Pithy quotes from our current reading which give us pause to reflect

Not so much a ‘pithy quote’ but a general reflection. As mentioned, a while ago, I’ve been reading and writing a lot of haiku lately. Originating in 16th Century Japan, most traditional haiku has been written by Buddhist monks (Basho, Issa, Chiyo-Ni, etc.) and contain Buddhist themes. Not surprisingly then, many ‘How to’ books suggest budding haiku poets practice Buddhist spirituality to ‘clear the way’ for inspiration (meditation, quieting the mind, surprising the self, minimising attachments, etc.).

For a range of reasons, I take issue with many (but not all) aspects of Buddhism and so wanted to find a different approach to seeking inspiration for my haiku. And I think I have found one. Given that the purpose of haiku is record a moment or feeling (traditionally, from nature) with brevity, purity, and accuracy, I have come to see haiku as polaroids of God’s providence. Moments lovely orchestrated by a benevolent sovereign Deity which the poet has the honour of experiencing and recording.

As a result, haiku reading offers a window into this providence as experienced (even if not recognised) by others, and my only humble compositions an opportunity to worship my Lord. Even if he never explicitly appears in the verse, they are all dedicated to him.

Spring rain:
Everything just grows
More beautiful.

~ Fukuda Chiyo-Ni


Just watching a documentary on Hemmingway - such an unappealing character. At one point Abraham Verghese commented on a troubling review Hemmingway wrote of the book from Here To Eternity. That reminded me of a wonderful book I read written by Verghese, Cutting For Stone. The most prominent characters were doctors, surgeons actually, which might be of interest to @Randy and @jpm. Oh and the author is a surgeon himself. I can’t remember a lot. Something about twins but I remember being spellbound. Anyone else read that one?

Verghese is a very good author, empathetic especially in the book I read by him…“My Own Country,” about treating HIV in East Tennessee (he was an infectious disease doc). I had the opportunity to work in the same town, hospital and with some who worked with him a few years after he left, in 2004-5. In fact, my health system just had us complete a course on implicit bias constructed in part by him. I have not yet read “Cutting for Stone,” though I will some day. Thanks for the reminder.
One of my favorite works by Verghese is a TED talk about care of even the hopelessly, terminally ill always requires empathy and patience.


Thank you for the recommendation! I’m putting a hold on it ASAP. The Cutting For Stone book took place in Ethiopia and the twins were immigrants from India, so another cross cultural theme. Cannot wait to get into a book I really care about again. The Tree Grows In Brooklyn book is pretty dull. A book of remembrances that add up to little more than a peek into a different time and place.

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Really enjoyed the book, though thought the ending a bit too contrived. We visited Rome and wanted to go by and see The Ecstasy of St. Theresa but never made it by as so many sculptures so little time.

One too many coincidence. Still it kept me engaged plus there was the culture in a new place to discover. Indians really get around and given their emphasis on family and education often do well.

This isn’t exactly pithy, because I’m going to include the whole poem, but I read it today and really liked it.

why some people be mad at me sometimes

by Lucille Clifton

they ask me to remember
but they want me to remember
their memories
and i keep on remembering

i am accused of tending to the past
as if i made it,
as if i sculpted it
with my own hands. i did not.
this past was waiting for me
when i came,
a monstrous unnamed baby,
and i with my mother’s itch
took it to breast
and named it
she is more human now,
learning language everyday,
remembering faces, names and dates.
when she is strong enough to travel
on her own, beware, she will.


Finally have gotten into @Randy’s recommended Being Mortal. Should probably be required reading for everyone at retirement. I’m reading it with great interest both for myself and my wife. My doctor is away for a week and I don’t want to fill up her email box but when she gets back I think I’ll look into what Kaiser offers by way of geriatric care. Good to know what to look out for. There is a senior living place on the other side of the park from us. So now I’m imagining renting out our place if it gets to be too much and somehow collaborating on the garden.

Looking back for Being Mortal book by Atul Gawande I happened to notice the Year of Wonders book @Christy mentioned and this time I put a hold on it.

I did finally finish A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. It is not a tightly crafted novel. Periodically it kind of wonders around like a dog looking for a scent. Still there is a wealth of detail about growing up poor in my grandparent’s time and one gets a sense of how immigrants require a few generations to transition from an illiterate generation to one that values reading and on to one that is pushed to make it through a formal education. Of course many Jewish, Indian and Asian families seem to come with a high value on family, education and service and get established sooner. My mother’s family would have had the experience of starting with little education or wealth. Interestingly, my father’s mother taught womens physical education at a college before taking up with my ne’er do well, son of preacher grand father who fathered a big family with her before deserting them at the start of WWI. So even families who make a certain amount of progress can backslide.


“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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