Friday, October 17, 2008
and then there was June...
I've been surprised to see how much I wrote in the month of June. Believe it or not the following is a highly abbreviated version.
...I would like to begin focusing on things for which I've already some propensity. My first thought towards what such things may be were these words: 'children' & 'writing.'"
...I think my not staying here too much longer may be merging from imagination to reality. It's a hard thing for me to think about. I've become more attached than I realized.
...Sheila and I took a long walk when I got home. We encountered a young man. Sitting with his back to us, he faced a tree that grew tall, with a thick gnarled trunk and massive limbs outstretched. He was in a camp chair, smoking a pipe of sweet smelling tobacco. When we passed he looked up and smiled, bright blue eyes, "hello."
I assumed he was an artist but didn't ask.
"Just a regular coffee and a water? That's all you want?"
"Are you okay? Do you need--"
"I'm fine, I'm fine, thank you. I'm just between shifts at work."
Do I convey the image of someone who is not okay? It must show because a couple of the staff members here at Mt. Vernon's Denny's have been eyeing me with a look of curious pity. I did go to jail today to talk, for the first time, through glass with a phone to my ear. There was nothing of the drama, the anxiety or excitement a first generally carries. There was quietness and sad resignation...seeing her vacant eyes, hearing her defeat...she is lost...
Is everything okay? Yes, I'm just feeling life happening, to me and around me. I'm just realizing that in this game of life, I'm a player too. I've just spent so much time in the bleachers, I'm not sure of my position...
...This morning I slept until I woke; no alarms, no surprises. It felt so good that the first thought I consciously had was, "Thank you God for sleep."
...I made a last minute decision to go to Lexington and see 'The Fall.' It was wonderful. I'm very glad I went. It animated my mind. Afterward I walked to Joseph-Beth Booksellers, perusing the selection and making lists of what I want to read. I am beginning to feel a sense of direction. The books were like arrows...I thought a lot and should find a way to express those thoughts. But not tonight, not tonight.
On the days when I am able to be home in the late morning, drinking French pressed coffee, I am transported to the days of life in Winter Park. As a nanny my day often did not begin till the afternoon when Ellie was ready to be picked up from school. I would sit on the petite floral print couch with shimmery fabric that J got from the thrift store, my journal and my bible on the rickety brown coffee table that her mom had given us. Often I would wake myself early so that I could first walk in the park, read, and pray. It seems like I prayed a lot in those days...
...Even at the volunteer house I would go to my room early, or hike up the hill so that I could pray or read or write or meditate--and to write in a way that organizes and expands my thoughts and to read in a way the nourishes and challenges. I need to reincorporate this in my life...
Last night, yesterday in general, was so special to me. Nearly the entire day was spent in action and reflection. There was no room for loneliness in my time alone. My thought and reading, the movie, the titles that caught my eye at the bookstore, even M's thesis, all reminded me of something I'd known before.
Once when I was with D. he asked me what I felt my mission was, my ministry. I responded that I had never felt called to bringing people from outside the church in. Rather, my heart was more inclined to those who were in, but broken still, and to see connections and seek to unify the disparate factions. I want to help bring peace; to individuals and organizations and perhaps, Lord willing, to nations. I want to help us to see each other and to understand. Where or how to being, I don't know.
...We had to climb down a slope to reach the water which was deep and warm. Looking up you could see the reflection of the water faintly dancing on the dusty slate hillside. We were surrounded by hills that are now packed with vegetation, a deep summer green. Two men were fishing and Sheila got her snout stuck on a hook. She shook free before I could swim to her...
"...I am reminded of your sincere faith...for this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you from the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord..."
Reading this passage brings many thoughts and questions to mind:
1) what is meant by 'sincere faith.' Timothy's is a faith that one might call inherited--his grandmother and mother--reinforced through Paul's influence...Then too, I wonder, what was the faith of his grandmother and mother; not Christianity, surely, but in the power of God perhaps; in that calling and purpose which, Paul asserts, were given [in Christ Jesus] before the ages; which were manifested in the appearance of Jesus. What was, always was, though it was not seen till Jesus...in this Timothy has had an abiding, sincere, faith.
2) Paul, for all his stoicism and logic, is a mystic. It seems so obvious, but honestly it's not been to me. Perhaps especially now that the closest thing to spiritual leader in my life is L. who tends to look on mysticism--at least of the Christian variety--with something that closely resembles derision. Paul, the mastermind of Christian doctrine, believed that by the laying on of his (Paul's) hands, Timothy was the recipient of a gift from God. He refers again to a 'deposit' both in relation to himself and to Timothy. What is it that's been placed in them, this thing that warrants a reminder to Timothy that the spirit given him is not one of fear, but of power, love and self-control.
3) There is a translation of this verse that is written, 'power, love and sound mind." I remember because it was very specifically this verse that helped give me encouragement and resolve against the creeping feeling that my mind was shattered. At this point in my life though, 'self control," seems the more pertinent translation...
Something about mysticism I'd meant to mention, probably the reason it stuck out to me. Earlier in the day I'd been listening to a podcast of Bob Edwards Weekend. Mr. Edwards was interviewing Elie Wiesel (whose work I've never read, though I've been meaning to for some time). EW is Jewish and a mystic. He talked about how it is forbidden to even study mysticism before one was at least 30 and firmly established in his faith. I was reminded of this today when L showed me his new book, Spiritual Radical, a biography of Abraham Heschel...he went on to say how AH exhorts that one must be firmly established in their faith before exploring mysticism or they will lose it all together. I was so excited by the synchronicity of this information with what I'd learned the day before I nearly jumped out of my seat...
