transformation


Random quote of the day:

“Prayer is not asking for what you think you want, but asking to be changed in ways you can’t imagine.”

—Kathleen Norris, Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith

 changed4wp

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Lucy and Ethel, Justin Bieber, or the Kardashian Klan. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 

lily dale cover

Lily Dale is a town in upstate New York with a long history of old-timey mediumship—you know, table rappings, séances, psychic readings, that sort of thing. The town was, as Wikipedia says, “incorporated in 1879 as Cassadaga Lake Free Association, a camp and meeting place for Spiritualists and Freethinkers. The name was changed to The City of Light in 1903 and finally to Lily Dale Assembly in 1906.” It may have updated its image in recent years, but it still is a town of spiritualists, with all that entails.

“Every summer twenty thousand guests come to consult the town’s mediums,” the back cover says, “in hopes of communicating with dead relatives or catching a glimpse of the future. Weaving past with present, the living with the dead, award-winning journalist and bestselling author Christine Wicker investigates the longings for love and connection that draw visitors to ‘the Dale,’ introducing us to a colorful cast of characters along the way—including such famous visitors as Susan B. Anthony, Harry Houdini, and Mae West.”

And I have to say, I really liked this book. It’s not so much about Lily Dale as it’s about the people whose lives changed after visiting and having their worldview shifted. That’s the ultimate charm of the book for me, how Lily Dale works on people. Ms. Wicker paints wonderful portraits of past inhabitants and current seekers, their traumas and triumphs and their inexorable movement toward something larger than themselves. It’s a very human book, for all its spiritualist craziness. The author manages to walk the line between empathy and irony without either mawkishness or mockery.

If you expect a book of scathing skepticism, this is not that book. If you expect a story of earth shattering mystic revelations and great truths…well, some of them may be there, but they’re subtly and often humorously worked into the life stories Ms. Wicker unveils—including her own. I loved her moments of struggle with what she’s encountering, her moments of self-parody and doubt, her will to believe versus her will not to believe. Despite digging in her heels and her best reporter’s instincts, Lily Dale works its charms on her, shifting her paradigm and leaving her feeling better about her life—without surrendering her rationality.

lily assembly-large

Random quote of the day:

“No single event can awaken within us a stranger whose existence we had never suspected. To live is to be slowly born.”

—Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Flight to Arras (tr. Bodhipaksa)

This is widely misquoted as “A single event can awaken within us a stranger…” To read a fascination analysis of the zen of misquoting, changing meanings, and translations, see this post.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

 

“Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed.”

—Anaxagoras, (450 B.C.), quoted by Simplicius, Commentary on Aristotle’s Physics

 

Which reminds me of this famous bit from Lucretius (yes, I am inflicting poetry on you):

No single thing abides; but all things flow.
Fragment to fragment clings—the things thus grow
Until we know and name them. By degrees
They melt, and are no more the things we know.

Globed from the atoms falling slow or swift
I see the suns, I see the systems lift
Their forms; and even the systems and the suns
Shall go back slowly to the eternal drift.

You too, oh earth—your empires, lands, and seas—
Least with your stars, of all the galaxies,
Globed from the drift like these, like these you too
Shalt go. You are going, hour by hour, like these.

Nothing abides. The seas in delicate haze
Go off; those mooned sands forsake their place;
And where they are, shall other seas in turn
Mow with their scythes of whiteness other bays…

The seeds that once were we take flight and fly,
Winnowed to earth, or whirled along the sky,
Not lost but disunited. Life lives on.
It is the lives, the lives, the lives, that die.

They go beyond recapture and recall,
Lost in the all—indissoluble All:—
Gone like the rainbow from the fountain’s foam,
Gone like the spindrift shuddering down the squall.

Flakes of the water, on the waters cease!
Soul of the body, melt and sleep like these.
Atoms to atoms—weariness to rest—
Ashes to ashes—hopes and fears to peace!

—from On the Nature of Things by Titus Lucretius Carus (89 BC)
(tr. William Ellery Leonard)

 

Disclaimer:  The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.