Saturday, April 10, 2004

Note: Meetingbrook will be closed and on retreat Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. We will re-open Tuesday 13 April. May the reflections invited by this time deepen the resolve for peace, truth, and love in each heart!

What sound?

From an ancient homily for Holy Saturday

Something strange is happening - there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all”. Christ answered him: “And with your spirit”. He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light”.

I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated. For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.

(--from Vigils, or, Office of Readings, Holy Saturday, in Liturgy of the Hours)


In the grave.

Each one of us, "...for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated. "

A single cloud envelops
Ten thousand streamside pines
Before my door,
The flowing water babbles all the time
No matter if it’s day or if it’s night
I snore until the bell across
The ridge ends my blissful dreams.

- Han-shan Te-ch’ing (1546-1623)

Sound of passage.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Note: Meetingbrook will be closed and on retreat Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. We will re-open Tuesday 13 April. May the reflections invited by this time deepen the resolve for peace, truth, and love in each heart!

Good Friday.

Who is startled?

Mu-ge gets long taste of outdoors. Saskia and dogs visit Mom. They are near monastery. I stay at hermitage with Mu-ge, birds, squirrels, and solitude.

13. See, my servant shall prosper, he shall be raised high and greatly exalted.
14. Even as many were amazed at him-- so marred was his look beyond that of man, and his appearance beyond that of mortals--
15. So shall he startle many nations, because of him kings shall stand speechless; For those who have not been told shall see, those who have not heard shall ponder it.

(Isaiah 52 {NAB})

Who is startled remembering the death of Jesus today?

Startling is the vehemence of destruction in Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, and Palestine. Just as startling is absence of authentic anguish at daily deaths caused by greed and mindlessness on the part of individuals or corporations. Drugs, sex, and guns are rife throughout subcultures numbed and dazed by circumstance, without genuine connection to the larger world -- except when individuals are used and discarded when the buy is done, the itch is scratched, or the bullet is fired.

Without the case made for Jesus (by any other name) within the tortures and terrorism of contemporary Golgotha (i.e. mount of execution) -- it is merely his name and story recounted in church and cinema. There is no body, no spirit present if the holy one is not dwelling within each and all. And not just in the terrible -- this holy, strong, and immortal one must also be dwelling within the sweet, the askance, and the delightful.

Otherwise, Jesus dies this good friday and is buried. End of story.

And that just might be that.

Without what must come to be -- without the startling realization -- Jesus is in his tomb, gone to earth, done with his life -- and the stark celebration today is what it has become for many: something done by others, quaint tradition, and let's move on to what really runs the world.

What is the startling realization?

External sky empty of
Substantiality and characteristics;
Internal nature of mind
Empty of substantiality and characteristics.
The way the insubstantial sky
Appears is that it may appear as anything.
The ceaseless insubstantial nature
Of mind may also appear as anything.

- Godrakpa (1170-1249)

As anything.

It is startling to imagine that the Christ -- the reality Jesus died through -- may appear as anything.
If we do not look around at where we live, look into the eyes and hearts of those near us in silence, we might be unwilling to be startled.


Out of the sump rise the marigolds.
From the rim of the marsh, muslin with mosquitoes,
rises the egret, in his cloud-cloth.
Through the soft rain, like mist, and mica,
the withered acres of moss begin again.

When I have to die, I would like to die
on a day of rain--
long rain, slow rain, the kind you think will never end.

And I would like to have whatever little ceremony there might be
take place while the rain is shoveled and shoveled out of the sky,

and anyone who comes must travel, slowly and with thought,
as around the edges of the great swamp.

(Poem: "Marengo," by Mary Oliver, from New and Selected Poems, Beacon Press).

Good Friday is a day to travel through slowly and with thought.

If not Christ, what reality do we die through?

Last season's downed leaf and broken branch are strewn along our sight rising the mountain. Look there.

Look anywhere. The mystery we die through is there to see us though.

Isaiah helps: "For those who have not been told shall see, those who have not heard shall ponder it."

Anywhere now -- it is the gift of the mystery of the day -- to see, to ponder.

Holy is...holy and strong... holy immortal one: see and ponder each and every one of us!

