Sunday, June 23, 2013

Kindred Company

Of late I have been reading Paul Elie's book, The Life You Save may be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage. Hmm...reading, that is not entirely accurate. Savoring it. Sipping it slowly. Feeling it bloom within me, warming me, teasing my senses with hints of something familiar and yet a distinct combination of flavors all its own...

It brings together Flannery O'Connor, Dorothy Day, Walker Percy, and Thomas Merton and weaves their stories of faith and the role of writing, conversion and seeking, desire and determination to listen to God within their own experience and beyond.

I was telling my friend last night about this book and how much I was enjoying good it is for my heart to read of them. She added, and to touch a world you understand.

Yes! Yes, exactly. In certain respects, they are each people with whom I can identify...people who could not leave the company of God...people who made conscious choices about God, about their lives of faith, people who moved through life as seekers, not settlers, people for whom the pen is a sacramental and the written word a testament and invitation, a call, a way to help them mediate the fullness of life surrounding.

Two excerpts from my notebook about what I have read so far...

Dorothy Day's motivating desire behind her writing--"to give reason for the faith that is in us..." I LOVE that...and will find a way to use, wall quotation, something. To what end the witness of our lives? To give reason for the faith that is in us, Therefore, live with a fullness and be not afraid. Express, share, own the truth as it is experienced. Discover, reveal, make manifest, the stunning constancy of God in sadness and challenge as well as in joy and easier times. To give reason is not to defend, but to seek to live and to write with such openness, aperture, divine permeability, that it is God's love and the humanity of Jesus in the daily lived reality that is seen, heard, read...

And on Merton and his keeping of a journal...

"The balcony was his outpost, his observation deck, his open-air hermitage. There, his journal, a series of exercises in observing and recalling, thinking and writing, became a religious devotion." AUGH, I love that and I GET that. To so intimately link God and the daily whatnot of living that can be seen for a balcony...and not even ISN'T making the link, it is revealing it...noticing it, allowing it to pierce, pass through, to be, to bloom, to challenge, to change the self... YES!!

In so many ways and for so many reasons, is good to be together with these four for a while... to listen to them and learn from them and know them as kindred souls... The sort of souls for whom Jessica Powers wrote the following, I think...

The Second Giving

The second giving of God is the great giving

out of the portions of the seraphim,

abundances with which the soul is laden

once it has given up all things for Him.

The second growth of God is the rich growing,
with fruits no constant gathering can remove,

the flourishing of those who by God’s mercy

have cut themselves down to the roots of love.

God seeks a heart with bold and boundless hungers
that sees itself and earth as paltry stuff;

God loves a soul that cast down all He gave it

and stands and cries that it was not enough.

Jessica Powers


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Here and There: Cartography.

I recently began reading a book about maps and the influence of cartography on society throughout history. It sounds weighty, but honestly, it is a fascinating and humorously engaging read.

One of the things it has made me think about is the fact that far from the fixed and firm directional tools many maps are today, original maps were much more about relationships. Where is one landmass in relationship to another, where are the edges, where does the wind begin, and where are the monsters. And the people drawing these maps were not the travelers themselves, but those who heard their stories: those who lived in port cities, those who had the means and the tools to draw, those who had the sort of mind that could envision a world far beyond their own experience...those who wondered and dreamed, who were trying to make sense of things. I'm not sure even that accuracy was an aim, at first. It was more about getting something down that might help frame an adventurous, possibly dangerous, exotic and wondrous, whole.

I can't help but think about the awe of first realizing that there is more. And then being able to see it! At least, on papyrus. All of a sudden here could change and there became a possibility. Was that comforting for people? Scary? Inconceivable, heretical, mystical, preposterous?


What a powerful thing that realization can be, though... Even though there is quite possibly unknown, unfamiliar, and not necessarily better or even all that different. For me, knowing about the existence of there is freeing, curiosity piquing, and even, oddly, confirming of my presence in the here. I know of there and yet my being is not there..therefore I am here. For now. Because there is more.

Some of my awareness of this comes from lots of hands on experience beginning at a young age. I have never lived in any one place for more than four sequential years over the course of my life. In my adult life I have also had different opportunities to travel to lands beyond the borders of my known landmass.

Thinking about Eratosthenes who calculated the circumference of the earth with surprising accuracy and limited movement and the maps that are still in existence dating from the 4th century BC China, makes me think about other ways I have come to know of the cartography of relationships. Stories are certainly one of those ways.

Books are welcome maps to new places, new people, new experience...and they allow me to engage my memories and my dreams, my experience and my hopes, my wonders and my marvels. With a flip of the page, I can be there in the book and over there in my mind and here in body. Stories tell me of others who have walked a similar path or chosen differently or might fill in details from someone else's map and help me understand something in a whole new way...find new connections or relationships or forge ahead choosing the way by which fewer have travelled to make my own observations.

