We need poets. We need mystics. We need monastics.
The world is too mean without these types. The temptation to loot, steal, murder, drug ourselves silly, become petty and pitiable, stay in illusion, perpetuate delusion, use people, claim "it's to protect family," dissociate and dissemble, and mostly -- to lose trust, genuine affection, and integrity -- these temptations are too powerful for 98% of human beings to resist. All, it seems, fall under the wheels of this impossible to resist train.
Today is the feast of Bernard of Clairvaux, Abbot, Theologian, and Poet, 20 August 1153:
Bernard, third son of a Burgundian nobleman, was born in 1090. His brothers were trained as soldiers, but Bernard from youth was destined for scholarship. One Christmas Eve as a child he had a dream about the infant Christ in the manger; and the memory of it, and consequent devotion to the mystery of the Word made flesh, remained with him throughout his life.
Bernard had good prospects of success as a secular scholar, but he began to believe that he was called to the monastic life, and after a period of prayer for guidance, he decided at age 22 to enter the monastery of Citeaux (Latin Cistercium, appearing on modern maps as Corcelles-les-Citeaux, 47:10 N 5:05 E), an offshoot of the Benedictines which had adopted a much stricter rule than theirs, and became the founding house of the Cistercian (Trappist) order. (Actually, the Trappists are a reformed (i.e. stricter) offshoot of the Cistercians, who are a stricter offshoot of the Benedictines.) He persuaded four of his brothers, one uncle, and 26 other men to join him. They were the first novices that Citeaux had had for several years. After three years, the abbot ordered Bernard to take twelve monks and found a new house at La Ferte. The first year was one of great hardship. They had no stores and lived chiefly on roots and barley bread. Bernard imposed such severe discipline that his monks became discouraged, but he realized his error and became more lenient. The reputation of the monastery, known as Clairvaux (48:09 N 4:47 E), spread across Europe. Many new monks joined it, and many persons wrote letters or came in person to seek spiritual advice. By the time of his death, 60 new monasteries of the Cistercian order were established under his direction.
As a monastic of no other
I attempt in ragtag dishevelment to follow the promptings of life to live it in a manner consistent and commensurate to the co-equal promptings of Benedict of Nursa, Francis of Assisi, Claire of Assisi. Dogen Zenji of Eihei, Basho, Han Shan, Hui Neng, Santoka Taneda, Pema Chodron, Thomas Merton, Daniel Berrigan, Emily Dickinson, Dorothy Day, Catherine de Hueck Doherty, John O'Donohue, Mary Oliver, Shunryu Suzuki, Thich Nhat Hanh, Seung Sahn, Gary Snyder, Naneo Sakaki, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Martin Heidegger, Jean Gebser, Raimon Panikkar, Adam, Eve, Mary, as well as Siddhartha Gautama (called the Buddha) and Jesus of Nazareth (called the Christ.)
After a fashion, in erratic and chaotic manner, a daily life is lived under the guide-points of contemplation, conversation, and correspondence. These also translate from poverty, chastity, and obedience into another triadic: watching, listening, silence.
Perhaps: idiorhythmic, idiosyncratic, idiomatic.
- “There are those who seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge; that is Curiosity.
There are those who seek knowledge to be known by others; that is Vanity.
There are those who seek knowledge in order to serve; that is Love.”
― Bernard of Clairvaux
- “What I know of the divine
science and holy scripture,
I learnt in the woods and fields.”
― Bernard of Clairvaux
So, we are grateful for this man, for all the men and women who have touched and transmitted something of truth, love, peace, service, learning, and joy.
It is a practice we gladly practice: attending, another, alone, aware.
It is a matter of conjoining "yes" and "no."
YA! NA! -- You are not alone!
IAHWY: I am here with you.
May each of us be and become: bewithed and bewithing!
O God, by whose grace your servant Bernard of Clairvaux, Kindled with the flame of your love, became a burning and a shining light in your Church: Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline, and walk before you as children of light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. (Ibid)