Lux Umbra Dei

Gratitude! Gratitude!

The Wind on the Beartooth Plateau 

Last weekend my wife and I went to a beautiful public garden in the Raleigh Hills neighborhood of Portland.  A crystal clear blue sky and the autumn foliage was at its height.  While Phyllis inspected the garden I sat on a bench (I tire easily nowadays sad to say) and looked at the tall trees with their myriad leaves, blowing in the golden wind.

The political season is upon us and there is a financial battle being fought simultaneously: maybe the first world war where everyone is one the same side and the enemy we are fighting is a devil of our own devising...  Late nights, many of us are watching the glowing screens and seeing the openings of the bourses from Australia to Japan to China; what happens there will effect the EU and then us here.  Others of us are watching the poll numbers jump and shift.  Quiet contemplative tasks: seeing the washes of photons that derive from distant battles that will shape all of our lives with tremendous finality.

My favorite place in the world is the Beartooth Plateau.  Hardly a year goes by when I don't visit.   The wind whistles up there and the air is icy cold when a rock wall shuts off the sun. There is an upland meadow at about 3000 meters that I love especially.  If you drive the Chief Joseph Highway and, reaching the pass, look northwest, you will see it: a vast table in the sky.

The tumult of this autumn never reaches that place, just the wind whistling in the little stands of trees that punctuates the grass expanse.  One can look south toward the Sunlight Basin from there and see the austere peaks rising...what does it mean to them that we are entering a new age...perhaps a golden age at that?

I am weary, feeling my age multiplied by illness and responsibility, seeing the changes coming, and knowing how much distress they will cause some on the short term. But the Plateau endures and so shall our species; we are contemporaries after all, and all this tumult is so much wind, so many fleeting photons ghosting through the ringing air.

Obama shall surely win and become one of the greatest presidents this country has ever had. And simultaneously with our country's fall from haughty financial power, may come a new golden age where a great and lasting peace will be shared by all.

Such is my hope and prayer and I contemplate these things late nights as markets tremble in the balance, and the world waits to see what our choice will be, and the eternal winds blow the trees in my city park and those up on the plateau of all of our hopes.



Beauty-full. "and all this tumult is so much wind, so many fleeting photons ghosting through the ringing air."
Thank you so for this, a much worthy meditation which, for so many reasons, will replace tonight's countless racing thoughts.
How I miss the coastline South American mountains to which I belong. Even in their aloofness toward the higher latitudes, the inhabitants nevertheless, I am told, also pray that our choice over here is the wise one.
Wonderful piece, Lux, and a strong prayer.
You done Chief Joseph proud.
LUX, I have come to think of you as Aeolus, caring enough to harness our tempestuous winds into a gentle force that is steady and favoring. Thank you for being.
It's hardly Mozart, but I thought this might express the range of feeling we've all been through during the past several months and the hope that we have now:

