Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Soul of Wit

My mother-in-law says my blog “has too many words.” She laughed in telling me this, realizing that words are, after all, the chief currency of most blogs. She just wanted to see some photos from our most recent trip to New Zealand. Later, it occurred to me that her assessment may have been directed not so much at the blog but its author instead.

The other day I went out for my usual meditation at the Quaker meeting house near the office. As I was about to take my seat on the front porch, I saw that two men were cleaning and painting a newly installed fence by the road. They belonged to Millennium Restoration, the outfit that had recently applied the same treatment to the fence bordering the graveyard. Wanting to preserve my privacy, I kept walking. I also noticed, in the field across the street, a clearing filled with stones arranged in a familiar, winding pattern.

One of the men, seeing my new intent, pointed to the rings of stone.

“What is that?” Millennium asked.

“A meditation labyrinth,” I answered. Deep creases formed on his brow.


“A meditation labyrinth,” I repeated.

“A . . . lab-inth? What’s that?”

At this point a competent rhetorician, or a rational adult human, upon sizing up his audience, would give the shortest possible answer so as to make good his escape. I wish I could tell you this is what happened. Alas, herewith did I launch into a telling of the tale of Theseus and the Minotaur.

Fortunately, I managed to detect that the glint in the man’s eye was not rapture but rather the light of the burning sun under which he was toiling. So I quickly swerved into a line about needing to clear my mind and get away from the office for a few moments. He griped good-naturedly about the heat, but I pointed out, trying to be helpful, that at least he got to spend his time outdoors.

I took my leave and Millennium bid me “good luck.” I found this a potentially ominous thing to say, for what divine assistance would I require in traversing a path on which one cannot get lost? I reached the labyrinth, and just then a red-tailed hawk screeched and took flight from its perch high above the trees shading the cemetery. (Amazingly, this would happen again in exactly the same way later in the week.) I took this as a countering good sign.

I proceeded to wend my way through the labyrinth. And just as I reached the center and a suitable degree of “no mind,” a jarring sound from the outer world penetrated my consciousness.


It was Millennium. I didn’t look up from the stones, only smiled at the well-meaning intrusion. And reminded myself not to tell him, on my journey back, about that poor fellow named Yorick.

(And all this to say: trip pictures are up! Enjoy.)

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Blogger Tony Shoemaker said...

Oh poor ryan- we both suffer from that infernal disease "diahreah of the mouth" or in this case the mind. Know your audience! A lesson I would be well to learn.

4:27 PM  
Blogger Brian Sibley said...

A great story... :-)

PS: With due respect, you really must ignore your mother-in-law!

(By the way: the word verification for this comment was QUILL - a feather shed by that red-tailed hawk perhaps...)

11:33 AM  
Blogger Ryan Rasmussen said...

Thanks, Brian! Don't you love it when Blogger gets in on the act?

1:38 PM  
Blogger Brian Sibley said...

In another age it would have been the foundation for a religion! There again, perhaps for some it is.... :-)

4:34 AM  

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