Sunday, January 14, 2007

It Time to think Sparrows

Friday, January 12, 2007


Canada Geese
suddenly in the heart
the field takes wing (4:1)
James Tipton, Ajijic

Thursday, December 28, 2006

A Pilgrimage Is No Vacation!

What is a pilgrimage and how is it different from typical tourism? A pilgrimage involves conscious travel or movement to a specific place (often sacred in nature) and with a specific spiritual intention. Typically a pilgrimage includes making a conscious exchange or connection with the place visited. This exchange may take physical form or be non-physical in nature such as a prayer, feeling of gratitude, or sense of purpose. Some sites are natural land formations such as mountains and others are man-made including temples and pyramids. I believe that certain sites become pilgrimage places simply due to the human-aura or energy that is inherent of thousands, and in some cases, millions of people bringing themselves and their intentions to a particular place. On a basic vacation, one travels to "vacate," whereas on a pilgrimage, the purpose is to "arrive" and stand more wholeheartedly at a specific spot on this planet invoking one's birthright. by David Frechter of Spirit Journeys.

Check out David and his associates at Spirit Journeys or read his full article on the Art of Pilgrimage at White Crane Journal.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


Congratulations to James Tipton on the completion of his new home. It is the fulfillment of a dream to move to Ajijic, Mexico and settle into life around Lake Chapala. Talking about a room with a view.

Of course Jim is not stranger to views having moved to Fruita, Colorado from Glade Park atop the Colorado National Monument.

It is with great joy and excitement that we raise a glass to Jim's newest adventure! If you would like to read some of Jim's published pieces (other than the postings in Pilgrim Cafe), you may click the Colorado Mountain Gazette.

When we get pics of the new diggs we'll share'em.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Beyond American Empire

James Tipton shares an article written by Bob Harwood entitled Beyond American Empire. Implications of global political re-alignments surrounding the recend elections in the United States of America. The personal individual pilgrimage is not the only pilgrimage that is important. It's larger setting is the socio-political environment in which it is lived. There have been personal pilgrimages that seem to be suspended in socio-political environments that are caustic to them. More times than not, however, personal pilgimages draw from or react to the socio-political envionment in which they find themselves. In some ways we can relate to Picasso's self portrait as we observe the various influences in our own personal journey. What happens to our own pilgrimage as the major global political atmosphere realigns?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Deep calls to Deep

It is amazing on this voyage that we don't sink when our bark takes on water. It is a truism that the deeper we get the deeper we get. The more we open ourselves to the pain and pleasure of other sentient beings the more we open to life itself.

I so appreciate friends who are there when I reach depths of dispare or resentment or frustration who open themselves to my complaints and offer much needed response. Some even roll up their sleeves and help me bail.

There is a kind of bonding that occurs while bailing to stay afloat. This is the best kind of bail bonding that one can experience. I recently had a friend stay with me in the emergency room as I was struggling with my own mortality. I woke in the morning and the friend was still asleep in a chair across the room.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Hearts At Work

Franklin's Thirteen Virtues

by Jim Tipton

Benjamin Franklin was born three-hundred years ago this very year. On this tri-centennial of his birth, I would like to honor this remarkable American by offering here some of his own words about the religious and the moral life.

Franklin was not a devoutly religious man in the conventional or doctrinal sense. In The Autobiography he acknowledges his Protestant upbringing, but Sunday was his "studying-day" and he had no intention of wasting it by attending services that heaped upon you the "dogmas of the persuasion" and "the eternal decrees of God," which to Franklin seemed "unintelligible" or "doubtful."

On the other hand, Franklin writes "I never was without some religious principles. I never doubted, for instance, the existence of the Deity, that he made the world and governed it by his providence, that the most acceptable service of God was the doing good to man, that our souls are immortal, and that all crime will be punished and virtue rewarded either here or hereafter."

Although these seemed to be "the essentials of every religion…found in all the religions we had in our country," Franklin found them more or less presented in ways "which without any tendency to inspire, promote, or confirm morality, served principally to divide us and make us unfriendly to one another."

Still in his early twenties, Franklin developed his own "Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion," and finding this of use, "I…went no more to the public assemblies."

