Archive for March, 2017


3.31.17 … “Dr. Finley was New York’s most peripatetic philosopher. Indeed, he had covered half the world afoot, watching the human scene with kindly eyes. . . . But it was over this peaceful and marvelous Island of Manhattan that he liked most of all to wander, counting that day lost when he had not checked off at least 10 miles.”

“Solvitur  Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2017 Lenten Labyrinth Walks (walk 31/40), private labyrinth, Cumming GA:

Today I ventured north of Atlanta to Cumming, Georgia. Here was a farm surrounded by new developments. This labyrinth was built by the mother of one of my childhood best friends. I noticed Mrs. W on Facebook and connected with her. This was the second time I’ve had the joyous privilege of walking her labyrinth. This time I walked with my sister, too.

We arrived late morning and knocked on the door. And Mrs. W answered. I introduced my sister and she introduced us to her charming artsy electric home. We immediately felt at home. One of my favorite things in this house is the wall of silhouettes. Some are very old and some new. There are silhouettes of Mrs. W, silhouettes of her grandchildren, but more recently, are the custom silhouettes she has had done for her daughter’s wedding invitation (my friend’s wedding invitation and probably my favorite wedding invitation of all time), a silhouette of Mrs. W and her brother to commemorate their 80th birthdays, and one that is a sign (click below and you can see the actual sign) for a walking trail in New York City that commemorates her grandfather John Finley who was editor of the New York Times. (

Dr. Finley was New York’s most peripatetic philosopher. Indeed, he had covered half the world afoot, watching the human scene with kindly eyes. . . . But it was over this peaceful and marvelous Island of Manhattan that he liked most of all to wander, counting that day lost when he had not checked off at least 10 miles. Once each year he walked entirely around the island, covering part of that promenade that now bears his name. Today, because it does bear his name and because it perpetuates his walking image wrought in iron by an artist who knew him in his forward-tilted stride, it will help others see with his understanding eyes the shimmering waters that girdle us, the towered silhouette of the city and all the friendly passers-by who give life and meaning to the Manhattan panorama.

Source: John Finley Walk – I’m Just Walkin’,

And then we venture outside. Just walking out in the beautiful sunshine gets me excited. And hearing Mrs. W tell my sister about her labyrinth and how she came to build it was equally energizing. But before we get to the labyrinth, Mrs. W points out her “stump garden.” I have heard of rock gardens, but, never in my life, a stump garden. The centerpiece of the stump garden is the enormous stump of a beautiful oak tree that had been in center to the front yard. We had noticed the picture when we were looking at the silhouettes.

Next up was the labyrinth. It sits in the field surrounded by trees. Mrs. W decided she wanted a labyrinth and so she researched it on the Internet, came up with the dimensions of the Chartres labyrinth, brought in her landscaper and the two of them set out to place the rocks in her field and make a Chartres labyrinth.

The three of us then talked and laughed and walked (and MS and Mrs W pulled weeds).

After lots of hugs and a few pics, my sis and I headed to Blue Ridge GA for lunch with her husband and his childhood and lifelong best friend, a friendship of over 50 years!

My route today was Cumming GA, Blue Ridge Ga, Franklin NC, Highlands NC, Brevard NC, Shelby NC to to Charlotte.

Things I observed and/or learned about today…

1. The people who love banana putting, have differences of opinion with regard to the ripeness of the bananas used. In the group that I was in, it ranged from on the green side to almost black.

2. That sometimes the best marriages are where the husband and wife live in separate houses right next to each other.

3. I saw my first beaver crossing the road. Funny, but I have seen dogs, cats, turtles, foxes, coyotes, deer and even a bear cross the road, but I’ve never seen a beaver until today. Why did the beaver cross the road?

4. What makes the Blue Ridge Mountains blue?

5. How many communities have a road named “No Name Road?

6. Solar farms are big in this corner of the world. I was not expecting to see them in the foothills of the mountains of NC.

7. On the mountain road leading into Highlands, beautiful mountain streams and waterfalls :-).

8. When I see you Lake Toxaway from the road, my heart sings. There are a couple places in the mountains that just bring me home, even though I’ve never had a mountain home. Lake Toxaway and the Westervelt cabin are two of them.

