Tuesday, January 24, 2017

the world is an altar

There couldn't be a clearer, brighter blue sky.Now that the veil of rain and fog has lifted, not one cloud drifts across the blue. For my Yankee friends, cover your eyes.The daffodil spears, so green and sure are up, as are the day lilies. There are specks of yellow on the tips of my Carolina Jessamine.

There is a story in the Scottish Hebrides about a mother watching as her young daughter gets ready to head off for a good job on the mainland.A city girl she is to become.The city "where gold weighs more than love, and folks are too busy to think of sun or sea."This line touched me deeply.

Another book, a memoir, weaves a tale of desolation that crowds in on a young boy, the victim, along with his mother and siblings of a sexual and physically abusive father. It is hard to read. But there are words that redeem.The boy used to sneak out in the evening, lay on the grass and commune with the stars."Each night, I gave them memories to hold for me-memories of beatings witnessed and rapes endured...in  return the stars gave me understanding.They said to me,""This is not how it is supposed to be.This is not your fault.You will survive.We love you.You are good.""Derrick Jensen.

How startling to read these words. How many of us are saved by these ; the sun, moon, sea, trees, rivers, birds.I have a friend who always seems to encounter a bright red, male Cardinal when she most needs comfort. And then there is the small green shoot that is growing by my special spot at the river's edge.I go there in the winter on sunny days just like this and sit on my writer's log. This log is flat and runs a few feet off the ground like a l bench., with grey smooth bark and an interesting hole here and there. The river curves around the bend just to my left but next to the log is a green plant that looks like bamboo.And this plant one day said this:"You are never alone.Not here, not anywhere."

Thomas Merton writes:"Today, said prayers with great joy, overflowing joy, as if the land and woods and spring were all praising God through me.The sense of angelic transparency of everything, and of pure, simple, total light. The word that comes closest to pointing to it is simple. It was all simple. But a simplicity to which one seems to aspire, only seldom attain.A simplicity, that is, that has and says everything just because it is simple."

It is is all there and simple.

Monday, January 2, 2017

simplicity, hardship and poverty


                                               sleeping,writer monk
                                                         who knows what your words might stir
                                                                         a year to ponder

For many years, I have used a guide book to start my day, "A Year With Thomas Merton". He, the deceased writer and Trappist monk. His encouraging words have changed lives for over 50 years. Today, I was struck by this sentence: "How good it is to have a rule in which simplicity, and poverty, and hardship play so large a part so that you can give yourself up to God by it !" Why did this sentence cause my heart to swell? I ponder his life. He had just come back from breaking rock with his brothers: hardship. He lived in a cold cell, clothed in simple black and white garb and ate plain meatless meals: poverty. His entertainment was prayer and liturgy,  five times a day: simplicity. What could that possibly mean for my life?

Some small ways came to mind. 

I took my wooden Russian rosary and walked our property in the rain. Hardship?As it turned out,  it was the opposite.The beeches, who refuse to let go of their tanned curled leaves brought me joy. As if they say: "I will not let these woods be just dark brown and grey. Against odds, I will show off with my shaking leaves that provide color and when the breeze blows, the  sweet murmur of shimmering paper. Yes, I heard them say that. And then there is water in the floodplain, in some places cascading over logs and through spaces between the trees.The river comes over the rise to greet me and remind me that it is still there.

Simplicity? I am slowly making my way through a stack of cookbooks that forlornly sit on a spice rack; sad  from never being opened. Let's let them go to another who may find the perfect meal to make with its

And then there is poverty, which I will have to struggle to even imagine. All I could do today was not go to Ebay and look longingly for Tuck's Postcards.These cards are over a hundred years old, and often have paintings of nature with a snippet of an old English poem.Heaven!I will not think of those today.These are small things, I know, but in the world of the Spirit, one never knows where an idea, stamped in gold with my name on it,  might lead.Amen.