Today At Meetingbrook

Saturday, April 02, 2005

On cushions this afternoon, candles and incense, we sit with death of Pope John Paul II; his silence through our lives.
The face of the soul.

Some say a new reality emerges. It's called diaphaneity.

It means to show through, to be transparent. Like transparencies used on overhead projectors for lecture presentations, one transparency is laid over another and over others so that each one shows through with their particular imprint to reveal a whole for all to see.

Seeing the evolution of events,
Keep to the source.
Fixing the attention internally,
Understand calamity and fortune
In the context of unity.
Sit unconscious of doing anything,
Walk unconscious of going anywhere.

- Lao tzu

The source is light. The activity is attention.

What concerns us about death? There is, of course, the sense we are losing something, the familiar is disappearing, and we are uncertain -- we plain don't know -- what, if anything, follows. Even for those with faith, life after death is a dimensional leap of consciousness more easily speculated about than part and parcel of confident experiential facticity. There's just not much verifiable data. But then what's faith for if certainty presides?

You have been taught and you are firmly convinced that what looks and tastes like bread and wine is not bread and wine but the body and the blood of Christ. You know also how David referred to this long ago when he sang: Bread gives strength to man’s heart and makes his face shine with the oil of gladness. Strengthen your heart, then, by receiving this bread as spiritual bread, and bring joy to the face of your soul.
(From the Jerusalem Catecheses, Office of Readings, Easter Saturday)

This Easter Saturday a foggy chill rain in Maine. Even here, in the very sentence written, you can have the name of a feast (Easter) a day of the week (Saturday), an atmospheric condition (fog), a watery transfer from sky to ground (rain), and a geographical locale (Maine) where, signs proclaim, it is "The way life should be." Each of these distinct bits of information, description, or wishful thinking are in themselves distinct yet interconnected in portraying a picture of reality no one of them alone could convey.

THE INNOCENCE

Looking to the sea, it is a line
of unbroken mountains.

It is the sky.
It is the ground. There
we live, on it.

It is a mist
now tangent to another
quiet. Here the leaves
come, there
is the rock in evidence

or evidence.
What I come to do
is partial, partially kept.

(poem by Robert Creeley)

Bread is bread as wine is wine. Body is body as blood is blood. Jesus is Jesus as Christ is Christ. The seeing-through of each is and as brings diaphaneity and transparency revealing a picture no one could, isolated, convey.

The underlying reality of this existence might just be the conveyance of what-is-called Father, through the Spirit-field of Itself, revealing what-is-called Christ in-is-as each one of us, in-is-as each and every sentient being, elemental matter, and nascent aspect of becoming.

For the time/being/becoming within which we experience in/is/as let us wander through this curious new word as we wander to this Easter new reality.

This new reality dissolves the too much anger that hides, enclosed and incommunicado, behind walls of not-supposed-to-feel-what-you-feel. As this new reality the diaphanous feels its way through to the open. For too long stifled feeling has suffered stiff compacting critical time-bomb status with igniting fuse naked to both self or other spark.

6
All you say you want
to do to yourself you do
to someone else as yourself

and we sit between you
waiting for whatever will
be at last the real end of you.

(final stanzas from poem, ANGER, by Robert Creeley)

It is not certain that death is the real end of us. The "real end of you" might be what yearns to be revealed through such seasons as Easter.

In is as: What is within is transformed as revealing diaphaneity. Source is presence; Itself is field of conveyance; Light is evidence.

"Inisas" becomes a new meditation within a new reality. One could say it has always been this very reality in which we dwell, only absent our awareness. Throughout human history a rare few have seen and been enlightened with this conveyance of light; these have tried to teach and embody what they have received to pass on.

It is what we long to see. It is the joy that does not disperse.

For all who this day approach final breath in this dimension -- we pray -- as we do every day, for your conveyance to your source.

It is the face of your soul.

The context of unity.

Inisas.

Friday, April 01, 2005

The Pope is making inquiry. We pray for him as he dies.

From the old temple
On Cold Mountain
A soft breeze carries
The sound of a far bell.
The tolling subsides
In the stirring of moonlit trees;
Dies in the frost-streaked sky.
In this long night
Of Zen meditation,
When the clear bell sounded
It was my mind.

