I brought up the Gospel reading where the waves were threatening to overwhelm the boat the disciples were in, and Jesus’s response was to curl up and take a nap.
In the silence and solitude, stripped of their previous lives, many of the men underwent a kind of disintegration of personality. The realization that they weren’t who they thought they were could be profoundly unsettling.
Back in my room, I gazed out at the stars. The older I get, the more keenly aware I am that our time on earth is finite. I’d stayed once before at New Camaldoli, many years before: would I pass this way again?
We Catholics keep our decorations up till Epiphany (January 9th this year), I’ve learned (or depending on whom you consult, is it The Baptism, which this year falls the day after Epiphany (Jan. 10th), or is it January 5th which, counting December 25th, is the twelfth day of Christmas, or is it January 6, which is the day the three wise men are supposed to have arrived in Bethlehem)?
In short, just leave them up for now.
Then I settled down to one of my favorite kind of afternoons: I started reading “Heavy Light: A Journey through Madness, Mania & Healing” by Horatio Clare. H, as his friends (and now, I) call him, wrote a stellar memoir about growing up on a Wales sheep farm called “Running for the Hills”, and has written a bunch of travel and landscape type books since. He’s also possibly an alcoholic, and possibly bipolar, and suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder, and really, really should not smoke pot.
“Real isn’t how you are made,’ ” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
I wasn’t hallucinating but it was kind of like when I used to drop acid back in high school–an altered state except not dark, not delusional. If only I could see through those eyes and feel that way all the time!
God doesn’t will us to suffer anxiety but, given the human condition and the order of creation, we are bound to. Knowing that we are in solidarity with all the anxiety of the world doesn’t calm our nervous systems but it does allow us to offer our suffering to relieve someone else’s.
Like Jesus nailed to the Cross, Dennis couldn’t get away from the many people who besieged him: wanted to seek his counsel, longed for a kind word, just wanted to touch his hand because he was a champion who ran his course and everyone who ever met him could see it, and bowed before it.
The trap sat there untouched for days. This morning I went out and found that The Squirrel had managed to REMOVE THE TOWEL, thrust it aside like a messy teenager, probably nab a candy bar or two, and leave the door wide open.
Instead of spouting identity-politics ideology, “New Statesman” columnist Louise Perry turns to evolution, biology, and psychology and asks: What is best for the well-being of women? What do women really need?