There’s a Boulder in the Road. Is this the hand of god?

Song 6, Psalm 119:29-39 No one had come to work By noon. Even at the snail’s pace  Of mountain life This was unusual. Shivam hiked down the slope  to Sushil’s shop.  Legs sturdy enough for the adventure He texted, complete with click   A massive boulder slid  Onto our narrow slip of road. Paths both up and down  Blocked.  A car tumbled down the steep ravine, Trapping a Tibetan family in mud. The rain had not stopped after it had done its damage. It was cold and wet. This was the situation. I turned and tried to pray-- The situation seemed to demand some response. The psalmist sees a blocked road As all about lying, law, judgment And fear. Throw in some revelation. The expected response. Certainly I am not startled by any surprise Or innovation. He loves his roadmap to  The High and Dry. My path allows me to Simply put one foot After the other Perhaps forced to stop While resourceful Indian men Dig a Tibetan family out of the mud. Not the first time we can thank Indians  In a time of ne

Psalm 90 going on 18

Song 5, Psalm, 90 The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. The Psalms have nothing Good to say About Old Age and Death Few religions do. It’s their last chance to convert The Libertine.  Fear mongering fanatics were numbered Among the psalmists. Legend says this writer was David,  Who died at four score minus 10. Being generous And at the outside of his limits I might have another 2 good years Before I fly away. I grow old But damn it At 78 I’m 18 I don’t move as fast Or go as far But my shorter step And slower pace Suit me well. At 22 Elliot was full of himself Moaning about old age. Couldn’t he get hard? Fantasyland. I won't Roll up my trousers And go chasing mermaids. I promise. From "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" “I grow old … I grow old … I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled. Shall I part my hair behind?

Wipe away your tears, then deal with the closing line.

Song Four, Psalm 137 By the Rivers of Babylon Wipe away your tears You survived Rejoice You can still taste salt  In your tea You’re not captive Yet you cry  Poor fools Today the rivers swell  And wipe away whole villages You remember Lhasa And weep again Death has that effect You saved your mother But other mothers left behind Died A few now trickle across Mount Meru Camps built for thousands Receive one or two No more god-throne Hoping that freedom  Might birth democracy  Instead a new president  Gets drunk And rips up the work of  Generations  Still we chant Tibet In hushed tones It has come to symbolize Enlightenment of a Buddha We use his name To call ourselves home We no longer rejoice When little ones are dashed  Against the stones of Babylon If only for that It is enough King James version By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there they that carried us away captive requ

Lady Elgin Becomes a Widow

Song Three, Psalm 37 Do not fret because of those who are evil      or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither,      like green plants they will soon die away. I went looking for a psalm extolling highway robbery. There must be one. This is the way of conquerors, and King David led armies. Lady Elgin sought to honor her husband’s death in a far land behind a modest stone plaque, leaving plaudits in Westminster to his partners in crime.  James Bruce, 8 th Earl of Elgin and 12 th Earl of Kincardine, Governor of Jamaica, Governor General of the Province of Canada, special commissioner to China, and Viceroy of India, died of a heart attack while crossing a rope bridge over the river Chadly in Kullu, 100 kilometers east of where I live. It was on the 20 th of November 1863, so post monsoon, but still the river can be wild. I have crossed it myself, though in a car on a concrete bridge. Photographs show a substantial man who should have had enough sense

Following the Flock from Palampur to Chamba

The Second Song, Psalm 23 You don’t know jack shit about sheep, herds or shepherds but this song remains a perennial favorite. The Gaddi were nomadic until they learned to drive taxis, clean and cook for the Tibetans who landed in their hill station little more than 60 years ago, and the Westerners who followed the lamas into the Dhauladhars, high foothills of the Himalayas. Here where I live Gaddi men used to graze huge flocks during the winter. Many still do. Before monsoon and after the snow has melted, shepherds set off in search of sweet grass high up where they will stay until the snows force them once again, along with the lemurs and bears, to retreat to the lower plains where they can interfere in the lives of other wanderers. They and their sheep cross the main road near Palampur, and head across the difficult mountains until they arrive nearly 100 kilometers north in the Chamba Valley--three weeks trekking. Their favored grasslands are near Bharmour where the oldest wooden te

Raise High Your Gates O Jerusalem

The First Song, Psalm 24 7/30/22 Today I sing of construction and death Of making and taking away.   I once heard some angels sing  In plain chant “O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors.” I sat behind the screen, not allowed To see cloistered nuns’ bodies, not even wimples. I could not gaze into their eyes, And had to content myself with  A soft song of return to the City of God. This as close as I was allowed to venture. My carpenter called to say  My doors would have to wait a day. The father of one of the workers died last night And he, a pandit, had to attend to the rituals of death. . I love Sushil.  He works well. His eye is true. His lines are straight and plumb. His doors close and latch. Jerusalem is no more holy than my Indian Jogiwara. The nuns who sang so sweetly believe theirs was the City of God.  Though I never trusted Augustine, I almost did When I heard their soft cry to the Lord. May they sing for Sushil today as he lights the pyre to consume this father