weather doesnt get much better than it has been these last few days. Brilliant blue skies and cool nights with warm sunny days. My walks with Annabelle in the mid mornings are the higlight of my days. I will be able to walk her at home but there are not the blocks and block of sidewalks and the golf cart paths that surround Indian Springs. I will have a hilly gravel strew road that is more difficult and the least bit of wet weather makes them impossible for me and my long coated little friend. But this is the way we need to go at least for now.
I have been working on my business plan several hours a day. My new computer is great and I ordered my accounting softwear from industry business guru David Geller. He asked me a lot of very pointed questions one of them being, what was I going to do about all of the various types of work that I am not able to do on my own...such as work in platinum a highly specialized side of the trade that requires a compleatly separate set up, or unusual antiques that require knowlegable handling. David directed me to a firm located near Cincinatti. I drove up there this week.
I was warmly received by the CEO of what may be the largest Trade Shop I have ever heard of. Over 100 jewelers and related trades people doing work for jewelry stores from accross the country. I saw detailed security measures and an operation that seemed to me to be efficient and very very professional. I should have no misgivings about sending them any work I cant handle on my own.
I told the new accounts rep that "if I looked like a woman that has been given her life back... I am." Truth is my dream was headed for a brick wall. The people I met with said that I was a bold person to continue with my quest in the face of the Conner's debacle and the fact that no one with so little experience could be expected to do what I want to do well at this point in their carrer. It would be like having a first year piano student play Beethoven's Piano Concerto with the LA Philharmonic Orchestra. Its not my fault that I am where I am I just need to practice and expand my abilities, this will allow me to do that while opening my business and starting the cash flow forward.
This has changed the direction of my business plan. Rather than focus on just repair and not take custom work,I am going to focus on custom orders, and to do that I need to build out and make the shop look good so people will have confidence in spending their hard won money there. My casting finishing and setting skills are good so I feel good about the plan. I can buy waxes very cheaply and if the customer brings their own gold or silver I can do a special order rather inexpensively for the customer yet have a generous margin to support myself... I wont get rich, but I will be independent and that is what I am looking for.
Many people have asked me if I though that with the recent economic turmoil did I think that this was really the time to start a business. I think its the best time. With business down vendors are more willing to come down on prices and work hard to earn my business and my trust. My future customers want to fix their precious things because buying new is too expensive. Also when times are hard sentiment becomes more important. Grandma's wedding ring becomes the ring given to her grandson's new bride, or family jewelry or watches are refirbished and become cherished gifts.
What many people dont realize is that jewelers and jewelry stores thrived during the Great Depression and WWII. Oh, things were not as extravigant as perhaps things are now. But the bread and butter of any shop is the same today as it was 75 years ago. Nice gifts, that celebrated special occasions... milestones in peoples lives. Wedding jewelry, Anniversary gifts and up until the advent of the specialty/Big Box/Discounter, "Table Top" China, Silver, and Crystalware... My mother told me of what an event it was in her family when she as a high school seinor went to the local jewelry store and registered her patterns and had lunch with her mother. A rite of passage we dont have today. She never got one of those peices, but I still have the tiny silver serving spoon pin she received as a gift....
Many of the super jewelers of today got their start as small family shops founded prior or just after WWII. Talk about a struggle! Every store that I have had the privilege to spend a lot of time in has a story that tells of risk taking and courage... and yes a bit of sacrifice for the family, but it was worth it and I am willing to take on the challenge, to gain the independence that I feel I need to be the person God means me to be.
There will be bends in the river...places where I cant see the way before me. I am trying to learn to trust God every step of the way. He makes a way for me everytime, just in time in ways I never expect.
The Great Stream The Ohio River near Warsaw KY
Labels: Artisans Fine Jewelry Repair, Business start up, IN, Kentucky, Louisville