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Archive for August, 2015


If former NFL star Jason Brown keeps this up, he’s gonna give Christians a good name.

But seriously, ladies and germs. In case you hadn’t noticed, supposedly “liberal” CBS Evening News, like its ever-highly rated 60 Minutes, deserves credit for being great at broadcast journalism lifting up people of faith to masses of viewers.

And if Jason Brown doesn’t restore your faith in (Christian) humanity, what’s it gonna take?

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From the poetry of Nobel Prize winner Gabriela Mistral, who had a heart for the poor and especially the poor children of the Hispanic world as she overcome extreme hardships in her own youth in her native Chile

From the poetry of Nobel Prize winner Gabriela Mistral, who had a heart for the poor and especially the poor children of the Hispanic world as she overcame extreme hardships in her own youth in her native Chile–her father left when she was 3, and that was just the beginning of her tragedies in youth.

Serving is not a labor just for inferior beings.
God, who gives fruit and light, serves.
His name could be rendered thus: He Who Serves.”

— From “The Pleasure of Serving,” by Gabriela Mistral (1889-1957), a lay Franciscan Catholic and the first Latina to win the Nobel Prize for Poetry in 1945.

A lay member of the Franciscan Order who had a strong sense of the maternalism in spite of having no children of her own, Gabriela Mistral wrote lyrical poems with themes of love, joy and sorrow. She was a contemporary of the great Latino poet and far better known writer Pablo Neruda.

A lay member of the Franciscan Order who had a strong sense of the Christian afterlife, Gabriela Mistral wrote sensitive, lyrical poems rich with themes of maternalism, love, joy, sorrow and nature. She was a friend and contemporary, of course, of the other great poet of Chile and (seemingly) far better known writer Pablo Neruda. In fact, she championed his poetry before he won the Nobel. (Maybe he had the advantage of being a male poet.)

Bible, my noble Bible, magnificent panorama, where my eyes lingered for a long time, you have in the Psalms the most burning of lavas and in its river of fire I lit my heart!   You sustained my people with your strong wine and you made them stand strong among men, and just saying your name gives me strength; because I come from you I have broken destiny   After you, only the scream of the great Florentine went through my bones

Bible, my noble Bible, magnificent panorama,
where my eyes lingered for a long time,
you have in the Psalms the most burning of lavas
and in its river of fire I lit my heart!
You sustained my people with your strong wine
and you made them stand strong among men,
and just saying your name gives me strength;
because I come from you I have broken destiny
After you, only the scream of the great Florentine
went through my bones (“My Books”)

“The Pleasure of Serving”
All of nature is a yearning for service:
The cloud serves, and the wind, and the furrow.

Where there is a tree to plant, you be the one.
Where there is a mistake to undo, let it be you.

You be the one to remove the rock from the field,
The hate from human hearts,
And the difficulties from the problem.

There is joy in being wise and just,
But above all there is the beautiful,
The immense happiness of serving.

How sad the world would be if all was already done.
If there was no rosebush to plant,
No enterprise to undertake.

Do not limit yourself to easy tasks.
It’s so beautiful to do what others dodge.

But don’t fall prey to the error that only
Great tasks done can be counted as accomplishments.
There are small acts of service that are good ones:
Decoratively setting a table,
Putting some books in order,
Combing a little girl’s hair.
That one over there is the one that criticizes,
This other one is the one that destroys.
You be the one that serves.

Serving is not a labor just for inferior beings.
God, who gives fruit and light, serves.
His name could be rendered thus: He Who Serves.

And he has his eyes on our hands,
And he asks us at the close of day:
“Did you render service today? To whom?
To a tree, to your friend, to your mother?”

    Mistral’s works, both in verse and prose, deal with the basic passion of love as seen in the various relationships of mother and offspring, man and woman, individual and humankind, soul and God.

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    A dedicated educator and an engaged and committed intellectual, Mistral defended the rights of children, women, and the poor; the freedoms of democracy; and the need for peace in times of social, political, and ideological conflicts, not only in Latin America but in the whole world. She always took the side of those who were mistreated by society: children, women, Native Americans, Jews, war victims, workers, and the poor, and she tried to speak for them through her poetry, her many newspaper articles, her letters, and her talks and actions as Chilean representative in international organizations. Above all, she was concerned about the future of Latin America and its peoples and cultures, particularly those of the native groups. Her altruistic interests and her social concerns had a religious undertone, as they sprang from her profoundly spiritual, Franciscan understanding of the world. Her personal spiritual life was characterized by an untiring, seemingly mystical search for union with divinity and all of creation.

    — From her bio at the Poetry Foundation

How lyrical is this “cradlesong” poem about a woman who hears the cry of a baby (“searching for the rose of the nipple”) whose poor mom is working late:

“The Lonely Child”
His mother was late coming from the fields;
The child woke up searching for the rose of the nipple
And broke into tears . . . I took him to my breast
And a cradlesong sprang in me with a tremor . . .

Through the open window the moon was watching us.
The baby was asleep, and the song bathed
Like another light, my enriched breast . . .

(Her poetry, btw, has helped me to learn and further appreciate the beautiful language that is Spanish.)


“El niño solo”
La madre se tardó, curvada en el barbecho;
El niño, al despertar, buscó el pezón de rosa
Y rompió en llanto . . . Yo lo estreché contra el pecho,
Y una canción de cuna me subió, temblorosa . . .

Por la ventana abierta la luna nos miraba.
El niño ya dormía, y la canción bañaba,
Como otro resplandor, mi pecho enriquecido . . .

The woodsman forgot them. The night
Will come. I will be with them.
In my heart I will receive their gentle
Sap. They will be like fire to me.
And may the day find us
Quietly embraced in a heap of sorrow — from the poem “Three Trees,” inspired by Mistral’s teaching children in a poor village, where she educated the parents of impoverished children in the evenings.

One of her best known poems, “Pine Forest” reflects the passage of time and life with rich emotion and a sense of longing :

“Pine Forest”
Let us go now into the forest.
Trees will pass by your face,
and I will stop and offer you to them,
but they cannot bend down.
The night watches over its creatures,
except for the pine trees that never change:
the old wounded springs that spring
blessed gum, eternal afternoons.
If they could, the trees would lift you
and carry you from valley to valley,
and you would pass from arm to arm,
a child running
from father to father.

A terrific bilingual collection of Gabriela's work.

A terrific bilingual collection of Gabriela’s work, available on Amazon and wherever beautiful books about the human condition are sold.

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“Kicks,” a song by the sixties band with the stoopid name and outfits Paul Revere and the Raiders, was one of the few anti-drug songs of the drug-addled sixties music era to endure as one of the greatest rock classics of all time. (See here for its history, rock fans, including its rejection by Eric Burden and the Animals, who passed on it.)

I never get tired of hearing it and here it is complete with sixties go-go girls in go-go boots.

There was nothing stoopid about His Greatness Lou Rawls, who broke out in the sixties with cool music for adults for the ages.

The man has coolness and chops that won’t quit.

And there was this guy, who was always doing something interesting and different and fresh and cutting-edge in the sixties.


Until next time, keep on Jitterbugging.

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