When I find someone I respect writing about an edgy, nervous wine that dithered in the glass, I cringe. When I hear someone I don't respect talking about an austere, unforgiving wine, I turn a bit austere and unforgiving myself. When I come across stuff like that and remember about the figs and bananas, I want to snigger uneasily. You can call a wine red, and dry, and strong, and pleasant. After that, watch out....
The more you are possession oriented, the less happy you will be. The less happy you are, the farther away from the Divine, from prayer, from gratitude you will be. Be austere. Live with the necessary and forget about desires; they are fantasies in the mind, ripples in the lake. They only disturb you, they can never lead you to any contentment.
She looked up at him and her face was pale and austere in the uplight and her eyes lost in their darkly shadowed hollows save only for the glint of them and he could see her throat move in the light and he saw in her face and in her figure something he'd not seen before and the name of that thing was sorrow.
Well, you know... I grew up in postwar Britain, when you were lucky to get anything to eat. People in America have absolutely no conception of how austere England was after the war. While you were all sort of eating butter and eggs, we were eating rabbit. That's what there was in the butcher shop.
The injustice of defeat lies in the fact that its most innocent victims are made to look like heartless accomplices. It is impossible to see behind defeat, the sacrifices, the austere performance of duty, the self-discipline and the vigilance that are there - those things the god of battle does not take account of.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Americans' distrust of the conspicuously intellectual - a habit we learned, I suppose, on the frontier, but which remains a feature of the national character - has the virtue of puncturing the pretentious and exposing the fake, but it may also have impaired American listeners' patience for music that is especially complex or austere.
When an alluring woman comes in at the door," warningly traced the austere Kien-fi on the margin of his well-known essay, "discretion may be found up the chimney". It is incredible that beneath this ever-timely reminder an obscure disciple should have added the words: "The wiser the sage, the more profound the folly.
As I made my way through 'On Line,' the austere, stridently dogmatic, sometimes revelatory exhibition 'about line' at MoMA, I found myself thinking, 'Someone please wake me when the seventies are over!' In the empire of curators, the sun never sets on the seventies. It is the undead decade.
An endless scream pierced the frigid night air and shook the world with its rage and sorrow. The aged stone and brick that had withstood the great quake over a hundred years ago now trembled before its pain, and even the austere grimace of the lonely grotesque, its only witness, softened in pity.
Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty-a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture, without appeal to any part of our weaker nature, without the gorgeous trappings of painting or music, yet sublimely pure, and capable of a stern perfection such as only the greatest art can show.
It was certainly not this mummified and outrageously painted old woman he was seeing before him, but the entire "female species, " as it was his custom to call women. The individual disappeared, the features were obliterated, whether young or senile, beautiful or ugly - those were mere unimportant variations. Behind each woman rises the austere, sacred and mysterious face of Aphrodite.
It was certainly not this mummified and outrageously painted old woman he was seeing before him, but the entire "female species," as it was his custom to call women. The individual disappeared, the features were obliterated, whether young or senile, beautiful or ugly - those were mere unimportant variations. Behind each woman rises the austere, sacred and mysterious face of Aphrodite.
I am a humanist because I think humanity can, with constant moral guidance, create reasonably decent societies. I think that young people who want to understand the world can profit from the works of Plato and Socrates, the behaviour of the three Thomases, Aquinas, More and Jefferson - the austere analyses of Immanuel Kant and the political leadership of Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt.
James A. Michener
Lysley Tenorio is a writer of sly wit and lively invention""these are stories bursting with wonders (from monster movies and leper colonies, to faith-healers and superheroes)""but most wondrous of all is his intimate sense of character. Each story is a confession of love betrayed, told with a mournful, austere tenderness as heartbreaking as it is breathtaking.
Peter Ho Davies
The form of government which you admire, when its principles are pure is admirable indeed. It is productive of every Thing which is great and excellent among men. But its principles are as easily destroyed as human nature is corrupted. Such a government is only to be supported by pure religion or Austere morals.
There are but two roads that lead to an important goal and to the doing of great things: strength and perseverance. Strength is the lot of but a few privileged men; but austere perseverance, harsh and continuous, may be employed by the smallest of us and rarely fails of its purpose, for its silent power grows irresistibly greater with time.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Do whatever you please, follow your own star; be original if you want to be and don't if you don't want to be. Just be natural and gay and light-hearted and pretty and simple and overflowing and general and baroque and bare and austere and stylised and wild and daring and conservative, and learn and learn and learn. Open your mind to every form of beauty.
