Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Rumi Moves To Phillpot

Wednesday, April 6, 2005. New MAC OS software installing as I write this, Music of Thelonious Monk in background, life is likely good. I was at RMIT Monday, mainly for a chaplains meeting, then to get computers installed in the new office. Yesterday a breakfast meeting at La Trobe, then chaplains meeting, then Student Services Committee. Took the afternoon and came home for office work. Today at RMIT and tonight the second run of Canterbury Readers, a small group going over recent web-published writings of Rowan Williams. Tomorrow at La Trobe for some important meetings, then dinner with friends near the campus.

Chaplaincy is a funny balance. Sometimes it is very structured, meetings in order, writing plans and outlines, getting to the next place: other times it is sitting with no agenda, just open to what might come into the configuration, with no preferences. It is wonderful work for that.

I found that the second quote I have been carrying around for years was not Rumi, but an Englishman named Eden Phillpot, author of a number of novels, who died – I think – in the 1960s. My intellectual/spiritual pretensions would rather quote someone named Rumi, but it is still a good quote, I will explore Phillpot as a writer at a later time.

“The world is full of a number of magical beings, patiently waiting for our wits to grow stronger.” I think I heard it on FM radio in the early 70s and it has stayed with me for awhile. The image that came, and stays, is one where new possibilities are hidden in plain sight: requiring not distance and journeying, but discernment and patience, not solving some future solution but relaxing into the present mystery. It gets rid of the need for heroism, of the need to make explicit sacrifice, and replaces that with focussing on what is immanent, available and even easy. Not even focussing, for it replaces the hard stare with what someone once called “soft eyes” – just seeing without looking too focussed on finding anything in particular, ready to be surprised. And, for me, often, that is when I am surprised by the gift of the presence of something that was always there, but overlooked in my great need to get somewhere else.

No comments: