“In the presence of the holy archangels, I give thanks for all I have…”
Carmina Gadelica, prayers from the Gaelic tradition
included in The Vitruvian Man’s Book of Hours
Thursday, Sunrise, Litany
Twenty years ago, I penned the opening sentence to my first novel, The Olympian, A Tale of Ancient Hellas.
“I was 12-years-old when my father took me to my first Olympic Games.”
I do not routinely engage in social media. Several weeks ago, my daughter Stef – who does – called to tell me a person in England reached out asking if she was related to the “E.S. Kraay” who wrote The Hamsa. Understanding my ineptitude with social media, Stef explained to me how I could respond to the inquiry on ‘messenger.’ An hour or so later, I was talking to my new friend in England, Pat Easton.
Pat is a proud member of the Great British Home Chorus Friends [GBHCF], a virtual choir that evolved from the COVID lockdown in the UK last year. Continue reading A Light in the Heart of Darkness
I am pleased to announce that The Vitruvian Man’s Book of Hours is now available at Amazon and other online retailers.
A thin 80 pages and a mere 7,500 words it contains 84 ‘offerings’ distributed through three daily hours – sunrise, midday, and sunset – each day of the week. My hope is that it finds its way to nightstands, coffee tables, and other locations within arm’s reach that will encourage people to reach for it and spend a few minutes every day in spiritual thought.
It is currently available as a paperback. We have not made a decision on the eBook.
I was taught to pray as a child in the ‘50s kneeling at bedside growing up in the Berkshire Hills. I learned to pray as an adult in the ‘10s walking through the Sonoran Desert. There is a difference.
When we are taught to pray, we do as we are told. When we learn to pray, we are inspired to do it, look forward to it, do it often, and find comfort, solace, and direction in the act of praying.
I believe humankind does not pray enough. There are few – if any – reasons why this is true, but there is an avalanche of excuses to explain it.
As a historian of sorts, I have long been exposed to and know about the ‘Book of Hours,’ a prayer book that monks and nuns were required to recite as far back as the 12th century. The recitation is centered on the reading of psalms and prayers. I first became aware of the ‘hours’ when our parish choral director gifted me a copy of the breviary – the official prayer book of the Catholic church – in 1963. I still have that breviary though its plastic protective cover is cracked and brittle. Sitting next to it on my bookcase is Thomas Merton, A Book of Hours, a book I have used daily for over a decade.
I have come to understand that divine inspiration is not limited to people or things religious. Victor Hugo was as divinely inspired to write Les Misérables as whatever hand was inspired to write Genesis… Leonard Cohen when he wrote “Hallelujah” as David to write the psalms.
I began ‘working’ on my personal ‘Book of Hours’ a decade ago by collecting words that inspired spiritual thought and provided the seeds for meditation and contemplation.
In the past year since the publication of The Faith of Job in February 2020, events have driven me to complete my book of hours.
My objective was to create a simple prayer book that anyone could read without getting bored, that would capture the reader in such a way that they would return to it daily, and in reading it, they would pause and take the time we so infrequently use to contemplate our own existence, our relationship with God, and our relationships with each other.
The book is complete and will be available shortly.
The book will be published as The Vitruvian Man’s Book of Hours. In the late 14th century, Leonardo de Vinci made a drawing that depicted the proportions of ‘the ideal man.’ The picture is known as the Vitruvian Man because da Vinci surrounded the illustration with notes from the ancient Roman architect Vitruvius. Ten years ago, I initiated my website The Vitruvian Man. My intention was – and remains – to write about things that influence a person to be sound of heart, mind, and body. The ancient Greeks called it kalos kagathos, the nobility of the human being. A human being is incomplete if prayer is not a part of each person’s life, hence The Vitruvian Man’s Book of Hours.
I will make an official announcement when the book is available.
I have never been a fan of ‘political correctness.’ If you have something to say, say it. Every individual who hears it or reads it has his God-given freedom of choice to accept it, agree with it, discard it, or whatever. No individual has the right to change it. If he does not agree with what I say or what I write, she has no right to change it.
Although I do not agree with everything Garrison Keillor says or writes, I enjoy listening to him and reading his work. This morning, however, he crossed the line. I will forgive his trespass, but I will not forget it.
One of my favorite poems is the iconic “If” written by the British Nobel laureate poet Rudyard Kipling in 1895 and first published in 1910. Mr. Kipling wrote his poem in 32 lines – four, 8-line stanzas. It tells us how to live a fulfilling and satisfying life. The poem concludes…
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
I was appalled as I heard Mr. Keillor read it on his “Writer’s Almanac” this morning. Although he left “If all men count with you, but none too much” unchanged, he had the brazen gall to alter the final lines of Mr. Kipling’s poem to…
“If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With full attention to the surrounding world,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – what is more – you are a woman, my girl.”
I have asked myself over and over, “Why would so respected and well-known an author and orator like Garrison Keillor believe that he has the privilege to change one of the greatest poems ever penned?”
I am hurt. I forgive Mr. Keillor, but I will never forget what he did on this morning in 2021.
You don’t wake up one morning and decide to be a writer.
The need to communicate is in every creature’s genes. Its physical attributes dictate the way it can communicate. All creatures communicate if only to ensure or extend survival.
Social media has expanded the technology that enables humans to communicate. Positives and negatives abound on both sides of the equation.
A writer takes the need to communicate a step beyond that which drives all humans to express themselves. A writer writes because he has something to say, is driven to share it, and is compelled to say it with words.
I write every day. I have several book-length manuscripts in some stage of development – one, nonfiction and a handful of stories, two are sequels to previously published works. I do not anticipate completing any of these manuscripts in 2021. I write, edit and manage four websites – two of my own, a friend’s business website, and another friend’s non-profit website. I contribute articles to one other website. I advise two businesses and this mandates weekly reports and annual reports.
I write every day.
Stephen King advises writers…
“Read and write four to six hours a day. If you cannot find the time for that, you can’t expect to become a good writer.”
I’ve told you what I am writing. Here’s a taste of what I’m reading…
My extended ‘to read’ list includes…
I read slowly, and that list will ensure I lack nothing to read in 2021.
Whether you are a published author or a frequent media participant, I encourage you to continue writing and to improve your skills with a strong dose of good literature each and every day. It’s as essential as eating an apple.