I took these photos yesterday, 20 June 2019, the last day of Spring. They were taken at home in Bailey, Colorado, elev. 8750′. –s.a. bort
Monument to nature,
All that is soft and smooth,
That which best comes in pairs,
Creation of motherhood,
All unaborted, suckling children,
First nourishment for each and all of us once pulled from the womb,
by s.a. bort / 6 June 2019
Living at 8,750′ elevation in the mountains of Colorado, Spring is here for Jean and I, finally! (Although, it’s May 10th, and it has been snowing for two days.)
We saw our first aspen tree catkins of the year on Saturday, April 20. Above is a photo I took of them on April 27. We have quaking aspens, by the way, as opposed to the other two mentioned in the below article.
We heard hummingbirds for the first time and saw one briefly on the feeder, also on April 27. We always see the Broad-tailed Hummingbirds first, pictured below: “Migratory hummingbirds usually in [their] breeding territory about mid-April. They breed across mountain forests and meadows throughout the Western United States from eastern California and northern Wyoming south through Great Basin and Rocky Mountain states to southern Arizona and western Texas. In September, they generally move south to winter in Mexico, Guatemala and, occasionally, El Salvador.” Soon afterwards, the Rufous species of hummingbird shows up here, at our elevation, in Bailey.
As far as Maibocks, I love good beer. These beauties “are brewed in winter and released in late April and May. They are rich yet not overbearing, and are enjoyed before the searing throes of summer.” Aside from that, they are very good to my taste buds at just this time, when the aspen catkins grow, then fall away, after which little green aspen buds appear. Those buds then transform into the quaking, green aspen leaves that most people associate with aspen trees.
But, what of the too-often overlooked, too-little-reflected-upon catkins? The following article, hopefully, will nurture such reflection.
The Aspen Catkin: What will become of this fuzzy little thing?
Kara Rogers – April 13, 2011
Aspens, of which there are three species—the American quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides), the American big-tooth aspen (P. grandidentata), and the European aspen (P. tremula)—exhibit several curious traits when it comes to reproduction. For example, each tree is either male or female, a condition known as dioecism, and while both male and female aspens produce catkins, only the male catkin has pollen, which is transferred to a female by the wind. And when the right breeze comes along in early summer, the pollinated female will release her seeds, which parachute along through the air, swept away to some distant place.
Aspens have a low rate of reproductive success. Indeed, it takes trillions of seeds being dispersed on the wind each year to ensure that a percentage sufficient for species propagation happens to parachute into a suitable environment, where they can germinate and sprout. Reproductive success is limited in part because aspens have strict germination constraints. For example, aspens are shade-intolerant, and therefore a seed needs a sunny spot to grow. That spot also must be free from seed-eating animals and able to retain moisture.
Another constraint on reproduction actually is imposed prior to pollination and has to do with the distance between male and female trees. Each aspen grove is a clone, meaning that all the trees in a grove are identical to the founder sapling. Hence, if a female sapling happened to give rise to the grove, all the individual trees in the grove will be female. This means that pollination can occur only if groves of the opposite sex are relatively close to one another. If they are separated by too great a distance, pollination between them is unlikely.
The future of each species of aspen hinges on its tufted catkin seeds, new generations of which face the perilous wind-borne journey every spring. Most do not make it. The ones that do, however, spawn entire groves of aspens—stands of trees that may survive for hundreds or possibly thousands of years.
This post was originally published in NaturePhiles on TalkingScience.org.
top photo by: s.a. bort / 27 April 2019 / Bailey, CO.
second photo by: s.a. bort / 10 May 2019 / Bailey, CO.
Often now, when I go to put the hummingbird feeders out with the sunrise, a single hummingbird flies up close to me while I’m still holding the two feeders. It then drinks from the feeders while I’m still holding them in my hands.
This morning, two hummingbirds came up to me and drank from the feeders while they were still in my hands. In this goofy world, there are still moments that are so heartwarming and magical to me!
by S.A. Bort/3 August 2018
Photo by S.A. Bort/17 August 2013
bounty, business, capitalism, daybreak, dreams, film stars, hummingbirds, Jefferson Airplane, left coast, media, memories, middle America, nature, partisanship, politicians, politics, right coast, sanctuary, solitude, stockholders, television, time, world news
5:50 AM. Air brisk to the face. No wind.
Subdued light with orange horizon. No sun.
Hummingbird feeders, sugary, up as scheduled. No whistly hums yet.
Refreshing solitude. Daybreak.
On the left coast, out-of-touch film stars/media do whatever they do at this hour.
On the right coast, politicized representatives/media do whatever they do.
Now their jets, passing oppositely overhead, steal the silence, largely stockholders profiting non-partisanly from growing businesses.
All of this my view from down here. From bountiful middle-America.
Back inside, opening our living room blinds. Light pours in.
A quick peek at the morning news-of-the-moment on the “plastic, fantastic lover.” Darkness leaks in.
Back to the sanctuary of our bed.
Dreams strain under the puzzling together of nonsensical memories.
By S.A. Bort / 10 August 2018
Photo by S.A. Bort / 16 October 2017
bankrupt securities, bills of fare, Colossus of Rhodes, commonplaces, courage, cowards, crew, democracy, democratic dignity, divine equality, Divine Inert, domestic afflictions, fearlessness, fleshly tabernacle, floating-island democracy, gazettes, God, Herman Melville, hierarchy of duties, idiots, imbeciles, inferiors, intellectuals, Ishmael, mast-heads, meals, Moby-Dick, monsters of the sea, mystic ocean, nature, news, omnipresence, potency, practical, soul, stocks, superiority, supernatural, supremacy, terrors, trade winds, tranced ship, uneventfulness, watch-coat, waves
Ishmael places God at the pinnacle of the hierarchy of crew and terrors that they face—”what are the comprehensible terrors of man compared with the interlinked terrors and wonders of God!” he exclaims. [Chapter XXIV]
Of true courage, he declares that one who is fearless of terrors, whether of nature or of the supernatural, is no different than a coward: “the most reliable and useful courage [is] that which arises from the fair estimation of the encountered peril . . . an utterly fearless man is a far more dangerous comrade than a coward.” [Chapter XXVI]
On the equality of dignity, Ishmael states: “Thou shall see it shining in the arm that wields a pick or drives a spike; that democratic dignity which, on all hands, radiates without end from God, Himself! The great God absolute! The centre and circumference of all democracy! His omnipresence, our divine equality!” What powerful words from Melville! The crew, even though separated by hierarchy of duties is equal in the eyes of God. [Chapter XXVI]
Ishmael expands that even those perceived as inferior or even imbecilic at times rise above intellectuals: “be a man’s intellectual superiority what it will, it can never assume the practical, available supremacy over other men . . . those men who become famous more through their infinite inferiority to the choice hidden handful of the Divine Inert, than through their undoubted superiority over the dead level of the mass . . . in some royal instances even to idiot imbecility they have imparted potency.” Again, what powerful words! [Chapter XXXIII]
Ishmael once more peers upward to beautifully describe those who man the mast-heads: “to a dreamy meditative man it is delightful. There you stand, a hundred feet above the silent decks, string along the deep, as if the masts were gigantic stilts, while beneath you and between your legs, as it were, swim the hugest monsters of the sea, even as ships once sailed between the boots of the famous Colossus at old Rhodes. There you stand, lost in the infinite series of the sea, with nothing ruffled but the waves. The tranced ship indolently rolls; the drowsy trade winds blow; everything resolves you into languor . . . a sublime uneventfulness invests you; you hear no news; read no gazettes; extras with startling accounts of commonplaces never delude you into unnecessary excitements; you hear of no domestic afflictions; bankrupt securities; fall of stocks; are never troubled with the thought of what you shall have for dinner—for all your meals for three years and more are snugly stowed in casks, and your bill of fare is immutable . . . as the soul is glued inside of its fleshly tabernacle, and cannot freely move about in it, nor even more out of it, without running great risk of perishing . . . so a watch-coat is not so much of a house as it is a mere envelope, or additional skin encasing you.” [Chapter XXXV]
Melville creates vivid pictures of this floating-island democracy of men, tossed about on his “mystic ocean” that surrounds them and keeps them on the watch at all times.
