Saturday, June 27, 2009
I woke up this morning with Timothy Dwight in my bed...
Or, so I might sing if I was a blues singer. It is better than my mother-in-law or butter and eggs. It might just be the unfortunate kickback of too much dissertation work. I have to admit that I am captivated by these 19th-century folks. They are so earnest and so serious and so profoundly immune to the ironic. I, of course, actually live with someone that would make fast friends of William L. Garrison. I am proud of that. I am beginning to love my work. Even though it feels like it is going to be rather professionally infertile. I like these haunts and spooks and grave souls skulking around my mind. I like the way their seriousness and optimism challenges my jaded half-heartedness! I want to go take down some monstrous and impossibly inviolate institution. (I just need to take care that I don't build a bunch of prisons and asylums along the way. )
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Last night, in a space of about 30 minutes, I went from trying to convince someone with a legion of problems including: addiction, physical disability, abandonment, loss, and a violent past, that their life is not meaningless-- to feeling that I was a wretched failure because of a few academic setbacks. Why can't I seem to accept that there is grace, too, for me?
As of late, I have been frustrated by the tide of resentment that greets me in the morning. Regardless of how assiduously I thwart its thralldom during the day, it always seems to come right back at me in the morning. Today, I went running. As I was pounding the pavement trying to outrun the darker angels of my nature, I began to realize how much my resentment has it sources in my overweening desire to be in control. I resent those that get the awards, praise, kudos that I desire. I have never thought of myself as a particularly ambitious. But, I am. I am also frightened because my lack of ability to perform means that I might not be as safe as I would like to be. So, the question is what part of this gorgon to I take on first: the sense of profound inefficacy, the ambition, the desire for control or the resentment? The question: can I diagnosis the center of this whole cluster of problems in my inability to allow God to be the Sovereign of the universe and my consequent inability to allow myself to be part of God's life in the world--whatever that means for my ambition? Or, do I take on the problems symptomatically. Tackle the resentment when it comes, the sense of incompetence when it comes. . . ?
Sunday, June 14, 2009
I have been re-reading Henri Nouwen's Return of the Prodigal. I had forgotten how powerful the book is. At the centre of any book on the spiritual quest is Augustine's affirmation that our hearts are restless. This book evocatively connects that restlessness with the homely image that Jesus provides to us of paternal love, fraternal jealousy, the tremendous odium of comparison, youthful unfaithfulness and celebratory grace. Similarly, Marilyn Robinson's Home enfleshes the story of the prodigal son. Moreover, it takes the reader a step further into the mysterious union between the rejected and called; two that become one through the possibility of grace. Nouwen suggests a movement beyond being one of the children to taking up the mantle of the Father in the story. Robinson's story dwells on how the younger and the older need each other. How they might come to be reconciled to one another-- That the "accepted" might recognize their need to be embraced by the rejected, and that "the rejected" might accept the embrace of "the accepted." We are all accepted and we are all rejected. We are in most desperate need to experience the grace of God through others and through our grace for others.
Living in Christian community brings with it very pressing questions concerning how we might maintain a home for others. That I struggle again and again with the desire to make my home my habitus, my outer garment, the expression of me--my creativity, and zeal, and passion, and thereby reject the call to make this home, our home.
I want to make this home the habitus of God. A place of formation in the virtues of friendship and faithfulness and sharing. In short, to wear the shimmering garment that is God's graces.
The things that are getting in the way of living this vision are legion. I can scarcely begin to even address them now. I imagine that careful reflection on monastic literature would soon make it entirely and extraordinarily obvious how common the attitudes that undermine our community are in the life of past Christian communities. Certainly the sins of jealousy, and sloth, and anger, and greed are at the forefront. . .
I affirm, however, that right now, it is in this place that I am called to hear from God and to grow as God's child. That this means a more rigorous conflict with my own personal demons and obsessions seems obvious.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
All I know for absolutely certain is that more of my thought power needs to be aimed outside of my head. Nein to introspection. I suspect that this is why ceaseless prayers is important. Prayer need not be introspection. It can be. But, at its best doesn't it aim towards praise and reconciliation and therefore has a telos outside of my own being. The psychic energy can also go out in the works of love and works of creativity. It can also be expended in works of charity. When we pray with our very lives for peace, or justice, or fraternity (sorority...)
Then there is running. Pound. Pound. Pound.