When the world is mad, a mathematician may find in mathematics an incomparable anodyne. For mathematics is, of all the arts and sciences, the most austere and the most remote, and a mathematician should be of all men the one who can most easily take refuge where, as Bertrand Russell says, "one at least of our nobler impulses can best escape from the dreary exile of the actual world."
G. H. Hardy
Some people seem to think that my life dedicated to simplicity and service is austere and joyless, but they do not know the freedom of simplicity. I am thankful to God every moment of my life for the great riches that have been showered upon me. My life is full and good but never overcrowded. If life is overcrowded then you are doing more than is required for you to do.
I am a humanist because I think humanity can, with constant moral guidance, create reasonably decent societies. I think that young people who want to understand the world can profit from the works of Plato and Socrates, the behaviour of the three Thomases, Aquinas, More and Jefferson - the austere analyses of Immanuel Kant and the political leadership of Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt. [The World Is My Home (1991)]
James A. Michener
I flung open the door. I got a momentary flash of about a hundred and fifteen cats of all sizes and colours scrapping in the middle of the room, and then they all shot past me with a rush and out of the front door; and all that was left of the mobscene was the head of a whacking big fish, lying on the carpet and staring up at me in a rather austere sort of way, as if it wanted a written explanation and apology.
This is to be observed of the Bishop of London, that, though apparently of a spirit somewhat austere, there is in his idiosyncrasy a strange fund of enthusiasm, a quality which ought never to be possessed by an Archbishop of Canterbury, or a Prime Minister of England. The Bishop of London sympathies with everything that is earnest; but what is earnest is not always true; on the contrary error is often more earnest than truth.
On any other day she would have stood barefoot on the wet grass listening to the mockingbirds' early service; she would have pondered over the meaninglessness of silent, austere beauty renewing itself with every sunrise and going ungazed at by half the world. She would have walked beneath yellow-ringed pines rising to a brilliant eastern sky, and her senses would have succumbed to the joy of the morning. It was waiting to receive her, but she neither looked nor listened.
Chabrias, ever preoccupied to offer the gods the worship due them, was disturbed by the progress of sects of this kind among the populace of large cities; he feared for the welfare of our ancient religions, which yoke men to no dogma whatsoever, but lend themselves, on the contrary, to interpretations as varied as nature itself; they allow austere spirits who desire to do so to invent for themselves a higher morality, but they do not bind the masses to precepts so strict as to engender immediate constraint and hypocrisy.
It comforted her, in the confused unhappy welter of her emotions, to see the mountains always tranquil, remote, in their lonely splendour; untouchable, serenely inviolate. It was an obscure comfort to her to know that man's hectic world wasn't the only one - that there were others, where agitation and passion and bewilderment had no place. When her love turned into a chaotic fever-dream, in which she was tossing, hallucinated, frightened and miserable, she had longed to escape to the cold, austere, changeless beauty and peace of the snow.
The phenomenon of economic ignorance is so widespread, and its consequences so frightening, that the objective of reducing that ignorance becomes a goal invested with independent moral worth. But the economic education needed to reduce such ignorance must be based on austere, objective, scientific content""with no ideological or moral content of its own.
Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture, without appeal to any part of our weaker nature, without the georgeous trappings of painting or music, yet sublimely pure, and capable of a stern perfection such as only the greatest art can show. The true spirit of delight, the exaltation, the sense of being more than Man, which is the touchstone of the highest excellence, is to be found in mathematics as surely as in poetry.
Other than his ex-wife and despite appearances with a series of cultivated blondes, Edward de Bono has never publicly aligned himself with a woman. 'I'm looking for a fat, cross-eyed hunchback,' he explains, stifling a giggle. 'A prosthetic hump would do.' His delight evaporates when asked about his three grandchildren. 'Am I a doting grandfather?' He pauses. 'I'm a ... something grandfather, yes.' The fact that De Bono remains unperturbed by this lack betrays an emotionally austere childhood, and his passions for play, toys, and bad jokes tell of the same deprivation.
He broke off and eyed with dignified surprise a fine piece of wireless telegraphy between husband and wife. It appeared that Mr. Negget sent off a humorous message with his left eye, the right being for some reason closed, to which Mrs. Negget replied with a series of frowns and staccato shakes of the head, which her husband found easily translatable. Under the austere stare of Mr. Bodfish their faces at once regained their wonted calm, and the ex-constable in a somewhat offended manner resumed his inquiries.