Love is another map that teaches me, informs me, and frees me, by relationships. Those times when I have wondered how on earth I will navigate my way through something, love has been the consistent directional. Love has invited me to turn toward the unknown and walk onward. I have trusted in love when it asked me to leave a here because there needed me too and I have been saved by love when here was not good and the way to there unclear.

Hm...this makes me think about the expression You can't get there from here. As someone with a less than crisp edged sense of direction, I can completely understand that position. It has happened to me many a time. But, I also muse on that and wonder if it doesn't make a big difference what map it is that is being used. And, too, the relationship of there to here.

I remember looking at conventional maps as a child and longing to interpret the lines, numbers, symbols...longing to understand. Now, I find myself saying instead, please, walk with me and show me the way. Help me see with a heart of relationship, help me dream of connections and understanding, help me when I wander too far, help me know more of the whole.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Continuation of a series...

Oh Mary (a continuation of a series...)

Oh Mary could you come and cool my eyes...

could you calm my mind with your ripple water lullaby...

could you settle my spirit with a story of would you believe

could you show my soul how to swing with an if you please

Oh Mary could you come in your confident grace and cool…

cool my wild wandering self into colors of peace. 

c. MperiodPress

Friday, June 7, 2013

Feast of the Sacred Heart 2013
Even though I have read the readings that will be proclaimed at today's liturgy, I confess that my thoughts wander from them when I think about the Sacred Heart this year. Time and again, my mind, my senses, return to a path that is scented and stimulating, piquant and curious, colorful, subtle, and mysterious.

It seems that there are images that remain from these last days of new food experiences, new flavors, new metaphors.But nonetheless, they are images not so far removed, I believe, from the Heart.

My life has included all manner of spice...bitter, pungent, freeing, lively, harmonious, faceted, intriguing and upon rare occasion No thank you, never again. I have tasted them, learned from them, and tried to live them in the complexity of their coming together. Sometimes the fullness of their mingling means teasing apart their distinct elements is difficult...but I know that it takes such a combination to yield a richly nuanced whole.

When any one bit is missing or too emphasized...hmm... Well, it makes me think back to the triangles of several days ago. Instead of connecting, or complementing and strengthening the shape, lines and angles might become over run, or left obtuse, acute, or incomplete. Spending time in the kitchen of experience, learning the equilibrium, incorporating newly discovered tastes and subtleties into the heady swirl...this is the art of a nourishing lifetime.

Today, on this Feast of the Sacred Heart, I realize in these new images the wisdom and generosity of God...because ultimately, these flavors all together absolutely work. And the greatest Whole is where they meet in extraordinary fullness...they meet at the harmony of all that is most completely human and gloriously divine...they meet in the Sacred Heart, they meet in Love.
Trusting in the fidelity of God and in the love of my sisters, it is in the name of that Love, desiring to live and share that Love, thankful for that Love given to each one wholly, completely, and without reservation, that I will renew my vows today alongside each rscj in the international Society.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Shape shifting with flavor

The other day I was waxing on about a flavor combination that was new to me...jicama, a mildly sweet tuber that is crunchy and wet, potato-meets-an-apple textured, served with a squeeze of lime juice, and a sprinkle of paprika.

A friend asked, What does the paprika do for it?

Before responding, my mind replayed the experience of eating it. The snappy feel in my mouth, the percolating dance on my tongue, the refreshing fullness of the waterfall I swallowed. How to describe what was happening?

As I was preparing it, I had sampled sticks along the way...plain cold...plain room temperature...cold and and lime...cold lime lime paprika... precisely because I wanted a sense of that very thing for myself. But how to express what I could sense...

It completes the triangle, was what I said to end the pause of my considerations. One side is the crunch and mildly sweet. One side is the tart wet tang. The two together are perfectly fine but pointing in different is an enjoyable combination but somehow left open. The smoke and spice of the paprika adds a third side. Each flavor continues on in its own direction, but they support one another and create a more whole, enirely other, flavor together...something deeper, richer...

In thinking about this idea of a triangle after the phonecall, other instances of this came to me. Writing, no surprise...Rhythm/flow, contour/sound, and grouping/organization. (whether that be friends, actual living community, family), ministry, time alone. The shape of people dancing...arms out, arms at waist, feet. Playing a bowed musical instrument...deep rooted feet, hand holding instrument, hand directing the bow... Considering prayer, I thought about spaciousness, fullness, and aperture...

When I made my way to relationship with God as I was soaking black beans and splashing rice wine vinegar for my next culinary adventure, I chose humanity, divinity, and covenant...

And then realized pleasingly that it is is not so hard to turn a triangle into a heart...