Your writing is beautiful. This post brought back memories of my times in New Hampshire, when I'd go up there as a kid just before summer ended. Up there, I could smell autumn starting in August. Mornings were cold. Afternoons were warm in the sun, and the sky was as endless as my joy. Thank you for bringing back those memories.
I felt the wonder.
Thank you, truly something that this day needed in my life.
One of the Romantic Poets wrote this great long poem Mont Blanc. And your meditative thoughts remind me of that. I think as we grow older and we face our mortality, we look for metaphors that somehow help us to see the immensity of the world, the way that everything changes and decays and yet endures. (or maybe I've always been of a philosophical bent that way... I think I have) I love mountains for that.
Thanks so much for sharing this. And here is the beginning of the poem, one I have long loved, since college, together with a link for anyone who cares to read more (thanks to da google!):
Mont Blanc
by Percy Bysshe Shelley
(Lines written in the Vale of Chamounix)
The everlasting universe of things
Flows through the mind, and rolls its rapid waves,
Now dark - now glittering - now reflecting gloom -
Now lending splendor, where from secret springs
The source of human thought its tribute brings
Of waters, - with a sound but half its own,
Such as a feeble brook will oft assume
In the wild woods, amon the mountains lone,
Where waterfalls around it leap for ever,
Where woods and winds contend, and a vast river
Over its rocks ceaselessly bursts and raves.
Thus thou, Ravine of Arve - dark, deep Ravine-
Thou many-colored, many voiced vale,
Over whose pines, and crags, and caverns sail
Fast cloud-shadows and sunbeams: awful scene,
Where Power in likeness of the Arve comes down
From the ice-gulfs that gird his secret throne,
Bursting through these dark mountains like the flame
Of lightning through the tempest; -thou dost lie,
Thy giant brood of pines around thee clinging,
Children of elder time, in whose devotion
The chainless winds still come and ever came
To drink their odors, and their mighty swinging
To hear - an old and solemn harmony;
Thine earthly rainbows stretched across the sweep
Of the ethereal waterfall, whose veil
Robes some unsculptured image; the strange sleep
Which when the voices of the desert fail
Wraps all in its own deep eternity;-
Thy caverns echoing to the Arve's commotion,
A loud, lone sound no other sound can tame;
Thou art pervaded with that ceaseless motion,
Thou art the path of that unresting sound-
Dizzy Ravine! and when I gaze on thee
I seem as in a trance sublime and strange
To muse on my own separate fantasy,
My own, my human mind, which passively
Now renders and receives fast influencings,
Holding an unremitting interchange
With the clear universe of things around;
One legion of wild thoughts, whose wandering wings
Now float above thy darkness, and now rest
Where that or thou art no unbidden guest,
In the still cave of the witch Poesy,
Seeking among the shadows that pass by
Ghosts of all things that are, some shade of thee,
Some phantom, some faint image; till the breast
From which they fled recalls them, thou art there!
To all who commented and recommended.
Sometimes the comments ennoble the text, like the other instruments joining, one-by-one, a solo woodwind in a Mozart piece.
Much appreciated.
And sometimes the comments are sparked because the poster is a muse. And that you are!
Lux, I thank you most sincerely. You've captured a bit of the eternal in the midst of the onward rush.
As an anonymous scribe once said:
Seasons change, Love remains
What a wonderful respite it was reading this, Lux. Thank you.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
I'm so blessed to have beheld you.
If you check back in Lux, hope you're enjoying the Inauguration. And the Wind on the Beartooth Plateau. q
Lux: I miss you. We all miss you. More to the point --- thank you, for being you. You are not only respected -- you are loved.
More in keeping with the mood you were in the day you wrote of Beartooth Plateau:
And then, to celebrate the gratitude we feel about tomorrow, in the figurative as well as literal sense, this:
of which somehow you are an integral part, even though tomorrow belongs to the young.
The wind on the Beartooth Plateau has died down for now
But the cold air remains
Does the wind follow the cold?
Or does this entire world rely upon the wind?
I threw vinegar and hot chilis in your soup, my friend
And in return, you gave me bright berries
Sweet, bright, black berries
"Eat them now," you said, "they won't last."
One day
Gratitude! Gratitude!
One moment
One single bright, black berry
Nothing more
Nothing next
Just now
You knew
You knew
How wonderful!
You knew.
The wind on the Beartooth Plateau has died down for now
But on a distant peak, a silent shiver runs through the trees
Lux Umbra Dei
Shadow of God
You knew.

Thanks, bunnykitty.
Amen to Lux's prayer and yours Hreb.

The Great Community

(Dedicated to TheraP)

It was raining a few days ago, and one of our neighborhood cats, took shelter on our porch.  Softies that we are, we let him in and gave him a few kibbles to boot.  Humans are unique in that way.

I want to shamelessly repeat verbatim some things I said on Tom Wright's  Knowledge and Morality  post because they came up in my mind when I read TheraP's  Dignity, Hospitality, Community  but I feared to repost them there as they were to the side of TheraP's goal.

