Last week a mathematician said green glow, aquamarine— and I suppose rare parrots or the searing rise of rice, aurora as it reels around the poles.
This week the man says oops, a miscalculation: the universe is amber— peach hair, cantaloupe, a squeal, the yellow cart of dawn pulled into day.
Show me the math, show me equations in green, gold, vermilion, plum— whatever comes out of the dark around us and the sun and all the sons and daughters of the stars— the universe a crystal, charmed, worn in the hollow of God’s throat and warmed.
Silence is misery, said a friend in a casual comment on the phone. Elizabeth spent three days with no one to interrupt her but her own fears. Lulls during which she noticed the buzz and pop, resting from the hike on a stone. Her retreat intended to evade noise, but she found the clawing of forest murder and distant yelps. That’s when she saw a tree, already turned the color of flame against the others’ ordinary green, like the great voice of one who had to speak. Not a word for three days, unable to resist the conversation released within. Slow sun upon a single tree that stands without explanation on the edge of the meadow with red leaves, a hawk glides above the landscape of pines between silence and speech.
Recently a friend forwarded me a cautionary e-mail. It reported that a couple in Canada had parked for an errand, and as they walked away from their car, the driver used the remote on his key fob to lock the doors. When the Can adians returned to their car five minutes later, it had been stripped of a laptop and a cell phone. The police were summoned.
The first feature-length film by video installation artist Steve McQueen (no relation to the late actor) presents a detailed and disturbing look at conditions inside Northern Ireland’s Maze Prison in 1981. Angry members of the Irish Republican Army were jailed—some for relatively minor offenses—denied political-prisoner status and subjected to regular beatings by British guards.
Here’s your Ash Wednesday story. A mother carries her tiny daughter With her as she gets ashed and the Girl, curious and wriggly, squirms Into the path of the priest’s thumb Just as the finger is about to arrive On the mother’s forehead, and the Ashes go right in the kid’s left eye. She starts to cry, and there’s a split Second as the priest and the mother Gawk, and then they both burst out Laughing. The kid is too little to be Offended, and the line moves along, But this stays with me; not the ashy Eye as much as the instant when all Could have been pain and awkward But instead it led to mutual giggling. We are born of dust and star-scatter And unto this we shall return, this is The Law, but meantime, by God, we Can laugh our asses off. What a gift, You know? Let us snicker while we Can, brothers and sisters. Let us use That which makes dark things quail.
Between 1990 and 2010, Iowa lost over 500 churches. The numbers reflect migration from rural to urban areas and the fewer number of people who identify with a faith community. The decline in churches is having a direct effect on the social fabric of the state. According to research at Iowa State University, nine out of ten rural people said they rely less on their neighbors than they once did. Surviving churches have gone back to older patterns to find leadership, engaging itinerant pastors or lay leaders. Some are surviving through cooperation with other denominations or with ethnic Christian groups (Pacific Standard, January 20).