25 June 2012

Baptism

As I went down to the river to pray
Learnin’ ‘bout the ‘rigional way
as Dylan would wear the starry crown
Oh Lord, show us the way
Oh Brother, let’s go down
Come on down, don't you want to go down
Oh Brother, lets go down
Down in the river to pray
As I went wadin’ in the river to pray
Preparin’ for the good old way
Could I see the Spirit’s crown
The Lord’s, leading the way
Oh Father, let's go down
Come on down, don't you want to go down
Oh Father, lets go down
Down in the river to pray
As I went swimmin’ in the river and prayed
Prayin’ the words for the good old way
I’m swimmin’ with the river an’ jis hafta say
Oh Lord, you’re showing the way
Oh Sister, let’s go down
Come on down, I can feel ya comin’ down
Oh Sister, you’ve come down
Flowin’ in the river 
‘n pray
As I'm swimmin’ in the river and prayin’
Bein’ 
‘bout that good old way
Dylan wears His starry crown,
Oh Lord, you’ll show him the way
Oh, Spirit let’s go down
Come on down, don’t you want to go down
Oh, Spirit let’s all go down
Into the river ‘n pray.

24 June 2012

Straight ~ Gay


Bill Moos, Western Reserve Academy
Spring 1968, by William S. Collins 
I love this picture of my art teacher, Bill Moos. Id made four frames and Moos had given four poses.

“Are you sure you’re not gay?” Will Dunklin asked me. He was paying me a compliment. He knew me well enough. He’d just been in our home for the first time. I bet he saw decorations and furnishings he liked.
How could he have such nice things?
Dunklins smart, educated, culturally conscious, and gay. He felt he could ask. I’m safe, my beloved is safe, and our home is safe. Maybe Will’s “gay” was the only answer he could imagine. We spar with and swap salacious cultural commentary. His laugh is as generous as his girth. Will reminds me of my boarding school art teacher.

Bill Moos was gay though he didnt actually tell me until we met in Manhattan in the mid 70s. Hed been my art teacher at Western Reserve Academy. He showed me more care and concern for my gifts and talents than any adult had ever demonstrated. I still love him and am thankful for his care and concern. He taught me photography and was responsible for my learning and doing photography at WRA and going on to earn a decent living making commercial photos.

One time I was in his apartment and he showed me a quite large fragment from a statue, a wing, like an angel's wing, which was hanging above a doorway.

Do you know what that is?
I saw peeling and cracked paint on a wooden hand-carved feathered wing.
No? It's a left wing.

It was from an Italian sculpture.
Moos laughed his barrel chested huge laugh, turned his back and sauntered away, upright, shoulders thrust back, hands swaying with his open gait. Its as close as he came to making social, cultural, or political commentary. Not that Bill Moos was shy of opinion. I'm certain he pinned the ears back on any adult who did not measure up to his very high architectural, artistic, or symphonic notions of what fine art is. He didn't suffer philistine fools.

He had many beautiful art objects in his apartment and home. Moos nurtured artists at WRA. In senior year art class we studied Heinrich Wolfflins, Principles of Art History. It seems I was underwhelmed with Wolfflins clear ideas for analyzing painting, sculpture, and architecture. Mooss comments to me (my parents) were,
Bill did not show any real grasp of Wolfflin's ideas -- especially in the selection of works to compare as the final exam.
I did not hear from him until we arranged to meet in Manhattan for coffee. Mooss teaching was not lost on me. I was taking photography up again. I was excited and I wanted to tell my plans. I see now it was my way of thanking him.
You know I'm gay?
He was complimenting me, treating me with respect as an adult. He is one of two or three people in my lifetime who influenced me more than all others combined. It never mattered he was gay. What mattered was he cared.

19 June 2012

List



In the very beginning there was 1Man, 1Mower, 1Customer, 1Yard, 1Day at a time.

“I am so glad you added us to your list!” she said.

