May 14th, 2012

And Then There Was ONE - Presence

This was recently posted by my friend pilgrimmage
It is something i need to hear again and again.
She has graciously allowed me to share it.

I am become convinced that my vocation is Presence.

Even if it may be the case that I am never permitted by circumstances to live into an avocation as a nun, I am still convinced that my vocation is Presence.  

Even if I must accept, too, that circumstances are never their own. They are always held under the great arc of the Divine movement, so the barriers or reroutes of 'circumstance' may be nothing more than the whispers of the Divine. Still I am convinced that my vocation is Presence.

One psalm, Psalm 39, one song Silence by Matisyahu and now one series of poems, by Thomas Merton in Dialogues with Silence have lingered with me longer than any others.  I would *highly* commend them to anyone.  They remind me that my soul knows it is to seek its vocation of Presence in lonely, embodied work of Silence.

For there are so many ways to squander a life and flee from Presence, with language/speech often being the servant of each.  

I can squander a life when a moment is good by clinging to it fiercely, replaying it with my mind, retelling it with my lips, all while another moment's invitation to Be goes unnoticed and forgotten.  Or else, when a moment is painful, truly unbearable, I can resist it with my mind.  My lips savor the telling of the pain.  My mind, keen and sharp as it is, constructs the commentaries of justice, fairness, and what should be.  All the while, as I live in the fantasy of my thwarted desire, I am blinded to the cage I have allowed a painful past or fearful future to become, each in turn drawing me from the one moment that Is now.  Where Presence awaits and my vocation of Being lays languishing without me.

Even when I manage by grace to choose to abide in the temporal moment, yet still I can resist Presence by living in the false 'piety' of how I ought to engage it.  I *should* be more virtuous, more patient, more loving.  Indeed I should, but I cannot be anything in this-one-moment other than what I am right now.  The business of transforming me into my becoming is neither the work of my bitter and self-involved will nor the proud extolling of the virtues I wish I had but don't (so that others and I may both know that I *know* what Good is and that we may each know how my heart at least suffers for being apart from it.)

No, the only thing that may make me what I "should" be is to surrender to Be-coming by a gentle surrender to the Presence of what Is and what I am in this one present moment.  For, I cannot become a more gracious person by imaging myself as gracious or resolving to study it or to confess its absence later.  Neither will these means make me more compassionate, more accepting, more loving.

BUT, if in silence I inhabit this present moment, whatever it may be - well or woe, joy or pain - then I Am by my choosing what I am, by grace, Be-coming.  To do this, I must be graciously present with it and with myself, choosing and hence being Grace for this one present moment.  I must accept this present moment as though it is all that is.  I must love it as though it is my child or my salvation or my God or my mother or my Self.  Indeed it is all these.  I must love it and let it love me into existence.  And as I accept it - intact and whole, with the silent commitment that one has while making love or sitting with the dying - then it will create me as what I *shall be*. What I "should be" a forgotten idol as I live what I truly Am.  I must bear the truth that I cannot sit with the moment as it is with how I "should be".  I can only sit with it as I am.  Otherwise all is lost and my vocation renounced.  

Finally, I can squander this moment and reject my vocation by abiding in this present moment as though I were another.  Watching the living and Being of others.  Imagining it.  Longing for it.  Judging it.  Simply being its voyeur.  And so I watch them each embodying my vocation while I, myself, embody lifelessness.

My vocation is Presence - To Be as my God Is.  It can only happen in this present moment.  Wide is the road that leads from it and narrow the gate that allows one to enter.

Narrow as this moment.  Narrow as silently walking, alone with what Is.  Dark as faith that rejects any comfort of past memory, any hope of future good.  

Even writing these words right now pulls me from my vocation for I am writing what Being has been whispering into my spirit for days.  And in those days as I have tried to figure out how to craft them into words, many a moment of vocation of Presence has been lost before I realized it.  So it is with words, they have the power to remind, to encourage, to share the outer skin and clinging lingerie of a soul.  But, they are not the soul, and for the soul called by the One to a lonely and dark but true vocation To Be, they are also a potentially very distracting temptation.

So I've been writing less.  Saying less.  Despite some enormous pain and unacceptable uncertainty, I am allowing life to come and choosing at each turn to Be.

But, how silly to say it is unacceptable - as though the moment must change into something savory before I can accept it.  I can, in this moment, accept it.  Perhaps I can in the next too.  I do accept it each time I honor my vocation and come to just Be with what Is.

Today I am moving for a space to a place I don't want to be because life is not become what I wanted here and I cannot figure out another way.  I wake every morning dreading this move to my mother's house.  I fear it will break me.  I fear it will hurt me. I know it will change me.  I do not know what will come of it or how I will bear it.  But none of these things is my task for this present moment.  Only because these emotions are my present emotional landscape do I honor them and let them Be.  Even still, I must insist they let me Be for none of their worries is upon me right now.  In the moment I made this choice, it was the best one I could make so it will come and I will accept it.  Come what may.

But, in this present moment right now, the work is clear - to get up and fulfill my vow, day by day, at the altar's liturgy.  So I depart this page and the tempting gaze of worry into the coming hours.  In silence now I am... to my vocation, to my God, let me always Be.    
acceptance, identity, practices, silence, to god, vocation

And Then There Was ONE - Presence

Daily Tao - 2

If something looks beautiful to you,
something else must be ugly.
If something seems good,
something else must seem bad.

You can't have
something without nothing.
If no job is difficult,
then no job is easy.
Some things are up high
because other things are down low.
You know you're listening to music
because it doesn't sound like noise.
All that came first,
so this must be next.

The Masters get the job done
without moving a muscle
and get their point across
without saying a word.

When things around them fall apart,
they stay cool.
They don't own much,
but they use whatever's at hand.
They do the work
without expecting any favors.
When they're done,
they move on to the next job.
That's why their work is so damn good.

Tao Te Ching, Chapter 2 (the Beatrice Tao.)

Daily Tao - 2

hanks again to trevoke
for his dedication to getting this posted day after day.

I post this because i want to and can.
Sometimes i need the shriller, more urgent voice
of the young translator.

My favorite version is still Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English
which is with the Beatrice Tao behind the link.
It is in my library (besides being practically memorized)

From Dialogues with Silence: Prayers & Drawings : Thomas Merton:

Thou Art Not As I Have Conceived Thee

Lord it is nearly midnight and I am waiting for You in the
darkness and the great silence.  I am sorry for all my sins.  Do
not let me ask any more than to sit in the darkness and light no
lights of my own, and be crowded with no crowds of my own
to fill the emptiness of the night in which I await You.
  In order to remain in the sweet darkness of pure Faith, let
me become nothing to the pale, weak light of sense.  As to the
world, let me become totally obscure from it forever.  Thus,
through this darkness, may I come to Your brightness at last.
Having become insignificant to the world, may i reach out
towards the infinite meanings contained in Your peace and
Your glory.
    Your brightness is my darkness, I know nothing of You and,
by myself, I cannot even imagine how to go about knowing
You.  If I imagine You, I am mistaken.  If I understand You, I am
deluded.  If I am conscious and certain I know You, I am crazy.
Darkness is enough --Thomas Merton Dialogues with Silence: Prayers & Drawings (9780060656034): Thomas Merton: Books