[illustration from: https://uk.pinterest.com/lakoutrine/illustrations-moby-dick/V%5D
A small footnote to the end of summer.
One chapter ends and another will begin, too soon.
The bigger creatures still fight at the feeders,
Treasuring their sugared water—
Juncos and woodpeckers, and a bandit raccoon.
Nature is always the first to sense change.
With nature, it’s wise to remain friends,
For this writer’s mind too easily now forgets.
Autumn is upon me, but it lurks ominously this time.
I now can feel the darkened air of October and November.
If I could have lingered in the sun—but, away with regrets!
It’s good to move forward and put to rest the past.
It’s good to smile and find better thermal underwear.
It’s good to examine one’s conscience and therapy to write.
Capturing this moment, at least, passes the time.
Better yet, it exercises these shaky hands.
Mostly, as summer turns to fall, I won’t abandon the fight.
poem by S.A. Bort: 15 September 2016
photo by S.A. Bort: 14 September 2016
angels, appetites, being, children, constraint, corruptibility, creation, damnation, Damon, death, demons, desire, despair, eternal life, existence, free will, generations, happiness, holy wars, immaculate, knowledge, learning, legends, Lilith, nature, Pandara, parents, perfection, personal fulfillment, pride, rebellion, scientific instruments, sentience, sophistication, soul, tales, Terra, understanding, virtue, wisdom
[Caldwell, Taylor. Dialogues With The Devil. New York: Doubleday & Co., 1967. pp 57-61.] Please see Taylor Caldwell’s Dialogues With The Devil (1967) #1 of 22 for an introduction to this serialization.
GREETINGS to my brother, Michael, who believes that he has circumvented me on his new worlds:
No doubt you heard my laughter when I read your letter. Do not be complacent. Damon and Lilith will make their appearances on Pandara in due course, if not to this generation there, then to their sons and daughters. For though this generation may tell their children of what they know, and of what they have seen, and what they have learned, it is in the nature of men to say, “Our parents love legends and tales and strangenesses, but we have not seen the Archangel Michael with our own eyes, nor have wondered at his countenance. Our parents tell us that it was the will of God that he appeared only to our forefathers, but not to us, and that is most peculiar, indeed, for are we not more sophisticated than our fathers, and our daughters more knowledgeable than their mothers? Do we not dwell in cities, whereas they dwelt in the fields and the forests? Have we not learning and understanding, greater than our forebears? Do we not have magnificent temples of wisdom, and do we not stream through the heavens like birds and through the waters like fish, and is there aught we do not know of this world of ours, or are there wonders as yet undiscovered? Are we, then, not wise and therefore more worthy to gaze upon this Archangel Michael, and would we not apprehend his words with more clarity and more subtlety? Why this coyness, that he hides from us–if he exists at all? It is folly. There is no such an archangel, and therefore what our parents have told us has no verity.”
You have heard thoughts like these on innumerable planets, among the worldly children of men who believe they have conquered all things and are capable of comprehending everything. That is my opportunity. For though the generations of Pandara may not yet have fallen, pride in their accomplishments will spur that fall, and pride in their own will will assure their destruction. I will not only send them Damon and Lilith, and say to them, “Do not deny your natural appetites, for all appetite is good, for is it not your nature?” but I will say, “Your parents were simple and mere children in their souls, and had no real will of their own for they were enamored of a fantasy. Have you not failed to discern the reality of Michael in your scientific instruments, and have you found God, of whom your parents speak, in the watches of the night or in your affairs? If there is an angel at all, it is in your capacities, and if there is a God, you are that god, and you must deify yourselves for naught exists in those gigantic universes you catch in your mirrors but your own being. You are the center, the heart, of all mindless creation, and only you have sentience. If you doubt me, show me the proof to the contrary.”