9. The road from Toxaway to Brevard is being “straightened.” I have to wonder what economic benefit or reduction of economic loss justifies the great expense of blasting through a mountain side to straighten the road.

10. I think I could live in my car …



3.30.17 … “There seems to be a modern resurgence of interest in labyrinths.”  Mansfield thinks their return is a natural response from people searching for respite from the chaos of the modern world. “We have such a crazy society that people are just seeking ways to just slow down,” she said. “I think there’s a need for solitude and quiet and meditation.”

“Solvitur  Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2017 Lenten Labyrinth Walks (walk 30/40), Mercer University – Atlanta Campus, Atlanta GA:

A few thoughts …

Crunch, crunch, crunch… And balance.

Great visit with college friend Kim

Pink azaleas

Singing in the rain

Thunder and lightning

About Labyrinths …

There are only four steps to walking a labyrinth: Before entering, take a deep breath and exhale; on the walk toward the center, try to quiet your mind by releasing what’s bothering you; the center is for prayer or meditation – stay as long as you like; the path back out of the labyrinth is for reflection on what you learned while in the center.

“Labyrinths date back to ancient Greece and Rome, and they have long been used in Christian contexts and in traditions from South America, Australia, India and Nepal,” said Marcy Braverman Goldstein, Ph.D., a professor of religious studies at UNC Charlotte. “There seems to be a modern resurgence of interest in labyrinths.” 

Mansfield thinks their return is a natural response from people searching for respite from the chaos of the modern world.

“We have such a crazy society that people are just seeking ways to just slow down,” she said. “I think there’s a need for solitude and quiet and meditation.”

Researchers at Harvard Medical School’s Mind/Body Medical Institute report that meditative walks are successful at reducing anxiety and provide other benefits, from decreasing insomnia to lowering blood pressure, even increasing fertility.

Read more here:

I hate it when one of those morning devotional hits too close to home …

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The morning prayer determines the day. Squandered time of which we are ashamed, temptations to which we succumb, weakness and lack of courage in work, disorganization and lack of discipline in our thoughts and in our conversation with others, all have their own origin most often in the neglect of morning prayer. Order and distribution of our time become more firm where they originate in prayer. Temptations which accompany the working day will be conquered on the basis of the morning breakthrough to God. Decisions, demanded by work, become easier and simpler where they are made not in the fear of men but only in the sight of God. “Whatever your task, work heartily, as serving the Lord and not men” (Col. 3:23). Even mechanical work is done in a more patient way if it arises from the recognition of God and his command. The powers to work take hold, therefore, at the place where we have prayed to God. He wants to give us today the power which we need for our work.

Source: Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible

Daily Dig for March 30 – Dietrich Bonhoeffer,

Good day!



3.29.17 … The gifts of the new moon are a fresh start and new perspectives.

“Solvitur  Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2017 Lenten Labyrinth Walks (walk 29/40), Cathedral of Saint Philip, Atlanta GA:

I’m enjoying a night walk, and it is very dark on the labyrinth.

It’s also noisy. We are in a flight path of ATL airplanes.

And then I notice the tall buildings on Peachtree Street near the Cathedral. Although they are not new, they are not what I remember, and I am always surprised to see them.

The moon tonight is just a sliver in the sky. New moon? So I looked it up … last night was the new moon …

New moon comes March 28, 2017 at 02:57 UTC (evening of March 27 for the Americas).

Source: New moon is March 27 or 28 | Moon Phases | EarthSky,

And then I remember reading about these new moon labyrinth walks. And I wonder what day I would pick to walk each month.

Fresh Start: New Moon Labyrinth Walk

Fresh Starts walks are held on the morning of each new moon at a different labyrinth in the Denver – Boulder area.  The next walk is in Westminster on Wednesday, April 26th at 10:30 am.  Click for full upcoming schedule.

The gifts of the new moon are a fresh start and new perspectives. Deepen your experience of the new moon with your labyrinth walk.

“As this was my first time walking a public labyrinth in such an intentional way, I was amazed at how profound it felt to go in with such intention, and to walk with others. I hope to do another with you soon!”

