A Musing Table: Simplicity and Silence

This week has been a full one. For the past several nights now i've been watching Into Great Silence, watching a bit further each night, just havent had the chance to watch it all at one go. In one scene the other night there was the sound of owls there that made me smile...and then i realized the owls were outside my window really, not part of the movie at all but part of my life. Later as i was watching i heard these loud obnoxius screeching trucks in the background....and these too were not part of the movie but outside my window. It made me laugh, i guess it was the huge contrast there...."into great silence" meets "noisy blaring highway"...both meeting in the same room.

Life is like that here...so contrasting. Amazing beautiful nature (deers, owls, coyotes, hawks...) right alongside pollution from the ickky crop spraying of the farms. Very small-townness i love yet the fumes and noise of a major highway that runs through it. Such deep peace and quiet and wilderness when i so much as walk a mere 5 minutes up the hill...yet here at home i'm so close to the highway fumes ive been getting migraines and have one now. A place i will need to move from (from this particular spot anyway) becuase the pollution is really causing health issues (i have EI). Yet a place i will always treasure becuase of the amazing creatures i have been with here, especially the deers and owls. Yesterday i even saw them together...an owl on one side of the path while walking, a deer on the other... and both quite up close too. How could i not dearly treasure that?

Such a contrast of things here.

Then there are more contrasts that this Into Great Silence movie has been slowly bringing home. Ever since i was a little girl i have had monastic leanings. Yet at the same time, ever since i was a little girl i have had deep longings for marriage. And here i am now, thinking of what the future will hold with my fiance and so glad our future will be together. Yet at the same time the monastic longings keep getting stronger and stronger as well, and i wonder what form things will take. Deeper domestic monastery-ness maybe? For i really do belive the domestic can be the monastic if truly appraoched that way. Well, will see He has is store.

Contrasts. Discerning. Needing...silence.

I keep thinking of what silence means....an emptying. An emptying for a far greater richness. Peace not from naming and claiming but rather from being more prayerful and open and ocean like. This qoute stuck with me yesterday, from Sr Mary Catharine Perry, author of Amtaa means Beloved:

Many people think the cloistered life is a waste...(Yet) when research scientists and artists separate themselves from the world, it's because they need to get more intense. Nobody thinks a scientist is escaping when he just needs to be removed from everything.

Then there was this one, from Elizabeth Barrett Browing:

Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God:
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes

Then this, from a book study (on Gifts From the Sea) from The Bower struck me tonight...

I am challenged by the....idea of succumbing to the ancient rhythms of the sea...of relaxing, opening, emptying....Must we get there before we can receive "what perfectly rounded stone...what rare shell from the ocean floor. Perhaps a channelled whelk, a moon shell, or even an argonaut.

Relaxing, opening, emptying. Silence. Not like a desert is silent but like an ocean is silent. Silence that has warmth, life, wombness, a heartbeat. That recieves those stones and "rare shells". That takes off its shoes becuase it realizes it truly is on holy ground. The sacred in the mundane. The silence in the beat of heart and swell of wave.

Not sure where this is going, only that its such a deep longing. Its tied in with the Holy Poverty (see here and here too) draw as well, both are about an opening and simplifying and letting go, for a deeper richness really. This stood out, from here:

Franciscans call their poverty "disappropriation."....Appropriation is claiming.... It is like the sin of Adam and Eve....trying to be like God. That was a lie. They already were like God. They didn't have to do anything but receive (that likeness) and say yeah. Similarly, Poor Clares recognize they have everything - "the sun in the morning and the moon at night," in the words of an old song - and they don't have to go out grasping and corralling it

St Clare has really been on my mind lately. There is just something so archetypal about the Franciscans that feels to hold something key. I love how St Francis took the heroic knightly path of active male "out in the world"-ness in his faith, and St Claire lived as a beautifully contemplative cloistered and very feminine soul. Together, such a deep complement. Very fairy tale. And since fairy tales come from the archetypal, i tend to think that which feels "fairy tale" tends to hold great truth.

Just love this famous qoute of St Clare's, from her second letter to Blessed Agnes of Prague :

..always remember your resolution
and be conscious of how you began.
What you hold, may you always hold,
What you do, may you always do and never abandon.
But with swift pace, light step, unswerving feet,
so that even your steps stir up no dust,
may you go forward
securely, joyfully, and swiftly,
on the path of prudent happiness

I ask myself now...so what was my beginning, my resolution? It was dual from the beginning i think, domestic and monastic. Have heared it said though that truth tends to lie at the heart of what seems like a contradiction.

One thing did happen that has really stayed with me this week, a co-in-see-dance. When i was watching the Into Great Silence movie, wanted to change the background color of the desktop so it would be less bright and easier to watch the movie on. So i went in to change it and rather than the color just changing, an old desktop image accidentally came up, the one right below. If you press it, you will find a really wonderful passage on silence from a favorite author Catherine Doherty. And its really stirred something lately.

Anyway, this mix of thoughts is where things are right now, and seemed a good time to journal. Depending on the migraine, may or may not post tomarrow. So wishing you all an early....

Good Shabbas, and Blessed Sabbath : )

(Images from Melissa Howard of Those Northern Skies, and from Catherine Doherty via here)

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