This day.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Note: Meetingbrook will be closed and on retreat Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. We will re-open Tuesday 13 April. May the reflections invited by this time deepen the resolve for peace, truth, and love in each heart!

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Let's begin wisdom.

"Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth." (Pema Chodron)
"Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." (Prov. 1:7)

At Wednesday's Laura Conversation we spoke among the nine of us about practicing moving closer to fear.

What I teach people just
Requires you not to take
On the confusion of others.
Act when necessary,
Without further hesitation or doubt.
When students today do not attain this,
Wherein lies their sickness?
The sickness is in not
Trusting yourself.
If your inner trust is insufficient,
Then you will frantically go along
With changes in situations,
And will be influenced and
Affected by myriad objects,
Unable to be independent.
If you can stop the mentality
Of constant frantic seeking,
Then you are no different
From Zen masters and Buddhas

- Linji (d. 866)

A response to Sylvia's question about 'panic' was that it might mean being 'all over the place' and not, in Pema's words, nailed "right to the point of time and space that we are in."

What we're talking about is getting to know fear, becoming familiar with fear, looking it right in the eye -- not as a way to solve problems, but as a complete undoing of old ways of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and thinking. The truth is that when we really begin to do this, we're going to be continually humbled. There's not going to be much room for the arrogance that holding on to ideals can bring. The arrogance that inevitably does arise is going to be continually shot down by our own courage to step forward a little further. The kinds of discoveries that are made through practice have nothing to do with believing in anything. They have much more to do with having the courage to die, the courage to die continually.pp.2-3 in When Things Fall Apart, Heart Advice for Difficult Times, by Pema Chodron, c.1996)

Passover, Sacred Triduum, and chaotic fighting and killing in Iraq coincide this week. It is a time of departures. In history and in the present we are facing stories of departure with the open uncertainty of return. The rituals of religion and war leave us uncertain and concerned about life and death.

"Nothing is more dangerous to a republic than fanatics unconstrained by democratic politics. Yet in a second term of this administration, that's exactly what we'll have." (--in, from "W.'s Second Term: If You Think the First is Bad..." in April, 2004 issue of the American Prospect, by Robert B. Reich, professor of social and economic policy at Brandeis University).

Politics and public safety vie with ritual and liturgical remembrance in the cradle of civilization and Holy Land -- where three monotheistic views stare warily at human experience.

Fear is not an abstraction. Fear is a practice for our eyes and heart. The mind may know what ideal and ideology it wishes to impose on the external world, but it is the heart that enters with apprehension and uncertainty the intuitive impulse to inner responsive compassion.

Su.Sane said, "Fear is not knowing where we are in the alchemy of transformation."

This wisdom of not knowing, this innocence of quivering anticipation, longs to begin a new life in the world.

Beginning with us. Beginning as we are beginning.

Directly, eye to eye with God, each willing not to run away, willing to die, to live.

Joanie cried. Lola held her hand.

Robert left a chocolate bar.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004


Gazing this morning at roaring stream coming out from under ice where two brooks meet, I am merely the meeting-point of what is looking from both sides of this face.

As someone who dwells in the thin place between Contemplative Catholic and Zen Buddhist ways of looking and listening, I enter this week with open wonder at the open mystery of interconnection, interpenetration, and interdependence involved with human life/divine life.

Spring has come again
The snow has finally stopped
The crescent moon and
Leafless trees look
Thinner than before
At night I push my window open
And gaze into space
Beyond my pillared eaves
Spreads a sky of stars.

- Han-shan Te-ch'ing (1546-1623)

It is full moon in Maine. Passover tonight. Holy Week saunters. Saskia's final road-trip. Chill morning. And on C-Span, words defending and anguishing war.

Rain Travel

I wake in the dark and remember
it is the morning when I must start
by myself on the journey
I lie listening to the black hour
before dawn and you are
still asleep beside me while
around us the trees full of night lean
hushed in their dream that bears
us up asleep and awake then I hear
drops falling one by one into
the sightless leaves and I
do not know when they began but
all at once there is no sound but rain
and the stream below us roaring
away into the rushing darkness

(Poem: "Rain Travel," by W.S. Merwin, from Travels, Knopf, c.1992; on "Writer's Almanac")

Dark start alone on journey -- all of us -- no matter how familiar the scroll, scripture, ritual, or routine. When we encounter the long reflections of religious depths we are on our own -- whether with others, or in solitude.

