philosophy

The Yet Empty Stable

by Howard Hain

 

There’s a little stable not too far from here.

It sits in a church that has seen better days.

The parish is poor and the people seem to disappear.

But a few persistent peasants won’t stay away.

I love it there.

The priest is wonderfully uncertain.

He is afraid of God.

He instinctively bows his head at the mention of the name.

He knows how little he is in front of the great star.

I imagine he was involved in setting the stable.

It is a good size, on the relative little-stable scale.

It is surrounded by ever-green branches.

Probably snipped from the few Douglas Firs placed around the altar and yet to be trimmed.

The stable itself is composed of wood.

A little wooden railing crosses half the front.

A single string of clear lights threads through the branches laid upon the miniature roof.

They are yet to be lit.

I love it there.

I kneel before the empty scene.

For as of yet, not a creature or prop is present.

Not an ox or a goat, not a piece of hay or plank of fencing.

Not even a feeding trough that is to be turned into a crib.

No visible sign of Joseph and Mary, nor a distant “hee-haw” of a very tired donkey.

I wonder if I could get involved.

Perhaps I could slip into the scene.

There’s a darkened corner on the lower left.

In the back, against the wall.

I could hide myself within the stable.

Before anyone else arrives.

I don’t think they would mind.

I’d only be there to adore.

To pay homage to the new born king.

I might even help keep the animals in line.

Yes, a stagehand, that’s what I can be!

I know there’s no curtain to pull.

That’s to be torn in a much later scene.

But to watch the Incarnation unfold from within!

That’s what I dream.

To see each player take his and her place.

To see the great light locate the babe.

To watch the kings and shepherds stumble onto the scene.

Hark! To hear the herald angels sing!

O the joy of being a simple farmhand.

Of being in the right place at always the right time.

Of course though I wouldn’t be alone.

In that darkened corner, also awaiting the entire affair, there are many others.

Most I don’t know by name.

Too many in fact to even count.

But a few I know for sure.

For certain, present are those few persistent peasants who won’t stay away.

And of course there’s that wonderful anonymous parish priest.

The one who helped set into place this yet empty but very expectant stable.

The one whose fear of God is so clearly the beginning of wisdom.


 

Howard Hain is a contemplative layman, husband, and father.

 

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philosophy

I’m Pro-Art

by Howard Hain
DT1554

Paul Cézanne, “Bathers”, 1874-75, (The Met)


I’m Pro Art

In other words:

I’m Pro Truth

In other words:

I’m Pro Beauty

In other words:

I’m Pro Love

In other words:

I’m Pro Creation

In other words:

I’m Pro Life

(Oops, how’d that happen…funny how logic can lead you to such “un-expecting” places.)

(Words do seem to matter—or at least carry some weight—maybe even 7 pounds 8 ounces worth.)

(Before you panic, give it a little, teeny-weeny, infant-sized bit of thought…)

Conclusion:

ProArt (pro-creates) ProLife

ProLife (pre-conceives) ProArt

ProArt (equ=als) ProLife


 

Howard Hain is a contemplative layman, husband, and father.

Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardDHain

twitter.com/HowardDHain

If you enjoyed this post, please consider “liking” it, adding a comment, becoming an email subscriber (drop-down menu at top of page), or passing it along via the social-media links below. Your support is greatly appreciated. Step by step. All for God’s glory.


Web Link: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Paul Cézanne, “Bathers”, 1874–75

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philosophy

Sure and Steady

by Howard Hain
jusepe-josc3a9-de-ribera-tightrope-walkers-1634

Jusepe (Jose) de Ribera, “Tightrope Walkers”, 1634


The brighter the light the more we squint.

The closer we get the less we see.

And if we stare we go blind.

Now what?

You have to trust.

In what?

Not in yourselves.

In total darkness the answer is clear.

All other ways disappear.

Close your eyes.

Shutter your ears.

Forget the past.

Ignore what is below.

Chin slightly elevated.

Now walk.

No need to go too slow.

Sure and steady.

Heart on the goal.

And if we slip?

Don’t worry.

I made the rope.

I hold it tight.

My Son is “the way and the truth and the life”.

In Him you never fall.

In Him you know.

In Him you live.

He walks before you.

You may not see Him but He is there.

Follow close behind.

It is a tight walk.

That’s why I gave Him a pole.

I gave you one too.

And because it can get very dark.

I made them easy to identify.

They are made of thick dead wood.

Your hands know their splinters and knots.

Hold tight.

Say thank You.

Kiss in the dark what you cannot see.

For that old piece of wood.

Will get you across the gorge.

Where on the other side.

It will be planted.

Grafted into the Tree of Life.


 

Howard Hain is a contemplative layman, husband, and father.

Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardDHain

twitter.com/HowardDHain

If you enjoyed this post, please consider “liking” it, adding a comment, becoming an email subscriber (drop-down menu at top of page), or passing it along via the social-media links below. Your support is greatly appreciated. Step by step. All for God’s glory.


 

 

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philosophy

Arriving in Hope

by Howard Hain

 

camille-pissarro-entree-du-village-de-voisins-1872

Camille Pissarro, “Entrée du village de Voisins”, 1872 (Musée d’Orsay)

 

Waiting and waiting, for exactly what I’m not sure.

The sun to rise.

The day to end.

The water to boil.

Mass to begin.

The cock to crow.

Christ to return.

———

A new day is here.

———

Father, thank You.

Jesus, I love You.

Holy Spirit, have Your way.


 

Howard Hain is a contemplative layman, husband, and father.

Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardDHain

twitter.com/HowardDHain

If you enjoyed this post, please consider “liking” it, adding a comment, becoming an email subscriber (drop-down menu at top of page), or passing it along via the social-media links below. Your support is greatly appreciated. Step by step. All for God’s glory.