- Chiao- jan (730-799)

This Easter Friday in Rome and churches everywhere bells wait in silence for tomorrow morning's toll. The bells will toll for John Paul. His given name will be called three times -- Karol? Karol? Karol? When the Pope dies, the Cardinal Camerlengo must verify the death, traditionally by calling the Pope three times by his name without response.

Here in Maine, draped over a roadside sign down from a church on Route 17 in Rockland is the word "Rejoice." Showing from under the yellow banner is line on original sign that says "For additional information inquire within."

Within, tonight, Pontiff inquires who might be calling, and why he makes no response.

We're told to "Rejoice" at birth and death.

Bell sounds through silence in mind.

Yes! Yes! Yes!

Resonant silence.

Viva il Papa!

Thursday, March 31, 2005

As it is, just the way it is, the fact of it.

Theresa Marie Schiavo dies. Pope John Paul will soon die.
Poet Robert Creeley, who wrote:
One thing
done, the
rest follows.

-- also died far away from New England in a re-write named Texas.

It is a tricky question, a kind of Zen Koan, to ask someone what they really want, what they are willing to ask for.

and the old couple,
shaken with understanding,
bowed down--
but still they asked for nothing

but the difficult life
which they had already.
And the gods smiled, as they vanished,
clapping their great wings.

(From poem "Mockingbirds," by Mary Oliver)

Then I'll die. You will too. And the people we pass on the street.

It is Easter Thursday. It is a good day to die. As is tomorrow. As will be the day following.

That's just the way it is.

The fact of it.

Now, then...

About Easter--

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

One Rising! We think Easter is about the Risen One. And it is. But the Rising One? Are we almost ready?

Such was the prayer Christ made to the Father while he was still on earth: Father, I desire that where I am they also may be, those who have come to believe in me; and that as you are in me and I in you, so they may abide in us.
(From an Easter homily by an ancient author, Office of Readings, Easter Wednesday)

Almost.

First we have to drop all the reasons why the Christic Reality is beyond ordinary people. There's a solipsism in limiting access to some privileged few who know secret password and special handshake. Jesus thought his teaching had deflated such elite puffery. He'd prefer we'd just try to walk into and through his words to the silent beauty of the Rising One.

The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting.
It has been found difficult; and left untried.

(from chapter V, The Unfinished Temple, PART ONE: THE HOMELESSNESS OF MAN, in WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE WORLD, by G.K. Chesterton,
1910)

"Don't go there," is the warning of those who would never think of going there. Christ is there.

My hut's on Redcloud Summit
Few visitors brave the cliffs
I haul wood to market and slip where there's moss
Drip with sweat lugging rice back up
With no end to hunger less is better
And limited time why be greedy
I don't want to spoil your fun
Only help you let go.

- Stonehouse

It is Easter Wednesday. There is no battle nor any crusade necessary for us to don armour. That's the illusion introduced to deflect us from the Way. Rather, dona amor, give love! Give what you are until there is nothing left.

What happens when there is nothing left?

Is it difficult? Or easy? Try it.

Don't make difficult, and don't make easy.

Try it.

Easter the silent beauty of the Rising One.
Note: Busy at other work. The Bookshop/Bakery will reopen Easter Saturday, 2 April. Conversations will resume then.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Easter Tuesday. Raw rain slows as snow melts from hillside beyond kitchen window.

Solitude takes hostages this side of window. Mu-ge rolls on rug by refrigerator, scratches at papers by door complaining that now he’s eaten he’ll return to the barn, thank you! Sando stretches on daybed under window. Cesco keeps counsel quietly in winter zendo under Paschal Candle beside white-draped bronze tree-cross.

Hostage isn't the right word. We're not kept here against our will. Maybe sanctuary or consecration are better words. Then: Solitude takes sanctuary; Solitude takes consecration. Nevertheless, everywhere, Swat-Teams surround solitude attempting to break through antechamber in order to extricate from sanctuary or consecration someone considered to be wrongly ensconced.

Finding one's true place is fraught with diversion.

"God has to work pretty hard sometimes before we recognize what he's trying to do and begin to cooperate. First he has to get through to us so we listen to him. Second, he's got to help us turn off everything our society will say in opposition."
In his experience as vocation director and as abbot, Mac had frequently witnessed this struggle when a monk-to-be first became aware of his vocation. The "call" itself was often as vague and difficult to describe as it was compelling. (In fact, Mac believed the vague calls were the strongest vocations, the ones likeliest to survive.)

