Friday, November 30, 2007

graphite delight

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"In this quiet moment
of a changing season,
We are called to remember:
Never stand still,
but move with one heart."

~ The Monks of Weston Priory, Move With One Heart

A universal transformation, even within the simplest of lives, is at once formidable and humbling. In my experience this has been so, through efforts to recover from loss, and, yes, in the reception of unexpected blessing. Hoping, as a human can, in fits and starts- but rarely with a sense of expectation. And perhaps the latter aspect is the defining corollary of trust. When we say we are in awe, we call forth a word that represents the paradox of both reverent inspiration and fright. When we are in awe, Webster’s Collegiate refers to our being in "an overwhelming admiration, fear, or wonder produced by that which is grand, sublime, and extremely powerful." Such descriptive imagery does not easily come to mind during times of tragedy, but it certainly does when we are overtaken by blessing we may not have dared to expect. When he retrospectively looked at his career, the apostle Paul advised his students to know how to "be both abased and abound;" through the spectrum of circumstances he viewed his life as a conduit, and not as the ultimate source of strength and inspiration. I think he found this powerfully liberating and humbling at the same time. And the wonder of this moment surely has no time to think about dread. To realize hopes I hadn’t dared to fully presume is cause to be abound. Yes, it is humbling and there is the awe of the road ahead (and remembrance of the ground already traveled), but the unfettered gift of joy is to be savoured.

A dear and wise friend recently wrote some poignant words to me about the joining together of souls, expressing, "the holding of hands can heal all the wounds of the past and the heart." The modest eloquence of the gesture manifests the unity that dwells within. I remember the occasions when I would be in attendance when a monk would make his profession, and at the Weston Priory they dance in a circle, hands clasped together, celebrating the circuitry of their kindredship. The living parables of drawing together and moving forward never cease to amaze me, considering how no two lives, no two histories, are exactly alike. But it is the mysterious combination of trust, unanimity, and pluralism that makes things continue to thrive. Considering again the words of my quoted friend, those observances of kindredship do neutralize past anguishes, and the pains which had only persisted to exist in their phantom forms, are finally washed away. And though we may set aside some long-established facets of our lives, we do so with a jubilant enthusiasm for the embarkation upon new beginnings.

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The new chapter of the evolving journey moves between recovery and discovery. My origins and experiences serve me well in their context as reference points, not as focal points. When the ancient Psalmist settled his heart after having traversed intense duress, across the expanse of thousands of years it is still possible to hear his sigh of gratitude at finally being at peaceful respite. The depths of his gracious utterance amounted to very simple words that sufficed: "my heart is not haughty, neither are my eyes set on things beyond me; in the quiet I have stilled my soul." As the humbled David, in this instance, it is a wonder to be awed by goodness. And I’m willing to wager that even he never received a love letter, written all in pencil! Oh, but I know where I came from (and know not to ever belittle the disenfranchised), the journeys and places well known to me, giving enormous savour to something not quite comprehensible, yet renewing, and delightful.

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