30 December, 2008

the divine assails us

While we were hiking in Asheville today, I thought about solitude and leaves and what it would be like to be walking this trail alone. How easy it would be to do business with the self; it seems that all of the anxieties and hopes and fertile ideas would rise to the surface voluntarily out there, in the quietness of the woods.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man." (Revelation 21:3)

I was also thinking about solitude while I was riding the bus. I've been riding it a lot lately, back and forth from work. And I do think it is my favorite part of the day--the chance to sit, silently, and watch the trees pass and all of the people in their cars, lips tight (because no one smiles when they drive), fixed on the next task, the next best thing, and think. I get two hours just to think each day--one hour there, one hour back. And I think about many things: the end of the world, Flannery O'Connor, the way customers hand you change, why America is a Christian nation, how I'll survive in Denver, all alone out west, whether anything can be done to halt cycles of poverty in our city, roadkill, the fountain that never runs, a hawk on a billboard.

"Sometimes God moves loudly, as if spinning to another place like ball lightning. God is, oddly, personal; this God knows. Sometimes en route, dazzlingly or dimly, he shows an edge of himself to souls who seek him, and the people who bear those souls, marveling, know it, and see the skies carousing around them, and watch cells stream and multiply in green leaves. He does not give as the world gives; he leads invisibly over many years, or he wallops for thirty seconds at a time. He may touch a mind, too, making a loud sound, or a mind may feel the rim of his mind as he nears." -- Annie Dillard, For the Time Being

Guion's sinuses were cleared today and, hopefully, the quality of his life will dramatically improve. When I mentioned this in the car today, Grace exclaimed, "He's already a happy guy; can you imagine how happy he's going to be NOW? He's going to be so happy he'll be almost unbearable!"

Raymond Carver was underwhelming and I'm afraid the best I can say for Wise Blood was that it sparked in places and collapsed in others (only two scenes stand out: the man selling the potato peeler on the street and when Enoch goes to shake the gorilla's hand). To restore my faith, I picked up where I left off in vol. I of Virginia Woolf's diary (1915-1919) and started The Power and the Glory, by Graham Greene, which I bought at the Carrboro thrift store with J.Clem, who was very excited about it because Guadalupe was on the cover. It's very good so far; I've already fallen for Greene's prose. It reminds me of Shusaku Endo's Silence, only in Mexico. And about 350 years later.

"By means of all created things, without exception, the divine assails us, penetrates us, and molds us. We imagined it as distant and inaccessible, whereas in fact we live steeped in its burning layers." -- Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, French paleontologist

We visited the Hyltons for a handful of minutes before leaving Asheville; ate Emily's excellent baklava and watched Cider do some of her famous performance art and move her head sadly back and forth. And I thought about them in that house, doing Hylton things like making baklava and tea and putting flowers in vases and renewing old friendships, and thought, Such a very lovely, graceful family.

I've been thinking about God more often this week and I want to know where the divine touches the common life. Where does it dip into my day?

The Spirit and the Bride say, Come.

I miss the stirrings of God's voice. I haven't been listening very well.

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