Wednesday, February 25, 2009

lost in space... or finding ground

Paul has a gentle but provocative post over at his blog today. for me, it weaves well with conversations of late about silence, and simplicity and space... and has me thinking about what we are avoiding in ourselves when we seek words and people and noise and activity... the risk of finding oneself there is not knowing what will be revealed... what self we'll meet with... maybe the fear of finding we are lost.. adrift...rather than finding a self we want to care for with intention...

last night a friend recommended listening to david walliams' desert island discs on Radio 4, in which he speaks frankly about his relationship with aloneness. the show doesn't get put on the beeb iPlayer but it is being re-aired on friday, the 27th, at 9am(gmt). sounds like it's worth hearing - some great music mixed with surprisingly candid expression of feeling... expressing perhaps the tragedy that goes with the comedy i guess...
i lived in a similar vein in my old life... silence was abhorrent... it was this season three years ago now that i remember sitting for the first time in intentional silence - facing into the dark night... was a scary process, actively choosing silence and aloneness and experiencing the demons and ghosts that came to visit... i stopped watching television around the same time...

i'm not giving up anything for Lent.
i only have one glass of wine a week these days, so giving up alcohol, as others around me are doing, wouldn't even register on my radar. i've a history of denying myself consistent nourishment, especially when on my own or feeling anxious and so i have a policy of avoiding anything that looks like dieting or restricting my food intake in any shape or form. so i'm writing with fresh bread baking in the oven. not for virtue but bodymeetssoul care...sometimes carving spaces of silence is about breathing in, and finding nurture...

a friend said the other day she was considering quitting Facebook for Lent. that i can recommend. i did so about a month ago - admittedly for psychotherapeutic rather than spiritual reasons. although perhaps those things aren't much different most days. that action has created it's own form of silence but for the most part that's been a beneficial thing for me. it's hard to feel grounded by, or find the deeper meaning in relationships, in virtual reality. i've been enjoying a return to old fashioned email, knowing that i want to relate, not social network. perhaps one day i'll go back to it. but for now i can see just how much it had been serving unhealthy purposes in my world, triggering my anxieties and bringing unhealth, hurt and abuse of boundaries to my table.
creating a feeling that it was distorting and colouring actual being and relating in the world... if i felt like i became a doormat in 2008, then this year has been in large part about re-establishing trust and avoiding feeling used...sometimes carving spaces of silence is about breathing out, and finding freedom...

in past years i've taken Lent as an opportunity to take things on rather than give things up. but that too is something the silence has allowed space for me to already do. part of the 'getting myself back on solid ground' efforts has been a return to reading for pleasure. breathing in, and finding inspiration...

over on the SoF Observed blog someone recommended me Sarah Maitland's, a book of silence
i don't know if i'll be adding it to my reading list but it's encouraging to see the themes out there in the world helping others on similar journeys of self discovery and nurture. i keep thinking of Jean Vanier's interview on SoF and that line about 'being present to reality'. i've found that silence with the self brings that. it makes for hard silences and confused internal voices for sure, but i'm learning how to extend silence and space into a more centred way of being... allowing myself time and room to reflect and respond rather than freeze or react in fear... to run to my own rhythm. the things in life that need healing, don't just take doing the work, but time... breathing out and taking that time to feel one's feelings...

along with the Team Fury crew i've just started into Walter Brueggemann's Great Prayers of the Old Testament. makes for a refreshing change to be reading something theological. haven't done it in a while. i'm appreciating the phrase speech of the extreme he's using to describe the cry of natural (as opposed to liturgical) prayer...breathing in and finding wisdom...

during 2008 i read a truck load of books as i tried to tackle my ACoA-related issues head on. i've been turning my eyes to other themes and putting the stuff i found useful into some kind of practice (there's only so much one can read before you just have to get down and do the work). but as a sort of coda to all that reading, a friend came across and recommended an audiobook, Warming the Stone Child, by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, author of
Women Who Run with the Wolves.
i had read that book several years back, and though it represented at the time a kind of feminist perspective that had limited resonance for me, i was intrigued enough by this audio-book to give it a try. i've given it a couple of listens and found it relatively helpful. i enjoyed her Jungian insights into the stories she tells. and if nothing else, it made for relaxing listening... breathing in and out, and finding healing...

in silence we give up choose a quiet cloak of nurture rather than the muteness of fear
makes for good change for me. not for virtue but for soul care. i'm starting to feel safer these days and finding my voice in a small, tight world... the edges and horizons expanding bit by bit. i am grateful for those in my life who respect how reluctant i am to extend trust... who with patience give me room and constancy in return for it. who understand that's no trivial thing for me. as i move towards significant change, all these small, so small, changes are building more solid ground... and bigger transformation seems something more like possible... i'm breathing easier.



  1. Anonymous2:36 am

    this reminds me of something i read from Alexander Pope, that; “The way of the Creative works through change and transformation, so that each thing receives its true nature and destiny and comes into permanent accord with the Great Harmony: this is what furthers and what perseveres.”

    keep breathing my sister

  2. "hope springs eternal in the human

    and you...

  3. Thanks for stopping by to say hi. I have indeed been delinquent in posting new material, but I'm quite happy to see that you've been keeping at it! enjoying the new posts. I especially like that last paragraph, and the hope it offers and the wisdom of small changes.