An interesting difference between African-American humor and Jewish humor, in it's kind of basic or maybe most austere type form is, African-American humor, some of it comes out of playing the dozens in which you insult the other person or insult the other person's mother, and so much of Jewish humor is like, you're insulting yourself. It's totally self-deprecating.
They began to come upon chains and packsaddles, singletrees, dead mules, wagons. Saddletrees eaten bare of their rawhide coverings and weathered white as bone, a light chamfering of miceteeth along the edges of the wood. They rode through a region where iron will not rust nor tin tarnish. The ribbed frames of dead cattle under their patches of dried hide lay like the ruins of primitive boats upturned upon that shoreless void and they passed lurid and austere the black and desiccated shapes of horses and mules that travelers had stood afoot.
There is that in the soul of man which must respond to the highest in virtue. It may not respond at once. Human nature can easily be over-faced by examples too remote and austere. Moreover, human nature can easily deny God because the whole race has long been in rebellion against Him. Yet there is that in human nature which calls out to the supreme examples of virtue: owns, as it were, the intention of God who made it, and feels the unmistakable homesickness of the soul.
What did one see if one looked in any depth into the world of this writer's fiction? Elegant self-control concealing from the world's eyes until the very last moment a state of inner disintegration and biological decay; sallow ugliness, sensuously marred and worsted, which nevertheless is able to fan its smouldering concupiscence to a pallid impotence, which from the glowing depths of the spirit draws strength to cast down a whole proud people at the foot of the Cross and set its own foot upon them as well; gracious poise and composure in the empty austere service of form; the false, dangerous life of the born deceiver, his ambition and his art which lead so soon to exhaustion -
The attitude of uncompromising heroism is attractive, and appeals especially to the dramatic instinct. But the purpose of the serious revolutionary is not personal heroism, nor martyrdom, but the creation of a happier world. Those who have the happiness of the world at heart will shrink from attitudes and the facile hysteria of "no parley with the enemy." They will not embark upon enterprises, however arduous and austere, which are likely to involve the martyrdom of their country and the discrediting of their ideals. It is by slower and less showy methods that the new world must be built [... ] To find fault with those who urge these considerations, or to accuse them of faint-heartedness, is mere sentimental self-indulgence, sacrificing the good we can do to the satisfaction of our own emotions.
How long your closet held a whiff of you, Long after hangers hung austere and bare. I would walk in and suddenly the true Sharp sweet sweat scent controlled the air And life was in that small still living breath. Where are you? since so much of you is here, Your unique odour quite ignoring death. My hands reach out to touch, to hold what's dear And vital in my longing empty arms. But other clothes fill up the space, your space, And scent on scent send out strange false alarms. Not of your odour there is not a trace. But something unexpected still breaks through The goneness to the presentness of you.
A Cathedral Fae§ade at Midnight Along the sculptures of the western wall I watched the moonlight creeping: It moved as if it hardly moved at all Inch by inch thinly peeping Round on the pious figures of freestone, brought And poised there when the Universe was wrought To serve its centre, Earth, in mankind's thought. The lunar look skimmed scantly toe, breast, arm, Then edged on slowly, slightly, To shoulder, hand, face; till each austere form Was blanched its whole length brightly Of prophet, king, queen, cardinal in state, That dead men's tools had striven to simulate; And the stiff images stood irradiate. A frail moan from the martyred saints there set Mid others of the erection Against the breeze, seemed sighings of regret At the ancient faith's rejection Under the sure, unhasting, steady stress Of Reason's movement, making meaningless.
November-with uncanny witchery in its changed trees. With murky red sunsets flaming in smoky crimson behind the westering hills. With dear days when the austere woods were beautiful and gracious in a dignified serenity of folded hands and closed eyes-days full of a fine, pale sunshine that sifted through the late, leafless gold of the juniper-trees and glimmered among the grey beeches, lighting up evergreen banks of moss and washing the colonnades of the pines. Days with a high-sprung sky of flawless turquoise. Days when an exquisite melancholy seemed to hang over the landscape and dream about the lake. But days, too, of the wild blackness of great autumn storms, followed by dank, wet, streaming nights when there was witch-laughter in the pines and fitful moans among the mainland trees. What cared they? Old Tom had built his roof well, and his chimney drew.
