The holiness of the ordinary in the present darkness.
The way I have been seeing our current difficulties is the triumph the current misbegotten anthropology. We don't know who we are and therefore how we should live. I have scattered myself in so many directions. I am still doing that. It is easy to get lost. Hence, the meaning crisis.
I mentioned Nous in a previous comment. As it happens a book arrived for me to today entitled, you guessed it, The Nous: Themes from the Philokalia. Here's the definition of Nous given:
Nous (Gk: Νους) "The highest faculty in man, through which--provided it is purified--he knows God or the inner essences of principles...of created things by means of direct apprehension or spiritual perception. 'The Nous' does not function by formulating abstract concepts and then arguing on this basis to a conclusion reached through deductive reasoning, but it understands divine truth by means of immediate experience, intuition, or 'simple cognition' (the term used by St. Isaac the Syrian). -The Philokalia Vol 1 p.362.
To take this definition of the Nous as true is to see it as a rejection of our current technocratic conception of being human and the purpose--or lack thereof--of human existence. It is to engage in, with Marcel and others, an "obstinate and untiring battle against the spirit of abstraction".
Or it is, rather, to get at the root of our disease. All else is to cover up or to exacerbate our symptoms, nothing more.
Chanting the Office... Must be quite an experience!
I had two strange and discombobulating experiences this weekend in the realm of silence. The first during a very windy afternoon where I watched, in silence, dozens of bees going about their lives around a row of Holly trees for about an hour. Riding the wind, fighting back to reach the nectar. I was blessed in that moment to just sit and see another part of creation live creation.
The second was the opposite. I drove through my old cities downtown and witnessed thousands if not tens of thousands of people shoulder to shoulder corralled between brick building and metal guardrail in the midday heat. Drunkenly waddling from bar to bar. Many looking exhausted and confused. Inaudible music competing against their neighbors inaudible music, while buses full of drunk patrons screamed and danced inside rooftop bubbles. The things we trick our selves into doing for connection. But I’ll never forget the noise. It was the noise of exhaustion. Of hoping to find a connection with no directions on how to find it. Just numbness. Just noise.
Paul Kingsnorth’s latest essay made me think of that initially but your essay brought it home. The idea of understanding someone’s grief. A cultures grief.
Loving and caring for your patch of tangled ground.
Thank you for sharing this deeply personal journey here. I am struck by many things you have shared, but mostly this Benedictine saying “the holiness of the ordinary”. I believe in that. I am challenged by it to do better tomorrow. Prayers for you to have clarity as you chart your course. I love how you describe the enneagram 5... trying to meet abstractions with more abstractions. I see myself struggle with living in the head and I have to be intentional about getting the feet and hands moving, too. It is both our gift and our downfall. We have to live the tension.
Thanks for your reflections. Not all abstractions are bad, except perhaps if we are Zen monks, in which case even words are problematic. A certain balance is needed in life between the abstract and the particular; mostly in the direction of particularity, unless we are philosophers, depressed, or dictionary writers. What is my balance between abstraction and particularity? What is yours? And that cannot be resolved abstractly. I am drawn to the view that we are living in the unfolding of a Narrative—a specific story with both earthly and spiritual dimensions—and the only way to find the balance is to open oneself to the Author of the Narrative, and the nudging of the pen. So most of it is walking by darkness, trusting the light is there…which you have captured beautifully.
Separate from a monastic life…have you thought about writing a novel? Or short stories?
"One thing is clear to me I have entered into a new season in my life. It is a time of letting go."
Me too, and I am almost 79 and I often find this process of letting go as particularly irritating!
Really looking forward to your future reflections.