Thursday, 27 May 2021

730 things — Day 77

 There's someone I follow on Facebook who posts the most beautiful and inspiring thoughts.

Yesterday she posted something I've been turning over in my mind ever since. It was this.

It's an attractive idea, and I recognise it as being at the heart of teaching from wise people I admire. I have learned so much from monastics, and obedience — surrender — is an essential component of the monastic way; the serenity inherent to the discipline of surrendering your will. I've also seen it in the Hutterite community with whom I spent a lot of time as a young woman.

I think there must be a definite jewel of wisdom in it, that so many wise and mature people on a spiritual path identify it as nourishing for the soul, and yet somehow, personally I cannot accept it.

My own feeling is that we are here to shine a light, to make a contribution, to put our shoulder to the wheel and help lift the weight, to add to the sum of human wisdom. We are not sent here just to do as we are told. Part of what develops and grows our humanity is effort and struggle, not merely surrender. Life, to me, seems so challenging and difficult that I need all my wits about me to create the best strategies and discover the best insights of which I am capable operating at full stretch. The world needs my intellect, my insight — that's why I'm here.

If you look at the life and writing of Thomas Merton, you see all too plainly the conflict that arises in a great soul with a bright light attempting to surrender to the wisdom of another. Merton was not perfect; he seems somewhat impetuous to me, he certainly had his blind spots and made some mistakes; but he was born to soar — he was an eagle made for the heights, not a chicken in a flock.  What a loss to the world if he'd merely surrendered into serenity and let the warm soup close over his head.

Perhaps I'm misunderstanding what's intended by the quotation, but that's my response to it anyway. I'm not sorry I didn't take the monastic way, though I love and admire it, respect it deeply, find it beautiful. Of all its challenges, the one that would have kept me out of it is the discipline of setting aside my own judgement and evaluation of what is right, in favour of somebody else's.

Today's items to go —

— a handbag mirror. I got rid of my big(ger) dressing table mirror in favour of using this one, then realised that since I use it to apply make-up and my blusher compact has its own integral mirror, I didn't need this one. So it went to the charity shop.

And a really rubbish cable I got off Amazon that never worked properly and was half as long as advertised. In the end I cut my losses and sent it to the small electrical goods recycling at the dump.


Unknown said...

Have you read Finding Happiness by Abbot Christopher Jamison?
I found the insights there about submission to a/the higher will thought provoking. Can't sum it up simply. Maybe I need to read it again?

Pen Wilcock said...

Hiya. I remember him from that brilliant TV documentary series about men exploring life in a monastery, but no, I haven't read his book. Thanks for the recommendation. x

Nearly Martha said...

Having taken my foot off the pedal for quite a long time now, I can certainly agree that the Christian world did not grind to a halt without me. It was certainly time to take a step back. However, I find now that more than anything, I want to be useful. I want to fill a hole that I think maybe it is my job to fill. Finding what it is however, may be a completely different challenge

Pen Wilcock said...

We ebb and flow, don't we? There are seasons. I guess that's what it is to be alive. Something I'm trying (without significant success) to learn at the moment is the art of allowing the next thing to emerge, without forcing it or hustling it along. I like to be prepped, have things lined up. Bernard used to say, "Don't push the river," and I think that's a wise observation.