~Frankie T., Denver, CO

A labyrinth has a single path. There are no choices to be made, and it is not a race or a test. You walk in to the center (Releasing), pause in the center for as long as you wish (Receiving), and then walk out along the same path (Returning).

Source: Fresh Start: New Moon Labyrinth Walk | Creative Life Center,

About Labyrinths:

The labyrinth set into the floor stones in the nave of Chartres Cathedral may be the world’s most recognized and famous path, yet it is surrounded in mystery.

Source: Labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral – Chartres, France | Atlas Obscura,

From the stack:

if a man does not master his circumstances then he is bound to be mastered by them.

Source: Amor Towles, A Gentleman in Moscow



3.28.17 … “So after that very short space of time I can walk out of there knowing at least my next step. That’s all I might know but at least I come away with knowing my next step.”

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2017 Lenten Labyrinth Walks (Walk28/40), finger labyrinth @ home, Charlotte NC:

I’m so glad I don’t believe that “the road to hell is paved with good intentions!”

Loved this from below … “So after that very short space of time I can walk out of there knowing at least my next step. That’s all I might know but at least I come away with knowing my next step.”

About Labyrinths and thin places …

Last Saturdays Celtic Spirituality Night service theme explored the thin places where we meet and feel the divine. They can be a specific place or a fleeting time. I set up the labyrinth with votive (electric) candles across the center. Walking it you end up weaving in and out of the lights – the thin place. Once at the center of the labyrinth you join the line of lights, you are standing on that barrier between our world and the realm of the spirit. This spot can be translucent, and in it I reflected on the other places and times where I felt the thin places in my life.

– At Columiille Megalith Park, usually in the Eye sculpture

– At my father’s death – that was a very special and difficult place to be.

– actually at every death that I have been present for; human, canine, feline.

– most labyrinths that I have walked.

And I thought of others that are walking or have walked in those same places, friends who are currently saying goodbye to a loved one, a dear dear friend who has shepherded a number of fur-babies through long illnesses and their deaths, ones who have been present at the births of their grandchildren, others who have been present at the deaths of parents, or friends, some that evoke the holy through music and song._

My heart goes out to them. Standing and staying, holding space for friends, loved ones and for strangers –

“Your life is a sacred journey. And it is about change, growth, discovery, movement, transformation, continuously expanding your vision of what is possible, stretching your soul, learning to see clearly and deeply, listening to your intuition, taking courageous challenges at every step along the way. You are on the path… exactly where you are meant to be right now…

And from here, you can only go forward, shaping your life story into a magnificent tale of triumph, of healing, of courage, of beauty, of wisdom, of power, of dignity, and of love.” – Caroline Adams

Celts would say heaven and earth are never more than three feet apart, but in the thin places the separation is tissue paper thin.

The point is not so much that we are closer to God in the thin places, but that the thin places make us more aware of the closeness of God everywhere.

Blessings on the path.


I do go because often there is a question I have in my mind’s eye that I’m entertaining and I’m wanting to place it into some silent sacred space to see what my next step might be with regard to it. And that venue, given that it’s uncluttered by words, uncluttered by people’s opinions and unfettered by points of view, I’m able to do that inner journey and, as it were, let the insight drop down. So after that very short space of time I can walk out of there knowing at least my next step. That’s all I might know but at least I come away with knowing my next step.

Jeff Trahair: Yes, they do, and just month by month with some of the regular walkers, some of them take to it very, very comfortably and have a vehicle of their own bodies and hearts that they can just open up on the labyrinth, and with their bodies they move and can explore the way they turn corners, all the sorts of movement sorts of things that can be done, but also the symbolic use of the space and their place in the space is quite obvious. I never pry for why people do what they do but it’s just apparent as you sit on the sidelines and watch that each person has their own particular disposition and physicality that is present when they walk the labyrinth, and it’s very beautiful to watch.

Jeff Trahair: Yes, I’ve always been a bit surprised at how many people come to those walks. We’ve been doing them for six years and some of them are…we wash feet on Thursday night, for instance, and have a quiet meal in the middle of a labyrinth, and on Good Friday we have an extinguishing of candles around a Tenebrae-type walk. It’s interesting because I guess some people who have been away or haven’t practiced in church rituals or liturgies for many years perhaps could come back to look at those practices afresh without the prejudices of it being very starchy and rigid and uncomfortable like sitting on pews in cold churches, for instance.

So in a way I think it’s the best of both worlds because the power and meaning of those symbols and signs can be seen afresh by people outside the confines of doctrine and dogma. And the concept of washing someone’s feet before they walk a long distance as an act of service doesn’t need the architecture or necessarily the story of Jesus to understand the power and beauty of that act of service, one to another. So I think there’s an immediacy that was probably at the heart of the ritual observances anyway in the Christian practices that people can be very comfortable with, irrespective of whether they understand the particular Jesus narrative or Christian narrative that might go along with them.

Tony Collins: You talked about the labyrinth as a wonderful way of enhancing community. How do you see it working in that way?

Jeff Trahair: It’s my favourite aspect of the labyrinth; to be in silence with a bunch of other people that might attend our walks. Being with each other quietly requires tolerance, a stillness of mind that doesn’t need to know a whole lot about other people, doesn’t form the relationship with what you have asked and what you have been told but just accepts very charitably the generosity of each other to be with each other. And to do that in silence without the intrusion of questions and being interested or not interested and all the things that flow with language and conversation is a very mighty tool of tolerance, and I think everyone experiences that in the walks.

At the end of the walk when we come together and hold hands and pass peace to bring the night to close, it is always a bittersweet moment of parting but equally well of very great joy and comfort in each other’s company. I think the labyrinth teaches you that, it teaches you to accept other people around you without the agenda of all their individuality, which is very beautiful, but the very robust way of being with each other is possible without all that individual stuff as well.

Via @tinybuddha: Worrying does not take away tomorrow’s troubles. It takes away today’s peace.



3.27.17 … “The labyrinth provides a balancing activity, one which may best be pursued alone, in one’s own time of need, searching, or desire for peace and focus. Experiencing the solace of journey provided by a labyrinth brings peace, healing, and enlightenment — mental health — appropriate for people of any age. “

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2017 Lenten Labyrinth Walks (Walk 27/40), Almetto Howie Alexander Labyrinth, McCrorey YMCA, Charlotte NC:

Wet labyrinth and gray sky, footprints, parchesi board, multiple symbols with meaning in African American community … this labyrinth is a classic 11 circuit Chartres labyrinth and adds wonderful elements from another culture and time. It works.

About this labyrinth:

The study, design and installation of labyrinths has become an essential part of my work as an artist. From our research, we believe this may be the first Afro-Centric Labyrinth in the United States. This particular project has all the potential to become a great source of healing and education within the smaller community of Washington Heights as it interacts with the larger community of Charlotte. The unique design pays homage to the nearly lost origins of the labyrinth, and offers each individual the opportunity to metaphorically walk their life’s journey along a pattern that echoes the journey and philosophy of Mrs. Alexander.

— Tom Schulz

Source: Almetto Howie Alexander Labyrinth: The Labyrinth,

Activities are often thought of as group-oriented, competitive sports, skill-oriented, performance or even pressure. The labyrinth provides a balancing activity, one which may best be pursued alone, in one’s own time of need, searching, or desire for peace and focus. Experiencing the solace of journey provided by a labyrinth brings peace, healing, and enlightenment — mental health — appropriate for people of any age. The labyrinth itself is a beautiful monument to heritage and history. The spiritual and actual presence of the labyrinth will fulfill the dreams of its founder — a person who spent her life working for her community in education and civil rights — and will offer the benefits and reminders of this continuing journey to the community’s next generations.

Source: Almetto Howie Alexander Labyrinth: The Labyrinth,

Here is a video where Ms. Alexander talks about this labyrinth:

From Dr. James Howell, a wonderful Methodist minister in Charlotte (Myers Park UMC and formerly at Devidson UMC):

They’ll never give me proper credit for this, but I baptized Luke Maye – and I think the lingering influence showed on that winning shot.

And from my stack of books …

“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.” The Alchemist, Paul Coehlo

And a favorite benediction:

“May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind always be at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields.

And until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of His hand.”



3.26.17 … devotional that correlates the surrender of Mary to the will of God and the surrender of the addict to his/her higher power. That is something to ponder.

