Stunned by Wonder

                                                  Stunned by Wonder*


We’re told the shepherds were.

And, I, returning to this familiar sanctum,

Remembering the night….

Exactly thirty- three years ago 

Sitting in the pine-scented balcony, embracing my precious forty- five day- old miracle, 

When my husband, out of breath from parking the car blocks away and racing up the stairs,

Whispered to me,

“I asked the usher if he’d seen a mother with an infant;  and, without missing a beat he replied, ‘Yes, we’re celebrating them tonight!’ “

The hopes and fears of all the years…..


*”On this holiest of nights, we come, joining the shepherds who are stunned by wonder.” (Call to Worship, The Riverside Church, December 24, 2016)

No “There” There

inspired by Francis Lucille, who inspired Rupert Spira…


No point in it…..

None whatsoever…

Getting rid of our demons, our monsters, our enemies

Requires the ego  to be in overdrive….

And the overdrive is just another name for the demon, the monster, the enemy….

The ego.

So…demon, monster, enemy…stay right where you are….you are safe….

You won’t be lynched or demoralized, or flagellated….

I am working on letting go of you….without harming myself.








“I really only like strong women!”

(Where have I heard that before?)

I so wanted to say to him,

“All women are strong….just in different ways!”

Some women toil for years on end with difficult husbands and demanding children.

Some women sojourn alone….facing solitude and isolation with equanimity.

Some women undertake Herculean tasks….to contribute to their communities.

And some women….(like I am inclined to believe you are referring to)

Are so comfortable demanding your complete adoration and attention

That you convince yourself that they are “strong” ….because they make you feel so weak.




So, on a crisp, colorful autumn Sunday I took myself off to the Guggenheim….a yearly pilgrimage.

Agnes Martin (1912-2004), who devoted herself to “grids and stripes”, occupied every Guggenheim spiral—rare artistry indeed!

I gazed and pondered and reflected, placing myself in her pale grey lines; squinting and breathing and connecting…..yet,

It was only when I read her words….

“That which takes us by surprise…moments of happiness…that is inspiration….Inspiration is an untroubled mind.”

….that I began to see…

I may never understand her painting, but I do understand her passion.

Neti, Neti

                               Neti, neti

A few weeks ago I was on a Buddhist binge….

A scholarly conference at the University up the street

And an author talk at the campus book store.

At the conference the scholars….all deeply immersed in Buddhist studies….

Seemed only to be talking to each other……

in a way that (I thought) might send Siddhartha racing  from the Bodhi tree…..

On the other hand, the ethereal author (world renowned translater of Buddhist texts)….was virtually mute…..reluctant to articulate a sentence which might undermine the “wordlessness” of the Buddha’s insights….

I don’t know….but it seems that the “Middle Way” would suggest

Coming off each mountaintop?   (“not this, not this” …    n’est pas?) 

# # #

The take-away: “Mindfulness is the new mindless mantra.”

                                          This is not a poem  (11/13/16)

Though I so wish it were…

A friend I hold dearly wrote today… 

“Ignorance is so difficult to conquer. Therefore we need to concentrate on massive education. Or should I say, education of the masses.” 

I’ve been pondering that all day….

Thinking of my 40 plus years in the classroom…. 

Teaching adolescents to senior citizens…. 

Convincing myself that “education” is as important as any other survival requirement….. 

But, then, I remember my mother….

Saying to me when I was 10 or 11…

“Carolyn, someday you’ll go to college and then you’ll hate us!” 

Oh how I protested then…and in all the years since…. 

I didn’t understand then how afraid she was. How she had been made to feel inadequate by teachers and “refined” friends and even her husband’s family….she thought she just wasn’t “good enough”.

Maybe I’m beginning to understand.  

I have testimonies that I was a kind, empathetic, teacher…. 

(Johnnie’s mother said I could share the title of mother with her….a woman of color from “the islands”….because I “saved” her son and got him launched on a career that eventually led to graduate work; I was honored) 

Few of us who love learning want to “hate” those who didn’t go to college…

We only want to share what we have learned….

Yet, I guess I have to learn that I didn’t want to learn

What my mother had been taught.  (I hope it’s not too late.)






                    Subterranean Rorschach: NYC Subway, 11/9/16)


It felt like a post-operative waiting room.

Or a lobby in an assisted- living facility.

The riders–the usual mix of age, gender, color, occupation–

Were eerily unfocused, humorless, disconnected …even  from their phones.

More in limbo than Dante’s pilgrims, it seemed.

The atmosphere, reminiscent of 9/11 (without the tenderness),

Was exactly right. No one smiled or made small talk or looked  busy.

Rather, they appeared as in a freeze frame of a Fellini film,

Caught in a moment of raw and absolute confusion.