Sunday, November 27, 2011


It's Sunday, the first day of advent.
The door is closed, street deserted. Grapes hang on the trellis across the whole span of the street.
Today I started reading a book,
With Burning Hearts, Meditation on the Eucharistic Life by Henri J.M. Nouwen, the book I just got from the Goodwill Store. The meditation starts with the The Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35).

Nouwen introduces his essay: "The Eucharistic event reveals the deepest human experiences, those of sadness, attentiveness, invitation, intimacy, and engagement.It summarizes the life we are called to live in the name of God.Only when we realize the rich network of connections between the Eucharist and our life in the world can the Eucharist be 'worldly' and our life  'Eucharistic' ".

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The hike

The day after Thanksgiving we hiked the trail behind the condo. There was snow on the ground. Our grandkids were all energy, climbing boulders, sliding on the light snow. The creek that runs along the trail was melodiously loud. The veil like ice formations with lacy trims and some with hanging icicles covered some rocks and tree branches that hovered over the tiny falls on the creek. (Unfortunately my camera ran out of batteries before I could take some photos of the ice veils.) My son and his family returned to the condo after a short hike while my wife and I continued to climb the trail up and up the mountain until we could view the lake. The round trip took us 2 1/2 hours. The return was slow because of some patches of ice on the trail.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Olive Oil
Ancient.     Biblical.     Contemporary.
It’s healthy. It has an aura of pride 
and stands next to wine
on the culinary table..
Ancient.     Biblical.     Contemporary.
It’s not an ornament polished
 in the month of November,
 not a candle lighted on special occasions.
Gratitude is a virtue. I consider it a virtue.
Gratitude illuminates. It’s part of the soul.
Gratitude should be in everybody’s heart.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Used books

In almost any town I visit I look at the yellow pages for used bookstores.

There is a certain feel and look of an old used book that invite reading.
 Some readers underline and highlight, write comments on the margins. Others keep the pages pristine.
 Mortimer Adler (How to Read a Book) encourages readers to leave their marks.

What do the marks tell about the reader? Do they convey a message like the earliest discovered paintings in the cave?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Great Expectations

It's cold up here in the mountains. The grandkids trampled on the light snow on the deck. There is new forecast of snow on Wednesday.

I'm reading and enjoying Dickens's Great Expectations. On page 39: Joe addressing the convict-"We don't know what you have done, but we wouldn't have you starved to death for it, poor miserable fellow-creature." On page 62: "My sister's bringing up had made me sensitive.In the little world in which children have their existence, whosoever brings them up,there is nothing so finely perceived and so finely felt as injustice." I didn't realize how funny Dickens could be and his keen eye for moral subtleties.

I'm sorry I' am clinging to the fall colors.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A time of reflection

We are leaving tomorrow to celebrate the Thanksgiving week up in the mountains.Last year we had lots of snow and driving was slightly dangerous.
(the photos were of last year's Thanksgiving week) I will enjoy the snow, hot cider and hot chocolates. And maybe a little wine. The joy will be the gathering of the family. The week will be a time of reflection, gratitude and silent prayers for peace in the world. A parting thought from the book The Little prince- "Goodbye," said the fox." And now here is my secret, a very simple secret. It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Love letters

I had a classmate once who wrote a few lines about pomegranates which I have to paraphrase-

my hands hold a ripe pomegranate,

luscious and tender in my mouth,

the red sweetness drips

from my lips, colors

my thoughts lost

in the new white dress

I'm wearing.

Do we still write love letters,

pages of longing and affection?

Does a few tweets of luv u's

instead of a full-throated bird song

express an intimate love notes?

Friday, November 18, 2011

What is art?

Ruskin once wrote:"What is art but praise."

When my mind is crystal clear I like to frame a space

filled with colors

-a place where a couple on any afternoon

with the simplest French expression of baguette, cheese, and a bottle wine,

express with their eyes, thoughts,and gestures

caring and faith for each other.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce of At Home With Books.

Our Rotary Club of North Napa has 2 community projects-Adopt-A-Highway and Adopt-A-Bike Trail. This morning 6 of our members picked up trash on a 2 mile stretch of Highway 29 in Napa Valley. I paused now and then to enjoy the vineyards and the hills. 4 weeks ago we did the bike trail.

The leaves on the vineyards and on the trees reflect the season. The air was cool and light clouds covered the sun.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Poetic imagination

I’m reading-How Can I Talk If My Lips Don’t Move-subtitled- inside my autistic mind- by Tito Rajarshi Mukhopadhyay. The author is autistic, a “young man whose verbal expressive language is profoundly impaired but who communicates almost exclusively by independently writing or typing his thoughts and ideas on a computer.”

