For once, silence— genuine calm. Forty minutes on a tidal bight with a great blue heron in the binoculars’ sight. Not frozen but still. In a half hour, she barely turns a full 360 degrees. Time to notice the dark wingtip markings, light not-blue-but-gray breast feathers, the cobalt dash between the long beak and dark-eyed crown. Expectation gives way to awe, as each degree thins her to a reed among reeds.
By sunset, barely an apostrophe against the green marsh what’s left of color bleeding into water, this resolve: to pause to practice, to attend.
Statio. One of the elements of Benedictine spiritual discipline, the practice of pausing between activities to become conscious of the moment, of the presence of God.
Screenwriters love structure: it gives them something to focus on as they plow ahead in their storytelling or to retreat to if they get off track. Familiar structures include the road movie (looking for answers), the journey film (home to Ithaca) and the sit-by-the-fireplace flashback (“Let me tell you about Heathcliffe”).
The first “ghost comedy” was an effervescent 1937 charmer called Topper, in which two of the most elegant high comedians in movies, Cary Grant and Constance Bennett, crashed their roadster and immediately rebounded, their insouciant personalities utterly unchanged, as specters. That’s the joke on which ghost comedies are premised: death doesn’t alter a thing except corporeal reality.
The frightening downturn on Wall Street has caused even some staunch antigovernment pundits to begin rethinking their assumption that all government regulation is bad. That is a rethinking this country desperately needs.
Everything in the world begins with a yes. Clarice Lispecter
For Bishop Tom
In the beginning there is only Yes, infinitesimal, infinite, invisible seed sprouting in the swirling dark, the slow integration, expanding, extending, the sudden explosion into light—baby, blossom, universe, all beginnings are the same—and Yes to a world begun before words where nothing separates this from that, and Yes to the senses alive before language, bird song, leaf shadow, skin touching skin, and Yes to Tom whose injured brain erases speaking, reading, names, but through hands cupped upon bent heads, his unimpeded heart pours forth with nothing to restrict the flow of Yes in beginning and Yes in the end.
This is an updated version of the poem that appears in the print edition.
Katrina Spade, founder of the Urban Death Project, plans to compost human remains with wood chips inside a three-story concrete core. She argues that this approach is even more ecologically sound than cremation, which creates greenhouse gases. Bob Fells, executive director of the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association, thinks treating human remains as a waste product is disrespectful. Spade is hoping to break ground for the composting facility in Seattle by 2022 (Slate, July 15).