When we talk about morality and ethics and community and dignity we are sometimes unaware of the hillside from which we gaze out at these issues.  That hillside is our definition of our own selves.

We have to re-examine what "human" means when it relates to moral dilemmas, community, and compassion.

Lets leave that term aside for a bit and look at the concept of personhood. Who qualifies? It is a little like expanding the voting franchise. From landed white males, to minorities, and finally to women and youths. Who falls under the aegis of our compassion and concern and our sense of right and wrong?

Perhaps the time has come to expand it. And if we do center it on a definition like: "that which can give rise in us of compassion and concern", then we might extend our ethical umbrella out to cover starfish, trees, and the very earth itself.  And so too our sense of community.

When we do, we probably will find that there is a deepening of our concern for each others as persons and as humans.



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Now you're smokin', Lux! Your Global EC idea was good, but if you can squeeze some animals in, trees, a few bugs & some moonbeams, then we're on our way to a deeper sanity.
Here's the thing for me. Yes, I understand the differences. But. We have other species living within us. We are enormously dependent on other species to live. We evolved from what were, at some point other species. We can actually communicate with other species. And some of us even kinda like each other.
But we count them as ZERO. I read the bloody Kantian this & rights that & medical ethical this & Singer that until frankly, it just bored the bejeebers out of me. We already use gradations, and we need to get busy, as you say, on other species. And then, the Earth. And then, I donno, great music maybe.
I'm playing now, but your point, that how we define ourselves, how define as persons, how we deal with our multiplicity within and connectedness without, what we feel part of & compassionate for, what sustains us & co-creates us... well, it's bigger than what we thought.
And this is not bad news for us humans, that's the thing I'd like to add. It's GREAT news. The Earth, the whole universe in fact, will start to feel a little more like... home.

The maximal extension of kin selection (acting to help one's near kin as a source of altruism) is wanting to help the entire biosphere. After all, we share genes with yeasts and sponges. So the best chance that at least some of your genes will survive into the future is to try to maximize diversity. The ultimate hedge fund.
Interesting. Particularly when considered with the possibility that Humans are (NOT) unique in that way. Elephants, gorillas, and dolphins are among the species that have demonstrated acts of altruism. Wonder if it's less of a hedge fund and more of a credit union?
I like the credit union.
As to kin selection, also consider social insects like honey bees.
Lux, I am humbled and touched beyond words - by your kindness and your wisdom.
Was it you recently who spoke of a "loosening of ego boundaries?" (It could have been you, but it wasn't, I now recall.) But that's what you're describing here. Where our sense of "self" enlarges beyond our skin, beyond what we see or feel or even know. And we feel a kinship with others, with our planet and its inhabitants, with the cosmos - and beyond.
The Tibetan Buddhists have a very specific type of meditation, geared to helping people enlarge those ego boundaries. It's called Tong Len and I believe it's described in the Dalai Lama's book on ethics. But essentially it consists of repeating a series of blessings or prayers - for beneficence - on yourself, then those close to you, then those farther removed from you, then even enemies... and of course you could take it as far as you want to include plants, animals, whomever, whatever.
Some individuals, the Dalai Lama is one, have so embodied compassion (and thus allowed ego boundaries to loosen) that simply being in their presence fosters peace and calm and seems to deepen or enlarge oneself at the same time.
In my view your presence on this blog is doing exactly that. We, neither of us, is perfect of course. But we're seeking to embody compassion, I think, however imperfectly.
I love your title: The Great Community.
I may answer you at greater length in another post, sparked by your post.
Blessings upon you, Lux. (If anything happens to you, I hope someone in your family will post and let us know. Your light shines so brightly - as the candle burns low.)
No need to worry TheraP, I'm doing fine! Though I could use a vacation....
May you be blessed with a vacation. Perhaps you could do a blog on your best future vacation, whether you're able to take it or not.
Students in my studio and digital arts classes have recently been tested to expand their definition of "kindred" species -- as, without screens, we have been swarmed in recent weeks by bees and yellow jackets. Sad to say, the initial response by the girls was to act alarmed and threatened; in consequence, the initial response among the boys was then to demonstrate "manliness" by killing them.
I called a moratorium on the killing, and required all the students to watch a documentary about bees and what the implications are for our "green" planetary hopes if they become extinct.
Last week, the prime macho man/terminator among them demonstrated that there is hope, not only for bees, but also for our children. Patiently, he showed his classmates how easy it is to trap a bee or yellow jacket and release it outside. A far cry from his mocking behavior of a few weeks ago when he pondered, ironically, if I would like to "say a few words" over the dead bodies he had assembled as trophies.
Yes we can make change that matters.
Thanks to everyone for their thoughts and feelings on this thread. Good vibes all around.
May all beings be free from danger and fear > May all beings have mental and physical happiness > May all beings have ease of well-being > May any happiness I feel be shared with all beings, to help bring us all to the end of suffering.