After conceiving his "bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection," Franklin in playful dismay tells us "But I soon found I had undertaken a task of more difficulty than I had imagined." Indeed, "While my attention was taken up and care employed in guarding against one fault, I was often surprised by another. Habit took the advantage of inattention. Inclination was sometimes too strong for reason."

Franklin concluded that our mere desire "to be completely virtuous was not sufficient to prevent our slipping, and that the contrary habits must be broken and good ones acquired and established before we can have any dependence on a steady, uniform rectitude of conduct." For this purpose he "contrived the following method."

Franklin' s method was to list thirteen virtues and then meditate on them daily, virtues "that at that time occurred to me as necessary or desirable." He wanted to "acquire the habitude of all these virtues."

In order not to be distracted Franklin fixed on only one virtue at a time. He made a little book that always traveled with him. With red ink he ruled seven vertical columns, one for each day of the week, and labeled these at the top with the first letter of each day. He then crossed these with thirteen lines, one for each of the virtues, labeling each line with the first letter of one of the virtues. Each week focused on a single virtue and this particular virtue was written at the top of the page.

Each evening he carefully reflected over his day. He put a little check in each square (sometimes more than one) for each virtue he had violated during the day. Because each week was concentrated on a single virtue, he hoped that line remained clear throughout the week. Once he had worked through all thirteen virtues—thirteen separate pages and thirteen weeks of work—he began all over again, so that in one year he would complete four courses.

These are Benjamin Franklin's "Thirteen Virtues":

1. Temperance
Eat not to dullness. Drink not to elevation.

2. Silence
Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself. Avoid trifling conversation.

3. Order
Let all your things have their places. Let each part of your business have its time.

4. Resolution
Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve.

5. Frugality
Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.

6. Industry
Lose no time. Be always employed in something useful. Cut off all unnecessary actions.

7. Sincerity
Use no hurtful deceit. Think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly.

8. Justice
Wrong none by doing injuries or omitting the benefits that are your duty.

9. Moderation
Avoid extremes. Forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.

10. Cleanliness
Tolerate no uncleanness in body, clothes or habitation.

11. Tranquility
Be not disturbed at trifles or at accidents common or unavoidable.

12. Chastity
Rarely use venery [sexual activity] but for health or offspring—never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation.

13. Humility
Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

Franklin—being "surprized to find myself so much fuller of faults than I had imagined"—continued this systematic practice for several years, "but I had the satisfaction of seeing them diminish." After a few years, Franklin went through only "one course" a year, and eventually only one course every several years.

What were the results? When he is almost eighty and writing The Autobiography, Franklin happily acknowledges that he "never arrived at the perfection I had been so ambitious of obtaining but fell far short of it." For example, he writes, "I found myself incorrigible with respect to Order." He realized that the "extreme nicety" which had apparently been his goal might become a kind of "foppery in morals, which if it were known would make me ridiculous." Nor did he want "the inconvenience of being envied and hated…."

And "Yet," he writes, "I was by the endeavour a better and a happier man than I otherwise should have been if I had not attempted it." Franklin concludes, "My posterity should be informed that to this little artifice, with the blessing of God, their ancestor owed his constant felicity of his life…."

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Check Out Your Birthday

A new birthday date is announced... Yours!

The Pilgrimage of a thousand miles begins with the first step.
When and where was your first step? Check out this fun and
informative greeing. This link will be carried on our sidebar.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Elizabeth Schwartzkopf Dies at 90

Elizabeth Schwartzkopf, world renoun soprano dies at age 90. There are those of us who will miss her.

Read my story about the unique events that unfolded in my hearing Elizabeth in her final concert at the Vienna Oper House.

Other stories: Schwartzkopf , NPR - listen to voice , Pictures
By Dan Peterson

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Night by Elie Wesel

I visit Borders Bookstore every day or so and read another chapter from Elie Wiesel's lates captivating offering. Wiesel, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996. Read his Nobel acceptance lecture here. I am adding Night to the Pilgrim Cafe Great Read Library. For comments, you are invited to join the conversation there.


Tipton on Bush

Checkout Pilgrim Cafe Journal for Jim's latest contribution on George Bush.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Emotions on the Journey

The emotional journey of men have become the subject of several studies in contemporary media: BBC Science Article - Emotional Rollercoaster , Website - Old Men Crying and photographer Sam Taylor-Wood's photoessay - Crying Men.

What role have emotions played in your human pilgrimage? The question of course is not WILL they have a role in your journey, but WHAT role will we allow them to have? Will it be constructive, informative and intergrative, or will they be more distructive, malevolent, and obstructive? The choice is ultimately ours, is it not?

Monday, July 03, 2006

The World of James Tipton

Jim Tipton once again introduces us to his world of interesting people. Writing for Jim drops us a note about one of his connections.

Here is a new article, just out today, about the artist Georg Rauch, who lives in Jocotepec, a village about twenty minutes away. He has made his living as an artist for fifty years, but as a young man he was a Jewish soldier in Hitler's army, fighting on the Russian front, where he was captured and held as a prisoner-of-war.


Click to link to the story. Also check Rauch on the sidebar.

Thanks Jim for sharing another's dramatic pilgirmage to self and art!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Pelting the Pillars Again

A five part series carried by Christian Science Monitor. Access the CSM article by clicking the title of this post. Three other parts have appeared previously in Pilgrim Cafe.

Journalist, Faiza Saleh Ambah, by self confession a relatively nominal Muslim prior to the pilgrimage, is now beginning to feel a spirit of comradare and unity with other Muslim on the Hajj. A uniquely archaic sounding ritual, the Pelting of the Pillars of Jamaraat frees the pilgrim from past entangelments of soul. There is an inexpected sense of freedom and warmth of spirit that Faiza feels.

Pilgrimages reconnect us at depths that we seldom experience. Faiza is traveling among 2,000,000 pilgrims on the Hajj. The press of the crowd, the shouts of praise for Allah, the ritual movement of stoning the devil, wearing black abayas, the devotion of sisters on the same Hajj all create an excitement and stirrings in the heart.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

A Wheel Barrow Aha!

Those of you who have attempted to work with A Red Wheel Barrow need to hear this from Dan Peterson.
The solution to A Red Wheel Barrow:Williams was a physician who apparently made housecalls (thing of the past). The seriously ill child in her rural home(chicken) was being assisted by the wagon (medical technology), but the final determination lay in the hands of the rain (nature or supreme being).

No, I am not this cleaver; the solution was in a footnote added by Williams. wouldn't it be nice if T.S. Eliot had explained his "let us go you and I" in the opening of "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufruck," but I buy into Elizabeth Drew's explanation: super ego and ego joined together. But I had a chance to get a clarification on who the ladies were in "Four Quartets" from Eliot at a birthday party given by his cousin in connecticut. In answer to whether interpretation one or two was correct; he answered, "both."

Monday, June 12, 2006

A Red Wheel Barrow

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

William Carlos Williams

No more to it; first time I read it I think I threw the book out the window in frustration with this highly regarded poet. Since then I at least have some idea of what it could be about. Before getting to enjambment and other technical matters the student will have to deal with what the poet is saying. But more of this to follow.

Dan Peterson

Deal with Dan's question before you look below. Better yet don't look below. Struggle with the meaning piece as long as you can stand it. Actually after you have read the Cliff Notes version, and have not resorted to throwing it out the window, you will still have to struggle with Dan's question.

Cliff Notes Version


Monday, June 05, 2006

Look What I Found!

I have just found a great new site that explains the internet in simple terms. It is called the Living Internet . How does this relate to pilgrimage? I don't think that it is a stretch to imagine myriads of pilgrims engaging the internet in their own personal journeys. There are pluses and minuses with a surfing pilgrimage, but I am amazed at the number of 12 Step On-Line Support Groups, Religious Meditations Groups, On-Line Universities and the like. To the extent that pilgrims engage others in their search for knowledge and their desire for transformation, the Internet is a world transforming tool.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Believe It or Not

by Dan Peterson
During the winter of 1960 I lived in vienna as both student of German at the Austrio-Amerikanisher Gesellshaftto learn German as well as taught English to students at the University of Vienna.