That is an argument few men have ever disputed, for the proofs of your existence, and the Existence of Our Father, lie not in the grosser matter but in the towers of the soul. But they will know that I exist! For I will give them delights and conceits and arrogances, and the ecstasy of defying the laws of their fathers, which were the Laws God gave to them. Nothing so exalts a man as rebellion, as we have remarked before, and nothing increases his vanity so much as coming to a wrong conclusion, which he believes is correct. Assure a man that he is wise and knows all things, and that only he exists, and there is no end to his exultant rapture. Even when the men of Pandara become so suddenly aware of the fact that in some strange way death and disease and age and loss have come among them–when once they were absent–they will say, “But this is the inevitable course of nature, and was to be expected! There is a time for living and a time for dying, and always it was so, though we have not known it before.” You will understand that men have explanations for everything, and the more absurd the more they are accepted. When they discover that the incorruptible has put on corruptibility, the immaculate has become stained, the eternal has become mortal, they will nod their heads solemnly and say, “It is natural–we just had not lived long enough, but time is inexorable. Let us, then, devote our lives to the search for happiness and for personal fulfillment, and not dream as our forebears dreamt, but be courageous men who live that we may die and strive while we can.”
They will see my face in their own and will adore me, for am I not the reverie of men, even those not yet fallen?
Why do men prefer to believe there is no God? Is there a fatal flaw even in the unfallen, as it was in me and my angels? You will say that there is, indeed, that “flaw” and you will repeat that it is free will. Nonetheless, men prefer to believe there is no God. God restrains and all chaff at virtue and constraint and the necessity to obey and love. . . . Once God is removed from the belief of men, then they can truly live as they believe the gods live: Enjoying existence, relieved of duty and responsibility, delighting in each hour, acquiring their miserable riches as they will, disobeying even good laws, exulting in violence and bloodshed, exercising power over their fellows–and always for their fellows’ own good, you will observe–and committing all vileness in the serene conviction that there is no good and no evil, but only a man’s desire and a man’s needs. Above all, there is no accounting, for the One who accounts does not exist. So man, they will conclude, is truly free to “live according to his innate nature.” All their wars will be holy, all their excesses but an exaggeration of good, all their errors correctable through new laws which they will profusely pass, and all their hatreds righteous. But still there is the inborn, the endowed, craving for perfection, and they will say that man is perfectable.
So they will strive for perfection, which is beyond their earning, and they will seek for merit among the applause of men like themselves, rather than in the smiles of God. They will chase up the mountains of their lives for perfectability, and always there will be the descent on the torrid opposite side, but again they will climb with their banners and their slogans, and always they will fall. They cannot resist the desire for true perfection with which God sadly endowed them–and He cannot withdraw His gift, but they will distort it and in seeking they will never find.
Despair will sit at their right hand and death will dine with them, and decay and grief will be their bed, and sorrow their song, and all that which their darkened souls desired with a hunger that comes from God will never be their own.
And they will descend to me, and will ask again that disgusting question, “If you exist, then God must exist also?” And I will reply as ever, “It does not follow. I am the god you made, and you are mine.”
Will the Sacrifice on Terra save these men also? You continually refuse to answer that question, but my curiosity grows with the refusal. In the meantime my hells fatten with the hosts of the damned–who willed their own damnation.
I do not know why I hover so often over Terra, where the immortal Crime was committed–and to what purpose? I watch my legions of demons at work, and I smile at their industry. They hope by pleasing me that I will grant them death and oblivion. You will see that they have much more faith in me than they ever had in God.
Terra is doomed. I watch the progress to annihilation with the only pleasure of which I am capable. Then the memory of the Sacrifice will be obliterated, and there will be no remembrance at all in men, not even of the myth which they declare it is. I will be vindicated, even before His Eyes. He will be forced to admit that I was right and He was wrong. In His second death on Terra the first will be lost, and all men will be mine, even to the farthest planet.
There will be the peace of nothingness, thereafter, and is that not to be desired?
Your brother, Lucifer
NOTE: The full text of Caldwell’s Dialogues With The Devil is 198 pages and can be found relatively easy through Amazon.com, a library or through abebooks.com. I will continue to abridge and serialize the remaining chapters as I find the time.
adultery, angels, archangels, creation, Damon, death, demons, dreams, Eden, enticements, envy, equality, equity, existence, faith, flesh, forbidden tree, free will, gluttony, grace, greed, habit, happiness, heirarchy of heaven, individuality, injustice, innocence, labor, leisure, lies, Lilith, lust, malice, material needs, mistrust, murder, nature, Pandara, Paradise, penance, piety, repentance, saints, salvation, seduction, sin, sloth, soul, spirit, suspicion, temptation, Terra, theft, theologians, virtue
[Caldwell, Taylor. Dialogues With The Devil. New York: Doubleday & Co., 1967. pp 46-56.] Please see Taylor Caldwell’s Dialogues With The Devil (1967) #1 of 22 for an introduction to this serialization.
