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Two yogis in the family

June 11, 2014

Exciting news — there are now two yogis in the family! Eliott took his first yoga class yesterday. Though we’ve practiced “yoga tricks” at home over the years, Eliott was thrilled to join six other three to five year olds in a forty-five minute class at Claremont Yoga. Teacher Shari did a great job, especially considering she wasn’t expecting five of the seven kids to be boys. Starting by getting the students to sit “crisscross applesauce” on their mats while buzzing like bees then hissing like snakes, Shari got them focused on their breath. Next she read a story of going to the beach. The children acted out scenes from the book, with Shari leading them through yoga poses along the way. Co-owner Tracy and I even got in on the fun by posing as waves (in downward-facing dog) under which the kids swam as fish. Shari finished the class with the kids quietly lying on their backs, eyes closed, in final relaxation pose. Eliott did a great job listening to the teacher and executing the poses. Most important, he had a wonderful time and can’t wait for next week’s class. Yeah!

If Only I Could

April 18, 2014

 

I’m watching, if from afar

I’m waiting to be with you
I’m longing to hold you in my arms
You’re my beautiful baby boy
You’re my pride and joy
You’re the best thing in my life
What wondrous things await you
I look forward to seeing
All that you accomplish
I am your Mommy
You are my sweetheart
That bond will never be broken
I heart you so much my darling boy
It sometimes makes me weep
How powerful this mother’s love is
Drink up my love sweetie
Let it nourish you as my milk once did
Recognize I would do anything for you
If only I could
I know you wonder why
I’m not like the other playground mommies
Why I don’t play pirates and cars as much as you’d like
Sometimes I doze while we’re watching Dinosaur Train
And it can be challenging for me to read to you at night
If only I could I would
Do all these things with you until you were happily sleepy
And then tuck you into bed to dream your marvelous dreams
If only I could I would
Overcome my fatigue, stiffness, and pain
To swing you
to sit on the floor and play long hours with you
To watch teev episodes with eyes wide open
To read and read half through the night
If only I could

Spring Haiku

March 20, 2014

It’s time to rejoice

Smell the flowers in the breeze

Spring has sprung today

A Compendium of Collective Nouns

March 19, 2014

Last month, I shared a volume with my writers’ workshop. Called A Compendium of Collective Nouns: From an Armory of Aardvarks to a Zeal of Zebras, the book was a Christmas present (thanks, Mom!) that includes varieties of collective nouns, quite a few of which relate to animals. Here are some of the favorites from the workshop members.

  • a clan of meerkats
  • a romp of otters
  • a hum of bees
  • a worship of writers

Many of the entries include not only definitions but also etymologies. For writers, the derivation includes this explanation:

If you’re in the habit of reading the acknowledgment pages of books, you’ll know that a writer today workshop her readership, her editor, and her agent, and she might heap flattery and praise upon those who help her reach an ever-wider audience and, hopefully, a bigger paycheck.

I hope one day to heap praise on you, my readers!

Modern European Mysticism, part 7

March 16, 2014
Question
In class, Prof. Garb spoke about the transition from “mysticism” to “spirituality” in the 2nd half of the 20th century, and pointed out some of the drawbacks of this transition.
Explain what the transition from “mysticism” to “spirituality” is, and express YOUR opinion about it: Do you think this transition is a positive phenomenon? Or, do you think we should go back from “spirituality” to “mysticism” of some sort? (Your answer may be in accordance with Prof. Garb’s opinion, or against it, or somewhere in between.) Explain your opinion.
Make sure your explanation or opinion includes reference to the difference between the “social sciences approach” and the “historical approach” (mentioned in lecture #7, in the segment titled “Methodology of the Course”).
Answer
Throughout the early modern European world, small circles and movements followed mystics and studied mystical texts. Picture these bits of mysticism like discreet blobs of mustard on a piece of bread. In the second half of the twentieth century, the mustard got spread across the bread by a knife, combining into a globalization that was thinner, with less focus on specific traditions. The thin layer of mustard represents the global aspects of spirituality that incorporates certain parts of mysticism in a more superficial manner. And the mustard on the bread is just one part of the spiritual sandwich with Zen avocado, Tibetan tomato, and Daoist tofu.The social sciences approach — whether ethnography, sociology, or anthropology, to name but a few disciplines — to studying mysticism is to examine the present, thin layer of mustard within the context of the spiritual sandwich. This idea of “presentism,” believing that only the present is important, puts the study of modern European mysticism at a disadvantage.

The historical approach reaches back to the mystics and texts, or various mustard blobs, to study forms of mysticism in their original contexts. Placed within psychological theory, one can study how the mystics themselves described and perceived their mystical experiences. A historical focus is necessary for understanding the depth of mystical texts, the rich ingredients that go into the making of the mustard.

I believe it is important to taste the flavors of vinegar and ground seeds that go into the mustard blobs before one begins to make a spiritual sandwich. Though social scientists might argue that the spiritual sandwich retains the taste of the mustard, I believe that the mustard — that is, mysticism — is muted. Without a historical approach, one loses the nuances. Reaching back into the historical context of modern European mysticism helps us better understand the mystics and their writings. It is worth studying modern European mysticism in its historical context before conflating it with other forms of spirituality.