I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of making our goal not how good we are, but how awake we are. How faithful we are to whatever we were put here on earth to do.

So what excites me? What (besides the prospect of coffee) gets me jumping out of bed in the morning?

A new (to me) artist: Richard Diebenkorn. Séraphine de Senlis. Bill Evans.

Goldfinches at my nyjer seed feeder. (I’d had the thing up for weeks and yesterday morning literally prayed in the name of Jesus for the goldfinches to come. By yesterday afternoon they were flocking to it).

How to use the radishes–which I don’t like–that came in the farmbox.

What little I see or hear of evangelizaton is geared toward people who are terrified of being made fun of or belittled. So they want to fortify themselves with intellectual arguments and defenses. They want to be able to point to the Church’s treasury of art, music, cathedrals–which, granted, is stupendous, but far in and of itself from the poverty of spirit that brings us face-to-face with Christ. They want to be well-versed in the biographies and thought of the Church’s “movers and shakers.”

They want a faith based on personal excellence. They want to coninue worshiping power, property, and prestige and to somehow graft that onto…the Cross? That’s a graft that does not and is not ever going to “take,” mainly because the people whose faith was based on personal excellence hounded, persecuted, and finally tortured Christ to death. His entire life, death, resurrection, and apostolate was about personal surrender, abandonment.

The Pharisees’ goal was to be “good,” correct. excellent. Christ’s goal was to come awake, in love.

Ironically, in coming awake we do become “excellent”–interesting, useful, alive–but in a way that’s mostly invisible to the eyes of the world. So it’s all very paradoxical and compelling.

On that note, I have embarked upon a very drastic, very extreme plan.

I have pledged to spend the better part of 3 days, over New Year’s, with 6-8 dear friends. In a cabin. In the woods.

I figure the worst that can happen–this is in fact very likely–is that I will have a nervous breakdown.

The best that can happen–Oh it will be a blast! I can’t wait. The fact is I can’t believe people would be willing to put up with me for that sustained a length of time.

Either way, I’ll get MANY STORIES out of it.

And I’m guaranteed to come way, WAY, more awake.

14 Replies to “COME FLY AWAKE!”

  1. This hit the nail on the head for me at this point in time. I’m such a schmuck when it comes to sharing my faith, because I can’t quote scripture chapter and verse or the doctors of the church, etc., so I usually just keep my mouth shut. I hope you come away from your cabin with lots of graces and enlightenment and stuff like that. I will never be one of the great minds of the church, but I have a pretty good cookie ministry right here at home.

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      I LOVE that! Dostoevsky said The world will be saved by beauty, but the world may well be saved as well by the worldwide Cookie Ministry! Think of all the stories and memories and mishaps we all have around the humble cookie! Excellent evangelizing, Elizabeth…

  2. Have you seen the film about Séraphine de Senlis? It’s very good. A review here:

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      No, I haven’t Marianne, and did not know of it–it’s on Kanopy so will check it out, thank you! I did write of Séraphine for Magnificat several years ago, so that’s how I came to know her, and got to see a couple of her paintings at the LA County Museum of Art a few years ago, too–stunning. I hope she and van Gogh are picnicking together amidst the flowers!

  3. Watching my fine-feathered friends at my feeders (plural) does more for my spiritual life than reading theology. Though the latter has its place….way over there…..far enough from the feeders not to disturbs the birds, or me. 🙂

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Right, Brother Rex: everything in its place! I have three hummingbird feeders (one to which the birds have not yet come and that’s a source of ongoing sorrow/tension/hope), one for the goldfinches, and one tube feeder that I fill with sunflower seed and that attracts house finches, mourning doves, sparrows and a Gila woodpecker. No wonder I never have time to write! I’m guessing you get cardinals, blue jays, chickadees..anyway, greetings from my birds to yours and blessed Advent–

  4. The best way to eat radishes is to put them in your soup. That is what I do with them…delicious of course all depend one your broth base…enjoy

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Oh this is wonderful to know, Monique–I would never have thought to include radishes in soup. I pickled these and am thinking to add them to soba, so one way or another, they’ll get eaten!

  5. Heather- this was so wonderful! I laughed out loud about your possible “nervous breakdown”. So honest and to the point always…Let’s all form the Catholic Cookie Conversion Club- we will bring souls to Jesus via sugar highs. I pray your cabin time is memorable (in a good way).

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Ha, thank you so much Laura! You will hear all about my cabin time (if I survive), I promise. And I am absolutely on boar for the Catholic Cookie Conversion Club!

  6. Paul Stilwell says: Reply

    Love, love, love Richard Diebenkorn.

    Jesus: why do you call me good?

    Dorothy Day: do not call me a saint.

    Christ on the cross is Christ building, working, revealing, redeeming, and everything he did prior to his crucifixion was in the shadow of the cross. What you say here about people seeking to fortify themselves is so true.

    Something that comes to mind is how I used to be puzzled at middle-age/renaissance images of angels at the crucifixion collecting Christ’s blood in cloths and chalices. I always extremely ‘precious’, like, ‘um his blood was supposed to be shed for sinners, then why is it being collected up by these angels, like are they taking it back to heaven or something?’ and then it hit me: angels are messengers, administrators, they are taking his blood and going about applying it where it needs to be applied. Then suddenly the image of Christ’s crucifixion became something akin to a buzzing and busy workshop, Christ the headmaster who became the servant least. And we cannot outdo him in becoming the least. And that should remove any fear or hesitation we have.

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Paul, wonderful! That the little angels with their chalices “are taking his blood and going about applying it where it needs to be applied.” That one way of looking at the Kingdom is as a busy workshop–so apropos for those of us who are artists of one kind or another…which then again, is kind of everybody…

      Re Diebenkorn, I have had a postcard of one of his Albuquerque paintings for years and for some reason never looked at it very closely, nor researched his work. I was just drawn by the blocks of color, the vitality…but the other night I looked him up and was floored. He’s somehow filled with light, love, joy. Not in a Hallmark way but in a fully alive, fully engaged way. I just finished a book by art critic Sebastian Smee called The Art of Rivalry, which I overall enjoyed. But I was appalled at Francis Bacon’s grotesque vision of humanity, and of the insane prices his paintings fetch. So the juxtaposition with Diebenkorn couldn’t have been more stark-anyway, I have tons more to learn–and fortified with my daily drop from the chalice, will thus continue to spring from bed each morning! Thanks so much for your comment.

  7. Sauté the radishes in a pan with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. You will not recognize them.

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Oh thank you. Regina, that would never have occurred to me! How interesting…will try it next time.

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