(p. 27,Voices of Silence, Lives of Trappists Today, by Frank Bianco, c.1991)

The more time we spend at Maine State Prison the more the metaphor of monasticism arises. Last week a former inmate stopped by shop and spoke about his time inside. I asked about the metaphor. Without hesitation he affirmed he felt like a monk -- writing, thinking, time in segregation, even praying (if latitude is given to 'prayer'). We agree we'd both choose not being an inmate in prison. He's still writing about his time. We're still visiting those doing time.

Are new forms of monasticism extending beyond cloister? Sure they are. But, like the demons of desert father Antony and the distractions haunting modern souls, we are besieged by forces intent to drag us off into noise and social pressure -- into the dispersion and diversion the so-called 'world' incites. That world has the capacity to aim at commonweal, should the effort be so directed. It is, it seems, a direction not easily traveled.

The world needs monastic presence. It is an idiorhythmic presence. It can take root and flower anywhere. This presence offers silence, prayer, interior insight, meditation, contemplation, empathic understanding, and simple hospitality. Monastic presence and contemplative life do not battle the world; they disappear into the world and invite the source of life to flow through them into that world.

The work of God the Father and our cooperation with it take place in the "now" of the present, as well as in the "not yet" of openness to the future. The Father is already at work, which explains the urgent importance of the present moment. However, his action has not yet displayed all its power, since this will only be shown when the Risen One breaks into human history and establishes his full kingdom once and for all. The utopia of Christian and monastic life is situated between these two moments. It opens out toward the future promise from the realism of the here and now.

I conclude by recalling for you the words of Pope John Paul, when he described the Church's program for the new millennium: our Christian communities must become genuine "schools" of prayer, where the meeting with Christ is expressed not just in imploring help but also in thanksgiving, praise, adoration, contemplation, listening and ardent devotion, until the heart truly "falls in love."... Christians who have received the gift of a vocation to the specially consecrated life are of course called to prayer in a particular way: of its nature, their consecration makes them more open to the experience of contemplation, and it is important that they should cultivate it with special care. (Novo Millennio Ineunte 33-34).

The Our Father, when it is prayed in spirit and in truth, is a seal of the person's Christian identity. It is the meeting place of prayer and action, the source of evangelization, the antechamber of what we hope for, the threshold leading into mysticism. This prayer of the Lord lets us taste the joy of witnessing to the Good News of the Kingdom and escorts us into the mysteries of the King.

With deepest fraternal affection in Mary of St. Joseph, Bernardo Olivera, Abbot General O.C.S.O.
, January 26, 2005, CIRCULAR LETTER 2005, Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance {Trappists)

The Trappists hold dear the space for the rest of us to glance at and visit. Hermits provide the same inspiration, only less visibly. Both practice living with a broad community of beings spanning depths of nature, and depths of prayer -- whether cataphatic or apophatic. Their way is to live, simply, contemplative life.

Meetingbrook is grateful for all contemplatives. We ask for the grace to participate, alone or with others, in contemplative dwelling. We ask, in our wording, to be dwelling place for contemplative practice, conversation of presence, and correspondence between variety of paths seeking wholeness of life. Whether this grace is to be carried out alone or with others remains in prayer.

The Our Father asks for daily bread. We ask for open hearts and minds to respond to this grace. If resurrection, sanctuary, and consecration were to be gifted and welcomed, then let courage also attend.

Perhaps the reason resurrection is such a pivotal mystery is that the only way it is recognized is by fruits of healing, "thanksgiving, praise, adoration, contemplation, listening and ardent devotion, until the heart truly 'falls in love'...." We like these words. We note an additional caveat: these fruits cannot be owned or manipulated -- they are only tasted when authentic humility and mere presence gift them.

Is this the singular assertion of Christ moving through the event we've come to call Resurrection? Is this what the ineffable mystery is -- an unnameable Wholeness of life...Being here...As we are...Now?

No wonder embodiment of God, at root the Christian Incarnation, has been forgotten; along with the Christing of human beings, the revelation of Resurrection. If we were to emerge the Risen One -- in our midst -- both birth and death would drop off, fall away, and we would "fall in love."

