WHAT WE’RE OBLIGATED TO SEE

“His were hard sayings, so that even his own followers did not know what he was saying, did not understand him. It was not until after he died on the cross, it was not until he had suffered utter defeat, it would seem, and they thought their cause was lost entirely; it was not until they had persevered and prayed with all the fervor and desperation of their poor loving hearts, that they were enlightened by the Holy Spirit, and knew the truth with a strength that enabled them to suffer defeat and martyrdom in their turn. They knew then that not by force of arms, by the bullet or the ballot, would they conquer. They knew and were ready to suffer defeat–to show that great love which enabled them to lay down their lives for their friends.”

–Servant of God Dorothy Day, from The Reckless Way of Love: Notes on Following Jesus, ed. Carolyn Kurtz

I just started another Writing Workshop–we had our first meeting Saturday. Fantastic group. Utterly encouraged and inspired.

I’ve also been working on getting my next book, HARROWED: LIFE LESSONS FROM THE GARDEN, in publishable shape. And getting the dox together to apply for Irish citizenship. And writing my weekly column. And having many conversations per week with the many people of prayer, thought and heart who keep me afloat.

And I think suffering delayed PTSD from COVID, the wildfires (the whole city of Pasadena rec’d an amber alert Evacuation Warning last week), and most of all, the hateful and self-hating ideologies, from all corners, that I am doing my best to avoid, but that it’s almost impossible in this culture not to feel as an oppressive weight. Friends are throwing friends under the bus, families are being divided, time and energy that could be put to creative, healing, loving use is being dribbled away like so many drops of Christ’s Precious Blood on bullying, spying and accusing.

In the middle of all this, a new months-long construction project is taking shape in the compound where I live. This time, I’m renting an office/writing space that if all goes well I’ll start using October 1. Already my sense is that the space will first and foremost be for praying.

I spent a lot of time earlier in the year visualizing, planning, and reflecting upon my Desire Lines project, which is to start with a half-day workshop. I’ve joined a writers’ group in which my goal will be to get the format more firmly in place and also to begin shaping a book I hope will go along with it. A lot of this will consist in culling and gathering together some of the voluminous material I’ve amassed over the years, especially profiles of artists, prayers, thinkers, dancers, gardeners etc who have carved out and followed their own Desire Lines and who I’ve wanted to celebrate.

Interestingly, at this exact juncture, I feel my energy waning. Not my interest or my desire, but my energy. It may be that I should simply take a week off, insofar as my work and prayer obligations allow (which is quite a bit if I put my mind to it).

I may just be slightly burnt out, as we all are, from the year. But I think there’s something deeper at work: a resistance, a fear of vulnerability, risk, failure, yet another gigantic push of offering what I dearly want to give and am not at all sure I have it in me to give! Am I even sure what the “gift” IS??

“Anyone who takes seriously a vision has battles to do with opposing forces in the world, but the only battles of any significance are those he fights within his own life. To be in earnest about a vision is to think about strategy–how to take what is out in the distance and bring it into the here and now where it can be perceived by ordinary sight. Whenever a person struggles with that question, his understanding of the cost grows until a far more exactly question confronts him: ‘Am I willing to pay that cost?’ And once again another man is led by the Spirit into the wilderness where there are dangled before him all the satisfactions and rewards that will come to him simply by keeping on with his life as it is. All that belongs to one level of understanding in him makes war on the light which has broken through from a higher level.”
–Elizabeth O’Connor, Search for Silence

And with that, I am going to take a nap!

Blessed Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. I went to morning Mass. All will be well.

4 Replies to “WHAT WE’RE OBLIGATED TO SEE”

  1. I hope that everything that you’re working on, the Irish citizenship, your upcoming book, and your spirits will be accomplished through God The Father. Will be keeping you in my prayers, and look forward to your book. Your weekly column keeps me going in my spiritual life.
    Sincerely, Bill

    1. Thanks, Bill, esp for keeping me in your prayers–I need them!

  2. I love this and encourage you to dig deep for the energy needed (which is in you) so that we can join you for the adventure. I too have been low on energy but attribute this to my diet which has been high on jack in the box.

    1. Ha, yes, Tom, the low energy could be attributable to the bags of 99-cent-store-purchased Wiley Wallaby licorice and boxes of watermelon sours that I’ve been scarfing in an attempt to keep the existential dread at bay–hey, who would begrudge us a little sugar or a Jack in the Box run these days?..thanks for the encouragement. The new writing workshop’s not the same without you. We will soldier on. Sending love and may our paths cross soon!

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