Poetry consists of words and phrases and sentences that emerge like something coming out of water. They emerge before us, and they call up something in us. But then they turn us back into our own silence. And that’s why reading poetry, reading it alone silently takes us someplace where we can’t get ordinarily. Poetry opens us to this otherness that exists within us. Don’t you think? You read a poem and you say, “Ah.” And then you listen to what it brings out inside of you. And what it is is not words; it’s silence. ~Marilyn Nelson
If you’ve ever been on any kind of retreat, you know that you really don’t get into the “zone” until at least the 2nd or 3rd day. That’s been the theme of the last 4 days.
Emptying the junk drawer on the dining table.
Loosening the knots I’ve worked myself into.
The reason I’m letting myself get disturbed and decentered at the outset is so that my natural defences don’t kick in later on. It’s hard to get into a defensive crouch when you’re on your heels.
I’ve been amazed at how often I run into the wall I put in place on social media (read my previous post for more info). Most recently, on this beautiful sunny Saturday as I poured a beer to write this post, my first thought was “I should take a picture of this and put it on Instagram.” That’s just the latest in a series of me staring, blinking, at my screen for a second, initially planning on taking a newsfeed scroll or to check the latest headlines.
But it’s not just the time aspect. I’ve had plenty of days where I’ve had to focus in on work or been so wrapped up in activities that I’ve stayed off of the interwebs. At this point, 4 days in, I’ve removed enough layers that I’m getting into the “why” aspects, like wanting to project an awesome life. That beer pic with the early spring sunshine, local craft beer (Blackrocks Murray Project imperial IPA), and probably my notebook (and not just any notebook, but my super hip Leuchtturm 1917, not to mention my Sharpie Pen), would attempt to communicate a lot more than just “it’s sunny, I’m drinking beer and writing.” Similar thing with the pic above, from last fall. How long did I take getting that lens flare just right or switching filters so I could show others how engaged I am with that sunset? Shit’s gettin’ real.
The Atheism for Lent reflections have done a lot to get me in that space. This week has been mostly about framing our thinking, the next major step starts tomorrow. A good tasting of this week is his talk to LA’s Sunday Service called The Enigma of Belief, and the space between what we think we believe and what we actually believe.
The #reLENTless readings I’ve been approaching through Lectio Divina, again to put myself off balance and avoid the ruts I’ve built over time. It’s easy to slip into autopilot if you’ve read a certain passage or heard it preached on a million times the same way. Lectio Divina is about savoring the text and sitting with it in contemplation, not trying dissect or interpret it in a critical way. This practice has four parts: (1) Lectio (read) – slowly read the text, and pay attention to what jumps out at you or pings you in some way, (2) Meditatio (meditate) – reread the text, and reflect on what that’s saying to you specifically, (3) Oratio (pray) – reread the text, and think about how this text is calling you to action, and (4) Contemplatio (contemplate) – reread a final time, and sit in silent thankfulness and love towards God. Coming at the readings this way has been very fulfilling to my deconstructed self.
So that’s where I’m at, 4 days in. Tomorrow, the deep descent begins in earnest.
Peace and tenacity,