It’s National Bagel Day here in the U.S. The bagel was brought to America by Polish Jews during the mass immigration of the 1800s. It found a home in New York City and a union, the Bagel Bakers Local 338, was quickly formed to support the interests of the immigrant-led bagel industry. But it would take another half century before the bagel made its way to the rest of the nation, thanks to the introduction of bread slicers and mass manufacturing. These days, somewhere in the neighborhood of 1 million bagels are consumed in the U.S. every day.
In honor of the roots of the bagel in America, today’s inspiration comes from the beloved Polish poet and artist, Cyprian Norwid. An orphan, Norwid is considered one of Poland’s most important Romantic poets. Here is a Norwid piece about God and the artist. It’s a poem titled, “Beauty.”
By Cyprian Norwid
…God sees all
God’s eye endure ugliness all round ?”
If you wish to know, with an artist’s eye
Look closely at a ruin, at cobwebs
In sunlight, at matted straw
In fields, at potter’s clay –
– He gave us all, even His traces,
As He perceives things, have no envy, have no shame!
Yet there is sun-gilded Pride
Convinced the sun will not shine through her;
She is the end of sight and contemplation,
She is the screen against God’s rays,
So that man, the most ungrateful creature in the world,
Should feel extinguished brightness and night in his eyes
– In every art let all arts gleam, save the one
Through which the work is to be done.
FOR ADDITIONAL READING: See Poems by Cyprian Norwid
Some more inspirational nuggets for today:
- Today in 1535, Henry VIII declared himself leader of the Anglican church. In the decree, Henry announced he was “the only supreme head on earth of the Church of England.” But his motives were less than spiritual. By claiming the title, Henry set aside the Catholic church’s opposition to his divorce from Catherine of Aragon, clearing the way for his remarriage to Anne Boleyn. The decree also marked the beginning of the English Reformation and led to the dissolution of monasteries and convents the following year.
- Today marks the death of IRA leader and co-founder of Amnesty International, Sean Macbride. Born in 1904, Macbride was an Irish Catholic revolutionary who served as both the director of Intelligence and chief of staff of the Irish Republican Army. He resigned from the IRA when the Constitution of Ireland was enacted in 1937, and worked to promote human rights around the world. On the global stage, Macbride helped found Amnesty International, and served as its International Chairman from 1961 to 1975. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1974 and in his acceptance speech he spoke about the roles religion and government play in perpetuating injustice. He said:
“It is important that rulers and religious and political leaders should realize that there can be no peace without justice. Likewise, that economic conditions which condemn human beings to starvation, disease or poverty constitute in themselves aggression against their victims. Structures which deprive human beings of their human rights or of their human dignity prevent justice from being realized.”
And that’s today’s Spiritual Almanac. For more of Cyprian Norwid’s work, check out his book titled Poems. There’s a link above.
Thanks for listening. Be kind, take good care and we’ll see you soon.