Wednesday, October 24, 2012

TURNING JAPANESE





Dana Point and the folks at St. Edward the Confessor were...I refuse to use the word awesome so I'll say delightful instead.

I felt quite proud to be bridging the gap not between believers and non-believers, or Democrats and Republicans, or the East Coast and the West Coast or any other such negligible distinction, but between a far more significant divide: L.A. and Orange County.

When I checked into my hotel, the desk clerk handed me about a 20-pound gift basket. It turned out to be from sprightly parishioner and faithful supporter Pat Arndt, who is in her 80's, does yoga, and was the catalyst for getting me down there in the first place.

Here are just some of the items the basket contained: a bottle of water, a tall can of coconut water, two candy bars (Caramello and Heath), a giant fresh pomegranate, a red candle, an amber glass candlestick holder fashioned from part of an old lamp, a St. Raphael pamphlet, a peacock card with twine cord (in homage to Flannery O'Connor), and a book called The Wabi-Sabi House: The Japanese Art of Imperfect Beauty, by Robyn Griggs Lawrence. All overlain with several boughs of wild oak from the tree in Pat's backyard. I mean how thoughtful is that?

I immediately grabbed a coffee and set out for a walk, taking note of the vegetation, light, seagulls, surfers, and spinnakers (is that the right word?). Very different scene from the NH coast of my youth but the ocean, or an ocean, just the same.



Now I'm home and last night I got a chance to read a bit of my wabi-sabi book. "Simply put, wabi-sabi is the marriage of the Japanese wabi, meaning humble, and sabi, which connotes beauty in the natural progression of time. Together, the phrase invites us to set aside our pursuit of perfection and learn to appreciate the simply, unaffected beauty of things as they are."

Well, I am totally on board with that and as I read on, I find I have way been practicing wabi-sabi forever. E.g., "As is so often the case with wabi-sabi, the first step in appreciation building is to simply take a walk. Walk slowly, and allow yourself to take in the gifts that are available to you. Look at the the broad horizons, then narrow your gaze to a pebble"...

I not only like to narrow my gaze, I like to then take a blurry photo of the thing and post it on my blog. That's humble, right? (or lazy, but let's not quibble). Heck, I drive a Toyota, I was even eating rice rolls from Trader Joe's the other night, plus I have a sister-in-law, my brother Joe's wife Mimi, who actually comes from Japan.

Maybe they have some Catholics over there who would like me to come speak. But for now, I'm going to lie down amidst my worn wood floorboards, frayed tapestries, and warped home-made scarves, and eat that Caramello bar.

the folks at St. Edwards gave me
fruit salad and flowers to take home with me!
Live oak from Pat's back yard,
imperfectly twined about a window latch

6 comments:

  1. Heather,

    I love you! Thanks for letting me be in the moment with you. Lovely.

    BTW, I couldn't open the slide show. Don't know if it was just me- got a Google error notice.

    And thank you for all these recent posts- so many life-changing events you've been through, and your voice remains YOU.

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  2. What a wonderful gift!

    That book is going on my Amazon wishlist.

    Much to be said for seeing things as they are, in their true beauty, without trying to "fix" or "perfect" them.

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  3. Thanks, dear ones--sorry about that link; someone else emailed me privately and said they were having problems. It worked for me last time I checked but I think my brother Ross, who put it together, may have taken it temporarily down to tweak the music. Will replace with new link if and when it becomes available and in the meantime, sorry for any inconvenience...

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  4. Hello Heather,
    I am in Japan. There are not many Catholics here. There is a church in Tomobe, but I have only surveyed the exterior--very modest, but I think there is an attached convent. This is the countryside. I suspect that many of the parishioners are Brazilian or Filipino immigrants. I have been a bit afraid of the place--the service is all in Japanese. My Japanese is embarrassingly deficient. I miss the church though. One of my favorite haunts used to be Seattle's beautiful St. James Cathedral. I am an RCIA "drop-out". Not by choice, but by circumstance.

    The job was here, and homelessness was in Seattle. It all happened at the time of the Great Financial Meltdown. Wabi-sabi is indeed a reality. I can see it in the ambience of "artful decay" that surrounds any abandoned building or object in Japan. Objects that are "dying" somehow still flourish in this strange beauty. Maybe I can send some photo examples if I can figure out the application.

    All the best,

    William

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  5. speaking of Japanese Catholics, I just discovered Shusako Endo. Somehow I suspect you are already a reader. But if not.....

    warmly,
    morgan

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  6. William, that'd be great to have some authentic wabi-sabi photos and how exciting to hear from a reader in Japan! And hi Morgan--I thought I'd read Silence but I just looked at the synopsis and apparently not. This is good to know/be reminded of Shusako Endo...

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