Sunday, March 25, 2018

Unraveling Mysteries

After almost 600 posts spanning a decade, occasionally I find myself without a topic to write about. I could go to my poems or myriad journal entries from years past. But with a vast archive of photos, occasionally I select a couple and let them speak. After all, "A picture is worth a thousand words."

I was searching through my photo files the other day and found these two from Paris that I pulled out to take a closer a look.

This is me, doing my "street photography". I am looking into the picture window of an art gallery. On view is a bold, colorful painting of a building with tower and windows. Reflected over the art is the street where I stand. Cars, and stone facades of residences are set at an oblique angle to the building in the painting. My reflection seems to melt into the scene. Appropriate! When I am in "the zone", doing my street photos, I disappear into my surroundings.

I think I was at Musée d'Orsay when I took this "picture within a picture". 
It works on various levels. First is the masterpiece of art; a painting in classic style, skillfully depicting an unfolding drama of momentous proportions. A mother and her child are succumbing to cold in a frozen landscape. Franciscan brothers have come to their aid and are trying to resuscitate them—just as an avalanche strikes close behind. In front of the painting, a couple hold one another and look. The artwork has moved them to intimacy as they share in unraveling its mysteries.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

No Pain, No Gain

"Man's fate is according to his pains." -Robert Herrick, (English, 24 August 1591 – 15 October 1674)

Is fasting like weightlifting? Yes. They both abide by the dictum, “No pain no gain.”
A body builder must push his muscles to greater exertions in order to build them. In the process he feels pain. Microscopic muscle fibers tear, only to be rebuilt stronger with greater mass.

The other day, on the sixteenth day of my nineteen day fast, (see previous post), I was leaving my gallery, riding my bike to the lot where I park my van. I felt lightheaded, and realized hunger and thirst in the background of my activities. Turning a corner, I took hold of the distress. I had the feeling of being able to lift it up like a weightlifter; as if I were exercising spiritual muscles. I felt stronger by stressing my body—same as working out. But inasmuch as this effort is aimed at relying upon the pleasure of God, a much more lasting result is achieved by building spiritual character.

The road to achievement runs through hardship. My daughter Naomi Boone (January 11, 1980 - July 5, 1999)  knew this. She was diagnosed with cancer, which ultimately took her life at the age of nineteen. In the beginning of her ordeal, she wrote in her journal, “Hardship will make us stronger. I think that in every situation, there is good in it.”

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Ecstasies Of Heavenly Union

“True loss is for him whose days have been spent in utter ignorance of his self.” —Baha’u’llah

I am at the midway point of the Baha’i nineteen day fast I observe each year. I began in 1971 and will continue, God willing, until 2022. The dates of fasting are March 2-20. The way it works is if you are healthy, between the ages of 15 - 70, not pregnant or breast feeding, then you give up food and water between sunrise and sunset. It is difficult to practice faithfully, but each year about a week before the start I have deep yearning for it. Like no other discipline, it affirms that I am a spiritual being, far beyond the material elements that compose my body. Sometimes I think that if a Divine command were to arrive that I must not ever again pass anything beyond my lips, I would be obedient until death were to release me from the physical bonds entirely. Then like a bird escaping its cage, I would wing my way into grand celestial spheres and sing the ecstasies of heavenly union with Divine Spirit in limitless freedom.

It seems just about every religion has a fasting period. The prophets, who are like Divine Doctors, prescribe it for us for our own good.

Sunday, March 04, 2018


A wounded man lies on a dark battlefield littered with corpses and not a living soul near. His blood drains away, seeping into the silent earth and he thinks, “it will all be over soon and then I will fly to heaven.”

Another person is in a garden of splendor. Roses open themselves to the warm life-giving rays of the sun. He delights in their varied form, color and fragrance and wanders among them, with soft grass underfoot. Birds sing from branches of trees and their songs are sweet. Bees buzz from blossom to blossom busy with the work of collecting pollen to make their honey. The gentle play of air currents across his skin is like a sublime caress from an unseen hand.

One heart is elated, open, enchanted and confirmed. Another is stabbed to the quick.

A caterpillar will someday emerge as something almost entirely different—a butterfly.  First it must die to its old form and be born again. In its cocoon, the caterpillar form disintegrates and from the primal ingredients another, very different creature is born. What a wonder to open its marvelous wings and stretch them out . . . to fly. To go from one that crawls and eats leaves to one that moves freely through the air and feeds on nectar. The butterfly might fly across a dark abyss. But it will not land there. It will find flowers.

Some poems from my past:

Perfumed Dawn

Someone said that
you are easily distracted by
butterfly wings and
the sound of trees.
They said you only speak
in the language of dreams.

I know the picture.
You are intoxicated from the
fragrance of a perfumed dawn.
That morning, the scent of a thousand roses
arose from the mist of your memory.
A sublime light filled
the corners of your mind.
You fell weeping on the floor.

Since then you have not been the same.
You wander streets, staring
into the faces of strangers as
if looking for a long-lost friend.
When a glimmer of recognition
is seen in someones eyes
you cry, and where
your tears fall, birds arise.

It seems there is nothing to do
to solve this madness. Sirens
are calling for you to drown
in a surreal sea.


What world is this,
where I must learn to drown
or else be set on fire.
Those who do not discover the secret
risk going up in smoke.

Throw yourself in—
go to the bottom.
It is better not to resist.
Let water take you;
                   be like a fish

Soon you will feel at home.

Footprints in the Sand 

Beautiful the dawn when you
danced along the shore
wearing pain
like a bracelet of bells.

Birds circled above—made a halo
around your head while waves
caressed your feet.

How many lovers
has the ocean drowned?

Wind and tides quickly
swept away your footprints,

Your hymn is in the hills.

All writing © 2004 -2018 Steven Boone