GREETINGS to my brother, Lucifer . . .
We are excessively pleased that you have informed us that you will send Damon to Pandara, to seduce her six women. . . .
. . . we have taken precautions against Damon and Lilith. Unfortunately, we had to introduce suspicion into that vast paradise. We should have preferred that entire innocence prevail, but one remembers that Our Father set, in the midst of Eden, a Forbidden Tree. Suspicion, entering into Pandara, will awaken the power of free will, and a healthy mistrust.
. . . I appeared to the wives of Pandara, the innocent treasures!–and informed them that they were with child, which pleased them mightily. However, I mourned . . . A beautiful female demon, one Lilith, who destroyed the souls of millions upon millions of other men, would soon enter the azure light of their planet to seduce their husbands and lead their husbands into unspeakable pleasures and lust, thus insuring that for a time, at least, those husbands would forget their wives and abandon their little nestlings. The husbands would romp with Lilith, neglectful of the duties of hearth, home and bed and field, and they would love her with madness and be so smitten of her charms that they would regard their wives with distaste and possibly revulsion. Worse still, the harvests would be neglected, the cattle unfed, the roofs unsealed . . .
A woman may forgive her husband a romp in the shadowy forests, but she will not forgive him the sufferings of her children, nor will she forgive the great insult to her own beauty and desirability. The ladies said to me, “Is this Lilith fairer than I?” And I replied, “Assuredly, she is the fairest of women, for all she is a demon, and are not maddening women demons? Though you are lovely to behold, my little ones, Lilith in contrast will cast a dust of ugliness upon you in your husbands’ eyes. But above all, she will shatter the peace and joy of your planet, and bring age upon your faces, and wrinkles, and dim the green fire of your eyes, and she will bring death upon your children and disease and storms and darkness and furies.”
“What, then, shall we do, to preserve our planet, our homes, our youth, and our life and our children?” the ladies implored me.
“Ah,” I told them, “men are susceptible to ladies of no virtue and no matronly attributes! They are like adorable children, wanton at heart but in need of protection, and the careful supervision of alerted wives. They will stretch forth their hands for the flying hair of a woman of no sturdy consequence, and they will dance with her in the moonlight and garland her head with flowers and press their cheeks against her breast, and drink of wine deeply with her. She will laugh, and sing and play, and a wise matron understands how these things can lure men from their duties. She will becloud the minds of your husbands so that they will think of pleasure and not the granaries, laughter in the sun and not of weak roofs, roses in the glades and not of wool to be sheared. There is a certain weakness in men that inclines them to frivolity and dallying, and Lilith will exploit that weakness and entice your husbands from your sides. . . .
“We will be watchful, O, Lord Michael!” the wives promised me . . . is this not better than death and sin and age and disease and sorrow, not to mention the harsh tongues of betrayed wives? I have observed that men can endure great hardships and adversities with considerable calm, but they cannot endure for long the smite of a woman’s less affectionate remarks, and her acid conversation at midnight when they would prefer to sleep. . . .
I then repaired to the husbands of Pandara, and when they had risen from their knees at my consent, I said to them, “Glorious is your planet, beloved sons of God, my dear brothers, and fair are her skies and rich are her fields and splendid will be your cities. Handsome are your faces and strong are the rosy muscles of your arms, and your wives rejoice in you.”
“It is so, Lord!” they cried in jubilation, and I smiled at the happiness in their eyes and loved them dearly for the male spirit is a little less complicated than the female and somewhat more naive. It has an innocence, even in paradise, beyond the innocence of women who, even in paradise, are given to reflection, and are less trusting.