A great moment for the opera that winter was the farewell concert with Elizabeth Schwartzkopf singing the title role of the Marchellin in Strauss' der Rosenkavalier. Traditionally, I had bought seats for the opera at the back door to the house from the custodian; he was allowed to sell seats to foreigners. Naturally for this opera, neither the front door nor the back door had seats available for Schwarzkopf singing her operatic trademake for this performance.

On my way home from the university that Saturday I was properly attired in a black three piece suit when I stopped at the lebensmittel to get my weekend supply of bratswurst. I approached the end of the line to make my purchase only to find the ladies essentially pushed the herr doctor (prematurely actually) to the front of the line. I went home thinking of the last vestige of the aristocracy was not yet dead in Austria.

Once in my apartment the oversoul took over. I asked my Austrian roommate whose father owned a costume shop to get a tux for me and a chauffer's cap from him. The plan was for him to drive me in my new 180 mercedes (cost: $3000 at the factory in the sixties), drop me at the entrance, and enjoy the use of the car for the evening.

I approached the entrance with heart pounding, thinking the scam had little chance of succeeding. When asked for my karte, I waived the man aside and continued walking toward the orchestra. Once in standing room I relaxed, but a few minutes before the overture began an usher asked, "haben sie kein sitzplatz, herr doctor?" I replied I was only able to get standing room, to which he replied the opera could not begin with a gentleman standing. He escorted me to an unoccupied seat in the orchestra.

Upon returning home from this exceptional evening with even today the greatest soprano for this role as well as a definite cast, my roommate lamented the last vestiges of the Austrian aristocracy was indeed in jeopardy with such scams occurring.

Today I would agree that his fears were not unfounded when i go to Salzburg to find the wonderful backeries with such greetings as "guten morgan, gnaedige frau" on getriedegasse have yielded to chain type stores and the aristocrats finding themselves replaced by a new wave.

Thanks and welcome to DOCTOR Dan Peterson for this great story!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A Pilgrim Fends Off Temptation

A five part series carried by Christian Science Monitor. Access the CSM article by clicking the title of this post. Two other parts have appeared previously in Pilgrim Cafe.

Pilgrimage is most often a journey that involves some sort of desired transformation on the part of the pilgrim. The image of an empty cup or open hands comes to mind. There is a zen story about a university professor who went to visit a famous Zen master. While the master quietly served tea, the professor talked about Zen. The master poured the visitor's cup to the brim, and then kept pouring. The professor watched the overflowing cup until he could no longer restrain himself. "It's overfull! No more will go in!" the professor blurted. "You are like this cup," the master replied, "How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup." We expect such a story about a steriotypical university professor, but do we see the need for humility and emptiness in ourselves as we prepare for our own pilgrimage?

Monday, May 08, 2006

On Hajj Battling Sin and Doubt

A five part series carried by Christian Science Monitor. Access the CSM article by clicking the title of this post. One other part has appeared previously in Pilgrim Cafe.

Preparation seems to be the first step of such journeys. Clarifying our intentions. Cleansing ourselves. Dawning special garments symbolic of one's readiness to begin. The purpose in drawing closer to God is refocusing our lives on essentials. The Hajj begins with essentials.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Pilgrimage to Mecca: One Woman's Journey

I am now re-reading Bread In the Wilderness by Thomas Merton. Once again fascinated by the circular path of pilgrimage. We arrive at the place where we began, or do we? (See the Alchemist) Is the journey an ashes to ashes, dust to dust experience for the pilgrim, or is there a grander more subtle interior pilgrimage occurring within?

Merton begins Bread by reminding us in the circular logic of the lifelong pilgrim that the search is endimic to the human journey.

"All men (humanbeings) seek God, whether they know it or not. As St. Paul told the citizens of Athen: 'God, who made the world and all things therein...hath made all mankind to dwell upon the whole face of the earth, determining appointed times and the limits of their habitation. That they should seek God if haply they may feel after Him or find Him, although He be not far from every one of us: For in Him we live and move and have our being.' Even those who say they do not believe in God, seek Him by the very fact that they deny Him: for they would not deny Him unless they thought their denial were true: and God is the source of all truth.

So I would invite you begin with me the circular journey by clicking the title of this post and reading the experience of Faiza Saleh Ambah a Saudi journalist who participated in her first journey to Mecca.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Buddah in the World

Speaking of Faith is a PBS program that considers the place of faith in the culture. This particular program and the subsequent program in Globalization of Faith are very interesting.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

A Pretty Good Joke

Garrison Keillor has the Pretty Good Joke Book most of which are pretty bad, but quaint.
Here's one.

Rene Decarte walks into a bar. Bartender asks if he would like a burbon on the rocks. Decarte replies, "I think not," and disappears.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Light and Darkness on the Pilgrimage

The Separation of Light from the Darkness
Detail of the Sistine Chapel, appearing over the head of the Prophet Jeremiah. Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel from 1508 to 1512, commissioned by Pope Julius II. On becoming pope in 1503, Julius II reasserted papal authority over the Roman barons and successfully backed the restauration of the Medici in Florence. He was a liberal patron of the arts, commissioning Bramante to build St Peter's Church, Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel, and Raphael to decorate the Vatican apartments.

What to do with the fact of darkness along our journey. An unfortunate development of Christian theology has been the antagonistic relationship envisioned between light and darkness. The word spearation has been employed for dealing with the dark. To separate myself from the darkness in favor of the light. The faithful are envisioned as living in the light as opposed to the darkness. The image of
embracing the darkness carries with it a sense of uneasiness if not outright terror. Such a relationship is characterized as possession, rather than the less potent co-habitation.

In the embrace of darkness is there not a befriending of those unsteady, moist, secluded times as times of great ferment and opportunities for differentiation? To embrace the darkness is to be unafraid, open, inquiring, resourceful as opposed to dangerously vulnerable. The mystics spoke of the Night Sea Passage (or Journey) as a movement into, and through darkness while remaining receptive to its lessons.

What do you think of the nature of the relationship between darkness and light?



breathing fronds

cradle of decay
essence of new life
birth from this darkness

naked roots
lotus legged

conjuring planet's salvation

Phoenix 12-29-05

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Soul Circles

The soul moves in circles, said Plotinus. Hence our lives are not moving
straight ahead; instead, hovering,
wavering, returning, renewing, repeating.

Thought this was an interesting image of the personal pilgrimage. The quote comes from The Soul's Code, by James Hillman, page 139.

Monday, December 19, 2005

New Guy at Coffee

Introducing Charles Shere. I met Charles while surfining quilt sites for my wife Lynne. Check out his website and you will see why I am delighted to welcome him.

Charles, I would like to introduce a great group of guys. Jim Tipton, Colorado Poet of the Year, who lives in Ajijic, Mexico; Danny Rosen, Astronomer, Storyteller and Poet, living in Fruita, Colorado; Bob Yeager, retired school teacher, poet and mystic, living in Englewood, Colorado; John Keck, computer and testing specialist with District 51 Schools, living in Fruita, Colorado, and Myself, Allen Simons, retired United Methodist Clergy, musician, poet, living in Fruita, Colorado. We invite you to introduce yourself in the way you choose. You are welcome to post or comment on anything, I will attempt to keep the format together.

As you can tell from my recent postings, Change, the group began as an actual coffee group and has become virtual. Affection is real, as I am certain ours for you as you begin to participate. However, some of us are in transition with Jim moving to Ajijic, and Bob moving to Englewood. Not much actual activity has happened as of yet except for my posts. In 2006 we should see this begin to blossom.

Others will be joining with an equal pastion for poetry and authentic discussion. Welcome, Charles, to Pilgrim Cafe!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Creative Process in Poetry

Current Psychological Theories of the Creative Process

I (Piirto 1992/ 1998; 1994/1999; 1999e) have discussed several psychological approaches to understanding the creative process: developmental, social, cognitive, educational, and humanistic. I also classified psychoanalytic, philosophical, and religious approaches. However, creative writers themselves never seem to refer to psychologists' theories as they talk about the creative process. One might say that their descriptions of the creative process verge on the mystical (Sternberg & Lubart, 1999). Poet Robert Bly acknowledged two people within: "I think writing poetry is a matter of agreeing that you have these two people inside: every day you set aside time to be with the subtle person, who has funny little ideas, who is probably in touch with retarded children, and who can say surprising things" (Moyers, 1995, p. 63). The "subtle person" is the one who is susceptible to the inspiration discussed here, and could perhaps be also called the unconscious.

