Being busy unlearning things takes time and snacks. One of the things I am learning about in my dotage is the tremendous importance of the occasional snack. Some tea in one of my tea bowls, some chocolate covered almonds, some macadamia nuts and a few slices of candied orange. Thinking food. Perhaps not kale but, some energy for the brain.
I recently read that the human brain generates enough electricity to light a flashlight. Amazing. But I expect that we need to fuel our furnaces from time to time.
For me, a blank sheet of paper, silence, and a few snacks with tea will do wonders for my thinking. That, and a nap. And spooning Kai-the-dog. It all makes me rather willing to let go while I am working on crafting my best self.
“Our only task is to seek willingness. This radical willingness will, if we are faithful to it, shatter every idea we have about ourselves, about our inner growth and transformation, about living a Christian life, about contemplation and our relationship to the world; about God.”
Maggie Ross, The Fountain and the Furnace, Mahwah, NJ, Paulist, 1987, 90.
When I was younger I thought I needed to do more. Write more, make more, host more, work more, achieve more. I bought the lies that we must strive, strive, strive to be better Christians. But as I age, I am becoming slowly aware that becoming a better human IS becoming a better Christian. Jesus did not want us to be Christians. Jesus wanted us to be kind humans – our best selves – life abundant.
Willingness to contemplate is a dangerous, deeply courageous act. It demands the kind of swordsmanship of an Arthurian Court and the kind of magic of a Hogwartsian struggle. To contemplate is to warm compassion and that is the great tool of life. It cuts at the theologian’s forests of thorny brambles so often designed to show you the various hoops through which you must jump to get into heaven, to secure sacraments or to deserve grace . But Jesus (and perhaps the Buddha, Mr. Rogers, Maya Angelou, Rumi and some others…) waits beyond the thorny rules and rocky answers- away in the grassy, sunlit fields of our shattered ideas about God; each blade of grass a new question.
What if we do not need to crawl and scrape through catechisms, adult forums, lent and confession after all? What if a sip of warm tea, a bite of candied orange, a nap and some reflection on what we do and do not do – what we say and do not say … what if encountering heaven is not an achievement, but rather, simply an awareness of how little we know; and yet, how much we love and are loved by a Flow of Beauty of whom we really know very little?