06 January, 2009

it loosens the ligaments

I got back this afternoon from Southern Pines, from what was easily the most restful and content part of my winter break. Moments of being: making shrimp and grits; stroking Aoive; reading books around the fire; listening to Guion on guitar, piano, charanga, and Win on drums; giving the former a sound beating in Trivial Pursuit; watching "Paris, Je T'aime" and "Le Chinoise"; driving around town; scouring local bookstores; looking through piles of old photographs; taking a walk around the neighborhood with Mrs. Pratt and Aoive when the sun was finally cracking through the clouds. I do love being there with all of them.

Used book hunting with Guion is always successful, and yesterday was no different. To my utter amazement, I found The Marquise of O- and Other Stories, by Heinrich von Kleist, which I have been looking for, without any luck, for almost two years now. And it cost me a mere dollar. I also managed to walk away with The Death of Ivan Ilych and Other Stories (Tolstoy), The Queen of Spades and Other Stories (Pushkin), The Shipping News (Annie Proulx), and The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Milan Kundera). I have much reading to do.

Which makes me think of these, my Resolutions for the Year of 2009, which I have decided shall be the Year of Discipline.

  • In the absence of my 366 Project, I feel somewhat at a loss for what to do every day. To fill this void, I have decided that my next assignment is to write a journal entry every day for a year. Fortunately, you won't get to read them, but they'll be there just the same.

I think of what Woolf wrote in her own diary, April 20, 1919, "But what is more to the point is my belief that the habit of writing thus for my own eye only is good practise. It loosens the ligaments. Never mind the misses and stumbles. Going at such a pace as I do I must make the most direct and instant shots at my object, and thus have to lay hands on words, choose them, and shoot them with no more pause than is needed to put my pen in the ink."

  • Exercise at least three times a week. Particularly, run.
  • Study and practice solitude and meditative prayer. Read people like the early church fathers, Nouwen, Merton, and Buddhist thinkers who were good at this. (Thanks for the head start, Mr. Pratt.)
  • Read through the entire AP Style Handbook before going to Denver.
  • Survive in Denver.
  • Read more.
  • Keep writing book reviews, if you can call them that.
  • Practice writing fiction on a monthly basis. Get feedback from writers whose opinions I respect. Edit.
  • Garden. Something.
  • Save money. Stop buying clothes.

More will inevitably be added to this list, a running register of Things to Accomplish.

Abbot Palladius said: The soul that wishes to live according to the will of Christ should either learn faithfully what it does not yet know, or teach openly what it does know. But if, when it can, it desires to do neither of these things, it is afflicted with madness. For the first step away from God is a distaste for learning, and a lack of appetite for those things for which the soul hungers when it seeks God. -- The Wisdom of the Desert Fathers, transl. Thomas Merton

This morning at breakfast Guion and I had a long and fruitful conversation about the essentials of faith, denominations, and the schism in the Anglican church over the gay bishop. He also detailed his conception of God's own conception of time and he said something very good which I regret not scribbling down, because now I don't remember it. Something like all moments being concentrated into one moment that IS and there is no past or future. I'll have to ask him about it again.

Last Sunday at church, a young Nigerian named Ibrahim told us a story. He was walking down the streets of downtown Chicago with some friends after dinner. A homeless woman suddenly came up to him and grabbed him by the shirt collar. Startled, he said, "Um, do you need something?" She looked at him, still gripping him, and said, "No, but do YOU need something?" And she proceeded to tell him everything that he had been asking God.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I might suggest adding Cynthia Bourgeault into the mix of of your writers. She is an Episcopal priest, bit mystic/hermit. If you google her, you will find her.