Posting while Nervous

“Is this the last day before your vacation?” Asked the roommate as she stood in the partially open door, on her way out to supervision at the office, later into the field. I stood over the cutting board with my diced apple prepared for submersion into hot bran cereal.

“What?”

“Is this the last day before your vacation?” She repeated.

I shrugged in response, “Yeah, I guess.”

It’s not a vacation. It’s a trip to a very particular monastery during the next four days. It’s a dry run of living the nuns’ lives to see if that’s to be my life until after I’m dead. She doesn’t know this, and all of my colleagues, coworkers nor my supervisor are in the same boat as she. The agency I work for openly embraces the LGBTQ community, evidenced by the spectrum of people employed & the clientele served.
Life is somewhat awkward now. People want to know where I’m going, and I offer information such as “a retreat with my church”, thinking that I’m Catholic and the Church is very large, with lots of property, so nosey people can’t begin to guess. This spawns more questions such as “Oh I did one of those. What lectures are you going to?” To which I reply is a “quiet retreat”. “So, like, you won’t talk?” No, I have little interest in talking, despite what I do for work.

There’s a new male employed in the office in the past three weeks. Males are somewhat rare after the feminization of the therapeutic/counseling/psychiatric field. I’m the last woman on my team who is seemingly unattached. Everyone else is married, divorced, dating, or engaged. Due to the aforementioned issue of vocation-must-not-be-named, I’m the crowd favorite. It ticks me off, this truly pushes my buttons, especially this week. I don’t want gossip mill whirling and churning; plotting out whether I’ll hook up with this man or date him. (The Rolling Stone’s She’s So Cold should be my theme song).

Anyway, my monastery visit begins tomorrow with my supposed arrival at 10am and ends with my departure from there Sunday at 10am. I was looking at the Liturgy of the Hours booklet/guide and saw this weekend is chockfull with glorious saints like Edith Stein.
Happy FEAST of the Transfiguration.

Americans remember that novena of fasting from meat for the following 9 days begins today along with a consecration of your hunger with a Rosary & prayer to St Michael the Archangel, ending on the 14th for the intention of ending the Black Mass scheduled for Oklahoma next month on Sept 21st.

spirituality i

Perhaps the best thing about endlessly purchasing and perusing books is knowing exactly where to look when I’m needing a particular turn of phrase.  All of Austen is available for wit, Merton for quasi-Christian-Buddhist ‘silence is golden’ tendencies, etc.  But if I want a mood, I also know know which authors will squash or evoke something.  I have four statistical books perfect for insomnia, Heller for cynicism, Malachi Martin for caution.  More to the point, I picked up the book I had dropped last year and resumed in in the same spot.  I’ve always had this knack for putting a book down for one or more years, picking it up and resuming without needing to review the previous page or chapter.

If you don’t like what I’m doing, saying, or reading without good reason and just object; you’ve automatically lost my audience.  I’d say that two years ago I didn’t understand or value in any sense the nuance between religion and spirituality; I couldn’t parse out foundation from trappings.  I frowned upon it and adhered only to religion, not understanding that spirituality has its own importance.  I didn’t go seeking for any grasp or understanding, I had shut it out.

In November ’09 I took any job that I could find; I worked as a bell ringer for the Salvation Army: paid to ring a bell next to the red bucket.  I hated it as a job.  Coming out of my rejecting the SMMEs, the days and months were already darkly tinted; I was already in the shadows, and this job provided the transition from shadow to darkness.  At first I fought against it, but in buying a book from the library resale I learned that I didn’t always have to fight off the darkness.  The author, Thomas Moore, has a way of writing in a spiritual manner but not a religious one.  Reading his work, automatically took me out of my comfort zone.

As I was being pushed out of my comfort zone in terms of religion versus spirituality, I was pushing others out of their own.  I stopped fighting the darkness and the depression.  I didn’t give into the depression, obviously, but I just sat in it.  Like a hiker lost in a thick fog, I didn’t waste my lethargic energy on wandering around but sat down on a mossy rock and waited for the dawn.  It was one of those fogs so thick that the trees drip and it sounds like rain, and the drops pierce through your sweater.  You’re on-edge sitting there in the dark just waiting, waiting.

So I sat and waited.  I got through my depression, intentionally this time, the hard way; it’s the only way I’ve ever known for getting through depression.  I lost quite a bit of audience.  I remember one prayer meeting, some religious people who were emotionally sensitive but religiously neurotic (cautious in all the wrong ways) told me to just make nice, to play pretend.  Those blithe statements of “smile and soon you’ll feel happy.”  Pardon me.  My emotions and states of mind are my own.  I chose to share with some people and not all were understanding.  Anything that’s not within their experience wasn’t valid.  So I ignored their opinions and turned to others who understood.  My spiritual director was understanding and supportive, my therapist a phone call away; the bases were covered.

So, this week with it’s crazy paperwork fiasco at work (let’s just torch it and start over), mom’s episodes, finals, lack of sleep, Grampa, and other things, I made the choice to just shut down emotionally.  It’s really its own state of consciousness – being emotionless.  I’m capable of emotional reactions, but I chose to ignore the ones that relate to my interior world.  Knowing that I was in need of spiritual component again, I turned to Moore’s writing.  It’s nice to get confirmation that it’s okay to be awake at night, to be in the dark.

present to the Present

At this evening’s bible study session, the organizer, Jonathan, was able to get a local Franciscan priest to come and talk with us. We’ve always enjoyed the nights that Fr. Kevin comes over because he’s funny, but also it’s essentially “open mike night.” It’s our questions, rather than the theological verse-by-verse breakdown of Acts 8; although this is equally fruitful.

There was a good discussion going on homilies, what to expect, how to kindly and politely address issues with priests, pastors, etc. But there was one thing that stuck out to me this evening: “being present to the Present (Presence) in the present.” It’s being contemplative in action. It’s being aware that when you and I speak face to face, Christ is right there with us. Can we shut down Facebook, Blogger, Xanga, LiveJournal, MySpace, LinkedIn, BrightFuse, CareerBuilder, Indeed, Monster, &c for just once to notice that these things are rewarding us for being distracted and distant from the Only One who should matter to us? No wonder our chapels are empty, the Blessed Sacrament is abandoned. No one knows how to just sit with Jesus anymore!