Morning Coffee with Dave and Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Reading Emerson’s “Experience” Essay this Morning

Underneath the inharmonious and trivial particulars, is a musical perfection, the Ideal journeying always with us, the heaven without rent or seam. Do but observe the mode of our illumination. When I converse with a profound mind, or if at any time being alone I have good thoughts, I do not at once arrive at satisfactions, as when, being thirsty, I drink water, or go to the fire, being cold: no! but I am at first apprised of my vicinity to a new and excellent region of life. By persisting to read or to think, this region gives further sign of itself, as it were in flashes of light, in sudden discoveries of its profound beauty and repose, as if the clouds that covered it parted at intervals, and showed the approaching traveller the inland mountains, with the tranquil eternal meadows spread at their base, whereon flocks graze, and shepherds pipe and dance.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Experience”

Years ago, while in the pastoral ministry, I set aside time in the mornings, when the mind is freshest, and lingered for as long as my schedule would allow, studying the Bible, pondering its message, hoping to draw insight for the day and for life in general. When I learned the languages in later years, I spent countless hours translating the scriptures and seeking application for daily living. When the pastoral ministry ended, and a teaching career commenced, the practice continued, but the reading was broader. Now, semi-retired, the custom is still with me, and I rejoice that I am not having to write a sermon or a lecture, but can merely scribble notations in my daily journal and seek some guiding thought for the day.

Emerson’s description of such meditation is far more eloquent than I have ever been able to put into words. I share that faith of his, that beneath jumble of life’s details are harmonizing forces that sustain the world. And I love his description of drawing close to that source of wisdom, how the message dawns slowly as though clouds were withdrawing from the source of light. What I love about reading is that shared communion, the reader drawing close to the writer and feeling that warmth of wisdom as well as experiencing a glow of illumination. Emerson has been one of my many guiding forces since I entered the teaching realm in the mid-1980’s.

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Working to Finish this Commission

Today is a special day also because I found some space in my day to pick up the brush and resume work on this piece that I began in the heat of the summer. I’m moving more slowly now as I decide what to do in adding further detail, as well as deciding what to leave alone.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

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