It's early am. The house is quiet. There's a slight breeze coming through the window. I should put on a sweater but the bite in the morning air is waking me up. The last few weeks have felt more like fall than spring. I don't mind. The cool air warms my heart.
On the desk before me is an alabaster apple. Hand carved in Italy and purchased at Barnes & Noble. It reminds me of my gender and all the emotional ties that go with being a woman. That's appropriate since it's June. (from Juno the Queen of the Gods and goddess of women, marraige). It brings to mind my spiritual ancestor Eve. Alone in the garden with Adam and somehow drawn to that tree, that fruit. I bet she thought about it for months before she took that bite. Worried about it, analyzed it as best she knew and still...she reached out for the unknown. It's a story familiar enough but the apple on my desk is an attempt in reverse. A witness to the folly of reaching out too often. Being too busy. Much of what I reach out to grasp I could find by not reaching out at all, what I already have access to or am part of.
I am repeatedly drawn to a point in time. An intense curiosity of a family-the Godwins. Their story is representative of the time and culture they lived in but sstill peaks to things that confront modern man. I read "The Godwins" by Frank Barlow. Eleventh century history has all the good stuff. Cultural incursions, political intrigue, power mongering, sibling rivalry, travel, influence of the church, people with funny names. To quote Barlow, "They are all flawed heroes and heroines in a northern saga" (11). Sounds like todays headlines. My favorite of the family is still (always) Harold. His life pulls at my imagination and fires up my interest over and over. Anglo-Danish England-I love it.
After that I checked out a little book by Lauren Winner called "Mudhouse Sabbath". She is from a Jewish family and converted to Christianity. Her feet are in both worlds. She looks at the spiritual discipline/ traditions that Judaism gave and still offers to Christians today. Namely the idea of practicing a "Sabbath", a day of "rest". How modern folks keep the Sabbath. Her reflections gave me pause to think of my own ideas of what "rest" is. The Mudhouse in the title is a coffee house. That got me on to a humorous speculation about Starbucks being a new religious house. Imagine all the Monks there jacked up on triple shot, white mochas. A lot of work would get done but the Sabbath would be a day of withdrawals not rest......I wanna go there!!
Getting myself back on track with...Merton....of course. "The Monastic Journey" by Thomas Merton. I never tire of him. It's written more for those with a religious vocation but is as relevant to those with lay vocations. We are all religious about something or another whether we see it or not. He covers all the basics...service, silence, poverty, charity, prayer. Mostly I took away from the book a stronger sense of the need for community that humans have, that God intended for us to have. Community is a wide open word. In the vein of Monasticism/ Christianity it is paramount to faith. He makes a call for people to "lead a simpler and more prayerful life within the framework of community" (167). We should be taking care of each other not depending on Gov't agencies to do it for us. See......Merton gets me every time!
The last one is "Finding Sanctuary" by Abbott Christopher Jamison. The BBC series "The Monastery" lead to this little jewel. He's a Benedictine, (but, of course) Abbot from Worth Abbey in Sussex where the TV series took place. The book talks about creating sanctuary within ourselves as much as our personal space. A complicated venture in this day and age. The line that grabbed me was ..."distractions inside my head are actually noises inside my heart..."(48). I am not only battling with the busyness and pull from society but the clamor in the deafening silence of my heart. Hopefully, I can learn to let the silence drown out the noise....