August 27, 2009

Various & Sundry: the Last Refuge of Those Who Can't Think of a Post Title

Watched ex-Lt. Colonel Ralph Peters on C-Span's In Depth display his marvelous library - tall, broad shelves of medium-colored oak, all with the old beauty-spines of yesteryear. He loves the smell of books. The holding of them (and other things, he confesses, as all men's minds go to the female form). He goes on to praise all earthly things like wine, nature, etc...

He held an ornate book of the gospels and read a bit from the King James, which he says has the most beautiful language. He seems an epicurean with respect to religious texts & beyond, unabashed in his delight in the sensual, saying he could give it all up but since he doesn't have to he may as well enjoy it. Indeed. He seems a very happy individual. I report, you decide.

Spent a wondrous evening out on the back porch as dusk turned to dark and we turned on our solar-powered grill lights (i.e. reading lights) as I read Acedia & Me and my wife read There Is Eternal Life for Animals. Then Bill O'Reilly before bed. He's our Johnny Carson.

One of the "interesting" lessons of late has been to keep a daily journal and to write down any fragrancies from God, so as not to take the latter for granted and for the improved mood corresponding to the former. Turns out I wasn't keeping a journal too frequently (i.e. once a week) but not frequently enough. A writer has to write. There's a reason Amy Welborn dominated dozens of notebooks after Michael died. I had begun devaluing the journal because it was becoming a complaint session rather than a session in wonder, but it turns out a complaint session is better than nothing.

From recent ameliorative Daily Office readings:
"He chose to become one of us, and brother in all things."
Which is an interesting analogy. Cain and Abel were brothers, as were Isaac and Ishmael. And the late Bob Novak described his relationship with Roland Evans - often rancorous and involving fights - as being "more like brothers than friends". We may fight with our brother but we love him. We may struggle with Christ, as did Jacob with the angel, but we love Him, or should.

Of course Christ is to us not only brother but friend, mother, father. In Psalm 35, the psalmist seemingly puts words into the mouth of Christ about us:
"When they were sick, I went into mourning, afflicted with fasting. My prayer was ever on my lips, as for a brother, a friend. I went as though mourning a mother, bowed with grief."
Emmanuel: God with us:
"For the Lord has chosen Zion,
he has desired it for his dwelling,
'This is my resting place for ever,
here have I chosen to live.'"

It feels funny that ten years ago I was able to put in the back patio and go to St. Louis over a single vacation week, while this year it's enough just to exercise and read. In fact, vacations are becoming mostly exercise and reading, the exercise setting up the reading.

Well I did assign myself a task: de-weeding the garden. It was not a "must-do" because our harvest of tomatoes is simply astonishing. I feel like we could supply a farmer's market. But other parts of the garden, i.e. the onion & peppers are all way past due. In the swelter-sun I atavistically culled the earth and witnessed, with my own eyes, it transformed where once mainly tall weeds swung in the air. With only a shovel the dark soil was turned over in patches here and there until my shirt became soaked in honest sweat.

Then went to the local park and changed the dynamic of the usual routine by going off-trail and walking along the shore-line - up and down, up & down - in the late sun while looking into the translucent waters which made me long for my wife's dream of a Hawaiian trip after all, the endless plane ride & expense notwithstanding. (Hawaii is one destination I've never had any desire to visit; a beach is a beach is a beach.) Also thinking a very small 2-night trip to NYC solo. Visit Fr. George Rutler's parish and the art museums. And walk about the city bigtime. Central Park jog. All the things I didn't see last time. Old churches. Heck, just to be in that same hotel room as last year and look at the window - I could do that for hours with the aid of a beer or two.

Splurged for a massage today since I'm on vacation and feel the entitlement mentality. I decided not to drop trough completely. The massuese avoided my upper thighs so it was relaxing and not erotic. TMI I know.

Meanwhile, Betty Duffy says the only thing worth saying, which is why all is quiet on this blog lately since I have nothing worthy of comparison (below the emphasis is mine if you're scoring at home):
If we have unrealistic expectations of others, our spouse, our kids, we probably have unrealistic expectations of prayer. If we are nitpicky fault-finders, we think that is how God will be with us. Who wants to go to prayer to be nitpicked? If we appreciate others and enjoy their presence, their good and bad, we will know that prayer is not always a perfect scenario, but is good and necessary.

Somewhere along the way I thankfully learned that prayer does not win me anything in a spiritual competition with my husband...“In talking about religious life, men can focus more on the priesthood rather than their consecration, but women can sometimes focus more on the practices of the religious life rather than the consecration to God. Consecration is what matters—assiduous union with God in prayer.”

All the events of the past few weeks point to this idea of consecration in my married life—making my prayer a reciprocation of the love I first received from God, and making sacred all the irritable little aspects of my day.


Betty Duffy said...

"I had begun devaluing the journal because it was becoming a complaint session rather than a session in wonder, but it turns out a complaint session is better than nothing."

Come on--that was definitely worth saying.

TS said...

Not compared to your assiduous prayer line although truth be told I often feel similarly to Dylan, who writes: "I'd rather read [Kathleen] Norris praise the virtues of praying the psalms than actually pray the psalms myself."

dylan said...

I do value the psalms, of course, but sometimes I'd rather avoid them altogether than read them in a bad or un-mellifluous translation (e.g., the Grail)!

mrsdarwin said...

Dylan knows of what I speak!

I need a vacation, so I think you should go to New York or Hawaii or somewhere and write about it.

TS said...

Indeed Dylan - no aspersions were cast in the making of this post. :-)

Mrs D - as I told my wife "we are very spoiled" but at least I can amend that with "but we have to go somewhere nice for Mrs. Darwin".