Saturday, July 30, 2011

Sense the magic, mystery and imagination in life

"Enchantment invites us to pause and to be arrested by whatever is before us; instead of our doing something, something is done to us. This is the way of the soul, which is primarily the receptive power in us; by letting ourselves be slowed down and affected by nature, we are fashioned into persons of substance, even if at a more active, conscious level we are forcefully engaged in becoming something else."
— Thomas Moore, The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life

Jeff Stroud starts yesterday's blog entry, "Engaged in Becoming", with the above quote from Moore's book and then describes how it and other writing "bathed me in renewing activity of the senses. That included a trip to the Town Center formerly the Mall, to a week-long used book sale with my friend Linda, which included a journey over to the library so she could use their computers while I perused the videos and bookshelves."

His post includes nature photographs and a link to a review of The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life on the Spirituality & Practice site. This S&P review includes, "Moore's juiciest volume to date pinpoints magic, play, mystery, and imagination as wands that can renew and restore both our private and public lives." Spirituality & Practice also offers an excerpt from The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life about Silence.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Beauty is a prime ingredient in a soulful world

Leah Campbell Badertscher blogs about her contemplation of beauty in "WHY Beauty?" and shares some sources she finds helpful in this exploration. She begins with her reaction to:

"In a world where the soul is neglected, beauty is placed last on its list of priorities."
 — Thomas Moore, Care of the Soul
Badertscher also writes about the late John O'Donohue's radio presentation, "The Inner Landscape of Beauty". She writes, "He also discussed beauty as not necessarily being something that would be conventionally, superficially defined as 'beautiful' as in 'pretty' (although those things are not necessarily excluded), but that it does have the quality of being so captivating as to be arresting. (By the way, I absolutely love that word, arresting —  it's so, well — arresting.) This closed another gap in understanding for me."

She ends the post with a description of Rumi's poetry: "I started reading a new volume of Rumi poems last night and in the introduction it is told of how representatives from all over the world and from all religions came to his funeral. When asked about why they came, they answered, 'He deepens us wherever we are.' This touched me deeply, because I realize how, hundreds of years later, his work deepens me — and countless others — as well. And that is far beyond being a sufficient answer to 'Why? Why Beauty? Why care for the soul?' To deepen. To deepen ourselves, to deepen one another."

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Practical, simple, enchanted living feeds the soul

Auburn Meadow Farm, a small "modern heritage foodstead" in western Pennsylvania, raises American Milking Devon cattle for dairy and beef.  It wants to "reintroduce an extraordinary eating experience while providing a simple, joyful life" for its animals. Thursday's blog post, "In which we are enchanted", introduces readers to Thomas Moore's book, The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life. While packing household items during a family move, Jackie Cleary writes, "His most famous books are Care of the Soul and Soul Mates, but the two that most feed my soul are the The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life and The Education of the Heart. I found The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life first and of course had to plop down in the middle of the action for a quick skim. Here I found interesting observations about that uneasy tension between dreams and practicality so especially polarized in our American culture."

Quotes from The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life fill Cleary's post including Moore's observation:
“Over the years, when I’ve lectured on food, cynical listeners have complained that I’m reducing psychology to the themes of modern living and gourmet magazines. When I first heard such objections I felt defensive and concerned. Was I not being clear about the depth of these issues? Then I realized that magazines about food and home may be more important, even if they are intellectually light, than thick tomes of research and philosophy. Now I don’t mind being associated with books of recipes and advice about furnishings and entertainment. Of course, they can be superficial and middle-class, but their simplicity is not a sign of their insignificance.”
Cleary ends with "And so this evening, we ponder the importance of two words rarely used anymore – enchantment and delight. Yet that’s exactly what I feel every day as I stand in the special glow unique to summer evenings, pumping water into the trough and watching the cows graze their favorite evening pasture." The site includes a Cow Gallery of farm personalities.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Pets and books may begin talks with strangers

Today Gina Marie reposts "Homage to Kitty Miss Kier" as tribute to her late "beloved 15-year-old feline companion" — a brief vignette set in a city park, with a non-judgmental cat, a visitor, and a description of Thomas Moore's book, Care of the Soul as "It’s more-or-less the Bible of the Psychology/ Self-Help movement,” when the woman who seeks permission to pet her cat, asks what she is reading.

