Simplicity is hard for me to chose. I come from a family not naturally given to it though my father would have chosen it had he not married my mother. I come from a long line of men, on both sides of my family, whose self-esteem was buttressed by possessions. The women in my family liked beautiful things and my mother and grandmother both anesthetized their senses of a lack of control in their lives by taking control of pretty things as a means by which to fill a void and anesthetize their pain.
This week I will be moving. It was to be my retreat week and it will remain my retreat week, though the retreat will be asked to accommodate the move and in a way, I am looking forward to the week. For me as, with any priest, a week of retreat is a time to connect deeply with our God and ourselves. My Rule of Life prescribes, in some detail, what a “retreat week” means and so I have a framework. My Rule prescribes three one-hour periods of meditation and three one hour periods of gentle reading about the spiritual life along with three 30-minute written reflections on the readings and the meditations. So, in my book, as long as I am faithful the seven and a half hours of spiritual work, the rest of the day can be filled with gardens, walks, friends, foods, movies and art. This week, the extra eight waking hours will be filled with packing and unpacking- dismantling and setting up – taking down and hanging art, sorting and discarding.
As I move more deeply into my fifties and after the accident in Prague, I am less and less inclined to soothe my anxiety about friendship with parties for which I generally end up as more caterer than friend. I am less and less inclined to make purchases of things which I then need to un-wrap, place, dust and move, since my self-esteem is large enough to less and less feel the need to impress others with my possessions. I am less and less inclined to eat to fill the void I feel for God since eating no longer has pleasure attached to it and since the void is getting smaller as I approach reunion. And I am less and less likely to give into the decidedly male preoccupation with money, power and prestige as God whispers over and over and over again that I am beloved and that I am enough and that I have done enough.
Recently Joe and Liz came t the house with little Evelyn to say good bye. The parting nearly broke my heart. We had become very close friends and been a constant support to each other these last three years. We had each other’s backs but spoke honestly to each other’s faces; and that is a mark of friendship.
Joe has had an icon of mine tattooed onto his fore-arms – a tattoo and an icon about which I will be writing this week in The Daily Sip. We sat in the garden in the heat of the morning sun and said good good-byes. We went round and told each other what we loved about each other and what we will take away with us from the intensity of the trust we shared. We thanked each other and we wept. And we ate spanakopita and drank good coffee. I asked them what I always ask my closest friends – “What do you see about me that you think I may not be able to see?” and then I asked about Joe’s tattoo. “What would you suggest I have tattooed on my inside wrist, were I to do so, (which is, I admit, unlikely)? Liz said, after a long silence, “You should tattoo on your wrist the Greek for “Beloved” so that you remember that you are, no mater what others say.”
So “Beloved” will be my word for this week. And simplicity. A five course meal would be fantastic in hundreds of silver and gold plates and bowls. But some good cheese, a warm tomato and some good cured sausage is just enough. And enough will also bee a theme this week.
I am moving into two rooms and a garden. And it will be just enough. I will host two to six friends at a time, and it will be just enough. And the new tiny house, running alongside a secret, walled garden with glass walls alongside the garden, will be much more than enough for one beloved man and his beloved dog.