“But alas,” I said to the boys, “your joy is threatened, for you have free will, as you know, and alas again, so do your wives. . . . Men are often slave to habit, virtuous or unvirtuous, but women have few habits at all and so are easily led astray into novelties. Your wives, though with child, will not always be with child. They will have moments of leisure. While leisure for a man is a quiet resting or an innocent pastime or a running after balls or a climbing of trees for the fruit, or just sleeping, leisure for a woman is the veriest temptation. . . . Have you not already discovered this for yourselves?”
. . .
“Your wives will all have dreams very soon,” I told them, “and none of them will be virtuous. None of them will be concerned for the husband who labors in the fields and the forests and who tends cattle and returns dutifully home to his children and sits soberly on his hearth. On the contrary! They will be dreams which I hesitate to speak of, for women’s minds are somewhat less decorous and guileless than men’s, even on Pandara. The indelicacy of a woman’s thoughts would bring a flame to the cheek of even the burliest man. You have observed that nature is not always delicate?”
. . .
“And women are far closer to nature than are you, for all you labor in the fields and the forests. There is a certain earthiness in women which is sometimes an embarrassment to husbands, a certain lustiness of the flesh that is not always easily satisfied. If I am incorrect, I beg your forgiveness.”
“You are correct, Lord,” said the simple ones.
. . . “For unto your wives there will be sent from the very depths of hell an evil but most beautiful male demon, one Damon. I know him well! He has seduced endless millions of women on other planets, as fair and as matronly as your own, and as busy–with dreams. He is full of novelties and enticements, and adores women and finds them overwhelmingly fascinating–which you not always do. Their conversation never wearies him; he is attentive and glorious. As he never labors, except to do mischief, he is not weary at sundown, as you are weary. As he is a demon and not a man, he does not sleep, and women are notable for being active at night. And dreaming. He converses. You have no idea what a menace to husbands is a conversing man! But women find it distracting.
“You love your wives. Soon, they will bear children. However, when Damon comes to seduce them with fair words, with exciting discourse, with flatteries and ardencies, and will shine the beauty of his countenance upon them and jest with them until they are weak with laughter and adoration, they will forget you and your children, and will race with him to flowery dells and into dim lush spots–and will then betray you for his kisses and his lusts. Then will your children cry for a maternal breast, and then will there be no dishes upon the table to appease your hungers, and no arms to sustain you in your beds. You will be veritable orphans, abandoned and alone, left to weep among the wreckages of your households, and the uncleaned pots and the stale bread. Is that not a fate to weep about, and to pray never afflicts you?”
. . .
. . . Damon has a voice that is irresistible, and what woman can resist a musical voice if it is also masculine? Damon is all masculinity; he is never weary. His muscles never ache. His foot never lags. He never frowns, if dinner is a little late. He is also never hungry, as you are hungry, and you know how impatient wives are with the honest hunger of a man. They remark that men’s bellies seem bottomless. Correct me if I am wrong.”
“You are correct, Lord,” they said, with dismalness and alarm.
As Damon does not seek a woman with forthrightness, and with sleep in mind thereafter–as you do–he will dally with a woman after love, until she is ready and eager for his embraces again. Whereas you, my dear little ones, wish to turn on your pillows in preparation for the next day’s work. Damon never asks, “Do you love me?” as your wives ask, until you yawn for very boredom. He constantly assures the creature of his immediate affection that never has he loved a woman so before, and how rapturous are her kisses and perfumed her flesh. Do you say all this to your wives?”
“No, Lord,” they said dolorously.
. . .
. . .
“Be patient. For one comes who will have all the patience in the world and will never weary. Not only will he seduce your wives, so that all the horrors I have described will come upon you, but he will bring old age and death to you, and flagging of strength, and disease and pain. Worse, he will sharpen your women’s tongues, and nothing is more deadly.”
“How can we escape such a dreadful fate?” they cried.
. . . Men are trustful, when it involves women, and that is a momentous mystery which I will not even attempt to explore. I do not advise distrust as a general climate of the mind. That can inspire eventual cynicism and lovelessness. But a reasonable distrust is prudent. And one knows the weaknesses of women. Do we not?”
“Certainly!” they exclaimed, positive that they had always known female weaknesses, though the fact had only just occurred to them, alas.
