Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Irrational Exuberance aka Life

I actually wrote the entry, Roots, two weeks ago. But, I never posted.
It seemed too goodie-two-shoes to me.
Too exuberant.
However, today is “hostess’s” birthday and this morning I was once again noticing the straw as I came to work. So, I thought I’d post belatedly as something of a birthday salutation.

In this interim two weeks, I also celebrated my mother’s birthday.
I took her out to Sunday brunch and because the restaurant surprises birthday celebrants with a slice of cake and candle, we knew that the family at another table was also celebrating.
I was already making my way out when Mom said, “I’m going to wish this young girl happy birthday.” So I turned back and waited. By then, Mom was in conversation and had discovered that actually both birthdays were the next day.
“I am going to be eighty-three. How old will you be?”
A universal, “Ahhhh,” went up from the group.
The girl’s mother and my eyes met right then in the midst of that Ahhh. And we smiled.
It was just a moment, then we looked away.
But, in that moment we had got it.
The unspeakable miracle of a single life, of family, of love was right there, an understanding shared amongst complete strangers.

It goes beyond the rational and it is such fullness it must be exuberant...

So, Happy Birthday: Mom, Lily, ... and to all of us!


We’ve started a women’s meditation group. We do meditate, but our talking sometimes leads us rather far afield, though no one is complaining.
Last night, we found ourselves speculating on the meaning of the root “dox.”
Thinking of “Doxology” I’d suggested “god.”
Our hostess immediately replied, “No…” and bowed her head in thought.

She began with “paradox” and “orthodox” and so suggested “idea.”
(If memory serves, I think that was the word.)
But, anyway, she didn’t go with “god.”

The next morning I awoke to find an email: “We were both right!!”

Greek doxa, opinion from dokein, to think; see dek- in Indo-European roots.
Greek doxologi, praise: doxa, glory, honor from dokein, to seem; see dek

Well, this only makes it clearer, I think.
Dek reminds me of the Sanskrit deva:
Deva (meaning "radiant" or "shining") refers to a "god" or "deity"…

I left last night's meditation singing the Doxology to Mary, with whom I car pool.
Had she sung it in her church? When I was a kid we sang it every Sunday after they’d completed the collection.

In many ways, the Doxology brought the service to its peak for me:
The ushers marching up the aisle to lay our money upon the altar
(no fatted calf I grant you but the next best thing, we were Presbyterians, for God’s sake)…
the congregation rising to its feet to sing in unison:

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
Praise Him all Creatures here below.
Praise Him above Ye heavenly hosts.
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

The organ pipes rang out as we all swelled heavenly,
and then we'd return to earth with this natural bowing of our heads.
This was high ceremony to me. It made me want to drop to my knees and cross myself (but we were Presbyterians...).

I found myself singing again this morning, as I negotiated the path between the parking garage and the construction site that's expanding the School of Public Health.
They’ve scattered straw and grass seed over major excavations, torn up roads, and made a huge mess.
But this morning, right next to the newly poured cement a flock of sparrows was busy gobbling up seeds from beneath the straw.
The sight stunned me, stopped me in my tracks.

It is 35 degrees outside. Winter has arrived in Georgia.
The impatience are frozen solid on my deck.
And here are these little birds, the softest puffs of feather, burrowing along like fuzzy hamsters while in my head I am hearing:

Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him all Creatures here below…

What praise right here at my feet! In the softness, in the Life, with these little birds.
Doxology and doxa, dokein, dek and deva. Right here!

Deva most likely from the Proto-Indo-European deiwos, originally an adjective meaning "celestial" or "shining." But, I prefer the verb: diiv meaning "to play."

As in little birds rummaging through scattered seeds or a good tune running through your head.

As in irrational exuberance.

Happy Birthday, Lily, Mom, and one and all.


Rebecca Frye said...

Hi, Patty - thanks for the post today. It was Brigette's bday today as well! I'll offer the Doxology used at the UCC Congregationalist church I sometimes attend - it is subtly different in a way I like:

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow
Praise Christ all creatures here below
Praise God for all that Love has done
Creator, Christ and Spirit One

- Rebecca Frye

Pat Bralley said...

Ahhh, I was a bit jarred to see how dated my words sound. I guess that's part of getting older.

Happy B'day Brigette!

Beth said...

Pat, your comments about the Presbyterians amused me - but the part about wanting to kneel and cross yourself contains the hunger we all feel for some sort of core ritual.

Birthday cake is one, for sure! Happy birthday to your mom.

Pat Bralley said...

In my 20's after a trip to Europe where entering old, huge cathedrals really made me want to drop to my knees, I came home and became Episcopalian. They knee alot! They have incense and you can cross yourself.

To this day, I can come out of a cross-legged meditation bow before the Buddha, and cross myself.
;) om my.

Pat Bralley said...

Well, I don't know if Episcopalians actually knee alot, but I do know they Kneel alot.

(best to logoff now)