vines, grace, and suburban geography

I've always taken it as a subtle (or perhaps, not so subtle) hint that the Divine wants me to pay attention when I hear or read something repeatedly, from different sources, over the course of a short period of time.

I was in a meeting last week when one of the participants began discussing the fact that his front yard looked great.  It was lush and free of weeds.  It was what everyone saw and his neighbors had great cause to be impressed with his green thumb.  In his backyard, a canoe was buried underneath a jungle of weeds and God knows what else.  He shifted into an explanation of how this was precisely what he did in his personal life. He was glad to let people see the "front yard." But good luck getting into the backyard, where the dark recesses of his mind and soul were well hidden.

That night, I ran across the following journal entry from Thomas Merton:

Yesterday, on orders from Brother Clement and Reverend Father, I marked the trees Andy Boone is to cut, down in the hollow behind the hermitage, where the spring is.  What a tangle of brush, saplings, vines, fallen trees, honeysuckle, etc.!  Marks of deer everywhere.  A fire in there would be awful.  I hope we can get a space of an acre or so good and clear between here and the spring and keep it clear.  And I can use the spring, for I need it.  All this is the geographical unconcious of my hermitage.  Out in front, the "concious mind," the ordered fields, the wide valley, tame woods.  Behind, the "unconcious" - this lush tangle of life and death, full of danger, yet where beautfiul things move, the deer, and where there is a spring of sweet, pure water - buried!

Light rain all night.  The need to keep working at meditation - going to the root.  More passivity won't do at this point.  But activism won't do either.  A time of wordless deepening, to grasp the inner reality of my nothingness in Him Who Is.  Talking about it in these terms seems absurd.  Seems to have nothing to do with the concrete reality that is to be grasped. My prayer is peace and struggle in silence, to be aware and true, beyond myself, and to go outside the door of myself, not because I will it, but because I am called and must respond.

I like the idea of the "front yard" as the concious, visible part of me which I am willing to place on display.  The "unconcious," or hidden back yard landscape which is not available for inspection, even for those closest to me. But I think I am even more attracted, and I am not sure why, to the idea that there are times in which we must rest in wordless, actionless, deeping.  This is the reality of fully realizing, and basking in the power of grace.  I'd be delighted to find that place.

Popular Posts