It is the nature of the profound to meet us alone in places abandoned with no assurances. Still, we allow ourselves to be led into such circumstances of encounter when we proceed with humility to the open place of liturgical mystery.

James Arraj in his God, Zen and the Intuition of Being, writes in "Chapter 8: Zen Catholicism?" the following:

The two religious galaxies of Christianity and Buddhism begin, not to collide, but intersect and occupy the same space. This poses a challenge for Christianity that is comparable to its meeting with Greek thought or with the natural sciences. (1) How Zen might interact with Catholicism is one aspect of this larger encounter, and one we can look at under three different headings: Zen and western Catholics, Zen and oriental Catholics, and Zen Buddhism and Catholicism.


A road has been opened up for a Catholic understanding of Zen by men like Heinrich Dumoulin, H.M. Enomiya LaSalle, William Johnson and Thomas Merton. Where does it lead? Where does it go once we see that Catholics can appreciate and practice Zen? What will happen when Catholics begin to attain enlightenment? It is then that it will be crucial for us to understand as clearly as possible the differences between Zen enlightenment and the ultimate goal of Christian life, and the different inner horizons that distinguish the Catholic from the Zen Buddhist.

For the Catholic, enlightenment is an absolute only in a particular order. It is not an absolute absolutely, which is reserved for union with God through love. But if Catholics begin to advance on the way of enlightenment under the guidance of Zen Buddhists, then it is possible that they will feel a tension between these two different ways of looking at enlightenment. Having gone through the gateless gate, how readily can they come forth and understand this experience, not in the traditional categories of Zen Buddhism, but within the perspectives of faith? How transparent will enlightenment be to divine union? How much will it capture the Catholic by its deep actuality and bedazzle him so he will have great difficulty in reflecting on this experience in a Christian way, especially since Christian reflection on Zen enlightenment has just begun?

The more a Catholic penetrates deeply in Zen the more will he have to ponder these questions, be aware of their potential dangers and strive to overcome them in order that the riches of Zen will flow into Catholic life.


When will the day come when we have a distinctive Indian, Chinese or Japanese Catholicism? Catholicism is no more intrinsically Greek than Japanese. It is the task, immensely difficult and exciting, of oriental Catholics to create a Buddhist Catholicism or Zen Catholicism. This can take place if we can see the inner nature of enlightenment, and see that it not only does not conflict with faith, but is a beautiful creation of men and women who share an identical longing with Christians for the Absolute. Then Catholics could take up this age-old work of people called to grace and illuminate it with the treasures of their own faith while this very faith becomes enriched by a new understanding.


If Catholics can turn to Zen, is it impossible to imagine Zen Buddhists becoming Catholics? This would demand that Catholics carefully articulate their own metaphysical and mystical traditions and show that they are not antithetical to the heart of Zen. But could a call to faith appear in the very midst of enlightenment? And could it not already be doing so in certain cases? John of the Cross describes how when a ray of light enters a dark room, if there is dust in the air the light becomes visible, and if the air is pure the light is not seen. He uses this example as a way of describing the rare contemplative state in which the light of contemplative union strikes an exceptionally purified spirit and plunges it into forgetfulness. (2) What of the inner mind and heart of those men and women who have forsaken all things and attained to this night luminous with existence? What hidden longings remain in the midst of enlightenment calling out to some unimaginable depth? And if contemplative union would begin to dawn, how could it be spoken of or known in the ordinary sense of the term? And if such a person could sense this calling, and in some cases its fruition, and then see that the Gospel was nothing else but the explicitation of this inner mystery, would becoming a Catholic be a betrayal of Zen or its crown? None of this implies that right now the Zen Buddhist is any less close to God than Catholics, for God calls all people to Himself and is the judge of how they respond. But if God has revealed Himself and calls out in the very midst of enlightenment, then imagine the Zen-Catholicism that would be born if this call were heard.

(in Christianity in the Crucible of East-West Dialogue / God, Zen and the Intuition of Being
by James Arraj.) (

The kitchen is quiet but for refrigerator motor and crackle inside woodstove. Sando sleeps on daybed. Mu-ge grooms in wicker basket. Cesco lies in middle room between Janet's round table and cold fireplace. It is time to ready departure for harbor.