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2017 Lenten Labyrinth Walks (Walk 26/40), MorningStar Lutheran Chapel, Mint Hill NC:

Did I mention I have a new dog?

Update on Albert …

1. He prefers people food and is willing to forego dry food for 24 hours. He tried this at Kate’s and after a day and a half, he caved. I, however, found an empty leftover pasta dish on the floor last night. John caved first, just sayin’.

2. Don’t think he has slept in a people bed or lounged on people furniture. He wasn’t even interested.

3. He is named for Prince Albert, Prince Consort (husband of Queen Victoria).

I don’t think this will be a slow walk because it’s about to rain. As I walk up the chimes are clanging and the birds are singing and I feel a few drops …

A friend sent me a devotional that correlates the surrender of Mary to the will of God and the surrender of the addict to his/her higher power. That is something to ponder.

From my review of the world …

Oh, no, not Jane!

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that anyone in want of attention could do worse than take possession of Jane Austen.

We’ve already had Austen and zombies, Austen and game theory, Austen and guinea pigs.

Now, a scholar has offered another spit-take-inducing pairing: Jane Austen and the alt-right.

No, bonnet-wearing Janeites have not been spotted at white nationalist gatherings. But in an article published March 12 in The Chronicle of Higher Education titled “Alt-Right Jane Austen” (and illustrated with a drawing of the beloved British novelist in a Make America Great Again hat), Nicole M. Wright, an assistant professor of English at the University of Colorado, describes finding a surprising Austen fan base.

It started, she writes, when she noticed the provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos riffing on the famous first line of “Pride and Prejudice,” turning it into a dig at “ugly” feminists. (He also mistakenly called Austen, who died during the reign of George III, a “Victorian” novelist, but whatever.)

Looking around, Ms. Wright also found more straight-faced references to Austen in alt-right paeans to racial purity and subservient wives, including a shout-out from a blogger promoting the infamous meme of Taylor Swift as an “Aryan goddess.”

Some alt-right admirers hail Austen’s novels as blueprints for a white nationalist “ethno-state.” Others cite her as a rare example of female greatness. But the bigger point, Ms. Wright argues, is the same.

“By comparing their movement not to the nightmare Germany of Hitler and Goebbels, but instead to the cozy England of Austen,” she writes, alt-right Austen fans “nudge readers” into thinking that “perhaps white supremacists aren’t so different from mainstream folks.”

Source: Jane Austen Has Alt-Right Fans? Heavens to Darcy! – The New York Times,

The oldest thru-hiker on the AT was 81. Dale Sanders, who will turn 82 at the half way point of his 2,200-mile trek from Georgia to Maine, hopes to capture the title for oldest thru-hiker when he finishes later this year.

During a rest period Thursday in Franklin, Sanders shared some of the motivational lessons he’s learned during the steps of his life.

“You’re going to have to live a happy life. And I could stand here all day and go over different formulas for what will make you happy. But you’ve got to figure that out for yourself,” he said.

Sanders, known as the “Grey Beard Adventurer,” said a spiritual life and activity and exercise are also needed for long-term endurance.

Sanders said his competitiveness comes from being bullied in high school.

“So, I couldn’t play any sports. And so I always struggled to find something I could do better than somebody else.”

Much younger trail hikers are impressed.

Source: Hiker on journey to set Appalachian Trail record, promote inspiration | WLOS,

And Banksy was there …

3. British street artist Banksy once tricked the museum into displaying one of his works “Early Man Goes to Market” in their Roman Britain collection

Source: 20 amazing British Museum highlights and facts for visitors to London,

And this is what I found,

The British Museum said the rock was “in keeping with the other exhibits”

Fake prehistoric rock art of a caveman with a shopping trolley has been hung on the walls of the British Museum.

The rock was put there by art prankster Banksy, who has previously put works in galleries in London and New York.

A British Museum spokeswoman said they were “seeing the lighter side of it”. She said it went unnoticed for one or two days but Banksy said three days.

Banksy also hung a sign saying the cave art showed “early man venturing towards the out-of-town hunting grounds”.

It read: “This finely preserved example of primitive art dates from the Post-Catatonic era.