Silence. It flashed from the woodwork and the walls; it smote him with an awful, total power, as if generated by a vast mill. It rose from the floor, up out of the tattered gray wall-to-wall carpeting. It unleashed itself from the broken and semi-broken appliances in the kitchen, the dead machines which hadn't worked in all the time Isidore had lived here. From the useless pole lamp in the living room it oozed out, meshing with the empty and wordless descent of itself from the fly-specked ceiling. It managed in fact to emerge from every object within his range of vision, as if it-the silence-meant to supplant all things tangible. Hence it assailed not only his ears but his eyes; as he stood by the inert TV set he experienced the silence as visible and, in its own way, alive. Alive! He had often felt its austere approach before; when it came it burst in without subtlety, evidently unable to wait. The silence of the world could not rein back its greed. Not any longer. Not when it had virtually won.
Philip K. Dick
Alcohol makes other people less tedious, and food less bland, and can help provide what the Greeks called entheos, or the slight buzz of inspiration when reading or writing. The only worthwhile miracle in the New Testament-the transmutation of water into wine during the wedding at Cana-is a tribute to the persistence of Hellenism in an otherwise austere Judaea. The same applies to the seder at Passover, which is obviously modeled on the Platonic symposium: questions are asked (especially of the young) while wine is circulated. No better form of sodality has ever been devised: at Oxford one was positively expected to take wine during tutorials. The tongue must be untied. It's not a coincidence that Omar Khayyam, rebuking and ridiculing the stone-faced Iranian mullahs of his time, pointed to the value of the grape as a mockery of their joyless and sterile regime. Visiting today's Iran, I was delighted to find that citizens made a point of defying the clerical ban on booze, keeping it in their homes for visitors even if they didn't particularly take to it themselves, and bootlegging it with great brio and ingenuity. These small revolutions affirm the human.
Making another effort to be paradoxical, Williams decides to identify Orwell as an instance of 'the paradox of the exile'. This, which he also identified with D. H. Lawrence, constituted an actual 'tradition', which, in England: attracts to itself many of the liberal virtues: empiricism, a certain integrity, frankness. It has also, as the normally contingent virtue of exile, certain qualities of perception: in particular, the ability to distinguish inadequacies in the groups which have been rejected. It gives, also, an appearance of strength, although this is largely illusory. The qualities, though salutary, are largely negative; there is an appearance of hardness (the austere criticism of hypocrisy, complacency, self-deceit), but this is usually brittle, and at times hysterical: the substance of community is lacking, and the tension, in men of high quality, is very great. This is quite a fine passage, even when Williams is engaged in giving with one hand and taking away with the other. Orwell's working title for Nineteen Eighty-Four was 'The Last Man in Europe, ' and there are traces of a kind of solipsistic nobility elsewhere in his work, the attitude of the flinty and solitary loner. May he not be valued, however, as the outstanding English example of the dissident intellectual who preferred above all other allegiances the loyalty to truth? Self-evidently, Williams does not believe this and the clue is in the one word, so seemingly innocuous in itself, 'community.
McKay had worn the wings in the world war with honor, flying first with the French and later with his own country's forces. And as a bird loves the trees, so did McKay love them. To him they were not merely trunks and roots, branches and leaves; to him they were personalities. He was acutely aware of differences in character even among the same species - that pine was benevolent and jolly; that one austere and monkish; there stood a swaggering bravo, and there dwelt a sage wrapped in green meditation; that birch was a wanton - the birch near her was virginal, still a-dream. The war had sapped him, nerve and brain and soul. Through all the years that had passed since then the wound had kept open. But now, as he slid his car down the vast green bowl, he felt its spirit reach out to him; reach out to him and caress and quiet him, promising him healing. He seemed to drift like a falling leaf through the clustered woods; to be cradled by gentle hands of the trees. He had stopped at the little gnome of an inn, and then he had lingered, day after day, week after week. The trees had nursed him; soft whisperings of leaves, slow chant of the needled pines, had first deadened, then driven from him the re-echoing clamor of the war and its sorrow. The open wound of his spirit had closed under their green healing; had closed and become scar; and even the scar had been covered and buried, as the scars on Earth's breast are covered and buried beneath the falling leaves of Autumn. The trees had laid green healing hands on his eyes, banishing the pictures of war. He had sucked strength from the green breasts of the hills. ("The Women Of The Woods")