Gina Marie continues the exchange:
“I’ve always been interested in psychology,” the woman said with a far-off look in her eyes. “I plan on opening up my own business.”
“Your own business – really?” I didn’t mean to sound condescending, but I couldn’t help but remain skeptical. After all, this woman looked as if she had just rolled around in a pile of dirt, and her ill-fitting clothes were ripped in places. “What kind of business?” I asked, my curiosity piqued.
“Counseling,” the woman said.
“Ah, counseling,” I began. “I’ve thought about doing that. It would be hard work, but definitely rewarding.”
“I don’t think it would be hard,” the woman contradicted. “At the end of the day, some counselors go home all wrapped up on their clients’ dramas, but not me – no, siree.”
“That would be the hardest part for me,” I told her. “I think I’d have a hard time separating my work life from my professional one.”
“Nah,” she grunted. “It’d be a piece of cake. You see, I’m a sociopath,” the woman explained, as nonchalantly as if she’d just told me that her grandfather was Swedish.
“A sociopath . . . and how, exactly, would that make you a good counselor?” I asked.
“Well, I feel no remorse,” the woman told me.

Step away from the cat, I wanted to tell her. Instead, I nodded my head, as if what she’d said made perfect sense.

“And because I feel no remorse,” the woman continued, “I wouldn’t have any problem shutting the door on my clients at the end of each workday.”
A 2009 photo of the wise Kier closes the blog post.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Thesholds and openings are places of soul care

In today's blog post, The Entry Point", Unity minister Rev. Alan A. Rowbotham quotes Thomas Moore in a  Parabola Spring 2000 article about liminal space. In the piece "Neither Here Nor There", Moore describes a threshold experience:
“Standing in a doorway you are forced into the imagination, wondering what you will find on the other side. It is a place full of expectant fantasy.” 
According to Rowbotham, Moore continues his description of transitional space:
"In their narrow confines you may find fantasy, memory, dream, anxiety, miracle, intuition, and magic. These are the means by which the deep soul prospers – neither in life nor entirely out of life. This is a good place from which to make a decision and get a hunch. It is the true home of creativity. It is also the claustrophobic place of greatest fear. Anything of moment takes place in these interstices – in the tunnels and passages and waiting periods. They are indispensable and yet must be kept tangential."
Rowbotham shares verses from the Bible echoing this emphasis on doorways before recommending, "...  make a habit of taking a little time daily, alone in the quiet place of your heart, in communion with your Source, so that the illumination and guidance of the Holy Spirit may become alive and active in your life. Then go about your daily work, ever open to divine guidance, trusting it and resting in it, strengthened and sustained by its power." Thomas Moore also suggests spending time alone in silence as care of the soul.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Psyche and Eros: Love as a rite of initiation

Today Notes and Sundries introduces the myth of Psyche and Eros with Thomas Moore's words as editor of James Hillman's collection of writings, A Blue Fire:
"Rather than present a program of painless love, Hillman explores the betrayals and impossibilities of love as valuable initiatory moments of the soul. Initiation is a rite of soul-making. Innocence may have to be punctured. Idealized notions of self, other, and love may have to earn their ripening shadows. A third element may have to appear to keep the two in love from closing their world in on themselves. Primal, Eden-like trust may have to mature so that one doesn’t go about life with an innocence frequently shocked and undone by disappointment and betrayal.”
Part 1 of this post retells the myth using William Adlington's 16th century translation of The Golden Ass by Lucius Apuleius. Part 2 completes the story with quotations from Hillman's work.

Jean-Baptiste Regnault (1754 - 1829)

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