“The artist responsible is known to have created a substantial body of work across South East of England under the moniker Banksymus Maximus but little else is known about him.

“Most art of this type has unfortunately not survived. The majority is destroyed by zealous municipal officials who fail to recognise I the artistic merit and historical value of daubing on walls.”

Banksy is best-known as a graffiti artist who has attracted a cult following for stencilled designs that satirise authority and modern society.

Source: BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Cave art hoax hits British Museum,

Silence = negative space

A recent New York Times Magazine piece on the extinction of silence prompted me to revisit George Prochnik’s excellent In Pursuit of Silence: Listening for Meaning in a World of Noise. As a lover of marginalia, I went straight for my notes on the book, which included this highlighted passage on the origin and cultural appropriation of silence:

The roots of our English term ‘silence’ sink down through the language in multiple directions. Among the word’s antecedents is the Gothic verb anasilan, a word that denotes the wind dying down, and the Latin desinere, a word meaning ‘stop.’ Both of these etymologies suggest the way that silence is bound up with the idea of interrupted action. The pursuit of silence, likewise, is dissimilar from most other pursuits in that it generally begins with a surrender of the chase, the abandonment of efforts to impose our will and vision on the world. Not only is it about standing still; with rare exceptions, the pursuit of silence seems initially to involve a step backward from the tussle of life… [I]t’s as though, as a culture, we’ve learned to ‘mind the gaps’ so well that they’ve all but disappeared. We live in an age of incessancy, under the banner of the already heard and forgotten.

But rather than exploring silence solely as subtraction, Prochnik captures its additive potential with a beautiful anecdote:

A painter friend of mine once told me that he thought of sound as an usher for the here and now. When he was a small child, Adam suffered an illness that left him profoundly deaf for several months. His memories of that time are vivid and not, he insists, at all negative. Indeed, they opened a world in which the images he saw could be woven together with much greater freedom and originality than he’d ever known. The experience was powerful enough that it helped steer him toward his lifelong immersion in the visual arts. ‘Sound imposes a narrative on you,’ he said, ‘and it’s always someone else’s narrative. My experience of silence was like being awake inside a dream I could direct.’

This idea — the notion of finding creative expression in negative space — resonates with many artists, literally or metaphorically. Rodin famously claimed that his sculpting process was all about removing the stone that wasn’t part of the sculpture, and Louis Armstrong maintained that the important notes were the ones he didn’t play.

Source: The Origin and Cultural Evolution of Silence – Brain Pickings,



3.25.17 … Say hello to Albert, the LAByrinth walker …

Say hello to Albert, the LAByrinth walker …

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2017 Lenten Labyrinth Walks (Walk 25/40), Myers Park Baptist Church, Charlotte NC:

So we adopted today. We adopted Albert, the LAByrinth walker, the rescued rescuer.

Albert was found in a neighborhood about 12 miles out. He has no collar and no chip. The family that found him took him to a nearby neighbor who lives on a farm and trains dogs. And so Kate has had him for 10 days and the postings have been made on websites and the authorities notified and no one ever called.

Albert is the sweetest dog. So we are very proud parents.

As for the labyrinth walk, Albert did great! But there were ants streaming from every break in the concrete.

From the stack …

It is difficult for such a person to conform to what Ford Madox Ford in his book of recollections has called the sole reason for writing one’s memoirs: namely, to paint a picture of one’s time. Your short-piece writer’s time is not Walter Lippmann’s time, or Stuart Chase’s time, or Professor Einstein’s time. It is his own personal time, circumscribed by the short boundaries of his pain and his embarrassment, in which what happens to his digestion, the rear axle of his car, and the confused flow of his relationships with six or eight persons and two or three buildings is of greater importance than what goes on in the nation or in the universe. He knows vaguely that the nation is not much good any more; he has read that the crust of the earth is shrinking alarmingly and that the universe is growing steadily colder, but he does not believe that any of the three is in half as bad shape as he is.

Enormous strides are made in star-measurement, theoretical economics, and the manufacture of bombing planes, but he usually doesn’t find out about them until he picks up an old copy of “Time” on a picnic grounds or in the summer house of a friend. He is aware that billions of dollars are stolen every year by bankers and politicians, and that thousands of people are out of work, but these conditions do not worry him a tenth as much as the conviction that he has wasted three months on a stupid psychoanalyst or the suspicion that a piece he has been working on for two long days was done much better and probably more quickly by Robert Benchley in 1924.

Source: James Thurber’s My Life and Hard Times

“I only wish I hadn’t been so anxious to see where the arc of my future would lead; that I would have had more confidence that I could bend it toward the life I wanted.”

Source: Quartz,

Psychologists call it “learned helplessness” when a person believes, as I did during my youth, that the choices I made had no effect on the outcomes in my life. From Middletown’s world of small expectations to the constant chaos of our home, life had taught me that I had no control. Mamaw and Papaw had saved me from succumbing entirely to that notion, and the Marine Corps broke new ground. If I had learned helplessness at home, the Marines were teaching learned willfulness.

Source: J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

Thus, we have Christians in two parts of the world calculating Jesus’ birth on the basis that his death and conception took place on the same day (March 25 or April 6) and coming up with two close but different results (December 25 and January 6).

Connecting Jesus’ conception and death in this way will certainly seem odd to modern readers, but it reflects ancient and medieval understandings of the whole of salvation being bound up together. One of the most poignant expressions of this belief is found in Christian art. In numerous paintings of the angel’s Annunciation to Mary—the moment of Jesus’ conception—the baby Jesus is shown gliding down from heaven on or with a small cross (see photo above of detail from Master Bertram’s Annunciation scene); a visual reminder that the conception brings the promise of salvation through Jesus’ death.

The notion that creation and redemption should occur at the same time of year is also reflected in ancient Jewish tradition, recorded in the Talmud. The Babylonian Talmud preserves a dispute between two early-second-century C.E. rabbis who share this view, but disagree on the date: Rabbi Eliezer states: “In Nisan the world was created; in Nisan the Patriarchs were born; on Passover Isaac was born … and in Nisan they [our ancestors] will be redeemed in time to come.” (The other rabbi, Joshua, dates these same events to the following month, Tishri.)14 Thus, the dates of Christmas and Epiphany may well have resulted from Christian theological reflection on such chronologies: Jesus would have been conceived on the same date he died, and born nine months later.15

In the end we are left with a question: How did December 25 become Christmas? We cannot be entirely sure. Elements of the festival that developed from the fourth century until modern times may well derive from pagan traditions. Yet the actual date might really derive more from Judaism—from Jesus’ death at Passover, and from the rabbinic notion that great things might be expected, again and again, at the same time of the year—than from paganism. Then again, in this notion of cycles and the return of God’s redemption, we may perhaps also be touching upon something that the pagan Romans who celebrated Sol Invictus, and many other peoples since, would have understood and claimed for their own, too.16

Source: How December 25 Became Christmas – Biblical Archaeology Society,

Happy March 25!



3.24.17 … I’ve been dropped into the perfect spring evening in Charlotte …

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2017 Lenten Labyrinth Walks (Walk 24/40), Avondale Presbyterian Church, Charlotte NC:

Cacophony of sound… chimes, many different birds, fire trucks, and music from a neighboring backyard. And the redbud trees just look wonderful.

I drove back from Atlanta this morning and I thought to myself, it is cold and cloudy and feels like we stepped back into the dead of winter. Eight hours later, I feel like I’ve been dropped into the perfect spring evening in Charlotte. This year continues to have strange weather.

From the book shelf:

Four new books for my stack … no quotes yet. 😉



3.23.17 … “Now, God is in all the things that make my life important: to work, to feel fulfilled, to love family. ‘Joy is essential.’”

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2017 Lenten Labyrinth Walks (Walk 23/40), private labyrinth, Atlanta GA:

Sixty degrees but still seemed hot …

About Labyrinths:

Does Quinn believe in God?

“My idea of God is defined through others,” she says. “Six months ago I would have said no. Now, God is in all the things that make my life important: to work, to feel fulfilled, to love family.

“Joy is essential.”

The word “spirituality” is “overused,” she says. Does she have spiritual moments?

“I walk the labyrinth,” she says.

