Thursday, May 20, 2010


retreat |riˈtrēt|
verb [ intrans. ]
(of an army) withdraw from enemy forces as a result of their superior power or after a defeat : the French retreated in disarray.
• move back or withdraw, esp. so as to remove oneself from a difficult or uncomfortable situation : it becomes so hot that the lizards retreat into the shade | [as adj. ] ( retreating) the sound of retreating footsteps.
• withdraw to a quiet or secluded place : after the funeral he retreated to the shore.
• (of an expanse of ice or water) become smaller in size or extent : a series of trenches which filled with water when the ice retreated.
• change one's decisions, plans, or attitude, as a result of criticism from others : his proposals were clearly unreasonable and he was soon forced to retreat.
• (of shares of stock) decline in value : [with complement ] shares retreated 32 points to 653 points.
• [ trans. ] Chess move (a piece) back from a forward or threatened position on the board.
1 an act of moving back or withdrawing : a speedy retreat | the army was in retreat.
• an act of changing one's decisions, plans, or attitude, esp. as a result of criticism from others : the unions made a retreat from their earlier position.
• a decline in the value of shares of stock.
2 a signal for a military force to withdraw : the bugle sounded a retreat.
• a military musical ceremony carried out at sunset, originating in the playing of drums and bugles to tell soldiers to return to camp for the night.
3 a quiet or secluded place in which one can rest and relax : their mountain retreat in New Hampshire.
• a period of seclusion for the purposes of prayer and meditation : the bishop is away on his annual retreat | before his ordination he went on retreat.
beat a retreat see beat .
ORIGIN late Middle English : from Old French retret (noun), retraiter (verb), from Latin retrahere ‘pull back’ (see retract ).

- Oxford American Dictionary

Today in the news: Scientists in the US have succeeded in developing the first synthetic living cell.

I have retreated to my retreat - a small 2.5 acre patch of wood lot, garden/orchard, and pasture. But I cannot maintain stewardship over this little demesne but that I continue to engage the world, so far on terms less than satisfactory.

I punch up these words on the machine that will be the death of us all - a slow insidious death. No more the quill pen, grown from a living thing, dipped in inks from plants. No more the mechanical snap of typewriter keys striking crinkly typing bond.

Today I have to help someone who wants to know whether rules allowing signs that say "No visitors" are to be interpreted so literally that signs of the same type and method of posting saying "No solicitors" are, in fact, prohibited. Surely the work of Sharkey's men, such thinking. Sam-wise, I wish to tear down the rules. All my work - review of texts, elucidation of the principles involved, etc., are done in communion with this horrible machine.

E-file this and e-mail that; you cannot now escape it unless you are prepared to wholly disengage from the world. Careful, however, for it will be seen (soon, very soon, I think), as an act of civil disobedience to not be plugged in, cell-phoned, and in constant communication. The Authorities will start looking askance and wondering if you are a Rebel.

The problem with agriculture is you have to be able to own land for a sufficient period of time to improve the qualities of the soils and allow things to grow. The problem with that is you must pay the Sovereign for your tenure and the banker for the inflated value of your building, which must have systems and things in it not seen before 1900 (or later) or else it is "uninhabitable." And that means cash money, my friends. And welcome back. Do you have an e-mail? Cell phone? Please keep us informed of your whereabouts.

So I continue to work, not for work's sake but to pay for my retreat. And that retreat I do not make (or hold) simply for myself. Nay, the tree I am planting now will likely be cut down for firewood by my successor (if they allow fires - the Boss may not hold with fires then) when I have made my final retreat. I hold it to keep a little green corner where you are welcome to come and listen to the wind sighing in the trees, and have respite - if you want. A place where, incongruously enough, I hope that my children and others will be able to unplug, turn off their cell phones, remember God, and not forget.

One day, I hope, Noah-like, to plant a little vineyard and make some wine. Even that seems out of reach now, and maybe it's not in His will for me. If not, it's still good to be here for now.

In the meantime the scientists will continue to unleash God-knows-what into the world. In 1993 a Biology professor of mine opined that we knew much of what we needed to know to manipulate the genes to cause the tobacco plant to push a flower out here, or leaf there (and many other things). He warned then that the problem was we had to have the wisdom (as scientists) to figure out whether we ought to do it. I left the sciences, but 17 years later it is clear that such pious words are to little effect. We will clone humans - we will seek to create life on our own terms. Our new tower to heaven.

I have a little corn to plant sitting in trays out near the garden. I wonder if its owned by Monsanto.

. . . Switching off . . .


Blogger Ρωμανός ~ Romanós said...

Brother, I am with you in your thoughts expressed and unexpressed.

The world may push hard against us, but we are the vineyard that God has planted, and His purposes are not to be gainsaid or opposed.

Just today I posted on our being outside this world. I had an overwhelming experience for a few moments of being with my beloved friends outside this world, in the world to come, which for us is already happening, and I tried to capture that moment in prose, but I don't think I succeeded.

Reading your post just now brought back that experience a little. You and I and others like us, despite what it looks like, and even feels like, are really at home in a world that never existed on this earth since Paradise, but which does exist now, in us, as we walk in the world.

Sorry, I cannot express it any better.

I used to make wine, and a lot of it, and God willing, I will perhaps make wine again someday. I never succeeded with our local grapes, but many a bottle of sweet or dry dark vintage of blackberries, or the rosé blush of Santa Rosa plums, or the pale lavender of Bartlett pear wines once graced my table.

Christ be with you, brother.
And His peace, as He alone supplies.

Word verification: myergic

4:26 PM  

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