Lent

On Ash Wednesday I went for a walk on the beach. It was one of those silvery late summer days when the sand and the clouds and the sea all seem to be made of differently worked bits of the same stuff. There was a wind from the South, cool and insistently strong but also in an odd way, gentle and enfolding. I didn't want it to go around me; I wanted it to go through me and open me and unsettle me. I wanted it to turn me inside out and help me unattach.

I had made my Lenten resolutions. This year I am not giving anything up; I am adding. As well as my customary morning meditation I have added another of equal length late in the day, and where my timetable permits, also one at noon. I have also added a daily reading from one of my favourite books, Anthony De Mello's The Way to Love. This Lent I want to let the wind blow through me; as much of it as I can stand, so it's as well to build into my life some more opportunities to stand in the breeze.
At the end of the beach is a small cave. I walked through it, under the black damp rocks towards the light which was marking a turning point, back along my own footsteps and towards my home.

This little pilgrimage, there and back along the beach; this little pilgrimage of 40 days, following the footsteps of my master towards the cross and resurrection, will be about attachment. Or rather, will be about releasing attachments. The Way to Love is, amongst other things, about attachment. It is a series of addresses  recorded at a retreat, and, I would guess, transcribed pretty much verbatim long after De Mello's death. The small essays (about 3 1/2 pages each) are not very literate. But they are orate. I read them and I can catch the Indian accent and the oblique  structure  of a gifted storyteller. I read them and I can feel De Mello's gaze as he speaks unflinchingly to my heart, laying open truths so obvious I would have seen them years ago had not my own illusions and vanities prevented me.
The wind carves patterns in the sand as I walk back to my car. Already this has been one of the biggest, busiest weeks of my life. I have so much to relinquish and some small things still to acquire. Life is short and there is so much to be done. I covet the patterning of my own soul.

Lord, Holy Spirit,
You blow like the wind in a thousand paddocks
Inside and outside the fences,
You blow where you wish to blow...

...Lord, Holy Spirit
in the love of friends you are building a new house,
Heaven is with us when you are with us.
You are singing your song in the hearts of the poor.
Guide us, wound us, heal us. Bring us to the Father
(James K Baxter)

Comments

peregryn said…
Thank you for this. I like 'unattaching' - I need to do it too.
I wonder if you know Postcript, a poem by Seamus Heaney about a journey like this: You are neither here nor there, / A hurry through which known and strange things pass / As big soft buffetings come at the car sideways / And catch the heart off guard and blow it open. The whole poem's at http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/postscript-8/
Elaine Dent said…
It seems easy to look at my congregation and observe their attachments and wish: if only they would let go of this or that.... It is much harder to discern that my own unnamed and unrecognized attachments can be just as debilitating. Thus I too am on a Lenten journey of sabbath rest (in the midst of work)via an online retreat which involves more silence and reflection. But sabbath rest requires letting go and often it is letting go of the things or thought patterns I am attached to and think that I (or the congregation I serve) cannot get along without. What hubris! Thanks for your post.