Wednesday, November 22, 2006

My Journal - from a retreat earlier this month

Right now, I feel tired, not physically but mentally and/or spiritually; I need some time that’s open to letting my mental shoulders drop. The only reading material I brought is the Bible, the plan is to start on Luke-Acts and see where it takes me. I might also nap a bit. It’s good to be here, in a time and a place to be refreshed. The Bishop who’s leading this talked about learning to meditate via TM in the 60s. For me it came in 1969 when I met Dom Aelred Graham while he was staying at the house of a woman I knew in the Napa Valley. I had just started reading Merton, and Graham had been in contact with him, helped him on the way to India, and I wanted to know about that. I was also a part of a retreat he did for youth groups and was surprised by meditating: that there seemed to be something in meditation that was both clear and beyond discussion, and it hit me early that by sitting in silence a refreshment that took place, some clarity and Grace was found. It was hard then, and still is sometimes, to simply sit without comment, drama, obfuscation. But, even that first time there was, and remains, a sense, a knowing, that there is firm reality there, both a place to rest and a place to stand.

I think I am probably more contemplative than I’ve every been before. Part of that comes from the gife of aging, surrounded by loving friends and work that fits me well. Both those gifts deliver me from the ongoing dialogue of whether I am worthy, whether I am real enough, that kept me so occupied in my earlier life. And this more recent freedom lets me meet the world more often with some silence within me, so that I can see the world as it is more clearly, rather than how I fear or hope it might be. So there’s more room for seeing and listening. I tell people to try to give thanks twenty times a day: take a picture of something that lifts your heart and send the picture an part of an email to God. It is a little cute, but it works for me and it points my life closer to what I think I am supposed to do.

The contemplative spirit, being willing to listen more to what God might offer, makes me a better pastor as well. I seem to find more openness inside and out, relax more with others, am open to see where it might go – whatever it might be – if it has the room. I still want to control things, but there’s more room to let life go it’s own way. I trust God life, myself, more.

As I write this there is a buzzing sound coming out of the non-working heater mounted on the wall to my left. Knowing that most Australian insects are large and highly lethal, this gives me pause. Now the noise has stopped, which either means the THING has died, fallen asleep or is moving stealthily towards my feet. If these are my last words, know that I was doing well and was happy in my doing and my being, well employed and learning more about the grace of Love.

A Poem in Process

How I long for some
more benevolent form of synethesia:
I want to listen to the trees sing,

I long to see all the colour of names spoken.
I know that someone near is sitting in the place
where flowers shout in spring and leaves make
sad music as they fall from trees.
That’s the neighbourhood that calls me home.

One willow tree said something earlier today,
not spoken so much as whispered
in the way she turned in a hint of wind:
something delicate, light and quite articulate,
like a shy person speaking with sudden conviction.
It came from the crotch where a branch turned out,
a scar that had reified into something surprisingly beautiful.
And was nuanced from the way light touched her leaves,
dancing in this late spring afternoon.
And I listened.

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