The Spheric Web
Remembering with a brushstroke web, instead of pixels
The song is a poem by Thomas Merton, written for his little brother, whose plane crashed into the English Channel, during World War II.
An authentic lament, the poem is a heartfelt love offering… but it is more than that. It is a spiritual masterpiece, a dynamic work of art, that surpasses any canvas depicting the deadness of a mechanical universe.
I have been studying a number of paintings this week, exploring tiny art reformations that attempted to use illumination to counter the modern pixilated portrait.
Merton’s poem looks through prism eyes… through the heart… of a mystic, a poet, a brush stroke painter. It imbues an extraordinary cosmology, invoking a sort of quantum spirituality, over classical mechanics. It has a mystical quality. It is illuminated. And it paints an integrated example of what Einstein called “spooky action at a distance”.
Today, there is a rebirth of mysticism happening, and earth-based spirituality, but all too often we are still looking myopically through the rational eye (even when we gaze at quantum mechanics). As a result, we are also facing the possibility of the age of transhumanism… what I might call, “the ring of power” that no one will ever wield without dire consequence… (in that light, it is quite fascinating that Tolkien’s villain is one Eye).
So, I invite you to try something this week.
Listen to this song. Sense how Merton worked with the power of time infiltrating space, to mystically perform the kind of funeral he would want to, for his brother.
Sweet brother if I do not sleep
My eyes are flowers for your tomb
And if I cannot eat my bread
My fasts shall grow like willows
Where you died
If in the heart I find no water
For my thirst
My thirst shall turn to springs for you,
As we show our gratitude to Jim Forest, (who was very kind to me when I was releasing Point Vierge). As we show our gratitude to Thich Nhat Hanh, for his courage and his example… perhaps we might practice entering a mystically embodied place that is more real than the internet.
Here is an excerpt from Thich Nhat Hanh’s No Death, No Fear:
“Those feet that I saw as “my” feet were actually “our” feet. Together my mother and I were leaving footprints in the damp soil. From that moment on, the idea that I had lost my mother no longer existed. All I had to do was look at the palm of my hand, feel the breeze on my face, or the earth under my feet to remember that my mother is always with me, available at any time.”
Notice the similarity between Merton and Thich Nhat Hanh. They are working with illumination, a continual presence, that precedes and surpasses machine thinking.
Merton’s cross as the symbol of his vows as a Trappist monk, is the same cross that dots the far off soldier’s cemetery where his brother’s death is marked.
Thich Nhat Hanh’s mother’s footprints are his own footprints.
While there is nothing wrong with sharing our laments and our gratitude here on the internet, I wonder if we might work with the more powerful web this week. The embodied, spiritual, and timeless ties that bind us together beyond spacial distance.
When I recorded Peace of Iona (originally by The Waterboys), for the rhythm, I used a stone from Columba Bay, Iona, and a small deer bone I found on this land of the Anishinaabe people. With each connection, of bone on stone, at the point of rhythmic contact, I sensed a oneness between the two places, and felt less homesick. I was touching the wound of immigration, the lament of leaving, the pain and complicity of colonization… and I was also touching the spirit of gratitude for a place to be born, and for the ancestors of both lands, who I have sensed many times, are come together with the elements, and the animals, in a webbed sphere, to tend to us hyper-enlightened, tech-enchanted, grandchildren.
With that, here is John Paul… (the poem Merton called "For My Brother”)… as you listen do consider working with the authority of the web that still connects us, even if all internet communications were shut down.
I have water from one of Brigid’s wellsprings, and when I anoint my children with it, they are rooted there, and yet rooted here. They are held by something ancient, something beyond, and yet utterly present.
So are you. So are we.