It is Easter Tuesday. There's fire in wood stove. Some coffee left in pot. On hillside, wind shimmies remaining oak leaves hanging, resolutely, to their source of life, all the way through this hard, long, winter.

Like dreams and death -- some go early, some go hard, and some continue on beyond expectation.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Ask a hermit for directions to uncertainty, and the answer they give is "Pull up a chair."

Ask a mirror to verify your presence and what you get is reflective silence.

"This is what you must say, 'His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep'."
(from Matthew 28)

A cold rain falls in Mid-Coast Maine.

Resurrection, rain, and mirror embody a shared reality -- about which nothing in particular is said.

If anyone is looking for the body of a man believed to have been killed two thousand years ago there's no indication where they are looking. There's six days until the Final Four college basketball teams meet in St. Louis. Fewer days until Terri Schiavo breathes her last in Florida. And in Italy the Pope's days linger uncertainly in front of him. When a hermit passes a mirror he looks into it to see if anything's still there.

Back then, after Jesus' death, the phrase "habeas corpus" ("you have a body") was hard to come by. It took decades for the official investigation to issue reports. These reports did not close the question. Ask any mirror. Your question will yield silence. Does the mirror "have" your body?

Mirrors only have and hold as long as what they are given keeps giving. Otherwise, mirror goes blank, content to mindlessly return what is mindlessly there as background surrounding. Jesus had an odd relationship with mirrors. His mirrors were the children, men and women who came before him, those before whom he showed.

Rain, too, has a mute relationship with the earth. It falls, saturates, sinks to unseen levels, finds its way to "mer" "mare" "maria" -- by any other name, sea.
Mary births; Mary attends; Mary hears name called.

What of resurrection? The same nascence, silence, watchfulness, and listening? Of course.

For Christ's sake, say you were asleep if you saw nothing, heard nothing, felt nothing, or gave nothing to reflection. Take a bribe. Skew the report. Spin the data. Close tight ranks around whatever power you claim is yours. Ice-out opposition.

It is Easter Monday. If you are unwilling to let mirror, rain, or resurrection seep into your being -- then, make up a story and go on with it.

But if you have any passing familiarity with a hermit, take a cue from what hermits do.

Don't walk past a mirror and look in -- rather, step into the mirror and disappear.

Don't look at the rain and wish for sunshine -- instead, lose yourself in the sound saturating your being.

And don't wonder about the metaphysics and theology of resurrection -- alternately, turn every which way and see what you see.

In contradistinction to Maine scuttlebutt which says, "You can't get there from here," -- you might hear a hermit say, "There's nowhere to go."

A local man charges one hundred twenty dollars an hour to consult with him about matters he knows some about. A local woman is beginning her run down this road announcing she has an introductory offer of sixty dollars for ninety minutes of conversation. You gotta admire their ingenuity. Soon folks will be charging by the word.

I'm glad to dwell at the cross-section of solitude and silence.

Hear here -- it rains.

Small mirror atop bookshelf sits empty -- eye-wash and eye-drops stand in lower right.

Word that found itself resurrected through deep and diaphanous night turns and turns by threes and sees what is there to see.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Footprints in snow by Ducktrap River. Once Saskia had a dream about the rock in river by monastic learning center. Today three dogs wandered length of late afternoon learning flow.

Some ask whether Jesus rose from the dead. I have no idea. I'm told that's what faith is -- continuing to look through uncertainty while holding at bay judgment and conclusion. Ice melts as river passes through.

"A work is never completed except by some accident such as weariness, satisfaction, the need to deliver, or death: for, in relation to who or what is making it, it can only be one stage in a series of inner transformations."
-- Paul Valéry (1871-1945), French poet, essayist. "Recollection," Collected Works, vol. 1 (1972).

Today, wandering inconclusively through dream of transformation; Christ!

A very silent, very still, resurrecting breath dreams through this Easter mind.
God our Father, creator of all,
today is the day of Easter joy.
This is the morning on which the Lord appeared to men and women
who had begun to lose hope
and opened their eyes to what the scriptures foretold:
that first he must die, and then he would rise
and ascend into his Father's glorious presence.
May the risen Lord
breathe on our minds and open our eyes
that we may know him in the breaking of bread,
and follow him in his risen life.
Grant this through Christ our Lord.

(Alternative Prayer, Office of Readings, Easter Sunday)