Painted desert, ocean of colorsun’s worshiper, moon’s loverpicture of a coyote’s voicesandbox of angels, another toy.
The desert and the ocean are realms of desolation on the surface.The desert is a place of bones, where the innards are turned out, to desiccate into dust.The ocean is a place of skin, rich outer membranes hiding thick juicy insides, laden with the soup of being.Inside out and outside in. These are worlds of things that implode or explode, and the only catalyst that determines the direction of eco-movement is the balance of water.Both worlds are deceptive, dangerous. Both, seething with hidden life.The only veil that stands between perception of what is underneath the desolate surface is your courage.Dare to breach the surface and sink.
If the Pentateuch be true, religious persecution is a duty. The dungeons of the Inquisition were temples, and the clank of every chain upon the limbs of heresy was music in the ear of God. If the Pentateuch was inspired, every heretic should be destroyed; and every man who advocates a fact inconsistent with the sacred book, should be consumed by sword and flame.In the Old Testament no one is told to reason with a heretic, and not one word is said about relying upon argument, upon education, nor upon intellectual development—nothing except simple brute force. Is there to-day a christian who will say that four thousand years ago, it was the duty of a husband to kill his wife if she differed with him upon the subject of religion? Is there one who will now say that, under such circumstances, the wife ought to have been killed? Why should God be so jealous of the wooden idols of the heathen? Could he not compete with Baal? Was he envious of the success of the Egyptian magicians? Was it not possible for him to make such a convincing display of his power as to silence forever the voice of unbelief? Did this God have to resort to force to make converts? Was he so ignorant of the structure of the human mind as to believe all honest doubt a crime? If he wished to do away with the idolatry of the Canaanites, why did he not appear to them? Why did he not give them the tables of the law? Why did he only make known his will to a few wandering savages in the desert of Sinai? Will some theologian have the kindness to answer these questions? Will some minister, who now believes in religious liberty, and eloquently denounces the intolerance of Catholicism, explain these things; will he tell us why he worships an intolerant God? Is a god who will burn a soul forever in another world, better than a christian who burns the body for a few hours in this? Is there no intellectual liberty in heaven? Do the angels all discuss questions on the same side? Are all the investigators in perdition? Will the penitent thief, winged and crowned, laugh at the honest folks in hell? Will the agony of the damned increase or decrease the happiness of God? Will there be, in the universe, an eternal auto da fe?
Our ValleyWe don't see the ocean, not ever, but in July and Augustwhen the worst heat seems to rise from the hard clay of this valley, you could be walking through a fig orchardwhen suddenly the wind cools and for a moment you get a whiff of salt, and in that moment you can almostbelieve something is waiting beyond the Pacheco Pass,something massive, irrational, and so powerful eventhe mountains that rise east of here have no word for it.You probably think I'm nuts saying the mountains have no word for ocean, but if you live here you begin to believe they know everything. They maintain that huge silence we think of as divine,a silence that grows in autumn when snow fallsslowly between the pines and the wind diesto less than a whisper and you can barely catchyour breath because you're thrilled and terrified.You have to remember this isn't your land. It belongs to no one, like the sea you once lived besideand thought was yours. Remember the small boats that bobbed out as the waves rode in, and the men who carved a living from it only to find themselves carved down to nothing. Now you say this is home, so go ahead, worship the mountains as they dissolve in dust, wait on the wind, catch a scent of salt, call it our life.
Down dropt the breeze, the sails dropt down, 'Twas sad as sad could be; And we did speak only to break The silence of the sea! All in a hot and copper sky, The bloody Sun, at noon, Right up above the mast did stand, No bigger than the Moon. Day after day, day after day, We stuck, nor breath nor motion; As idle as a painted ship Upon a painted ocean.
