A beautiful soul is part of a beautiful world

They said in unison, “A beautiful soul is part of the beautiful world,” and I wondered what they meant by the concept of the beautiful world. They meant, I think, that the world cannot be beautiful in just one part or another, just in one object but not in another, but in some more general sort of way. Ah, but some ‘general sort of way’–what of that? This sparrow is beautiful not just in the sense of being an object of my interest but in the sense of being, disinterestedly, a part of the world-whole that brings me to a state of awe. Perhaps, the comportment one takes toward the ‘beautiful world’ is indeed one of  awe or wonder. Do I have in mind my joyous comportment toward any ordinary being whatever? Am I thinking of being open-armed and welcoming from the first? Is there a half-formed idea about attuning myself to what is around me, quite apart from whatever purposes or ends or goals that would otherwise attract my attention and guide my will? I suspect they mean also–and perhaps I should have stated this first–that being a part of the beautiful world implies being a transient being among other transient beings; means not being arrogant but finding humility good.

‘There is more beauty than our eyes can bear…’

I love the prairie! So often I have seen the dawn come and the light flood over the land and everything turn radiant at once, that word “good” so profoundly affirmed in my soul that I am amazed I should be allowed to witness such a thing. There may have been a more wonderful first moment “when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy,” but for all I know to the contrary, they still do sing and shout, and they certainly might well. Here on the prairie there is nothing to distract attention from the evening and the morning, nothing on the horizon to abbreviate or to delay. Mountains would seem an impertinence from that point of view.

–Marilynne Robinson, Gilead (2004)

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Last night when I couldn’t fall asleep, the wind chimes dangled their silvery fingers, twinkling the breeze, now & again, against each other.

Every so often the wind chimes ask the breeze to introduce them. It does, they speak softly.

This dawn comes, moving me to move. I cannot help but be moved, being moved to move.


I now have names for trees: the London plane (far left), the ginkgo (lower left), the magnolia (lower right), the ailanthus (upper right).

The London plane and the ailanthus have the best views by far; the ginkgo and the magnolia are children looking up.

The ailanthus is rotating on its spine, giving itself a massage.


The courtyard below is marked off by a brick wall. The brick wall is not lonely: spaced out at even intervals are seashells.

The koi pond to its immediate right incessantly gurgles a little, the spittle getting free from the water mouth, the air catching it & letting it out to be gurgled again someday.


The amber tree’s hair is sticking up this morning. Around this time, it has cabello dorado like mine.

Self-portrait: a mushroom-capped mole below the left sideburn, a scar from childhood marking the crease in the lower lip, under nostrils gnarled knuckles, smelling of earth, alluding to summer berries.

A mood: pensive, in love. Pose: hands on neck behind hair, cupping it, warming it.


The sounds of seagulls, mourning doves, barking dogs. Distant and airy, coo-cooing, astringent! When things die down, then wind chimes.

Things died down, now wind chimes.


Listening: ‘Once you have given up the ghost, everything follows with dead certainty, even in the midst of chaos. From the beginning…’

Never alone, always half-smiling thusly: earnestly, amusedly, attentively, adoringly, tenderly, graciously.

The traffic will start the day in blue.Then it will turn madder, then return to blue.  


Early spring. ‘What, are you wearing shorts? You are crazy.’ Liz, a Ukrainian. ‘Yes, I’m going running.’ ‘You are crazy.’ Smiles, Bach.

Runners taking themselves far too seriously. Also: traders, financiers, lawyers, gallerists, advisers. NYers. ‘You are crazy.’ Death kindly stopping.


This afternoon, there were geese eating below the Trump. They fed themselves on berries, ignoring the man lugging the bike down toward the river.

Years ago, the geese were eating red winter berries & shitting on the campus lawn. Amid the snow, shit. Amid the shit, ruby esculent berries.


Yesterday, the rain had turned the building into a mud nest. By morning, it has returned to sandpaper. Before it stands the London plane.

The daylong rain has turned the building located at 11 o’clock into a mud nest, mocha dauber brown meeting berber tan at sloping seams & peaks.


Un foto. In the background: an iron bridge. Off left: a small waterfall, forceful. Left foreground: a striated tree, old roots, new leaves.

Rilke. ‘Don’t you hear my voice?… Don’t you know that my prayer is growing ripe upon your vision, as upon a tree?’

Gilead. ‘There is more beauty than our eyes can bear….’

Maria: that little girl, a woman’s voice ripened with wind and roots and leaves.


The morning sky was turquoise, the color of Swedish eyes. Moments before nightfall, the sky is fair, reticent, a woman dressed in fall. I know them both, mother & son.

To each home a different light, a different ensemble of lights, a different shade of orange, and no orange the same shade exactly.