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Apr 30, 2023Liked by Martin Shaw

Thank you, Martin.

This week I was speaking to my priest of the invasiveness of tech and how everything feels suspicious and distrustful. He shared w me a “house Blessing” story of Elder Pophyrios which I would like to share here with you and your readers:

In the old days, during the feast of the Theophany, the elder would sanctify homes with holy water. He would knock on the doors of the apartments, they would open and he walked in singing "In Jordan, You were baptized O Lord...."

He accidentally stepped into a brothel and not realizing it continued sprinkling holy water, burning incense and singing, “In Jordan, You were baptized O Lord...." He then invited the girls to come up and kiss the cross. He was chastised by the Madame, that they should not kiss the cross. She even suggested that she should, and that they should not.

His response is really interesting. He said he is not to know who should or should not, and he invited the girls to kiss the cross. He remarked, “They looked at me, wondering. Something took a hold of their tired souls. Lastly I told them: I rejoice that God has made me worthy to come here today to sanctify you!”

I mention the story because we are all living in this broken house but “our tired souls” will not rest and are waiting for “something” to take hold. This Saintly Elder doesn’t judge the women or focus on the broken house (actually doesn’t even seem see it!) but rather, invites all tired souls to participate with a kiss, in songs of joy, sweet perfume of incense, and sprinkling of holy water.

“Reverie leads to participation.”

Thank you,

Kathryn

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Fabulous story, I am the better for reading it!

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Lovely story.

Thanks for sharing.

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Every morning, ( weather permitting) I go jogging, and I have an eclectic playlist from Cesaria Evora to Johnny Cash to byzantine chanting. But my first song in the playlist never changes. It’s the Blind Boys of Alabama singing, Amazing Grace, but what is unique about it is that they do it to the melody of House of the Rising Sun. This morning as I’m heading out, I am reminded of this and its relationship to this story…

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From all your writings and speakings that I've engaged with I think you have too much respect for and feel the importance of the unknown the unthought the uncertain the unsaid to offer an absolute opinion on the days proceedings.

It feels as though yours and our stories and myths and continual wanderings in the dark with other beings of vulnerability and agency are rich enough for our humbling bumbling relational reconnections to mutter wisdoms yet to arrive, from both the decomposing ground we live within as well as the algorithmic detonating device in my hand..........

Mary Harrington and Paul Kingsnorth do say interesting things, but seemingly say them from a place of sure footed knowing............?

You and the myths and tales you share, quite deliberately I'm sure, speak from an apophatic liminal space and surely that is where we still are. (Yet we don't respond to it very well of course)

Let us smell this loamy dark remattering for a while longer.......Our certainties surely need a while longer with the worms.

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Thank you Graham, appreciated. Yes, I think that's a good read on how I experience things.

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Apr 30, 2023Liked by Martin Shaw

Dare alla luce is the common Italian term for to give birth. But the literal translation is to give to the light or to bring the light. This is what dreamers do. And they usually do it with a drink in one hand. The dreamers imagine beauty.

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Only last night on tour in Ottawa, I remember saying ' a seed of light grew in the croft of her hips'. Birthing light. Love it

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You are dream seeding. A farmer of the night who casts his dream seeds in the darkness to bring forth the light from the the deep ancient soil within us.

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Apr 30, 2023Liked by Martin Shaw

Oh Martin please don’t ever bend your spine or crack your back, as Cyrano de Bergerac might express it, to curry favour with those who ask for more punditry. To thine own soul be true. Romantic dreamers always ask more of life, seek more to life, than the thinkers who think a thought like a fence and move on. Writing this suddenly makes me perceive these thinkers as the jet-setters of this world, who always flurry up the leisurely, earth-loving pace of the questing saunterers, or pilgrims or mystics or saints. Dreamers ruffle them up, because they offer something not immediately comprehensible, not the quick fix, whereas you and your work is this blessed Quixotic devotion to the loveliness of the soul lingering and absorbing, sensing and observing and remembering all at its leisure which offers such richness to us, especially when the hurrying, harassing urgencies of the ‘thinking world’ would urge those of us inclined to dream to quickly move on, you champion valiantly all that some of us still hold dear which I am so utterly grateful for.

As clumsy as I feel this comment of mine to be, allow this passage from Keats to redeem me and speak its softly strong truth to all the dreamers here, especially thee.

‘A thing of beauty is a joy forever,

It’s loveliness increases; it will never

Pass into nothingness; but still will keep

A bower quiet for us, and a sleep

Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.

Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing

A flowery band to bind us to the earth,

Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth

Of noble natures, of the gloomy days,

Of all the unhealthy and o'er-darkened ways

Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all,

Some shape of beauty moves away the pall

From our dark spirits. Such the sun, the moon,

Trees old and young, sprouting a shady boon

For simple sheep; and such are daffodils

With the green world they live in; and clear rills

That for themselves a cooling covert make

'Gainst the hot season; the mid forest brake,

Rich with a sprinkling of fair musk-rose blooms:

And such too is the grandeur of the dooms

We have imagined for the mighty dead;

All lovely tales that we have heard or read:

An endless fountain of immortal drink,

Pouring unto us from the heaven's brink.

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A good wallop of Keats for this Ottawa morning, and an uncracked back. An endless fountain of immortal drink. I can smell coffee being made somewhere.

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Martin, your missives serve a vastly greater purpose (at least for me) than punditry. I seek this grace you write of here. To give love, radiate health, and offer a model of life that is replete with grace and a neck that looks in all directions, that is not crooked by looking down at the screen alone. To live as a Saint - I’m in.

Your writings and dreamings and sharings of stories resonate in the hearts of many and this romantic dreamer is deeply grateful for the water you lay at our feet each Sunday to quench our thirst. The edges of the humble wooden or sometimes bone bowl it is offered in is smoothed by the thousands of mouths it has touched.

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Apr 30, 2023Liked by Martin Shaw

Martin, you seem to know better than to be led by that advice about punditry. I love the idea of scuffing up the word "saint". I think I've believed in that for a long time but you said it better.

Clara

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Apr 30, 2023Liked by Martin Shaw

This is wonderful, Martin. Thank you. It is very easy for me to get picked up in the whirlwind and dropped down bewildered when the spinning stops.

I have been hearing a lot of people speaking lately of Beauty.

The focus on the transcendentals has seemingly leaned toward an ordered approach of them, often with Truth or Goodness in the lead. But in this day, where most people do not see a those two as being objective, maybe we reach more people through Beauty.

If we love something, we take care of it.

You can read the whole of the Bible, the Desert Fathers, the Saint's stories, and know them. But that does not necessarily mean that you Love them. Right?

We have to let ourselves be moved somehow. We can not intellectualize ourselves onto the weird and wonderful path of Christianity. Obviously, there is nothing wrong with intellectual study of Christianity (I love it, myself!) but we must be struck with awe and fall to our knees with over flowing amounts of Love. That seems to be when it sticks. That is when we can even begin to imagine finding a way to be good Christians in this world.

I find much comfort in the Irish Saints as well.

God Bless you, Martin. Be well.

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Thank's Teresa - 'If we love something, we take care of it', yes! Statistics and worthiness will not do the job or provoke the right kind of urgency that love does

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Oh goodness, Martin… here are many resonances. It’s certainly been a week of holding my nerve. This space you have created really supports the letting grow of those glimpses from the woods, and I am so grateful.

Today I am reading Mariana Ortega’s magnificent “In-Between: Latina Feminist Phenomenology, Multiplicity and the Self.” In it she draws upon and synthesizes the “spiritual activism” of Gloria Anzaldúa (among others) who seems to also speak of what you articulate here.

This (from Anzaldúa) struck particularly deep: “An identity is sort of like a river. It's one and it’s flowing and it’s a process. . .. Soy amasamiento, I am an act of kneading, of uniting and joining that not only has produced both a creature of darkness and a creature of light, but also a creature that questions the definitions of light and dark and gives them new meanings.”

Love to you on the road, and to that land where you are, where my mother first walked.

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Apr 30, 2023Liked by Martin Shaw

I think your work is far more relevant than most. I only realised in the last year or so how my mode of being is actually relevant or valuable as a contribution, but now I know - so that’s a great improvement. Your work has helped me in that turning. 🙏🏼

I didn’t know about Mary Harrington’s work,so last week after I saw your book list, I watched an interview with her where she is describing her book and her thoughts. It was so very interesting on so many levels. I suppose the first thing I felt, watching the interview, was that I’d be terrified to be Mary Harrington. She looked tough, but how tough can one woman be?

Mary Harrington spoke about mediaeval women, ie. pre-“progress” - and in that moment she seemed to remove work in the home (ie as a mother etc), from the category of “work” which the medieval women were engaged in, (ie as distinct from weaving cloth, for example) and described it as separate from their “economic” contributions. I wonder about this because Lewis Hyde also talks about this, the pain point that so many of us are struggling with, of where care work (and art work) fall within the category of “gift economy” rather than the commercial economy - hence the token pay for those workers. This all might work out fine in another reality - but as a person who works part-time as a personal assistant and carer, and who gets paid almost nothing for that, and receives almost no meaningful cultural positive messages of emotional or practical support to actually continue the work, I’d say I’d like the work to have some kind of protection as a valued category. And can we please still call it work, at least for now. After all, it bloody well is work, it’s hard and skilled work. If it was paid enough to live on, that might help. And if someone said I had to choose between being valued and having money, depending on my mood I might well have an unsaintly moment and swear at the person, and I might say I need and want both. Joseph Beuys talked about a “spiritualised economy” - I’d like to see what that looks like.