Thirteen aspects of the creative process seem to impel writers and poets:

  1. Rituals: They seem to have pre-writing rituals; for example, they like to walk;
  2. Silence: They crave silence
  3. Muse: They seek inspiration from the muse
  4. Nature: Inspiration from nature
  5. Substances: Inspiration through substances
  6. Others: Inspiration from others' works of art and music
  7. Dreams: Inspiration from dreams
  8. Travel: Inspiration from travel
  9. Imagination: They use imagination
  10. Solitude: They seek solitude so they may go into a state of reverie (or flow);
  11. Fasting: They fast
  12. Meditation: They meditate
  13. Intuition: In looking at these themes, one could say that poets, at least, seem to be people of the dream rather than people who consciously follow a given step by step process such as that commonly discussed by those who advocate creative problem solving. This might have to do with their almost universal preference for intuition over sensing (Myers & McCaulley, 1985). The term transliminality has been used to describe this aspect of the creative process (Thalbourne, 2000).

Click here to read the entire article.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Huldra's Vanishing Face

Swedes tell a folktale of the forest. The lumberjacks of northern pine, fir and spruce used to work pretty much alone, felling trees, lopping branches. They drank, too, in the short days of white cold: coffee, snaps. Sometimes Huldra would appear. She was an exquisitely formed creature, delecate, enchanting and irresistible. Sometimes, a woodcutter would stop his work, even drop his ax to follow her beckoning farther into the woods. As he approached, she turned her back - and vanished. Once Huldra turned her smiling face away, there was nothing. She had no back, or her back was invisible. And the lumberjack, drawn too deeply into the forest, unable to find familiar markings or get back to a clearing, lost his bearing and froze.

James Hillman, Soul's Code, Page 92-93

When I read this myth, I was surprised how many situations, and relationships in my life it described. I have, at times, followed the fleeting face of beauty only to end up lost or alone. Yet, I have also profited from following her into the enchanted forest. Wisdom seems to form itself in those moments where discovery of the mirage has driven me deeper into the roots of my longing. I am currently crafting poem on this theme working name, Chasing Rainbows. I have journaled a bit about this. Phoenix

Friday, December 09, 2005

Soul's Code

I have been pouring over Soul's Code by Jame's Hillman. He challenges the contemporary shaping theory of personal development. Sounds dry? 'Tain't. He uses lots of biographical illustrations that draw into question the premises of the greats from Alice Miller to Family Systems Theory. What if our parents were not to blame for what we made of ourselves, but something much more personal and more interesting was involved. Go to Pilgrim Cafe Great Read Library for more.

Road to Santiago

Paulo Coelho's' book "The Pilgrimage" describes the Road to Santiago. This site is an interesting tour of that pilgrimage. You can take it on-line.

Monday, December 05, 2005

A Work in Progress

Where does one find life's interpretive principle?
Where resides its template,
its conceptual plumb line?

Hillman speaks of aesthetic appreciation
of Daimon
of life's innate guiding principle
of the acorn at soul's core.

He admits psychology's penchant for reduction
its failure to see vision in grandiosity
beauty in neurosis
its own interpretive principle fails
in deciphering its path to understanding
in embracing life's deep variation.

Psychology, says Hillman, "Has no Self-help Manual
for it's own affliction."

So with every discipline
each a niche endeavor
each a single port hole
through which to glimpse
galactic change.

So where resides the template for understanding,
the detectable plumb line
'ganst which all displays it's meaning
the theme from which
all else is variation?

Even theology suffers grandiosity
claim of saint and sinner
from obsessive desire
or tunnel vision.

History is slave to
beholder's eye
Novel to
Music finds its limits
in modes and harmonies
upon which it takes wing.

Where is the captain of this ship
Sailing through time?
Who logs entries in the night?
Who commands this rudder
Trims these sails?

Who accounts for strength or frailty
for meaning or meandering
for trash or treasure?

Where is the decision made
For art or asylum
For saint or sinner
For story, verse or melody?

Who decides when this string of experiments
Extracts it's rare essence
it's cure for this human condition?

Where hides the acorn
from which this oak sprouts?

Allen Simons

Friday, November 25, 2005

The Outbreaking

(Click picture to enlarge)

I know this moment
The outpouring
The outbreaking
The disintergrating union.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

What Yet Restrains?

This wonderful quote is from the Sixth Letter in Letters to a Young Poet, by Rainer Maria Rilke. Phoenix

Meaningful Memory

(click picture to enlarge)

Childhood memory of the lighthouse on Point Bolivar across from Galveston Island, Texas. A personal friend Harry Aysian chose this lighthouse for watercolor and acrylic studies many times. I have often been amazed that an artist can find depth enough in a single object to return to it repeatedly through life. Phoenix

Thursday, November 17, 2005


Future change has become present
There is packing and traveling and moving
and work from dawn to dusk
There is leaving old places of meaning
and embracing new
There are promises to keep what is meaningful
and excitement about life yet unshapped on the wheel
There are prayers for safe travel
and emergence of new being
Behind all, there is hope.


Thursday, October 27, 2005

Letters to a Young Poet

Click the title for the Talk Back Text and join the discussion of this classic. A collection of ten letters written by the poet Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) to Franz Kappus a y0ung poet. Tender approach to critique. Insiteful advice about the desire to write, the need to look inwardly and introductions to some of his mentors and their contribution to his work. In this particular site you can download the entire piece. Phoenix

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Bob Dylan Interview

Dylan breaks his silence. Danny told us about this recent interview. Click the title. Phoenix

Monday, October 24, 2005

Ten More Difficult Thanksgivings

Click the title for Matthew Fox's list of ten thanksgivings since 9/11. There is a space inside us that can understand this list. It is harder on other levels, but we know the truth of which he speaks. Phoenix

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Center for the Study of Religious Fundamentalism

Click the title for a description of a course area at the new Wisdom University established by Matthew Fox and other socially concerned mystics. It seems directly to the point of some of our sharing on the problems in the oval office and in this country in current times. Phoenix

Friday, October 21, 2005

Insightful Interview with Barry Lopez

Click title for Lopez interview. I was struck by the concept that "many people today have to make peace with the fact that life is not fair." We must, he contends, "find ground beyound vengence and the mechanisms of justice." "We are on a treadmill of vengence for crimes. A three strikes and your are out mentality." Read the interview and comment. Phoenix

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

What is a Sacred Place?

Working with the answer to the question continues to deepen my understanding of the question. This is where I am at the moment.

Sacred power attributed to a particular natural place or location or phenomenon seems to be the product of a special convergence of human expectation, generated by story, tradition, with a particular place in the natural world. It arises from an intersection of story with the unique qualities, aesthetic and physical, of a particular place.

There is an implied androcentricity or human center view of the sacred. Afterall, attributing meaning to anything (as Genesis 2 describes it) is an aspect of human nature engaged in the co-creative process.

Without the convergence of place and story, the place is only a phenomenal view, or pretty picture. When we add descriptors like holy, evil, mysterious, dangerous to a particular place we are voicing a convergence that has as much to do with ourselves as any blessed or malevelent aspect of place. There is a sound and a smell that characterize Auszitz, for example that speaks to this convergence. There is an interplay of light, space, sound and positioning that draw the eye upward at Charts. There is an intersection of panorama, change and symbol at Medecine Wheel, Wyoming.

The sacred is unique to the eye of the beholder and is directly related to the story held in the life of the beholder. There are those, like Jacob who can be in a sacred place like Bethel and not know that he is in a sanctuary. But for all of us, there comes the night when we lay our heads on a stone and suddenly we invision a ladder of assent and descent opening above us.


Tuesday, October 18, 2005

How We Started

Pilgrim Cafe emerged from a men's coffee group in Fruita, Colorado in the summer of 2005. Four men had been meeting for coffee and conversation each week for several months. Conversations centered around religious, philosophical, political and personal topics shared from the life of the participants. Usually poetry came to mind as we shared from the heart, the site "links" reveal some favorites.