So much of this week is about readying departure.

What hidden longings remain in the midst of enlightenment calling out to some unimaginable depth?

Are we nearly ready to hear that call?

And let go.


Monday, April 05, 2004

It is a week many think about salvation.

Is it Christ who saves us? Or are we saved within ourselves? Are these two sentences two separate possibilities? I think not.

Names of the unified mind are
True suchness, the hidden essence,
The pure spiritual body,
The pedestal of awareness,
The innocent, universal
Round mirror-like knowledge,
The open source, the ultimate truth,
And pure consciousness.
The enlightened ones of the
Past, present, and future,
And all of their discourses,
Are all in your fundamental nature,
Inherently complete.
You do not need to seek,
But you must save yourself;
No one can do it for you.

- Xuefeng (822 - 908)

After all the cases have been made for what happened those few days two thousand years ago -- who beat the man, who judged him, who spoke what words, who was at his feet the final minutes, who buried him, who went to the tomb, who saw what, who felt what, who recognized whom in the breaking of the bread? -- we still have to live in the present moment as it is.

Thus I will bless you throughout my life,
and raise my hands in prayer to your name;
my soul will be filled as if by rich food,
and my mouth will sing your praises and rejoice.
I will remember you as I lie in bed,
I will think of you in the morning,
for you have been my helper,
and I will take joy in the protection of your wings.

My soul clings to you...

(from Psalm 62 (63))

Scholars have their reasoned theories that form into credible narratives. No matter what Paul and others believed about the quick return of the messiah and the ending of the world -- the world is still here, and the messiah is either an idea whose time has not yet come or the messiah is a totally different presence as yet undetected.

There is a brush painting of the 6th Patriarch tearing up sutras. He appears determined to eradicate those troublesome accounts. He is a madman performing his transmission to us outside of scripture.

Just after sitting down, a woman at breakfast many years ago at the Corner Shop asked me if I'd accepted Jesus as my personal savior. It wasn't the conversation I thought we'd have. I looked at her, pausing. I was wondering what kind of eggs to order. I was wondering why that question had never meant much to me. I had eggs over easy. With rye toast.

I don't think much about salvation. Not from anyone else. Not from anywhere.

Those troublesome scriptures.

Outside them...within safe are we face to face with what is right here right now?

There's another famous transmission koan that deals with the 6th Patriarch. He showed up at the 5th Patriarch's (Obai), monastery, and everybody ignored him. He's just this kid and he couldn't read. Even so, Obai recognized him right away, but he stuck him pounding rice. Then one day, Obai decided to hold a poetry contest to decide who would be his successor. Everyone thought the head monk, Jinshu, who was very intelligent and an excellent scholar, would win easily. Jinshu's poem said:

"The body is the Linden tree,
the mind is a clear mirror stand.
Wipe it clean;
Never let dust adhere to it."

It's really a description of zazen. We sit and focus on our breath. Thoughts, ideas, and concepts come up and we let them go, wiping it clean. The there's just calm water — this clear mirror that reflects everything. It's not a bad poem, but the 6th Patriarch looked at it and decided to compose his own poem, which someone else had to write out for him:

"The Linden intrinsically has no trunk,
Also, the clear mirror is not the stand.
There is nothing from the beginning,
What is there that dust and rubbish can adhere to?"

When he saw the 6th Patriarch's poem, Obai said, "This guy's got it. He's not clinging to 'I've got something wrong with me that I have to fix; I've got some thoughts I have to let go of.' He's not clinging to 'I am a mirror; I am this, I am that." All along there's nothing to cling to. Where's the dust? You just made it up. Obai called the 6th Patriarch into his rooms and he said, "You're my successor, but since they don't like you and you're so young, they'll kill you if I publicly recognize you."

During transmission, the teacher gives the disciple a Kesa, or robe. Obai said, "Here's my robe; take it and run." Unfortunately, a monk named Myo, once a general, pursued the 6th Patriarch. Myo must have thought, "We've been here a long time, working hard, and this kid comes along and steals the robe." Myo caught up with the 6th Patriarch at Mount Daiyu. When the Patriarch saw Myo, he said, "This robe represents the faith. How can it be competed for by force? I will allow you to take it away." Myo tried to lift the robe, but he couldn't. It finally dawns on Myo and he said, "I came for the Dharma, not the robe. I beg you, please reveal it to me."

