|MAN LOOKING OUT OF TOP FLOOR WINDOW|
EDGECLIFFE AVE., SILVER LAKE
DECEMBER 26, 2013
Hello dear people, did you all survive the holidays?
I celebrate New Year's Eve by staying cozily ensconced in my room so the scary part of December (i.e. human interaction) is over for me, and January 1st I'll probably go to Mass for Mary, Mother of God, then attend my friend Lisa G.'s annual New Year's Day All-Girls Clothes Swap.
I am still eating leftover flageolets, roasted radicchio, and tapenade from Christmas, and have picked the first of the camellias, and had a beautiful day of rest yesterday so all is well from this end.
And I'm ruminating on the year past and the year to come
One of the main things I see is that we cannot afford the slightest bit of resentment, bitterness and/or hatred. And I, for one, am utterly powerless to get rid of any of that on my own. No use trying to assert my "willpower," which only wants to win and will convince me that NOT loving the person in question is the goal and some kind of twisted triumph.
So I need to be in constant contact with a Power greater than myself. I've gotten in the habit these past few months of a nightly review, i.e. Examination of Conscience: where was I selfish, dishonest, self-seeking, fearful? In this way, my petty jealousies, enmities, resentments, meannesses, and lies (I like to call these exaggerations for effect but they are lies!) are constantly revealed and then I get to ask to be forgiven and to do better. And I see how very much help I need. How very flawed I am. But also how much I yearn to do better so that, at least, is good and to be grateful for.
I'm always in a bit of tension about whether I should spend more time trying to promote myself and my work, but on the whole, I think: No. My prayer is to know God's will for me and for the power to carry that out, and my real life are the hours I spend at Mass and in prayer and before the Blessed Sacrament. I can start collecting Social Security after July this year if I want to! Ever more I am storing up my treasure in heaven.
Still, what does that mean? I'm an introvert but that doesn't mean I don't love people. In fact, that I'm called to be around people is clear and one of my questions is how, i.e. is there some way I could be using my talents/experience to help that I haven't yet discovered?
To that end, 2014 promises to be a learning year. A year with a lot (for me) of travel. So far, I'll spend a week of solitude in Joshua Tree in January and a week in the Monterey Bay area in April. I'm giving a talk/mini-retreat in St. Paul on May 3. From there I'll go to Combermere, outside Ottawa, for a week or more in and around Catherine Doherty's Madonna House, then to Malvern, Pennsylvania to lead a 12-step retreat for women. June 19 I'm giving a talk in Charlotte, NC for the Catholic Media Association and from there I'll head north, through NYC and up to the Eastern Point Retreat House in Gloucester, Massachusetts, where I'll spend the whole of July doing the Ignatian Exercises. Then I head down to the Cape for a few days to a retreat house in Orleans, home of Paraclete Press, the publisher of Shirt of Flame.
And I am seriously considering doing the Camino in September. That's been a long-time dream that I keep half-hoping will go away, but that is only sharpening over time. For whatever reason, I feel the call. Maybe I would even launch a little kickstarter campaign, partly to raise the funds and partly to invite people in so I could make it a communal thing and folks could ask me to pray or carry some burden for them--I have ordered Brierley's updated Camino guide and will have to pray on it more from this end.
Another thing I've noticed: I've been conducting a series of phone interviews with struggling, questing (i.e. normal) Catholics for a book that I want to call Christ On the Outskirts and one of the things that makes me wince in transcribing is how often I interrupt my poor subjects to interject some "insight" of my own! Partly this is because I spend so much time in silence that when I actually have someone interesting to converse with I tend to get over-excited. But partly it's an inability to calm down, be TRULY silent, and let God enter in. .
I thought of Psalm 95, which we pray every morning in the Office:
"Today, listen to the voice of the Lord
Do not grow stubborn, as your fathers did in the wilderness
when at Meriba and Massah they challenged me and provoked me
Although they had seen all of my works"...
So I'm thinking to make 2014 The Year of Listening.
That's my plan and, as of today, I'm sticking to it!
HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYBODY!!