“Then, be watchful for Damon. Never leave your wives long unguarded, especially in the soft eventides and when the moons are shining. Do not dally in the fields and the forests and the hills and the meadows as the sun begins to go down. Do not let anything draw you aside, even if it appears exciting and wondrous and new–and, probably beautiful, itself. For, if you delay, Damon will appear on your thresholds at home, and you may return to an empty household. A moment’s delight can cost you a whole life’s industry and hope and peace. And, again, it will bring you death and suffering.”
. . .
. . .
It is not sensible, as you know, Lucifer, to describe a handsome man to a woman or a lovely woman to a man, human nature being what it is, even on the Eden which is Pandara.
“We will guard our honor and the honor of our households and the safety of our children and the purity of our wives!” shouted the innocent ones, raising their fists high in a solemn oath. “Ever shall we be watchful of our women, understanding their weaknesses and their frail natures and their susceptibilities to temptation!”
I gave them my blessing and departed. They have been warned. Suspicion has been introduced into the turquoise daylight and the silver and lilac nights. . . . In Heaven we are unequally perfect, in accordance with the ability to be perfect inherent in our natures And that brings me to another subject you discussed in your last letter: Equality, which pervades hell.
In Heaven, there is Equity, which is an entirely different matter.
. . . The same situation prevails in hell–equality of treatment no matter the soul. However, in Heaven, as I have mentioned, there is Equity, based on the Natural Law that some men are superior to others, and some angels less than others, in virtue, in devotion, in piety, in dedication, love and courage and goodness. Equity does not abolish law; it intelligently deals with it, and its inflexibility.
Therefore, spirits in Heaven, angel or man, are rewarded in direct ratio to their accomplishments, which are governed by their will. Man, as we know, cannot earn merit during his lifetime on the grosser material of the planets, unless he has not fallen. But fallen men are incapable of earning merit, for their sin has thrown a wall of human impotence between them and their Creator. Only the Grace of Our Father can give merit to fallen men, and that merit is given by the men’s own acts, through their faith and their desire to receive Grace, through their repentance and their penance, through their acceptance of Grace, itself. You know this; it is a matter which has enraged you through time . . .
The saved among men, who desired to be saved and therefore had placed themselves in a position to receive Grace, differ enormously in the degree of their natures and their virtues, as well as in their wills and their sins. A murderer in hell, and a wanton thief, are treated equally with the pains and the uselessness of existence. But in Heaven a saint is worthier than a man of merely mild virtues, for the saint has labored long and hard in the stony fields of his life and has loved God more than himself, and the lives of his fellow sufferers more than his own. A man who has valiantly struggled with temptation during his lifetime and has contemplated all the worldly delights you have offered him, Lucifer, and has even desperately yearned for them, but who has gloriously resisted you in his soul and in his living, is worthier of more reward in Heaven than a man who has been merely mildly tempted by you or through some accident has not been much tempted at all, or lacked the terrible vitality to sin, or was afraid of the consequences on his own world. The first man is a hero; the second man is one who has had little opportunity to be either a hero or a sinner. Our Father takes note of the human weaknesses of His creatures. He will not permit you to tempt a man beyond his total ability to resist, but He does permit you to tempt His saints more fiercely and more insistently because they are men of greater valor and nobler mind. Our Father, as we have observed before, does not create men equal, but He has established Equity, based on the Natural Law which He ordained Himself. There is no injustice in Him Whom we both love so passionately, and you have never denied your love nor can you destroy it.
Were you the ruler of Heaven the saint and the weaker man would receive equal reward, but that is manifestly unfair. Archangels, who have vaster powers than angels, are more in possession of free will and therefore the temptation to use that will in defiance of God is infinitely higher in degree than in the lesser angels. Archangels are given enormous responsibilities and thrones and crowns throughout the endless universes, because of their nature, and it is they who see the Beatific Vision more frequently than the lesser spirits, and the spirits of men. “To each according to his merits,” is the Law of Heaven, whereas on Terra, and other darkened worlds, there appears to be some mangling of the moral law to the effect that “to each according to his material needs.” And that, we know, is infamy, injustice, cruelty, and a display of malice to the more worthy. Greed is the ugliest of the detestable sins, for it feeds on its own appetite and is never filled, and its rapacity is increased by its rapaciousness. It gives rise to the other sins, envy, theft, sloth, lies, adulteries and murder, and gluttony.