And the Patriarch said, "Think neither good nor evil. At that very moment, what is the primal face of Monk Myo?" Now we're back to "don't speak about other's errors and faults." What is your true nature? Who are you? The story says that "in that instant, Myo suddenly attained deep realization." Still, he wasn't satisfied and he asked whether there was anything secret in the teaching. The 6th Patriarch answered, "What I have now preached to you is no secret at all. If you reflect on your own true face, the secret will be found in yourself." Then Myo said, "Though I have been at Obai with the other monks, I have never realized what my true self is. Now thanks to your instruction, I know it is like a man who drinks water and knows for himself whether it is cold or warm." That's exactly the same thing as Mahakashyapa's smile.

(from talk, "The Flower of No Separation," by Anne Seisen Saunders, Sensei)

No secret at all.

In yourself.

No dust and rubbish.

No adherence.

True self...with cup of coffee.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Shut-up and go home?

It is almost time.

"A time comes when silence is betrayal." (Martin Luther King, quoting Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam statement of executive committee, 1967)

Jesus will have to wait for humanity this week.

In the earlier story he arrives amid rooting celebration with palms and cheering shouts. In the emerging story humanity is still swinging a club that bashes heads and bloodies the ground. There is no celebration today.

The groaning rivers of the ocean rise
The star vibrates quickly in its corona
And the sea beats, dies, and goes on beating

(-from poem, "The Poet's Obligation," by Pablo Neruda)

By week's end there will be a story of betrayal, death, and expectation through darkness of an arising that will stun listeners for centuries.

I have no plans to see the Gibson movie of the passion of the Christ -- instead I saw the frontline documentary on Rwanda, "the triumph of evil," about Hutu mass killings of Tutsis -- some 800,000 murders during 100 days in 1994 -- while the world did little or nothing.

I don't need to hiss at the story of Judas betraying Jesus -- I have the deception by lies and betrayal of lives by top administration executives who sent the United States to war, sent men and women to kill men and women, sent death and destruction after kissing its former puppet and sending him into a hole in the ground.

I don't need Hollywood films or Washington myths about the savior of the world reaping billions for celebrities, churches, and the culture of curios -- I have read about the obscene profits and payoffs given entertainment, corporations and influence peddlers which has taken the name of savior into the marketplace of murky religiosity and the ideology of spiritual pretence.

A hard cold rain
A forest of wind
Late at night
The lotus drips
Who knows the dream
That entrances the world
Is simply the luminous
Prajna mind

- Han-shan Te-ch'ing (1546-1623)

I don't think the dream that entrances the world is the Prajna mind. I wish Han-shan were right. Instead, the dream seems to be less wise, the mind less clear.

I don't need the ritual remembrance of Passover or the Last Supper -- I have encountered scores of contemporary killings of innocent children, first-born revenge, molestation and sacrifice in the name of holiness.

I don't want to feel sorry for someone murdered two thousand years ago by people who had difficulty with his understanding of God -- there are too many millions of deaths these past nine decades by people who had difficulty with the words "mine" and "yours" and "ours."

A poem by Pablo Neruda:

To whoever is not listening to the sea this Friday morning
to whoever is cooped up in house or office, or factory or woman
Or street or mine or dry prison cell
To him I come and without speaking or looking
I arrive and open the door of his prison
And a vibration starts up vague and insistent
A long rumble of thunder adds itself to the weight of the planet
And the foam.
The groaning rivers of the ocean rise
The star vibrates quickly in its corona
And the sea beats, dies, and goes on beating
So drawn on by my destiny
I ceaselessly must listen to
And keep the seas lamenting in my consciousness
I must feel the crash of the hard water
and gather it up in a perpetual cup
So that wherever those in prison may be
wherever they suffer the sentence of the autumn
I may be present with an errant wave
I may move in and out of windows
And hearing me my eyes may lift themselves
Asking how can I reach the sea
And I will pass to them saying nothing
The starry echoes of the wave
The breaking up of foam in quicksand
The rustling of salt withdrawing itself
The gray cry of seabirds on the coast
So through me freedom and the sea
will call to the shrouded heart.