This was all splendid stuff for Luciaphils; it was amazing how at a first glance she recognised everybody. The gallery, too, was full of dears and darlings of a few weeks' standing, and she completed a little dinner-party for next Tuesday long before she had made the circuit. All the time she kept Stephen by her side, looked over his catalogue, put a hand on his arm to direct his attention to some picture, took a speck of alien material off his sleeve, and all the time the entranced Adele felt increasingly certain that she had plumbed the depth of the adorable situation. Her sole anxiety was as to whether Stephen would plumb it too. He might-though he didn't look like it-welcome these little tokens of intimacy as indicating something more, and when they were alone attempt to kiss her, and that would ruin the whole exquisite design. Luckily his demeanour was not that of a favoured swain; it was, on the other hand, more the demeanour of a swain who feared to be favoured, and if that shy thing took fright, the situation would be equally ruined... To think that the most perfect piece of Luciaphilism was dependent on the just perceptions of Stephen! As the three made their slow progress, listening to Lucia's brilliant identifications, Adele willed Stephen to understand; she projected a perfect torrent of suggestion towards his mind. He must, he should understand... Fervent desire, so every psychist affirms, is never barren. It conveys something of its yearning to the consciousness to which it is directed, and there began to break on the dull male mind what had been so obvious to the finer feminine sense of Adele. Once again, and in the blaze of publicity, Lucia was full of touches and tweaks, and the significance of them dawned, like some pale, austere sunrise, on his darkened senses. The situation was revealed, and he saw it was one with which he could easily deal. His gloomy apprehensions brightened, and he perceived that there would be no need, when he went to stay at Riseholme next, to lock his bedroom-door, a practice which was abhorrent to him, for fear of fire suddenly breaking out in the house. Last night he had had a miserable dream about what had happened when he failed to lock his door at The Hurst, but now he dismissed its haunting. These little intimacies of Lucia's were purely a public performance. "Lucia, we must be off, " he said loudly and confidently. "Pepino will wonder where we are.
The chief care of the legislators [in the colonies of New England] was the maintenance of orderly conduct and good morals in the community: thus they constantly invaded the domain of conscience, and there was scarcely a sin which was no subject to magisterial censure. The reader is aware of the rigor with which these laws punished rape and adultery; intercourse between unmarried persons was likewise severely repressed. The judge was empowered to inflict either a pecuniary penalty, a whipping, or marriage, on the misdemeanants; and if the records of the old courts of New Haven may be believed, prosecutions of this kind were not unfrequent. We find a sentence, bearing date the 1st of May, 1660, inflicting a fine and reprimand on a young woman who was accused of using improper language, and of allowing herself to be kissed. The Code of 1650 abounds in preventive measures. It punishes idleness and drunkenness with severity. Innkeepers were forbidden to furnish more than certain quantities of liquor to each customer; and simple lying, whenever it may be injurious, is checked by a fine or a flogging. In other places, the legislator, entirely forgetting the great principles of religious toleration which he had himself demanded in Europe, makes attendance on divine service compulsory, and goes so far as to visit with severe punishment, and even with death, Christians who choose to worship God according to a ritual differing from his own. Sometimes, indeed, the zeal for regulation induces him to descend to the most frivolous particulars: thus a law is to be found in the same code which prohibits the use of tobacco. It must not be forgotten that these fantastical and vexatious laws were not imposed by authority, but that they were freely voted by all the persons interested in them, and that the manners of the community were even more austere and puritanical than the laws... These errors are no doubt discreditable to human reason; they attest the inferiority of our nature, which is incapable of laying firm hold upon what is true and just, and is often reduced to the alternative of two excesses. In strict connection with this penal legislation, which bears such striking marks of a narrow, sectarian spirit, and of those religious passions which had been warmed by persecution and were still fermenting among the people, a body of political laws is to be found, which, though written two hundred years ago, is still in advance of the liberties of our own age.