Our men travel around the globe from Africa, to Mexico, to Denver, following the stars or in search of appreciative crowds of like minded listeners. In the Fall of 2005 men began to move from the Fruita area and it became clear that we would need to begin a virtual coffee house. Thus Pilgrim Cafe was born. Imagine a virtual coffee group with members in Africa, Engelwood, Taos, Ajijic, Fruita and at sites along your journey. The internet affords this wonderful opportunity.

Here we invite guests, new members and continue our tradition of sharing deeply. Poetry is most often our favorite medium, but our interests are panoramic. The major focus is on sharing our personal pilgrimage and listening to others. This is not a place to debate, since one can not debate another's person experience? Share your own experience or reading or journey. Questions are a great venue to invite a meeting of other minds. Through all sharing, we invite ourselves to LISTEN, for we are convinces that "those with ears will hear."

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Pilgrim Cafe Great Read Library

Check out Books We Recommend. Are there other titles you would like to have listed? Phoenix

Saturday, October 15, 2005


Looking for mags and sites that relate to pilgrimage.
Notice: Hope Mag, Heron Mag, Orion Society.

Also great article from the Indira Ghandi center on Pilgrimage
on Chaco Canyon and Astronomy.


Friday, October 14, 2005

Burn Lightning Burn

Danny Rosen posts a great new poem.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Last Flight

Great story by James Swan on the fore mentioned
Sacred Space website. Title: LAST FLIGHT.
About his dad.


Sunday, October 09, 2005

Earth Mysteries

(Click Title) Review of some sacred earth practices and religions. Allen

Sacred Sites and Pilgrim Traditions around the World

(Click Title) Pics and descriptions of sacred places world over. Not comprehensive but evocative.

Sacred Space and Suchline

(Click Title) This article on sacred space is interesting eventhough the author is an Old Testament scholar. There is general material included. Phoenix

Sacred Space by Jmaes A. Swan

(Click Title) I am currently in a book entitled Sacred Places: How the Living Earth Seeks Our Friendship, by James A. Swan. Great book that I am re-reading. Take a peek at his website for openers.

Friday, October 07, 2005

10-06-05 Meeting

Enjoyed Thursday's meeting! Missed Danny who is in the Grand Canyon hiking and Kermit who is in Mexico. We are anything but sedentary, more sedementary than sedementary. Good discussion on Jim's topic of sacred space. Space seems to be what we bring to it, our perspective creates sacred space or profanes it. Shared a paper on the Poem as Creator of Sacred Space. Bob will be in Denver next week. I may be gone to Chicago. Jim, you are conviener for next week. Will be back the next. Blessings to all. Phoenix

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

What's In A Name?

When you first sign on to Pilgrim Cafe, you are asked to give basic information. When you fill out your User Profile, select a "Display Name" different from your real name. Notice the two contributor names that appear in the current blog. Then return to this "Post" and unpack that selection for the rest of us. What's in a name? Is it obvious or does it bare sharing?

I selected this name because it has become symbolic of my journey: i.e. through flames to new life. I am not talking about the classical description of saved from the flames of hell. The Phoenix was a mythical bird who made its nest in the top of a tree only to be consumed by fire. The fire brought forth new life. Fire is refining, transforming, and "rebirthing." Much of my rebirth has come from my conversations with men in groups like ours.

A path through flames
Not eagerly chosen
Refines, renews, restores.

A path through flames
Begruginly embraces
Energy igniting the core.

A path through flames
Refining, Reviving
Brings life when death's at the door.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Hey Guys, I ran upon a great interpretation of one of the Parables of Jesus by Sarah Dylan in her blog:

I think you will find it refreshing and interesting.

Christian interpreters have for centuries debated about how to interpret the parables of Jesus.
This is some new light to throw on the conversation.

Also direct you to my BibleBlogFruita response to this week's parable discussion.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Scenes of Ajijic

The first picture, the church, still in use in Ajijic, is more than four hundred years old. Sacred places or spaces made sacred by many devotional energies accumulated over years or centuries are something we might discuss as an extension of our conversation last Thursday about houses and our attitude about houses affected by what human energies are active there.

See you soon!

I added some other pic of Ajijic from websites. What a great place!