Today was very sweet and gentle. I woke at 7:30 a.m., a little dry-mouthed from the wine John brought over for us to drink while he, Lindsey and I played "shoots and ladders." I let myself go back to sleep and didn't wake till B. called me at 10...I stayed home; read, wrote A. a letter, got a call from K. and had a wonderful chat about mysticism and faith and so forth in which we resolved the mysteries of the universe, as usual...I love his random calls...I've begun reading "Real Christianity" and am continuing with "Ramayana." There is so much that I want to be reading right now. There is always so much to learn.
I just reread the entry I wrote 3-27-08. In it I mention imagining writing stories and playing guitar. There was definitely a hint of constructive optimism in these imaginings; there was the idea that I would actually invest the time and energy into accomplishing these things. Reading that this moment was kind of funny...
I'm on the front patio now, a glass of water sits half full before me; sweating, refracting the suns light, casting prisms across this page...I'm listening to Christopher O'Riley's piano adaptations of Radiohead songs, because they are lovely and because I have no Eric Satie...
...I imagined H. playing the piece on our antiquated upright at home. I'd be sitting on the couch, listening, probably with a book so as to not make her too self-conscious. She would have the subtle excitement and focus that always came with a new set of sheet music. I would experience a deep sense of love and of loneliness, of rich fulfillment and restless melancholy. When I felt this way at home, I experienced it as longing for something far away...When I experience similar sensations now, I tend to associate them with homesickness...
...Last night, at the top of the pinnacles in the midst of a lightning storm, awareness of my own mortality walked close beside me. But more often my own death is of little concern to me while I am living. When reading Psalm 91, "a thousand will fall at your right hand, ten thousand at your left" (or something like that), it occurred to me that this assurance brings little comfort when the trouble is not a fear of falling, but grief in not being able to catch those that collapse around you. There is too, possibly, the fear that at the end of the day you will be standing there, all alone, and would it not have been better to have fallen with them? In Christianity we are called continually to "stand firm." Perhaps this is a precaution against that addiction like craving to lie down and let what will be, be.
...A large group of ducklings, startled by the sound of a passing car, just ran across the water, their mother close behind. I like to watch her watch them, a quiet steady honk emits as she surveys her clan. There is a very small duckling with a high, fast, anxious chirp, no doubt looking for his family--oh! he just found them and ran into their midst--thank goodness.
Yesterday was an odd one with many ups and downs, little waves in life's ocean, but they tossed me...
...I've brought my bible out here with me, but I find I don't feel I know how to read it or think about it these days. The feeling is similar to that I've had regarding prayer. This is another arena in which I think some space between L. and I may be good. He is a wealth of knowledge and I love to hear his thoughts, but I am afraid I listen often without challenge and allow them to overlay my own. God help me, I am so impressionable...
God, how can I doubt your attentive mercy when you are continually working things together for our good? And why is it that I am forever looking to prove the theory that those I love will stop loving me? Why is it so much easier to believe rejection than acceptance?
I am so cowardly that I did not have the nerve to go get my oil changed! Ridiculous...So, to challenge myself, instead of going home, I have gone to some place new, The Black Feather, a little cafe on broadway.
A man who I presume to be a regular--toothless, with a long denim shirt, shorts and a fishing cap--keeps talking to me. He initially drew attention to himself by sighing and proclaiming, "the New York Slime--not fit for print," and folding up the New York Times paper (which I'd just delightedly observed they carried here) he asked, "so, you a college student?"
The atmosphere is nice here, very comfortable.
"It is important to see, and to say, that those who follow Jesus are committed, as he taught us to pray, to God's will being done, 'on earth as it is in heaven.' And that means that God's passion for justice must become ours too. When Christians use their belief in Jesus as a way of escaping from that demand and challenge, they are abandoning a central element in their faith." -Simply Christian, N.T. Wright
"...When they are young, everyone knows what their Personal Legend is. At that point in their lives, everything is clear and everything is possible. They are not afraid to deram, and to yearn for everything they would like to see happen to them in their lives. But, as time passes, a mysterious force begins to conving them that it will be impossible for them to realize their Personal Legend." -The Alchemist
As I sit here, contemplating, with the hot sun penetrating my skin and the soft wind relieving it, I keep having images of yesterday in the kitchen with A. IT occured to me for the first time as I went from pitting cherries and listening to my iPod, to chopping vegetables and chatting with her, how like a sister she has become...I can casually mention to her things I would previously have hidden in shame. I trust her and I love her and I am so grateful that she is my friend.
The clouds are monumental and the sky is blue. K. called again to ask for my e-mail address so he could send me his thesis. Staying connected with him has been a surprising and welcome comfort.
...I have within me a hope that speaks the "greater yes" for which I am abundantly grateful.
"When each day is the same as the next, it's because people fail to recognize the good things that happen in their lives every day that the sun rises." -The Alchemist
"Do you know why Jewish people wear those caps?" J. asked me at last night's contra.
"They are a reminder that there is always something above you," he said.
I am feeling so tired and down-hearted this afternoon; it's difficult to stay awake. I feel bad about my moodiness and the way it invariably effects those around me. It's difficult to find the balance between owning and being honest about one's feelings and maintaining control over thoughts and actions. I seem to vacillate between conceit and despair. But, as I write that, I can see how one can lead to the other. Conceit indicates a sense of mastery, over oneself and above others. Despair would naturally follow as one realizes how far we fall short and the feeling that if we can't do it, who can.