“You’re welcome. Thank you for asking me,” I replied. “It’s great work.”
Inside I slough it off; people say a-lotta stuff, there’re so many providers, price is key, and, well, really some experiences teach to discount compliments. Yes, I like compliments. But part of my lawn and garden care experience is to surrender to the labor and the customer. I crowd out my inhibiting feelings and thoughts. Jodi’s compliment rolls off. I get on with the work I’m given to do. And we had a great season and, in the end, she was thrilled, continued to tell me, and we cultivated a satisfying working relation. I enjoy people telling me they like, and are thankful for, my effort. The labor is honest, I see results, the money is small but important, and I’m fed by the thanks.
The next spring husband Pat made arrangements. Later Jodi said, “I’m so glad you’re keeping us on your list!” My list?
Yes I’d list customers, one by one, over time, just so I could see and recall who, what, when, where, or why I’d worked. It’s an IRS record thing, each lawn and customer is my effort, my labor. Doing the labor well was another goal, being occupied, earning odd-job income, helping others, not “your list” morphing into the who, what, when, where, or why I’d worked “my list.” In the 2011 season this 1Man/1Mower had 31 customers. 31 was a count, an achievement, a boast of volume. List? I’d never thought of customers as my “list.”
My light bulb comes on. OMG, I have a list. And logical assessments and judgments follow in. I don’t like her. Who is he? What does she do? Who does he know? How did you learn about me? I know them? How much does she pay? For that yard! It’s an obstacle course. He’s slow pay. She forgets pay. He pays ahead, for a month! She adds tasks on at the end. He interrupts. They’re clockwork. She’s rude. He give’s tomatoes: yum, yum! She puts up privacy fence; doubles effort. She gives cuttings as thanks, grimaces when I charge for her add-ons. They have a beautiful garden. He pleads. She’s complains. He argues $5. She expects me to keep her schedule. He’s a sweetheart. Her yard is a hill. He’s fussy. She’s a joy. He’s indifferent. Her yard is full of tree roots. His yard originates my repairs. She tips. His yard is poison ivy. She’s cheap. He’s an old man. She doesn’t notice.
Oy veh.

13 June 2012

Mantra


A mantra is a sacred verbal formula repeated in prayer, meditation, or incantation such as an invocation of a god, a magic spell, or a syllable or portion of scripture containing mystical properties. I have a mantra. I’m a Christian. My mantra is a Christian mantra.
“Wait, Christians don’t have mantras,” you say.
Wiki mantra and the contents are culturally biased towards eastern religious traditions. I treasure eastern religious traditions and literatures. But the Wiki content is culturally imbalanced.
I attended a Benedictine Experience years ago. The retired Benedictine Abbot leading the experience said every Christian should have a mantra, a simple prayer of “your own composition you can silently repeat to call God to you.” Yeah; s'what I'm talkin' 'bout.
My mantra is three words. I say it when I feel the need to calm and settle myself or to surrender to circumstances I sense are beyond my ego’s ability for thought or feeling. I touch my Canterbury Cross amulet I wear about my neck. The amulet and my mantra are outward visible and verbal signs of the inward and invisible grace I cultivate.
“Come, Lord Jesus.”

12 June 2012

Taoist Tai Chi ~ 3


The Taoist Tai Chi set is done in silence. Silence is characteristic of the set. I’ve never seen or done a set while folks chatter. I like this absence of chatter. I like this quiet. It’s calm, focuses the mind, and facilitates community. Yet when there is quiet there sound is too. Sounds emanates from within the Taoist Tai Chi set. They emerge from within the communal motion. The sounds are not noise to be filtered. They’re in the hush of continuous movement in community.

My favorite sound’s place is in go back to ward off monkey. The movement a short backward sequence of three left, right, left, steps combined with opposite, right, left, right, raised arm motions.

In the contemplative Taoist Tai Chi set it’s a go back to ward off idea. In the martial cousin’s tai chi conception it’s a retreat to parry. It’s a backward movement in either notion while attention is faced forward, and it’s the only sequential backward cluster of moves in the Taoist Tai Chi set that is done twice. In either metaphor, ward off or parry, the notion is aptly contrasted to a chattering monkey.
In reality sound emanates from movements. It collects from the many moving as one. It’s perceived in the community of the many going back to ward off monkey as one. The sound is hushed, and as graceful and pleasing as my beloved’s heartbeat in my ear.

07 June 2012

Weakness


“What I’ve done,” will have to be good enough. “What I’ve left undone,” will have to be good enough too.
My statement is a variation on the hedonistic paradox. This technical proper name means that pleasant consequences are intrinsically good, that I’m motivated by what is pleasurable and the avoidance of pain, and that I’m not wholly satisfied by the pleasures my senses seek and perceive. So I accept what I have done satisfying my senses, but that, well, and this is the variation on the theme, if I’m honest, I really must accept what I’ve left undone, done poorly, and not done, and that, the pleasure I sought has past and is not found now.
My acceptance of the failure of my acts, i.e. accomplishments, is acceptance of my weakness.