Friday, March 30, 2018

Behold the Wood of the Cross: Good Friday Meditation on Crosses . . . And Crossings

Alan Bennett, Keeping On Keeping On (London: Faber & Faber, 2016):

Oh to live in the world one sees from the train — empty, unpeopled, only a horse in the field, one car at the crossing, and a woman at the end of a garden taking down washing (Diary, 3 March 2006, p. 51).

Margaret Farley, Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics (NY: Continuum, 2006):

The solution to the gender divide, however, does not lie in an uncritical notion of “complementarity.” No one of us is complete as a person, and maybe not as a gendered person. Yet when all determinations of, for example, masculine and feminine “traits” prove nonuniversal; when these characterizations of what is normatively a woman or a man prove deeply culturally constructed; when women, for example, do not find themselves in the descriptions of the traits they are supposed to represent; then we must see these characterizations as what they are: social and cultural stereotypes that promote hierarchical relations, and that do not, in the end, succeed in making us complements across a gender divide (pp. 156-7).

William Least Heat Moon, Prairy Erth (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1991):

I’m speaking about shards and grids and crossings, about that great reticulum, our past. (p. 326).

Linda Hogan, The Woman Who Watches Over the World (NY: W.W. Norton, 2001):

Opening the eyes is the job of storytellers, witnesses, and the keepers of accounts. The stories we know and tell are reservoirs of light and fire that brighten and illuminate the darkness of human night, the unseen. They throw down a certain slant of light across the floor each morning, and they throw down, also, its shadow (pp. 113-4).

Audre Lorde, A Burst of Light (Ithaca, NY: Firebrand, 1988):

And I wonder what I may be risking as I become more and more committed to telling whatever truth comes across my eyes my tongue my pen—no matter how difficult—the world as I see it, people as I feel them (pp. 51-2).

Jan Morris, Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere (NY: Simon & Schuster, 2001):

There are people everywhere who form a Fourth World, or a diaspora of their own. They are the lordly ones! They come in all colours. They can be Christians or Hindus or Muslims of Jews or pagans or atheists. They can be young or old, men or women, soldiers or pacifists, rich or poor. They may be patriots, but they are never chauvinists. They share with each other, across all the nations, common values of humour and understanding. When you are among them you know you will not be mocked or resented, because they will not care about your race, your faith, you sex or your nationality, and they will suffer fools if not gladly, at least sympathetically.  They laugh easily. They are grateful. They are never mean. They are not inhibited by fashion, public opinion or political correctness. They are exiles in their own communities, because they are always in a minority, but they form a mighty nation, if they only knew it (pp. 195-6).

Edwin Muir, Collected Poems (NY: Oxford UP, 1965):

One foot in Eden still, I stand
And look across the other land  
(“One Foot in Eden”)

Laura Dassow Walls, Henry David Thoreau: A Life (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 2017):

This education [in Latin and Greek classics at Harvard] shaped Thoreau profoundly, teaching him to measure the moderns by the standards of the ancients, and it enabled him to lean hard into every word he wrote, hearing echoes of meaning layered across a multitude of languages and ringing down through the ages (p. 66).

Joseph Wechsberg, The Vienna I Knew: Memories of a European Childhood (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1979):

[Praguers] feel (and sometimes admit it, reluctantly) that Prague lost something which was very important — the mutual reactions and cross-reactions between the various national cultural groups that created the peculiarly tense, cultural atmosphere of Prague which was always a give-and-take, a crossroads where people from various cultures met, talked, argued; fought and even made up occasionally (pp. 201-2).

Edith Wharton, The Custom of the Country (NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1913):

The turnings of life seldom show a sign-post; or rather, though the sign is always there, it is usually placed some distance back, like the notices that give warning of a bad hill or a level railway-crossing (p. 221).

Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? (NY: Grove Press, 2011):

The threshold and the hearth are mythic spaces. Each has sacred and ceremonial aspects in the history of our myth. To cross the threshold is to enter another world – whether the one on the inside or the one on the outside – and we can never be really sure what is on the other side of the door until we open it (pp. 60-1).

Charles Wright, “The Southern Cross”:

There is an otherness inside us
We never touch,

no matter how far down our hands reach,

It is the past,

with its good looks and Anytime, Anywhere . . . .

Our prayers go out to it, our arms go out to it
Year after year, But who can ever remember enough?

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