Saturday, February 27, 2010

after breakfast

At the moment I find it hard to focus my attention on one thing. Witness this picture of our kitchen table this morning, which shows the scattered nature of my thoughts, running from an attempt to 're-imagine Christianity' to the Imam at the Bay Mosque, subject of one of Semezdin Mehmedinovic's short essay/poems, through Tipielo's painting of a Sunday stroll in the 1790's, Shaun Tan's wonderfully weird and holy suburbs, and, bathed in light at the bank of the table, wonderful Taha Muhammad Ali. I actually like the web of thoughts that form on long mornings like this (especially when I can go and chase the thoughts through the bookshelf rather than on the web).

A couple of choice quotes for further thought:
'For Jesus , at-one-ment was not only being at-one with the glory of the stars, or the first daffodil in the spring, or a baby's laugh. He was also at-one with all the pain and suffering that ever was, is, or will be. On the cross Jesus was at-one with the young boy with cancer, the young mother haemorrhaging, the raped girl... We can withdraw, even in our prayers, from the intensity of suffering. Jesus, on the cross, experienced it all. When I touch the small cross I wear, this, then, is the meaning of the symbol.'
Madeleine L'Engle, quoted in Re-Enchanting Christianity by Dave Tomlinson.

'3) I first saw this man on television: I trembled at the abundance of spiritual power by which he gathered sorrow into himself; he seems younger to me now, as he nears the table, putting down a pack of cigarettes, holding an ashtray, offering me one and saying: "I liked tobacco once, then I stopped, and now I don't smoke anymore." He speaks softly. When I speak softly, my voice becomes hoarse because of the cigarettes. I stare at him attentively, searching for a sign to reveal the power that distinguishes him. We speak; he says: "People can be divided into the stronger and the weaker, but you can't chastise the weak. There are reasons to justify their weakness: physical constitution for instance. And a lot of other reasons. I could never slaughter a sacrificial lamb, a kurban, with my own hands, nor would I ever have the strength to do such a thing. So be it." Pointing out his own weakness, he shattered my naive conviction that signs of his strength could be seized at a glance.'
from the poem/essay Imam Bey's Mosque by Semezdin Mehmedinovic

And here is my own copy of one of the figures from the Tiepolo painting. Here he looks as though he is hovering, about to take his first step. In the original he is much more clearly in mid-stride. Even though the figures are fantastical, I love the every day-ness of strolling in the rain.

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