May the homeless find shelter
May the hungry have nourishment
May the thirsty receive cool drink
[add your own]
Thanks ttarleton!
Gimme that old time metta, it's good enough for me!
A book I would recommend to all (human) beings:
Lovingkindness by Sharon Salzberg
Well, this is just beautiful. The whole discussion. Just beautiful.
Lovely, Lux. Thanks to all for a calming and uplifting experience.
Would it disrupt the mood if I said something really rude?
It might amuse me. Actually, it definitely would.
A Cat, an Elephant & a Wolf were out walking one day, discussing whether & the the degree to which human beings should be granted rights within the wider community of living beings.
Now, the Cat was very Compassionate, and argued that humanity's past sins should be forgiven, and humans be fully included.
The Elephant was very Ethical, and began to refine the discussion, weighing the degree to which sins committed against the earth by human beings in the past should weigh against the (relatively less-blameworthy) younger people.
The Wolf, of course, was VERY Wise, and listened to all that the others said. The other animals sat silently as the Wolf considered all it had heard. For the Wolf, in addition to being Wise, was known to have great sway with the other animals at the Council. When just as the Wolf opened its mouth to speak, Sarah Palin flew overhead in a chopper & shot the shit out of the three of them.
I think I better run now. Lux is gonna gun me down for that.
I can't believe I did that to Lux's lively post. That was appalling.
I'm banishing myself. ;-)
You = genius.
That's a confirmed equation.
That's okay Quinn. I just came back from renewing my PETA membership.
People Eating Tasty Animals
Lets see my PETA cookbook: page 64: Preparing Quinn/Destor Ragout
Gotta run out to get some paprika!
Love them vittles you can't raise nor buy!!
Vittles 'R Us? Why does this concept worry me.....
Thanks Lux. Into every harmonious post, a little discord must fall. In this case, that'd be me.
I blame it on Destor though. Damned rabble-rousin' 'rasslers.
Up Huskies, UP! Good snow tonight lads! MUUUUUUUUSH!
Goodniiiiiiiiiight all ! ;-)
"Thanks Lux. Into every harmonious post, a little discord must fall. In this case, that'd be me."
Desi, you are living proof of the Hairy Ball Theorem, to wit: you (and Space Mountain) are the cowlick on an otherwise smoothly combed sphere of harmonious comments!
My Lux Blogs have never yet survived unscathed!
This fact proves that no continuous non-zero tangent vector field can exist! QED

Not DESI moron! Quinn, its Quinn, It's always Quinn!
I'd kinda prefer it if Des took the blame for this one.
He's a right bastard, you know, and deserves blame for things he hasn't done... because he's escaped so often for things he HAS done.
Nothing self-serving about this argument, either.
Don't ask me! Quinn's in charge here now.
After the sensible people have had their say, Lux lends me the tail-end of the blog to tell happy bedtime stories for children.
I think this one is a winner... Cats, Elephants, Wolves, a moral, plus a psycho in a chopper with a gun. Dr Suess, of a sort.
It was rather droll ......
chickens aren't're safe!