Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Incredible Retirement Three

Finally, the little jobs that hung over from the "official" last day at work are all done, and except for volunteering on Thursdays, Shawn is no longer to be found at the museum. Her successor has been discovered and hired, appears well qualified and confident, and the life of the world goes on, while the life of what started as a fully contemplative community, almost forty years ago, and operated as such for a decade before it was interrupted, returns to normal. For both economic and social reasons that interruption would seem to have been necessary, and we're all enormously proud of what my wife accomplished, but nothing equals the contemplative life, especially when the crew is up to full strength, and with the world insisting on becoming a more and more dangerous place to live in, it needs all the full time prayer persons it can get. It is not simply a coincidence that I found in my morning perusal of my journals for these dates of the month a note from John Paul's trip to India in the 80's. The Pope said "The world needs men of prayer more than it needs men of work."
* * *
And going by God's recent behaviour in my head, this must be so.
As I've said before, I ordinarily cycle the upper three of John of the Cross' four major texts, with occasional side trips to the Ascent, or other contemplative writers. (A nice little week, recently, with Teresa's Mansions.) But for the past three or four weeks, the concentration has had to be on certain parts of the Dark Night, with especially one paragraph in Book One, and two chapters in Book Two.
The purpose, it seems, is to acquire a full command of the language that deals with the fundamental and irreconcilable differences between meditation and contemplation, not only in general, but as they have occurred in my own life. As our fundamental personal nature never changes, and as mine is that of the quintessential rugby player habitually getting the wind up over the next game, I sniff the wind about what this might mean, suspecting that God is up to something a little different. Not completely different, but a little different. Part of me would like to put a complete end to outside activity, part of me has begun to wonder if there is not a possibility of returning to a bit of the good old days, when Nelson was in the first stages of building its reputation as an usually cultural minor metropolis.
I use the plural of "stages" advisedly. There was the nine years before the seventh mansion took over, and then there were nine years afterward. And then there were the almost thirty years of relating exclusively to the Vatican.
* * *
On Friday I had a long chat with a sound engineer, visiting with a relative. We talked technology, and the satisfaction of the teamwork involved in making good records, and then we drifted into the spiritual life, with the Almighty deciding to make the discussion more than academic. From how this lad brought back the memories of the Mrs Buckley's Tea Chest days, I wondered to what degree he might be a sign of the new times. But there is, of course, the parable of the sower, and there is also the image of Abram, very much alive in one of this morning's readings, and how he never saw the nation God promised him. But this morning after mass I ran into another veteran of the media, older, and with one hell of a track record. If a third turns up, the musical Olympics might come sooner than I expected. All that gold could be just a sign of even bigger Canadian successes. I am honour bound to remember that so often in the past a very nice period of contemplative solitude was followed by an outburst of profoundly useful art of one kind or another.
Meanwhile, a third of us leaves for Calgary tonight, to be with a girlhood friend dying of cancer. Providence is always interesting. Shawn is finished work just in time. It is the story of our lives, the story of those who get out of bed in order to live God's will one day at a time.

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