Sunday, March 22, 2009


I've been thinking about numbers lately. What they mean, how I think of them. What they carry, or don't...I know that I acknowledge and work with the numbers that show me how to eat and travel and make my necessary way in the world at large, but the numbers that I live with show me things much larger than they are. I mark a kind of worldly time with them too but not as much as I used to. The intimacy they carry isn't about that marking off of shadow and sun. I can think of these numbers as sentient at times, almost, in the way that I can anthropomorphize ideograms and the moods I impose upon them or signatures and the things they show me about what they want. And the numbers I know always carry tags of luck and caution, unseen subvocalized scripts that show me runic messages from cultures that knew better than to quantify by habit and make that habit a mandate. My numbers have colors that remind me of when they came to mean what they do. The number four is the shade of Arizona desert, a sort of cimarron with a heart of nutty brown. Twelve is scarlet with black and white edges, like the Gothic lettering I know so well, reflecting flourescence behind framed glass in church basements. Three is the color of pewter, a trinitarian metal that is humbler than silver. Nine is viridian, a spread of mossy summer that harbors a song I overheard on a hiking trail near Brasstown. And eight is a color I don't know yet, a color that wants to be born into hue and tint but plays games with what it might represent. It's square but loopy and forms a field of linked lines like bars that might fall from an old corral with the push of a big wind. and it has a heart where circles come together and then away again, doubling up upon the sunny flush of four. Telling just enough of its story to make me hungry but not a syllable more. I have other numbers too, but these are the ones that stay with me. They don't hold size and richness the way that grainy paper does, and their value doesn't sag and sway when the math of oil and futures goes awry. Their stories morph and play like dreams with curves to sleep in, and the things they have to show me can't be traded, built, lost, or hoarded. You have to look behind the weight they carry to see this other luck, a way of measuring that stands outside of time and money to let you in on the mythos of what came before and is on the way, as well as what's right in front of you.


  1. What is interesting about your analogy is that colors are measured by wavelength in units called Angstroms, so there is a numerical correlation.

    Numbers can take on spiritual significance as well and there is power in that.

  2. Thank you, Vocatis. I am sorry it's taken me so long to reply. Thanks for pointing out this connection. Maybe I knew that. I'm not sure. Yes, sure, there is power in the spiritual signifance of numbers. The I Ching comes to mind, particularly.


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Georgia, United States
I live at the edge of the forest in a little town in the north Georgia mountains. I teach sixth grade Language Arts and am writing a memoir of sorts about family, spirituality, and narrative. I am also exploring a possible writing project having to do with contemporary lay contemplative experience and how it might be informed by the Desert Fathers and Mothers of early Christianity. I am a relatively recent convert to Roman Catholicism and an admirer of Pope Francis, Leonardo Boff, Joan Chittister, and Richard Rohr. I'm a Lay Associate of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery in Conyers, Georgia. I am interested in indigenous cultures, narratives, and spirituality, especially how these can inform my spirituality as a lay contemplative. I write, read, take pictures, play around with creating ephemera from paper and cloth and other organic things. I cook, hike, watch wildlife, and collect random bits of interesting oddness, both tangible and abstract. I am a seer of smallness and a caretaker of ridiculous minutiae. If you want, e-mail me at or