 

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philosophy

Daily Grind

by Howard Hain

 

Rembrandt Two Women Teaching a Child to Walk ca. 1635-37 red chalk on gray paper

Rembrandt, “Two Women Teaching a Child to Walk”, ca. 1635-37 (red chalk on gray paper)

 

This day might perhaps be the most boring day of our life.

It might look a lot like yesterday.

A lot like last Friday.

A lot like last November.

Routine.

Monotony.

The daily grind.

Another peppercorn held in the mill.

Waiting its turn to be ground into dust.

Sprinkled on a paper plate.

Consumed by a ravenous world.

Never to be seen again.

Never to see the light of day.

Or perhaps we’re wrong.

Perhaps we’re chunks of crystal.

Salt from a dead sea.

Clear.

A tinge of pink.

When the light hits right.

To be sprinkled.

To preserve what’s sacred.

To give life.

Perhaps we are the salt of the earth.

Perhaps this day we shall meet some pepper.

Perhaps we’ll let God have His way.

Giving taste to what seems to so many just another day.


 

Howard Hain is a contemplative layman, husband, and father.

Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardDHain

twitter.com/HowardDHain

If you enjoyed this post, please consider “liking” it, adding a comment, becoming an email subscriber (drop-down menu at top of page), or passing it along via the social-media links below. Your support is greatly appreciated. Step by step. All for God’s glory.

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philosophy

Falling Into Love

by Howard Hain

 

Francesco Sassetti (1421–1490) and His Son Teodoro Domenico Ghirlandaio ca. 1488.jpg

Domenico Ghirlandaio, “Francesco Sassetti (1421–1490) and His Son Teodoro”, ca. 1488 (The Met)

 

Dear Lord,

Let me begin with my apologies. Forgive me for coming to You yet again with nothing. I’m sorry. Look at me, I’ve just begun and here I go again, saying things that are just not true. Of course I do not come “with nothing.” No, I come with nothing of value. Yes, that’s better. For as You well know, Lord, I do come with plenty of things that simply get in the way of me doing my job, the job You Yourself assigned me, the job for which You Yourself designed me perfectly.

God, You are so patient. Truly.

Yes, Sir.

Forgive me…yes, I will stop talking. Of course I’ll listen to You. I’m all ears. Please, my Lord, go ahead, if You please, when You’re ready…

“My son, it is good to see you. I am always pleased to see you. You really have grown. Do you know what I hear when you speak to me? I hear hope. Yes, hope has a sound. No, it’s not like the sounds that you hear in the world. In heaven everything is Love. And the sound of hope is the sound of one of my children falling into Love. I never grow tired of you, or any of your brothers or sisters, speaking to me. Think about it. You know this yourself, the most painful thing for parents is for one of their children to turn away from them, to cease to talk, to cut off all communication, to deny their very existence. Oh, how that hurts. Don’t you see then how Jesus taught you all that you need to know? He taught you all that you will ever need to know while He hung upon the cross. He taught you to never turn away from me. To speak to me. To direct your heart and your mouth and your will toward me. He taught you to keep your eyes on me. The world only sees terrible pain and suffering upon the cross, I see you being set free. I see you this very morning coming to your Father and speaking openly. I see hope and I hear the sound of my dear child falling into Love.”


 

Howard Hain is a contemplative layman, husband, and father.

Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardDHain

twitter.com/HowardDHain

If you enjoyed this post, please consider “liking” it, adding a comment, becoming an email subscriber (drop-down menu at top of page), or passing it along via the social-media links below. Your support is greatly appreciated. Step by step. All for God’s glory.


Web Link: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Domenico Ghirlandaio, “Francesco Sassetti (1421–1490) and His Son Teodoro”, ca. 1488

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philosophy

A Generous Silence

by Howard Hain

 

Pablo Picasso Woman in White 1923

Pablo Picasso, “Woman in White”, 1923 (The Met)

 

The fewest words possible.

It is hard to imagine why we speak any at all.

Nothing comes out right.

There’s never enough said.

What is uttered is always incomplete.

The vow of silence seems awfully attractive at times.

But how long would that last?

I remember taking early morning walks years ago.

I would see the sky, the horizon, the landscape, the fields, the trees, the rocks, the grass, the birds…

I would get so excited.

I would want to run home and tell my wife, to show her, to bring her to that very spot.

But I couldn’t.

By even thinking about doing so something had happened.

The sky, the horizon, the landscape, the fields, the trees, the rocks, the grass, the birds…they were all still there, but it was gone.

By wanting to run and show someone else, by desperately wanting to share—to not be alone—I was again the only one standing on that vacant road.

God of course was still there, and His holy angels and saints—the “great cloud of witnesses”—but I was no longer home.

For I was no longer there.

I was in the land of wanting, of wanting something else but the “here and now,” of wanting something else besides a glimpse of eternity—of wanting more than the kingdom truly being at hand.

For even the beautifully-human desire to share with others sometimes gets in the way.

What is needed is more faith.

What is needed is belief—the belief that the gift of God’s presence, when graciously and generously and humbly received, gives more to our family and friends, gives more to the entire world, than we could ever show or tell each and every one of them individually—even when our “receiving” takes place when we are completely and totally “alone.”


 

Howard Hain is a contemplative layman, husband, and father.

Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardDHain

twitter.com/HowardDHain

If you enjoyed this post, please consider “liking” it, adding a comment, becoming an email subscriber (drop-down menu at top of page), or passing it along via the social-media links below. Your support is greatly appreciated. Step by step. All for God’s glory.


Web Link: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Pablo Picasso, “Woman in White”, 1923

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