Life is an island in an ocean of solitude and seclusion.Life is an island, rocks are its desires, trees its dreams, and flowers its loneliness, and it is in the middle of an ocean of solitude and seclusion.Your life, my friend, is an island separated from all other islands and continents. Regardless of how many boats you send to other shores, you yourself are an island separated by its own pains,secluded its happiness and far away in its compassion and hidden in its secrets and mysteries.I saw you, my friend, sitting upon a mound of gold, happy in your wealth and great in your riches and believing that a handful of gold is the secret chain that links the thoughts of the people with your own thoughts and links their feeling with your own.I saw you as a great conqueror leading a conquering army toward the fortress, then destroying and capturing it.On second glance I found beyond the wall of your treasures a heart trembling in its solitude and seclusion like the trembling of a thirsty man within a cage of gold and jewels, but without water.I saw you, my friend, sitting on a throne of glory surrounded by people extolling your charity, enumerating your gifts, gazing upon you as if they were in the presence of a prophet lifting their souls up into the planets and stars. I saw you looking at them, contentment and strength upon your face, as if you were to them as the soul is to the body.On the second look I saw your secluded self standing beside your throne, suffering in its seclusion and quaking in its loneliness. I saw that self stretching its hands as if begging from unseen ghosts. I saw it looking above the shoulders of the people to a far horizon, empty of everything except its solitude and seclusion.I saw you, my friend, passionately in love with a beautiful woman, filling her palms with your kisses as she looked at you with sympathy and affection in her eyes and sweetness of motherhood on her lips; I said, secretly, that love has erased his solitude and removed his seclusion and he is now within the eternal soul which draws toward itself, with love, those who were separated by solitude and seclusion.On the second look I saw behind your soul another lonely soul, like a fog, trying in vain to become a drop of tears in the palm of that woman.Your life, my friend, is a residence far away from any other residence and neighbors.Your inner soul is a home far away from other homes named after you. If this residence is dark, you cannot light it with your neighbor's lamp; if it is empty you cannot fill it with the riches of your neighbor; were it in the middle of a desert, you could not move it to a garden planted by someone else.Your inner soul, my friend, is surrounded with solitude and seclusion. Were it not for this solitude and this seclusion you would not be you and I would not be I. If it were not for that solitude and seclusion, I would, if I heard your voice, think myself to be speaking; yet, if I saw your face, i would imagine that I were looking into a mirror.
The Pacific, greatest of oceans, has an area exceeding that of all dry land on the planet. Herman Melville called it "the tide-beating heart of earth." Covering more than a third of the planet's surface--as much as the Atlantic, Indian, and Arctic oceans combined--it's the largest geographical feature in the world. Its awesome 165,384,000 square km (up to 16,000 km wide and 11,000 km long) have an average depth of around 4,000 meters. Half the world's liquid water is stored here. You could drop the entire dry landmass of our planet into the Pacific and still have room for another continent the size of Asia. One theory claims the moon may have been flung from the Pacific while the world was still young.
The stars are brilliant at this time of night and I wander these streets like a ritual I don’t dare to break for darling, the times are quite glorious.I left him by the water’s edge,still waving long after the ship was goneand if someone would have screamed my name I wouldn’t have heard for I’ve said goodbye so many times in my short life that farewells are a muscular task and I’ve taught them well. There’s a place by the side of the railway near the lake where I grew up and I used to go there to burry things and start anew. I used to go there to say goodbye. I was young and did not know many people but I had hidden things inside that I never dared to show and in silence I tried to kill them, one way or the other,leaving sin on my body scrubbing tears off with saltand I built my rituals in farewells. Endings I still cling to. So I go to the ocean to say goodbye.He left that morning, the last words still echoing in my headand though he said he’d come back one day I know a broken promise from a right onefor I have used them myself and there is no coming back.Minds like ours are can’t be tamed and the price for freedom is the price we pay.I turned away from the oceanas not to fall for its pleafor it used to seduce and consume meand there was this one nighta few years back and I was not yet accustomed to farewellsand just like now I stood waving long after the ship was gone.But I was younger then and easily fooledand the ocean was deep and dark and blueand I took my shoes off to let the water freeze my bones.I waded until I could no longer walk and it was too cold to swim but still I kept on walking at the bottom of the sea for I could not tell the difference between the ocean and the lack of someone I loved and I had not yet learned how the task of moving on is as necessary as survival.Then days passed by and I spent them with my work and now I’m writing letters I will never dare to send.But there is this one day every year or sowhen the burden gets too heavyand I collect my belongings I no longer needand make my way to the ocean to burn and drown and start anewand it is quite wonderful, setting fire to my chains and flames on written wordsand I stand there, starring deep into the heat until they’re all gone. Nothing left to hold me back.You kissed me that morning as if you’d never done it before and never would again and now I write another letter that I will never dare to send, collecting memories of loss like chains wrapped around my veins,and if you see a fire from the shore tonightit’s my chains going up in flames. The time of moon i quite glorious. We could have been so glorious.
ULTIMATUM, n. In diplomacy, a last demand before resorting to concessions. Having received an ultimatum from Austria, the Turkish Ministry met to consider it.""O servant of the Prophet,"" said the Sheik of the Imperial Chibouk to the Mamoosh of the Invincible Army, ""how many unconquerable soldiers have we in arms?""""Upholder of the Faith,"" that dignitary replied after examining his memoranda, ""they are in numbers as the leaves of the forest!""""And how many impenetrable battleships strike terror to the hearts of all Christian swine?"" he asked the Imaum of the Ever Victorious Navy.""Uncle of the Full Moon,"" was the reply, ""deign to know that they are as the waves of the ocean, the sands of the desert and the stars of Heaven!"" For eight hours the broad brow of the Sheik of the Imperial Chibouk was corrugated with evidences of deep thought: he was calculating the chances of war. Then, ""Sons of angels,"" he said, ""the die is cast! I shall suggest to the Ulema of the Imperial Ear that he advise inaction. In the name of Allah, the council is adjourned.""