Monday, March 8, 2010
These passages are from Kathleen Norris' "Amazing Grace". I will not comment on them. I let them stand as the text of my thoughts for this week.
"At breakfast on Tuesday morning I was touched to discover that one of the women had decorated the dining area for Mardi Gras. We each has a place mat adorned with rickrack, and a construction paper mobile of spring flowers, adding a bit of color and cheer, hung above the table. The sub-zero cold outside, the dreary sky, suddenly seemed less discouraging. That afternoon, I purchased a bunch of daffodils for the table, and the sister who was home when I arrive got up to find a vase. We talked about Lent, and she told me that for most of her life she had considered it only in punitive terms, as a time of self-denial. "Now," she said, "I still fast, but my reasons for fasting have changed." She hope to recover Lent as an aspect of spring itself, a time of waiting, but also of burgeoning hopes. For her this meant paying close attention to things like intake of food and the acquiring of possessions not in order to punish herself but to ore fully honor the good things in life."
"Conversion is a process; it is not a goal, not a product we consume. And it's a bodily process, to only an emotional or intellectual one. The very cells in our body are busy changing, renewing themselves, ever few days. Yet we remain recognizable ourselves. That is how conversion works, a paradox beautifully expressed in two vows that are unique to Benedictine life. To join a monastic community, people promise stability, pledging to remain in that community for life. At the same time they also promise to remain always open to change, to what is loosely translated as a "conversion of life."
We know what happens when we have stability without conversion; we end up stagnant, curled up comfortably with that familiar idol called "This is the way we've always done it." And conversion without stability may describe the current state of affairs with regard to the spiritual life in America. Many seem to value change for it's own sake; we're always after something new. But when seeking the holy becomes a goal in itself, the last thing we want to do is it. In all of the religious traditions I know of, anything that feels like finding translates into commitment. And like conversion itself, commitment is scary."
Monday, March 1, 2010
Yesterday I visited a church because an old friend was going to be there. It was so good to see her. It reminded me of how valuable past relationships are to the present. It actually caused a bubbling of joy in me, even this morning. I enjoyed seeing her excitement over a hobby turned more. How do we continue to cultivate friendships and relationships when we don't see each other very often? I was so aware yesterday of how much we could enlighten each other by sharing our recent journeys.
Since distance separates us a bit I am determined to value those close by and take and make opportunities to grow the friendships that are near.