“…drawings of perpetual motion machines by the architect and master-builder Francisco di Georgio have survived. A very fine example is this water-driven mill with an additional pump engine. (Ms. Ashburnham 361 fol. 36r, cf. Galluzi p. 136) SOURCE
Nature is ever at work building and pulling down, creating and destroying, keeping everything whirling and flowing, allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion, chasing everything in endless song out of one beautiful form into another. -John Muir, Naturalist and explorer (1838-1914)
The souls of emperors and cobblers are cast in the same mold. The same reason that makes us wrangle with a neighbor creates a war betwixt princes. -Michel de Montaigne, essayist (1533-1592)
I’m wondering how these two apparently irreconcilable quotes are related. As a product of Quaker ancestors, and a graduate of a Friends’ School, and as a young adult of the 60’s, I come up against the facts of war and destruction with an oblique slam, with the one pole strongly pacifist in nature. The other pole of this obliqueness is my very strong legacy of pride in the courage and selflessness military servicemen and women have given to buy the freedom we have to contemplate ideas like these. I learned this at home and at school from people I love and admire, who were as wise and good and conscientious as Thoreau, Emerson, and Mother Theresa.
If Thoreau and Eisenhower were thrown into a think tank together, what would they have to say to one another?
I live with a feisty person who approaches tasks with a fire in his belly. This seems to be how he does things. He grew up as a comparatively small but highly effective guy on the football field on a championship team. His life has been as a dynamo among big powerful men, both in high and in very low places. Running a bunch of fishing boats and their crews requires a certain hard-headed constitution that will go into the bars to herd his crew onto the ship to sleep it off and get to work. There is a type of love involved in that as well, I have learned, because he has cared for these men and risked his life for them at times. It is with epithets and passion that he watches a deadly eddy take down one of his men, sheds his clothes slowly hoping against hope that it will burp up the seaman, prays that he might not have to jump into the eddy himself and probably drown with him. He would have done it. The eddy burped. This person is a person of faith, both through belief, and through experience. He WAS afraid. He was also called to service by his argument with the status quo. No ocean would take his man.
I don’t like his feistiness. I admire his courage and intention. I really draw back at his anger, his curses, his warlike sense of justice. I’m a person who wants to go forward in gentleness and with purpose, and to heal with a soft hand. But there are many softnesses I have dispensed that were not enough to do the work at hand.
Daily I walk in my festering forest. It is beautiful and fragrant. It is busy processing the dead things and the alive ones as well. Plants and small animals are living and dying there in quantity. I baffle the squirrels so the birds have enough, but I also feed the squirrels, in a small effort to prolong some of their lives before they become part of the compost that makes my forest work. This place doesn’t make me angry or argumentative, unless the effort to keep my plants alive may be called arguing against nature. Nature, after all, is cruel in that it doesn’t spare lives. It just uses them– consumes them, and recycles them. And then nature is kind — nurturing, adorning, blessing with the produce. And then it knocks down the beauty again.
All of this is really too much to grasp, if you think about it long. I have to conclude that I will go to a higher understanding when I have become part of the great ferment that I live within. Ferment is breaking down. It is with the breaking down that new things grow.
Is it scary? It’s awesome. Frighteningly inevitable. How good that there is the possibility of faith that Someone knows what He is doing! It is good to have this secret information, sent so we have hope and joy. May we wait with confidence in the good outcome.
Read Full Post »