Religion and Philosophy
A brilliant, shimmering, whirling ring of light; time with loved ones; soft words of encouragement
Pittsburgh, at the end of another terribly hot day in an unending string of terribly hot days, is a forge, the air like damp, tepid gauze. The people on the streets look stretched, desperate, short-tempered. My poetry reading, part of the eighteen-day Bloomfield Sacred Arts Festival, is being held in the Bloomfield Art Works, a small, un-air-conditioned gallery on Liberty Avenue. Its walls are covered with “sacred” art, mostly paintings, photographs, and drawings of angels. The subjects possess that characteristic ethereal androgyny, that feathery beauty that has become cliché. They are intriguing, but, in the main, I’m tired of angels.
I’ve just driven 550 miles from LA to a monastery located in the desert a couple of hours northwest of Las Vegas. The moment I spot the Celtic cross atop the adobe chapel and pull in, I see that one of my lessons for the next week is going to concern the gap between expectations and reality. I’ve been picturing a flowering-cactus-festooned oasis; instead, the property is next to a state highway and is home to more double-wide trailers than cactuses.
I was usually filled with a sense of something like shame until I remembered that wonderful line of Blake’s — that we are here to learn to endure the beams of love — I took a long, deep breath and forced these words out of my strangulated throat: “Thank you.”