Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What You Really Love

Today a friend emailed thisthis Rumi quote to me .

"Let yourself be silently drawn
by the strange pull of what you really love.
It will not lead you astray."

Suddenly hints of Spring came flooding into my imagination… grass greening, lilac branches plumping and more. And I remember so vividly how easily I move out of awareness and into unawareness as I walk through my days. And then I recall that some of my friends regularly choose to take their newly purchased calendar and reserve specific 36 hour-blocks-of-silent-time each month to spend at our monastery hermitage. This they do in pencil, so if absolutely necessary it can be shifted but never totally erased from that specific month. It’s their way of allowing time to let silent awareness have its due time in their word-filled lives.

Brother David Steindl-Rast would add a delightful practice to their hermitage “awareness time” for those who are interested. He suggests that there is a simple way to explore “seeing into the heart of things” and freeing wonder and gratitude to spontaneously arise.

Once, he invited retreatants to “Take a holy card with you tomorrow. Just a 3x5 card with a pin-hole punched in it. Then walk up to a fabric, the wings of a beetle, or even the underside of a plant or weed and look very carefully at it through the hole in your card. When you block out everything around you except a tiny, tiny space you are able to see things your never saw before in your life.”

Maybe that’s another way for me to rediscover the strange pull of what I really love, care about and am immensely grateful for. It may even leave room for the God-given way of seeing things to become visible in my life.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Who is the True Conservative? What is Conservatism?

One thing you count on is that on Friday nights, about 80% of the Sisters will be watching TV, many of them watching Washington Week. I have fallen into this habit myself. Often, I will excuse myself from a party to watch Washington Week with my housemates.

Lately, this news hour review of world and national events has been covering the Republican, presidential race. I am not adept at negotiating the waters of politics and faith, but I’m amused at the recent focus on conservatism and who qualifies as a real conservative. What exactly does conservatism look like? Does it come in a variety of flavors like Baskin Robbins ice cream? Are there different shades of conservatism? Can people agree on a single definition of conservatism?

Yesterday, I was asked my opinion on the selection of carpet for a hall way. On the table there must have been fifty swatches of different colors, patterns, and variegations. Most of us couldn’t decide and finally picked a swatch matching our personal preferences. We all knew the small swatch would look different depending on hall size, wall color and lighting. I think this is a lot like conservatism with regard to politics. We only get “swatches” from each candidate, and we know that what we hear will look much different in the broader scheme of the present political arena.  

I regret Andrew Rooney isn’t alive to do a Sixty Minutes clip on conservatism. He might muse out loud  about whether Republicans have a monopoly on conservatism, or whether a Democrat, Libertarian, or Independent might be conservative on some issues. Maybe, what we are looking for is not whether someone fits one of the above categories, but the ability of politicians, as well as all of us, to listen to the merits of every perspective. Could we benefit from Benedict’s advice when he asks us to do the following: “They should each try to be the first to show respect to the other, supporting with the greatest patience one another’s weaknesses of body and behavior ... ”
If we did that, could we stop the ways labeling one another prevents good things from getting done?

Signed – S. Trisherooney, OSB

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

An Ode to Ashes

An Ode to Ashes

Lent has never been my favorite “sacred” season—as a child, an adolescent, a middle-ager or now, as a senior citizen. I have come to terms with it, of course, and I know I should welcome this time as an opportunity to be ever more open to where the Spirit blows, though it is still a struggle. However, as I reflect on the recently-passed Ash Wednesday I do have an upward lilt of the heart.

Each Ash Wednesday other Sisters and I marvel at the outpouring of students who come to chapel in the late afternoon to participate in the Mass and—probably most important to them, the imposition of ashes on their foreheads. We sometimes chuckle as we note “They’re coming out of the woodwork.” People we don’t see in chapel any other time will come to the Ash Wednesday services [reported by many a parish minister, too!]. And that’s a good thing, I believe. Something about this age-old ritual still speaks to them and, at least for this particular time, they are in tune with the Church and with the age-old mystery of God reaching out to us with love and mercy-- and we being willing to acknowledge our sins and need of this love and mercy. I got a warm glow as I received my ashes and watched the “hordes” of others receiving theirs. And somehow I am deeply comforted and at peace.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Catch the fire of enthusiasm

I read a line yesterday that stays with me! Maybe it touched my winter doldrums or a Lenten day that had not yet experienced Easter risings! But I know I need to take this idea beyond mere insight into action:
"Catch on fire with enthusiasm and people will come from afar to watch you burn."

Recently I was trying to help our secristan light a candle that just would not receive the flame held over it. I took the candle out of the holder to bring it to eye level. . . and what we saw was a piece of wire extending beyond that part of the wick that could easily be set aflame! Immediately we by-passed the wire and the wick caught fire. I went back to my pew and watched that candle burn brightly! Of course, I thought of the quote: "Catch the fire of enthusiasm and people will come from afar to watch you burn."

We, too, burn and die a bit, change and move a bit-- day by day-- when fanned by the Spirit. Enthusiastic, joy-filled action attracts; it may challenge; it surely gives off light. Nothing wrong about that, is there? And does the enthusiasm minimize the dying even as it simultaneously lights up the eyes, warms the fire of love in one's words, gives a lilt to one's voice or joy to one's relationships? No, I don't think so. I would come from afar, too, to see this life and light in you!