For millennia, the labyrinth has represented a kind of pilgrimage and a form of meditation. There is a labyrinth in the Chartres Cathedral in France. The Washington National Cathedral has two canvas labyrinths patterned after that one.

“Ben built a beautiful one for me,” Quinn says.

It is a 50-foot concrete circle at their country estate in southern Maryland on the St. Mary’s River. Among its stones, Quinn says, she has placed some of her mother’s ashes, a piece of the oak from her father’s family’s place, Georgia roses from her mother’s family, precious things from friends.

“It’s a very peaceful place on the banks of the river,” she says. “I can stay there for hours. It makes me feel very calm.”

Maybe Sally Quinn has gotten religion.

Source Why Ben Bradlee Has Sally Quinn in a Labyrinth | Washingtonian,

And here’s a video with Sally Quinn –

My Faith: How walking the labyrinth changed my life

From the stacks …

From Richard Rohr’s The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation:

“Spiritual joy has nothing to do with anything “going right.” It has everything to do with things going , and going on within you. It’s an inherent, inner aliveness. Joy is almost entirely an inside job. Joy is not first determined by the object enjoyed as much as by the prepared eye of the enjoyer.”

From Kendell Easley’s 52 Words Every Christian Should Know:

“Spirituality includes the ability to relate intimately to others face-to-face. God exists in the perfect relationship of the Persons of the Trinity; human beings may know each other—and they may know and be known by God. Further, “spirit” or “soul” refers to that component of a human surviving bodily death. Because God is spirit, mankind has spiritual capacity as well (Jn 4:24).”

And finally, From Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail (Official Guides to the Appalachian Trail):

“I have regrets, of course. I regret that I didn’t do Katahdin (though I will, I promise you, I will). I regret that I never saw a bear or wolf or followed the padding retreat of a giant hellbender salamander, never shooed away a bobcat or sidestepped a rattlesnake, never flushed a startled boar. I wish that just once I had truly stared death in the face (briefly, with a written assurance of survival). But I got a great deal else from the experience. I learned to pitch a tent and sleep beneath the stars. For a brief, proud period I was slender and fit. I gained a profound respect for wilderness and nature and the benign dark power of woods. I understand now, in a way I never did before, the colossal scale of the world. I found patience and fortitude that I didn’t know I had. I discovered an America that millions of people scarcely know exists. I made a friend. I came home. Best of all, these days when I see a mountain, I look at it slowly and appraisingly, with a narrow, confident gaze and eyes of chipped granite. We didn’t walk 2,200 miles, it’s true, but here’s the thing: we tried. So Katz was right after all, and I don’t care what anybody says. We hiked the Appalachian Trail.”



3.22.17 … “For though I claw at empty air and feel Nothing, no embrace, I have not plummeted.”-Denise Levertov

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2017 Lenten Labyrinth Walks (Walk 22/40), finger labyrinth created from aerial photo of Serenbe (GA) labyrinth, @home, Charlotte NC:

I have fretted today. I’ll leave it at that.

I am at home and created a finger labyrinth from an aerial photo of the labyrinth at Serenbe. But what made this one good is I listened to the music attached to a you tube clip about Labyrinths ( And it ended up being a special walk. It removed me for a few minutes from my fretting.

A few things that have crossed my radar this week …

“Suspended” from Evening Train by Denise Levertov

I had grasped God’s garment in the void

But my hand slipped

On the rich silk of it.

The ‘everlasting arms’ my sister loved to remember

Must have upheld my leaden weight

From falling, even so,

For though I claw at empty air and feel

Nothing, no embrace,

I have not plummeted.

From J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis:

There is an ethnic component lurking in the background of my story. In our race-conscious society, our vocabulary often extends no further than the color of someone’s skin – black people, Asians, white privilege. Sometimes these broad categories are useful. But to understand my story, you have to delve into the details.

I may be white, but I do not identify with the WASPs of the Northeast. Instead, I identify with the millions of working-class white Americans of Scots-Irish descent who have no college degree. To these folks, poverty’s the family tradition. Their ancestors were day laborers in the southern slave economy, sharecroppers after that, coal miners after that, and machinists and mill workers during more recent times. Americans call them hillbillies, rednecks or white trash. I call them neighbors, friends and family.



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March 2017