    I keep wanting to read Brueggemann after many recs, but haven't gotten there yet. it's in line somewhere on the thousand-title "to read before I die" list. Have you ventured into "Children of God" yet?

    I can't imagine giving up FB at this point in my life. it feels like a more real connection for some reason than other online novelties, and I don't know why. curious what the difference is between email and FB for you as far as a "better connection" is concerned? they feel the same to me (sort of), perhaps in a good illusion sort of way.

    I'm a good Catholic boy, but I haven't given anything up for lent in years. and I'm not ready for silence these days. One day, once again, I'll cherish that as I used to (especially back in the days when I first discovered Thomas Merton and visited his monestary, and especially after listening to his tape entitled "Silence" - probably my favourite by him), but for now I'm a TV watching, Stephen King reading, Whitesnake listening Facebook junkie. sounds horrible, I know (at least to me it does), but alcohol doesn't work for me (thank God), so for dulling the senses it will have to do for now...and it is doing quite nicely, thank you. ;-)

    Peace and strength to you...

  4. hey brook,
    glad to hear you're okay.

    hmm. there are a number of questions to be answered and thoughts arising...

    i haven't got into 'children of god' yet. decided to sit with 'the sparrow' for a while and let the themes percolate first. hoping to come across a copy in a second hand bookstore somewhere. but it's sitting near the top of my own long list of things to read...

    now is the point at which i wish this were being conducted in real time over coffee or a pint. you've raised several things that would be far better responded to without having to censor a load of stuff and avoid specifics. which actually serves to answer the FB/email difference... and i guess these blog pages sit somewhere between the two... ultimately it comes down to the misuse of boundaries. for some that's not an issue. for me it is. i guess it might be best said as, with email no one else is looking in. it's a private conversation. it's contained. i guess FB left me feeling exposed. and in some cases having my friendships and their boundaries abused. the good illusion it creates was not something i wanted to participate in. at least not at the cost of my actual feelings. and where i don't feel safe to be me as i am in relationships off FB, i couldn't keep up the illusion on it. something like that. but messier.

    i get a serious kick out of any paragraph that references merton, king AND whitesnake. no shame allowed. i'll be raising a pint, (in truth, probably be cocktail) to that later.

    Catholic, huh? how did i not know that...?

    keep up the good work.


  5. yeah, FB is definitely more the "group dynamic" rather than one-on-one (except for the private messages, which is what made me think of it as the same as email. btw, my email is Brook(at)Wideopenwest(dot)com. use it anytime - and ignore the one I use for the TB mailing list...I hardly ever log onto that one). I'm sorry you've had a bad experience on FB. You and Sarah left, and now I have less friends. and FB is nothing if not a popularity status counter! (one reason you didn't know I was Catholic is because you left the FB party before reading the "25 random things about myself" note that's been going around there. I dont' usually participate in that sort of thing, but that one was worth it both to read from others and offer myself).

    The only shame I have, really, is not in any of those things individually, but rather what I am leaving out of my life at the moment, which is that deeper reading and time of solitude and reflection that is more in line with who I feel I really am. I forget if I said this to you or someone else, but anxiety kills my ability to focus on those more important things beyond daily survival. I need to be relaxed and free in order to truly do justice to and soak up the wisdom of the "better" books on my shelves (the stuff that Brueggemann would share shelfspace with). but King and Whitesnake (etc.) are sort of like "reset" points for me - a part of who I once was, and on one level will always be. pure enjoyment, no serious thought required. Ice cream for the senses. and also sort of like backing up from a dead-end to a previous point on the path to see if I can remember where I was headed before all this shit began and if I can see straight enough from there to see where I want to go once again and what sidetracked me in the first place. I'm starting to not make concrete sense, but that's what happens when listening to too much 80's pop metal!

    anyway, enjoy that drink, save the pint for me if you're not really gonna drink it, and email me if you want to talk on a more uncensored level. And maybe one of these years a Nashville trip will align for the both of us and we can do all this in person while drinking mochas at Fido or Bango Java, or spilling beer on the Dark's dinner table.

    till then, keep on rockin in the free world...

  6. no - that makes complete sense. and
    i'm all for ice cream for the senses or indeed the soul in that reset effort. i had a large bowl of def leppard and transvision vamp the other day. with caramel and sprinkles on top.

    as for the 'better books' - yeah, i wouldn't want to give the impression engaging with Brueggemann is automatically easy, although it's enjoyable in it's own way. these days i have to work at reading for pleasure or insight. i find it hard to switch off the internal voices and be present to the page. but that's why reading for pleasure or insight, and finding either feels like such a gift. it feels like an achievement to have stayed present long enough - be it through a paragraph or a chapter, let alone an entire book.

    i guess i would have thought i'd have picked up on Catholicism on TB at some point over the years. but maybe it fell through the cracks of my attention.
    i exchanged a 25 things list with a friend recently and it made for some honest conversation. i was surprised by some of the things i wrote. felt like meeting oneself.

    i can assure you the drink *was* enjoyed. photos are currently being uploaded, you can take your pick of which one's toasting merton, and which is for whitesnake.


  7. where are these photos you speak of?