There is happiness in Heaven, as you know, but that happiness is in degree, except for the knowing that God loves completely to the extent of an angel’s or man’s worth. That happiness is compounded by labor, for none are idle in Heaven, and there is a task for all. That, too, is Equity.
While each task is approached with joy and with the hope–but never the absolute surety–that it will be completed, its completion, when accomplished, leads to higher tasks, worthy of a tempered spirit. There is always a progression in the Hierarchy of Heaven. No spirit remains as it was. And, always, there is a possibility, constantly reiterated, that as the spirit retains its free will, it can will to sin. This is something the theologians, in their little darkness on their worlds, have never understood or acknowledged–that there is always the hazard that a spirit may fall to you, even in the golden light of Heaven. For God does not remove free will from His creatures, no matter their degree. If He did so, He would abrogate their individuality, their very existence, both of which are eternally precious to Him, for they are of His own Nature and Essence.
. . . You have asked me if God pursues the lost soul in your hells. That I cannot and will not tell you. Is it possible for the lost to feel repentance? You have said not–but do you know all minds?
. . .
Your brother, Michael
absurdity, ale, art, B.M. Stroud, beauty, Birth of Venus, Botticelli, breath, centeredness, chaos, conspirare, creation, desire, eternity, Feral, Flora, God, HobGob Press, human, imperfection, jazz, Louis Armstrong, love, memories, Michelangelo, nature, order, poetry, Primavera, soul, soulmate, space, spiritual, stream of consciousness, sub-human, Sysyphus, tantra, The Creation Of Adam, The Oracle: Art - Essays and Blogs, time
The thread of Sutra reads west to east in the first line, east to west in the second line, and so forth as the arrows continue to indicate the flow of the thread.
Sutra is about the material of human chaos out of which we thread an order. It is also about how we try to make human, or spiritual, connections that perhaps cannot ever be made except through art—Michelangelo, Botticelli, jazz, Louis Armstrong, poetry . . .
I have the idea of “soulmate” included, as a concept of connecting in a way that can only be imagined.
The words in (parentheses) denote TIME. The words in [brackets] denote SPACE. There are italicized words which denote human EMOTION or feeling, such as “wanting” or “desiring.” Denotations of ART are in the font of “Matisse ITC.” All other texts are in the font of “Times New Roman.” These could be read as minor threads within the larger thread.
I used text size to denote a thread of order out of chaos. The largest size, 20 pt., is for that which we order as a highest being; the 16 pt, for that which is human; followed by 14 pt, italicized, for that which is sub-human in nature, such as “feral,” “spiders” or “dogs.” The smallest texts, of no particular denotation, are 10 pt.
TOP PHOTO: Louis Armstrong, painted on a wall of Denver, Colorado’s Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom (The Other Side), by Jared Hankins. The building once housed the Casino Caberet, in the famous Harlem-like Five Points area, where beat poets Jack Keroauc and Neal Cassady once reveled to the hip, soul-inspiring “black ‘sutras'” of jazz/swing era icons. Photo by S.A. Bort 2012.
Sutra was published by Brandon Stroud of HobGob Press in his previous online magazine for experimental works of art–The Oracle: Art, Essays And Blogs, a part of HobGob Press [http://www.bmstroud.com/hobgob-press.html].
I appear within the chapbook: “god: by 100 poets,” published by and available from HobGob Press [see http://www.bmstroud.com/ also]. The poem is in stream-of-consciousness, spoken-word form and documents what one-hundred very different individuals think of God today–a Zeitgeist: “The spirit of the time, the taste and outlook characteristic of a period or generation,” as defined by the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th edition.
There is much more joy of hip and danceable, experimental art to be found at http://www.bmstroud.com/ and http://www.bmstroud.com/hobgob-press.html. Please visit there–and enjoy! Be sure to check out Stroud’s incredible resume, including his work with autism, acting and spoken-word poetry. Also check out his newest, and perhaps most important project, the Poetry Plague Project–a plague of poetry which will span the globe [http://www.bmstroud.com/poetic-plague-project.html].
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