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Howe: We used to be.

June 16, 2013 • Prayer for Ordinary Time • Tess Taylor • 10 am Poem

We used to be. It is so recent really that mechanisms have brought all this noise into our world. I mean, years ago, gas lamps. But the silence is the heart of everything. It has everything in it. It has our death.

It has our life — the universes beyond this universe, the galaxies. Howe: Yeah, beautiful, beautiful, such a relief. You can just rest in it. Clarke, and all of those old-school science fiction writers. And remember all those books we read — maybe you read when you were a kid too? Howe: I adored it.

Marie Howe — The Power of Words to Save Us - The On Being Project

And about the robots were going to take over and the machines were going to take over. You think evil is going to come into your houses wearing big black boots. Look at the language. It begins in the language. The face of my iPhone. Howe: My screen. I gaze into that face. I do what it tells me to do.

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If aliens came down and saw us all walking around, what would we do? All of us are walking around…. I have no will when it comes to my machines, to the computer, hours doing emails. I never applied for that job. What happened? It happened in 10 years, 15 years. They rule.

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Tippett: So where do you find hope in this picture you have now of our life with machines? Howe: [ laughs ] Well, this morning — we have a new puppy. And our friend Will sent me a video he had taken of my daughter a minute before of running with the dog, so I could see her in real time running with the dog. Tippett: Yeah, right. It is. Can we learn to be wise? These are great questions. I think that many of us are used to being in several places at once and in several time zones at once.

Tippett: I also think real time is a way we talk about the news cycle, things happening in real time. Is real time as real as ordinary time?

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Howe: Well, so many thoughts at once. Ordinary time originally meant to me when I would go through the missal when I was a kid. Remember, those swaths of time between high holy seasons was ordinary time. Howe: And there was always coming, the coming of ordinary time, the coming of ordinary time, the coming of — and then first Sunday of ordinary time, second Sunday of ordinary time. I remember just thinking what a strange and wonderful way of talking about everyday life.

And then someone just sent me a book, a Jungian psychoanalyst has written a book. Where are we when there is no center? The old gods are dead. So now, how do we experience this amazing Web while also retaining a sense of personal responsibility and relationship? Or this was in an interview.

Identity means less and less to me. Howe: Identity. Do you feel that way? Tippett: I have less need as I grow older to pin things down and tie them up. To be transparent would be nice, to move through the world transparently. That would be a relief. Today, with the poet Marie Howe. Tippett: Some people I know have called you a religious poet.

Tippett: I think to label you a religious poet is to put you in a box. And that, in fact, the way religion or the soul comes into your poetry actually kind of takes it out of that box and puts it back into life. Tippett: I mean, I think sometimes the reason people have called you a religious poet is because you do work with a lot of religious imagery and stories and characters. I love Magdalene. And I think of her as someone who really struggled with her subjectivity too and came into it and found herself.

Howe: Right. And instead of a woman who was standing there and open and could see, and was interested and alive and relational. Actually, the only thing written about Magdalene in the New Testament as far as I could see was in Luke.

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And the ant — its bifurcated body. That was the first one. I had no time. The first was that I could never get to the end of the list.

Tippett: I like it. I hear myself reflected, which is, of course, the point. Howe: Yeah, me too. All of those characters were us — are us. Tippett: Right? That disconnect between who we think we are, and maybe who we really are, and who other people see us as, and the anguish of those disconnects.