This might seem totally off the wall. And it might be entirely off the wall too. Sometimes lists of people seem beautiful to me, and energizing as well. Just now I was researching a bit on "non-theistic religion" which took me to the Ethical Culture Society which in turn led to the Fieldson School of Riverdale, NY. And then I found this list of people who had attended or graduated from the Fieldston School and there was just something wonderful about it.
I remember reading this story in 2011 when it was first published in the New York Times. It's such a good story, though, so moving and real, that I like to go back from time to time and read it again.
It's all about a wallet that was lost in about 1970 in New York City and then unexpectedly found, sealed away behind some masonry, just over forty years later. Not long afterward, it was restored to its original owner. What affects me the most, I think, is reading about how emotional a moment it was for that man when he first took hold of the wallet again, with all its thirty-year-old memories suddenly reawakend.
This page at the New York Times site also has a short video that shows both the place where the wallet was hidden away in the old Times building and also the man's reaction when it is first handed back to him.
Lord Byron, in all his libertinism, has never really been a favorite of mine. And yet no one could deny that the man was gifted. While looking for a quotation of his on the brevity of human life, I came across this quote from his Childe Harold:
I live not in myself, but I become Portion of that around me
It seems to me that is true, and that the modern world ignores this piece of wisdom at its (very great) peril.
I found that quote, btw, in an article, The Wholesome Revival of Byron, originally published in 1898 in The Atlantic. The Atlantic has placed its archive online and there are some truly beautiful articles in it.
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Here, at last, is the quotation I was looking for:
When one subtracts from life infancy (which is vegetation), sleep, eating and swilling, buttoning and unbuttoning - how much remains of downright existence? The summer of a dormouse.
Today we celebrate the birthday of Daniel Berrigan, S.J. Here is a photo that is surely beautiful. It's from 1962, during a retreat at the hermitage of Thomas Merton, Gethsemani Abbey, Kentucky. Pretty amazing!
Any essay by Robert J. Ellsberg is likely to be a gem. An essay by him about Dorothy Day is a can't miss - Five Years With Dorothy Day.
I was especially taken with this last paragraph --
Dorothy was a great believer in what de Caussade called 'the sacrament of the present moment.' In each situation, in each encounter, in each task before us, she believed, there is a path to God. We do not need to be in a monastery or a chapel. We do not need to become different people first. We can start today, this moment, where we are, to add to the balance of love in the world, to add to the balance of peace.
I was moved to learn that Albert Baez has died. Although a distinguished scientist in his own right, he is probably best known as the father of singers Joan Baez and Mimi Farina. I was particularly impressed to see that, many years ago, he had changed his occupation because his work as an experimental physicist conflicted with his Quaker beliefs.