The feminist writer whose books are on my desk right now is Elizabeth Grosz, her work is also very good. In her book “chaos, territory, art”, she speaks about human fields of endeavour as ‘sieves’ or ‘planes’ that we ‘erect’ - to reduce chaos down to something that can be worked with, and she names three: art, science & philosophy. And I always wonder about this, about Mary Harrington too: academics, including feminists, almost never mention religion or spiritual/myth work as being another possible “sieve”, indeed don’t seem to recognise it as a category of endeavour that is also “work”. Maybe I notice this because my thinking is not very sophisticated (it isn’t) and so religion isn’t a “sieve” at all, but the omission still seems to me to be something that is important.

And Mary Harrington didn’t use religion words, or the word sacred, or approach those thoughts directly at all, but she did talk about mediaeval women, and women in more traditional cultural contexts, and she also talked about cultural settings for muslim men and women, all of whom would likely have religion or myth as a (or the) central life-structuring support. I thought she seemed to be, in the most basic summary, talking about how we can be with one another in our relationships, so I thought isn’t Mary Harrington entering the sacred realm? And if so, why didn’t she mention that word? Was it because she was sitting in a smart room with lots of books, talking with a very nice very posh clean-behind-the-ears serious-magazine-editor person?

If we wanted to work with this in more ordinary settings, and if we wanted change in the world, how could we plant the seeds of that? People think that the most important thing is ideas, or thoughts, or opinions. I’m pretty sure they aren’t all that relevant, mostly I try not to give a lot of my attention to what people say & chatter on about - but I feel that our stories are all wrong, and even a hermit will have to admit that all the floating opinions and ideas do impact our stories.

If myth is sacred story, which is what I heard you say, and if we were to admit that relationship work falls within the realm of the sacred, then maybe this gives me a clue to where my mind is going with this. Storytelling is a form of art, so returning to Elizabeth Grosz, art is the only one of her three ‘planes’ or ‘sieves’ that we are going to be able to work with here because neither philosophy nor science will be able to address religious/ myth / spiritual realms. Elizabeth Grosz also says that art doesn’t produce concepts (a great relief all round), but does address problems and provocations through working with framing, and with intensifying what there is within reach. She also says that art is of the animal, and both of these aspects of her work do feel helpful to me right now - but I am still working my way through this.

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Thank's Sian - I noticed the combed-through quality of the book in regard for words with too much spiritual heat in them. Luckily I found the ideas interesting enough to stay with it. But language itself is a supremely erotic and visceral force. I find it sad when it's a place just to hang concepts.

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going to check out Elizabeth Grosz

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Or, on reflection, Audre Lorde is now also back on my desk - no combing-through in there.

I’m reading her essay “uses of the erotic “, and this poem:

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/42577/coal

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That poem, Sian. Wow. Thank you for sharing the link.

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Ok - so isn’t it a bit worse than sad, isn’t it a kind of violence?

There is a quarry near where I live & when you see it, just the scale of extractive violence, it hits like a shock in the body. The planning application says “because mineral working is a temporary operation”, as if morality doesn’t come into it, or as if time passing will alter the fact of violence, somehow. And I had a realisation - when we do something violent, like that, or to people, or to other creatures, or in language, and if we believe that we have an identity - are connected, are the same as - then what happens outwards happens also inwards. We can’t not do harm. But how can we do less harm?

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Beautifully put - thank you.

Being with nature in awe and reverence. Beholding the truth in others. Turning off and being without the insidious, invasive noise of the media. Dancing life force. Collaborative vocal improvisation. Painting , ceramics, growing vegetables seems a good beginning.

A young woman recently came to my dance worn through to almost nothing by modern onslaught and very quickly has resurrected into a joyful, hopeful, expressive dancer soothed and inspired by the amazing music that exists and is created, the landing in community, and the movement of presence.

I am always hopeful, but going with the machine steam roller seems like suicide and I will be taking the path of the romantic.

The eloquence and aliveness of your words always inspires me Martin. Thank you as always.

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Apr 30, 2023Liked by Martin Shaw

Thank you for another worthwhile invitation Martin.

