Both our front porch wind chimes are making music on this cold, gray morning in Rome, Georgia. One is silver, the other green, and their sounds are soothing. Their music comes from the wind advisory in effect today until 7:00 p.m., gusts of up to 40 m.p.h. The temperature is already freezing, so our wind chill factor is at zero or below.
The music is worth it.
I am grateful for music.
My daughter, Kate, gave me a new background for my laptop. It’s a Christmas scene. There is a decorated fireplace with a warm fire, and there are candles, presents, and a lovely garlanded fir tree. She also switched me to Safari, telling me that Explorer is just lame.
I am grateful for her brilliant design help.
My son, John, beat me at Backgammon last night. This is not a new phenomenon. He loves nothing more than capturing one of my checkers and sending it from the game.
I am grateful for his mischievous joy.
I am grateful for writers who do the hard work of writing. Today I am grateful for James P. Carse and his book Breakfast at the Victory: The Mysticism of Ordinary Experience. I first read this book at least ten years ago. I read it again yesterday and finished it this morning, honoring in my thoughts the unseen wisdom of my thirty-something self, who already knew what I needed to know.
Here is one story from this book:
A lover came to the dwelling of the Beloved and asked to be admitted.
“Who is there?” the Beloved asked.
“I am here,” the lover answered.
The Beloved refused to admit the lover. After wandering in grief and longing for years, the lover returned to the Beloved and begged to be admitted.
“Who is there?”
“You alone are there,” the lover responded.
The door opened. (169)
A few pages later, Carse reminds us that learning to love is what life is all about: “The lover’s journey to the Beloved is circuitous, unpredictable, confusing. There are no maps. The lover can only advance by first being lost. There is no hero in this tale, only a fool” (180).
Why are we often lost? For me, it is my ego that leads me astray. You know, that part of me that wants to look good and sound good and fit in and do well. I get tangled up in that part of me so much sometimes that I forget who I am. It is easy to get lost behind the ego mask.
Carse talks meaningfully about the ego. He calls it “always the earnest dualist in us” (163). He says that the ego is a “builder of walls” and longs for “control over the meaning of words” (164).
On the other hand, he observes the value of no-words, “Silence is the essential condition of the soul”: “Becoming silent is not, therefore, something we achieve but a return to what we already are” (160).
Carse also reminds us that the best way to be creative is to be “an uncritically receptive listener” (150). And isn’t the best form of creativity loving?
That is my watchword for today: Carmen, be an uncritically receptive listener.
That is not easy. Is it? It isn’t for me. But it’s what I most hunger for, to get still enough to listen, to get restful enough to let my ego go, to stop thinking constantly, to be filled with trust and wonder and silence and the full resonance of my own soul in God’s care.
That full resonance is the most eloquent silence. It is the Holy Spirit’s mysterious, healing presence in me, blowing like a strong wind through my darkest brightness and my brightest darkness, finding that which you cannot see of me, holding that which I cannot see of me, bringing it all together in love.
Where I most worry and most fear and feel most alone, God’s Spirit is there and there and here.
The way the chimes make music in the wind, so the Holy Spirit blows through me, invisibly whispering, “Who’s there?” and I say to Him, “You alone are there, Lord.”
This is how this holy breath of Christ works, loving with a specificity we can hardly imagine, and it is also the nature of water. Wind and water have so much in common. Carse says:
This is the deepest secret to . . . living water: it transforms every obstruction into a new expression of itself. It accepts as channel what is presented as barrier. The mountain does not stand in the way of the spring; it is the way of the spring.
And, again, today, the door opens.
God’s blessings on you and me, on those we love, and on the world.