Alexis de Tocqueville
Tonight, however, Dickens struck him in a different light. Beneath the author's sentimental pity for the weak and helpless, he could discern a revolting pleasure in cruelty and suffering, while the grotesque figures of the people in Cruikshank's illustrations revealed too clearly the hideous distortions of their souls. What had seemed humorous now appeared diabolic, and in disgust at these two favourites he turned to Walter Pater for the repose and dignity of a classic spirit. But presently he wondered if this spirit were not in itself of a marble quality, frigid and lifeless, contrary to the purpose of nature. 'I have often thought', he said to himself, 'that there is something evil in the austere worship of beauty for its own sake.' He had never thought so before, but he liked to think that this impulse of fancy was the result of mature consideration, and with this satisfaction he composed himself for sleep. He woke two or three times in the night, an unusual occurrence, but he was glad of it, for each time he had been dreaming horribly of these blameless Victorian works... It turned out to be the Boy's Gulliver's Travels that Granny had given him, and Dicky had at last to explain his rage with the devil who wrote it to show that men were worse than beasts and the human race a washout. A boy who never had good school reports had no right to be so morbidly sensitive as to penetrate to the underlying cynicism of Swift's delightful fable, and that moreover in the bright and carefully expurgated edition they bring out nowadays. Mr Corbett could not say he had ever noticed the cynicism himself, though he knew from the critical books it must be there, and with some annoyance he advised his son to take out a nice bright modern boy's adventure story that could not depress anybody. Mr Corbett soon found that he too was 'off reading'. Every new book seemed to him weak, tasteless and insipid; while his old and familiar books were depressing or even, in some obscure way, disgusting. Authors must all be filthy-minded; they probably wrote what they dared not express in their lives. Stevenson had said that literature was a morbid secretion; he read Stevenson again to discover his peculiar morbidity, and detected in his essays a self-pity masquerading as courage, and in Treasure Island an invalid's sickly attraction to brutality. This gave him a zest to find out what he disliked so much, and his taste for reading revived as he explored with relish the hidden infirmities of minds that had been valued by fools as great and noble. He saw Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte« as two unpleasant examples of spinsterhood; the one as a prying, sub-acid busybody in everyone else's flirtations, the other as a raving, craving maenad seeking self-immolation on the altar of her frustrated passions. He compared Wordsworth's love of nature to the monstrous egoism of an ancient bellwether, isolated from the flock.
On the first day of November last year, sacred to many religious calendars but especially the Celtic, I went for a walk among bare oaks and birch. Nothing much was going on. Scarlet sumac had passed and the bees were dead. The pond had slicked overnight into that shiny and deceptive glaze of delusion, first ice. It made me remember sakes and conjure a vision of myself skimming backward on one foot, the other extended; the arms become wings. Minnesota girls know that this is not a difficult maneuver if one's limber and practices even a little after school before the boys claim the rink for hockey. I think I can still do it - one thinks many foolish things when November's bright sun skips over the entrancing first freeze. A flock of sparrows reels through the air looking more like a flying net than seventy conscious birds, a black veil thrown on the wind. When one sparrow dodges, the whole net swerves, dips: one mind. Am I part of anything like that? Maybe not. The last few years of my life have been characterized by stripping away, one by one, loves and communities that sustain the soul. A young colleague, new to my English department, recently asked me who I hang around with at school. "Nobody," I had to say, feeling briefly ashamed. This solitude is one of the surprises of middle age, especially if one's youth has been rich in love and friendship and children. If you do your job right, children leave home; few communities can stand an individual's most pitiful, amateur truth telling. So the soul must stand in her own meager feathers and learn to fly - or simply take hopeful jumps into the wind. In the Christian calendar, November 1 is the Feast of All Saints, a day honoring not only those who are known and recognized as enlightened souls, but more especially the unknowns, saints who walk beside us unrecognized down the millennia. In Buddhism, we honor the bodhisattvas - saints - who refuse enlightenment and return willingly to the wheel of karma to help other beings. Similarly, in Judaism, anonymous holy men pray the world from its well-merited destruction. We never know who is walking beside us, who is our spiritual teacher. That one - who annoys you so - pretends for a day that he's the one, your personal Obi Wan Kenobi. The first of November is a splendid, subversive holiday. Imagine a hectic procession of revelers - the half-mad bag lady; a mumbling, scarred janitor whose ravaged face made the children turn away; the austere, unsmiling mother superior who seemed with great focus and clarity to do harm; a haunted music teacher, survivor of Auschwitz. I bring them before my mind's eye, these old firends of my soul, awakening to dance their day. Crazy saints; but who knows what was home in the heart? This is the feast of those who tried to take the path, so clumsily that no one knew or notice, the feast, indeed, of most of us. It's an ugly woods, I was saying to myself, padding along a trail where other walkers had broken ground before me. And then I found an extraordinary bouquet. Someone had bound an offering of dry seed pods, yew, lyme grass, red berries, and brown fern and laid it on the path: "nothing special," as Buddhists say, meaning "everything." Gathered to formality, each dry stalk proclaimed a slant, an attitude, infinite shades of neutral. All contemplative acts, silences, poems, honor the world this way. Brought together by the eye of love, a milkweed pod, a twig, allow us to see how things have been all along. A feast of being.
Mary Rose O'Reilley