Exhale

Going In

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Dear Martin, I find the suggestion that motivated this essay appalling! If people only knew how much harder it was to be a dreamer than a pundit they would respect the work more. I recall sitting on the porch of a Block Island coffee shop Year’s ago having a dreamer conversation with a friend. A carpenter overheard us and commented that the work we were doing was far more difficult than his construction job. It was a wonderful moment of acknowledgment where the worlds of imagination and logic met. Your story about the Welsh island has also got me thinking about how the original name of Block Island, Manisses, translates as “Island of the Little God.” No one alive today seems to know why. Some say it’s because it’s so beautiful. I’m wondering if it’s because it was, and still is, filled with everyday saints who truly love the place that holds them.

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I went to Block Island years ago with my family and just loved it. I remember that I randomly decided to get my hair cut there for some unknown reason. 😆Now enamored with it’s original name. Thank you so much for sharing, Jennifer. ❤️😁

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Fabulous! Block Island is so small I most likely know who cut your hair and was sitting on the front porch of the coffee shop around the corner. Maybe it was even a day when Martin was on island. Synchronicities abound!

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I'm grateful for those trips to your beloved island back in the day Jen! Exciting times.

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I tend to believe that all “saints” are nomads and mystics, and vice versa? And while many may shout, “Racha!” (fool), I suspect it is they who wise indeed?

Now I’m sure you are experiencing the “Racha!” yourself, especially since becoming a “follower” of Universal Christ?! No worries that, I too have been called “Racha”, heretic and worse.

I shared this earlier today—

This is ultimate, powerful perennial wisdom of and in Divine LOVE (God).  It is Truth that institutional and/or organized religions of man have lost.  We must look to the mystics of those faith traditions to find such Truth once again and repeatedly.  As a Christ follower myself, I see and hear this in Jesus’s words and life as the incarnate Christ of God.  Yet I also find it among all the other religious paths, for indeed how could it be otherwise if I truly believe Christ is the author of all?  When I repeatedly counsel “surrender to LOVE,” this is the basis of such advice.  }:- a.m.

https://cac.org/daily-meditations/new-beginnings-2023-04-30/

Carry on Beloved, or as the vultures say, carrion… 🤪🤣

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I might just add this as well, yet knowing as the Zen master said, “It is uncertain.”—At the Center of All is a Relationship.

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Apr 30, 2023Liked by Martin Shaw

This is so so good Martin thank you

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As a late-in-life convert to Catholicism I found myself on a learning curve when it came to the concept of a saint. Having been raised Baptist I was familiar with the protestant aversion to making distinctions, "All Christians are saints. Why set some on a pedestal?" etc. After converting, my condescension didn't change much at first. I flipped through the Lives of Saints and concluded the designation had more to do with political patronage than spiritual merit (after all why were over half the saints I came across Italian!). However, over time, I've come to appreciate that there is something of value to the church recognizing a unique category of individuals who have been gifted with the beatific vision in this lifetime. The Saint Francis' who, by no merit of their own, have stood in the presence of Perfect Love in the here and now and can never un-see. These are the radicals, the fools for Christ, for whom perfect love has cast out all fear. In my experience, they are rare. (I met one once - an Anglican bishop from a rural parish in southern Ontario- in whose presence I felt seen, known and beloved.) For this reason I've come to view saints (or whatever we want to call this "category") as important to any religious ecosystem, not because they are holier-than-thou or because they can levitate, but because they embody a life of complete abandon into the freedom of God.

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'Abandon into the freedom of God.' That's fantastic Tama.

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As David Bentley Hart wrote in "Roland in Moonlight" - In a conversation with Roland, he asks "The proper response... to moments of crisis... like, you know, this one?" Roland responds "Why, to seek righteousness, of course. To love justice. To seek to become one of the truly upright and virtuous souls -- a tsadik, as it were."

This does seem to be the only rational path between the paths of surrender. We need to find a path that is quite aware of this wolrd, this age, but minimize our compliance. As Robin Wall Kimmer wrote, "we can not stop Monsanto, but we can plant an organic heritage garden."

As a parting thought I include a favored passage from Jeremiah:

Seasaigí i mbealaí an tseansaoil cuirigí tuairisc na seanchasán cé acu ab ea an tslí mhaith? Siúlaigí inti ansin agus gheobhaidh sibh suaimhneas.

Irimia 6:18

An Bíobla Naofa 1981

Stand in the ways of the past, tell the story of the old story, which was the good way?

Walk there and you will find peace.

Jeremiah 6:18

My translation of the Gaeilge

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Stand in the ways of the past, tell the story of the old story, which was the good way? wonderful. Keep translating!

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