I am fascinated by his observations and experiences. “I believed that if you cared enough to listen, you could hear the sky and earth speaking to each other in the language of blue and brown.” He thinks in colors-voices of colors. Shadows caught his interest and he asked- “How would a shadow tell a story without having a color of its own?” He observed later on- “I could now imagine how a shadow could silence the interaction between other colors if those colors happened to fall within the territory of its silence.” He added many sentences later: “My boundary between imagining and experiencing something as a very delicate one.”

Life is a mystery. The mind is part of that mystery. Reading the author’s narration is like walking on one of the terraces of the mind. I find his observations beyond the ordinary, the familiar- with expressions uttered by a poetic imagination. And I’m only on page 22.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A deeper life

I finished reading the book-The Orchards of Perseverance-Conversations with Trappist Monks, About God, Their Lives and the World.

I want to highlight one particular monk who stayed for 20 months then decided to leave. He said: "I decided to leave. It's very intense life. It might seem very slow, very passive from the outside, but they live a much more intense and deeper life than-at least I think-we do on the outside...It's a humbling experience when you are allowed to be in the presence of God..."

"Basically what I do now is I leave aside a certain part of each day to meditate or enter into silent pray without words-it's not a prayer of petition or thanksgiving, it's just to be present in that huge deep silence that is God...You realize that you are nobody. You are nothing. He is everything and you are nothing, and I think many people are afraid of that experience to feel that their name, their credit card number, phone number, all their achievements, their position at work-everything-is meaningless in the face of are naked before Him."

The author noted that there is "absence of bliss or extended period of actual contact with God." But then..."such experiences aren't talked about, because it's more prudent to keep silent. We don't actively seek the experience, for that is vain glory if not upright pride." The monk who left said at the end..."the best we can do is offer people a glimpse... it's up to them to deepen that glimpse into a longer look or an observation."

It helps me understand a liitle bit of what life of prayer is. And what even a short meditation means or what it should be. Or what I should do if I want to experience a deeper life.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Monastic simplicity

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce of At Home With Books.

These photosof Multnomah Falls were taken in 2009.

The leaves start changing colors and falling. It is a time for reflection on changes, transformation. I’m reading the Orchards of Perseverance, Conversations with Trappist Monks.

The author, David Perata, cited Thomas Merton who “outlined the prerequisites... for monks aspiring to spiritual life: recognize truth about himself-face his own false identity -means simplicity in the sense of sincerity, a frank awareness of one’s shortcomings overcome the temptation to excuse himself and to argue that he is not what he is-simplicity in the sense of meekness, ; self-effacement, humility

3.must strive to rid himself of everything that useless, unnecessary to his one big end: the recovery of Divine Image, and union with God. Simplicity takes on the sense of total and uncompromising mortification.

a) Of the lower appetites: hence, simplicity in food, clothing, dwellings, labor and manner of life

b) Of the interior sense and intellect-means simplicity in devotions, studies, methods of prayers...etc...

c)Of the will-the most important task of all.” It calls for obedience. Simplicity-”trustful obedience of a child to his father”. The obedience to the abbot branches out to charity towards the other monks.

There is a realization when the novice “begins to sift through his psyche and explore the region of his mind and soul, revealing that his true self is not at all what he perceived it to a person suddenly stripped down to nothing as a result of a natural disaster like earthquake...”

This is the challenge of “conversion of manners or fidelity to monastic life... a conversion of the senses from the material world to the’s not simply an exchange of priorities....such a transformation cannot be willed into existence by sheer thought or determination.”

Merton’s advice can be a guide to change one’s life, to live a full life... can be my guide...the emphasis on simplicity...maybe not to the monk’s simplicity but a beginning simplicity. I can practice charity in many different ways. Charity in the sense of respect and love of the others, those who are different from we are.


I was richer by 2 cents when I got home from walking to and from the library yesterday afternoon. I found 2 pennies on the sideewalk. Some say finding a penny will bring you good luck. Being able to walk on a cool day in the early afternoon is a blessing. In the Tao of Travel, Paul Theroux mentioned poets who walked and walked and seemed to find inspiration in walking. Some go on a promenade, other saunter. Still others go for a hike. The movement certainly improves ones circulation and invigorates the mind. Our club distributed beautiful dictionaries that have lots of pictures and illustrations to elementary school third graders yesterday morning. I find the words in this dictionary with very clear meanings compared to the Webster's Collegiate dictionary though Webster's may have more words. .
When you take a walk, carry a backpack and you may leave it outside when you go inside the classrrom. It's like a penny or memory, you may pick it up later from the park bench or the street on your way back home.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

New goal

The beginning of a new month, 2 months before New Year. It's a good day for a new resolve
Walking 6 days a week is the new target. It should help to have a "heroicaly gaunt" look-healthy and strong.It may take time and much more effort.With a new attitude the effort will be there.

Happy Halloween

It's midnight. My photos.Will they still count as Halloween? These "ornaments" are in front of my daughter's house.
The funny scary decorations.