( -- poem, "The Poet's Obligation," by Pablo Neruda)

The lament of the sea is a scripture not yet translated for us.

Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter -- but beautiful -- struggle for a new world. This is the calling of the sons [and daughters] of God, and our brothers [and sisters] wait eagerly for our response. Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard? Will our message be that the forces of American life militate against their arrival as full men [and full women], and we send our deepest regrets? Or will there be another message, of longing, of hope, of solidarity with their yearnings, of commitment to their cause, whatever the cost? The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise we must choose in this crucial moment of human history.
(-- from "Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence," a talk by Rev. Martin Luther King, 4 April 1967.

Martin was assassinated one year later -- 4 April 1968. I remember him today.

If betrayal is our common flaw, we must speak it aloud in an attempt to recognize it for what it really is.

Betrayal is the act that tries to fix broken belief. It is the attempt to wrest broken belief from hands bloodied by sharp slicing shards of what was once held as true. Betrayal refuses to allow emerging forms of what is true to take shape, transfigure, die and resurrect, and finally be true to what is now -- what is this reality -- greeted with direct, open, and engaging compassion. What else is God?

The myth that belief is worth spilling blood for, that power retains power by pouring the blood of enemies, and that blood (as they say) is thicker than water -- is a mythos and a muthos, a story with silence that entrances us with the paradoxical silence-of-betrayal and betrayal-of-silence.

The house of Odysseus in Ithaka is an aggregate of spaces, some entirely public and others more intimate and inaccessible. The innermost recesses of the house are associated with Penelope's chastity, while the megaron is essentially a masculine space. Eurykleia is a boundary crosser; like nurses in later literature, and by virtue of her advanced years, she acts as a liaison between male and female spaces. Appropriately Eurykleia is often featured in the role of doorkeeper, guarding the provisions of the house, and locking away the female servants during the revenge. Cognate with this role is the concept of women's silence, for in the constellation of symbols associated with female chastity, symbols which include the interior domestic spaces, feminine silence is one of the most conspicuous. Eurykleia's importance is signified by her guardianship of various portals, while her loyalty and feminine excellence are signified by her silence. Telemachos exacts an oath of silence from Eurykleia at the door leading into the storeroom, one of the most important areas of the oikos, and traditionally guarded by women (2.349-360).

Eurykleia's allegiance to the male members of the household is again signified when she keeps the secret of Odysseus' identity. By contrast the twelve faithless maidservants, who divulge the secrets of the women's spaces (i.e. Penelope's unraveling) have concourse with men in the megaron and beyond, passing through the doors of the house into the suitors' beds.

Eurykleia's contribution to her master's triumph is to keep women silent and behind closed doors (e.g.19.16). This way of viewing Eurykleia's role helps us to define more precisely the difficult term apteros muthos, which appears to describe Eurykleia's reaction to a man's order in three out of its four occurrences; all four occurrences have something to do with doors. Building on Clark's discussion, I argue against Russo's conclusion that apteros muthos identifies the male speaker. I contend that the formula refers to the speechless responses of Eurykleia and Penelope, who understand the need for silence at sensitive moments in the plot.

{Works Cited:
Clark, Matthew "Was Telemachus Rude to His Mother? Odyssey 1.356-59" CPh 96.4 (2001) 335-354
Russo, Joseph, Fenandez-Galiano, Manuel, and Heubeck, Alfred A commentary on Homer's Odyssey v. III (Oxford UP, Oxford, 1992)

"Oikos" in Greek means home.
"Muthos" in Greek means silence.

Is it time to go home and shut up? Or is it time to leave home and open one's mouth?

This week it is time to enter a hermitage full of the sound of what is being said with and without words.

The nursing thin place -- where silence words stillness, and stillness silences words.

Contemplating resurrection as incarnation.

Is this the absurd wisdom of an emerging story of "the same mind that was in Christ Jesus" (Philippians's 2:5)?
Is this emergence Prajna's mind? (The Jerusalem Bible, c.1966, phrased the line: "In your minds you must be the same as Christ Jesus...")

This time; this mind.

This open silence?