Tuesday, 8 July 2008
I'm still catching up on Sunday. I went to church for the first time in ages: the 1662 service at 8:00 am suited me just fine even thought here was snow on the ground and the heaters in the church had not quite yet achieved the upper hand. In the afternoon I took part in a prayer service for a greatly respected friend, and afterward Clemency and I hosted those present to afternoon tea. Or at least Clemency hosted and I sat regally on the couch looking pale and interesting. There was a large open fire in our drawing room while the wind and rain grimaced angrily through the windows at the warmth inside. All of the 9 people present were intelligent, well read, accomplished and interested in each other. Some were part of an interdisciplinary group which gathers at the University of Otago to research the interface of spirituality, consciousness and science. There was good coffee and a rather delicious tea cake with ginger and raisins.I couldn't have designed a more congenial, stimulating and invigorating gathering if I had tried. After an hour of it, I was tired. Drained. Shattered. Done. Euchred.
I spent Monday recovering, and managed, today, a drive out to MacAndrew Bay for lunch, sitting in the passenger seat of the car like an old frail man, before returning home to exercise my concentration by fiddling with photos (like the one above) and doing a jigsaw puzzle.
It's not the way I want to be; but for some days maybe even weeks yet, it's the way I am. The reason for being so pathetic are obvious. A little over a fortnight ago I lay on a table for 4 1/2 hours while a guy slashed and hacked and sewed away at one end of me. At the other end, another guy kept me oblivious of the fact by pumping some quite noxious chemicals up my nose. Fumes went in and blood came out, and then, when I was awake and my body started to protest the whole deal, more chemicals were pumped in to keep it quiet.
It's not the way I want to be, but for some weeks yet it's the way I am because my will - what I want to be - is not what decides what happens. The events of the past, and the inevitable consequences of those events are what define much of my present reality, which should not come as a surprise, for this is actually how it is for all of us, all the time. When Paul rattles on about not being able to do what he wills, he is is hard up against this reality: it is seldom, if ever our wills which decide the outcomes of our great inner struggles. In the face of this, most of us take the really stupid course of action: in disbelief at our own impotence we gird up our metaphorical, spiritual and moral loins and try harder. The results of this are that we feel more exhausted for much the same result. So, I recognise the lingering effects of anaesthesia and put more effort into my conversation and cheerful smiles. It just means I sleep longer on Monday. What is required is to ackowledge the inevitability of our own weakness and not to struggle but to be aware; to watch ourselves with the compassion that God extends to us and simply learn what is going on. When we can achieve this, the battle isn't merely won; it evaporates entirely.
The three great laws of spirituality, says Anthony De Mello are these:
2. Awareness and,