Temet Nosce (Know Thyself)

This page exists as what used to be known as a "Commonplace Book" for the purpose of maintaining a log of the poetry and philosophy that inspires and propels much of my own thought and writing, and to share, with fellow sojourners, a collection of the beauty and wisdom of kindred souls throughout time. My hope is that we will collectively work towards the goal of a deep and sustaining self-knowledge that will, then, inspire and guide us to pursue beauty, peace and justice in our world.

“He who cannot draw on three thousand years is living from hand to mouth.”

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Thursday, December 29, 2016

"A NOTE OF GRATITUDE" John Jeremiah Edminster

"I'm a retired craftsman, a midlife convert to Christianity and Quakerism, grieving the ongoing destruction of the earth by my ignorant people, and the loveless way we often treat one another, praying to the God who loves us all to show us a better way: I’m prepared for it to be challenging. I’m deeply grateful: I’ve lived sinfully and felt myself washed clean. I’ve now consecrated my life to the service of God, by whose grace my wife and I were called to come to ESR as residential Masters of Divinity candidates, and given scholarship funding sufficient for us to live on my Social Security income, simply but comfortably, while we study. By God’s grace I still enjoy a spry body in my mid-seventies, a mind open to new wisdom, and a merry heart. I don’t expect to need a paying position once I leave ESR, but to continue to serve as one of Christ’s unpaid odd-job men: a healer and comforter, a tract-writer and bearer of prophetic ministry, a hearer of confessions, a good husband, father, and friend, and at the end of this life a cheerful relinquisher of the body. I want everyone in heaven and earth who facilitated my seminary education to be happy that they did so."

~ John Jeremiah Edminster

"Common Folk" Henry Cadbury

Common folk, not statesmen, nor generals nor great men of affairs, but just simple plain men and women, can do something to build a better, peaceful world. The future hope of peace lies with such personal sacrificial service. To this ideal humble persons everywhere may contribute.
Henry Cadbury

Friday, August 5, 2016

"A Firm Persuasion" David Whyte

"To have what William Blake called ‘a firm persuasion’ in our work -- to feel that what we do is right for ourselves and good for the world at exactly the same time — is one of the great triumphs of human existence... To have a firm persuasion - to set out boldly; to look back and delight in error as a way of having rediscovered the way, to find a mature generosity through what we thought at first, was only for personal gain, to see humiliation not as a punishment but as the daily test of our sincerity: is to make a pilgrimage of our labors, to understand that the consummation of work lies not only in what we have done, but who we have become while accomplishing the task and finding the way as we do it... work, at its best, at its most sincere, and in all its heartbreaking forms, is one of the great human gateways to the eternal and the timeless."

~ David Whyte

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

"To live content with small means..." William Henry Channing

"To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not, rich; to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart; to study hard; to think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common -- this is my symphony."
~ William Henry Channing

Saturday, June 18, 2016

"Those Winter Sundays" by Robert Hayden

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.
I'd wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he'd call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,
Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love's austere and lonely offices?

~ Robert Hayden, "Those Winter Sundays"

Monday, May 30, 2016

"Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings" by Joy Harjo

Bless the poets, the workers for justice,
the dancers of ceremony, the singers of heartache,
the visionaries, all makers and carriers of fresh
meaning--we will all make it through,
despite politics and wars, despite failures
and misunderstandings. There is only love.
~ Joy Harjo, "Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings"

Monday, May 23, 2016


“Avoiding conflict isn’t peacemaking. Avoiding conflict means running away from the mess while peacemaking means running into the middle of it.
Peacemaking means addressing those issues that caused conflict in the first place.
Peacemaking can never be separated from doing justice. They go hand in hand. Peacemaking means having to stir the waters on the way to peace.
Peacemaking means speaking the truth in love, but speaking the truth nonetheless."
~ Peggy Haymes from "Strugglers, Stragglers and Seekers"

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Herman Hesse, "We must become so alone..."

"We must become so alone, so utterly alone, that we withdraw into our innermost self. It is a way of bitter suffering. But then our solitude is overcome, we are no longer alone, for we find that our innermost self is the spirit, that it is God, the indivisible. And suddenly we find ourselves in the midst of the world, yet undisturbed by its multiplicity, for our innermost soul we know ourselves to be one with all being.”
~ Hermann Hesse

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Peony, by Maureen, N. McLane

There’s a woman
walks through me
sits at the table
reading Rumi
You are in your body
as a plant is in the earth
yet you are yes the wind
and she is bending
into the wind her death
and she is a thin tree
and what she never saw
this peony.

Maureen N. McLane, "Peony"

Monday, March 7, 2016

The Body and the Earth by Wendell Berry

“What marriage offers - and what fidelity is meant to protect - is the possibility of moments when what we have chosen and what we desire are the same. Such a convergence obviously cannot be continuous. No relationship can continue very long at its highest emotional pitch. But fidelity prepares us for the return of these moments, which give us the highest joy we can know; that of union, communion, atonement (in the root sense of at-one-ment)...
To forsake all others does not mean - because it cannot mean - to ignore or neglect all others, to hide or be hidden from all others, or to desire or love no others. To live in marriage is a responsible way to live in sexuality, as to live in a household is a responsible way to live in the world. One cannot enact or fulfill one's love for womankind or mankind, or even for all the women or men to whom one is attracted. If one is to have the power and delight of one's sexuality, then the generality of instinct must be resolved in a responsible relationship to a particular person. Similarly, one cannot live in the world; that is, one cannot become, in the easy, generalizing sense with which the phrase is commonly used, a "world citizen." There can be no such think as a "global village." No matter how much one may love the world as a whole, one can live fully in it only by living responsibly in some small part of it. Where we live and who we live there with define the terms of our relationship to the world and to humanity. We thus come again to the paradox that one can become whole only by the responsible acceptance of one's partiality."

~  Wendell BerryThe Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays

(pg.117-118, "The Body and the Earth")

Saturday, January 2, 2016

January by William Carlos Williams

Again I reply to the triple winds
running chromatic fifths of derision
outside my window:
                                          Play louder.
You will not succeed. I am
bound more to my sentences
the more you batter at me
to follow you.
                                           And the wind,
as before, fingers perfectly
its derisive music.

~ William Carlos Williams, "January"