Two quotes from different friends shaped a lot of my thinking last week - and
will likely influence my vacation wandering, too. The first, by Richard Rohr, speaks to living into the spirituality of the "second half" of life. I like it a lot:
Unless you somehow "weep" over your own phoniness, hypocrisy, and woundedness, you probably will not let go of the first half of life. The gift of tears helps you embrace the mystery of paradox, of that which can't be fixed, which can't be made right, which can't be controlled, and which doesn't make sense. But if you don't allow this needed disappointment to well up within you (good guilt), if you surround yourself with your orthodoxies and your certitudes and your belief that you're the best, frankly, you will stay in the first half of life forever and never fall into the Great Mercy. Many religious people never allow themselves to "fall," while many sinners fall and rise again.
Later this summer my family will gather near the old vacation grounds in Webster, MA to set my parents' and sister's cremains to rest on the Lake. For four generations, this was "home" - a safe, quiet resting place - until the taxes became onerous and the brokenness of the family required the sale of the cottage. We will gather for a ceremony as well as to reconnect. We have not been together since the memorial service nearly two years ago.
The second, by poet Ronald Wallace, was sent by my friend Pam, a wise poet and author herself, and this, too speaks to me of this moment in time.
I have to believe a Beethoven
string quartet is not unlike
the elliptical music of gossip:
one violin excited
to pass its small story along
to the next violin and the next
until, finally, come full circle,
the whole conversation is changed.
And I have to believe such music
is at work at the deep heart of things,
that under the protons and electrons,
behind the bosons and quarks,
with their bonds and strange attractors,
these strings, these tiny vibrations,
abuzz with their big ideas,
are filling the universe with gossip,
the unsung art of small talk
that, not unlike busybody Beethoven,
keeps us forever together, even
when everything’s flying apart.
One of the insights that Jean Vanier talks about in his commitment to tenderness is learning to love and trust what is real: in this, he says, he must search for the often hidden presence of the Holy. It is small, vulnerable, and most often obscure - rather like a treasure hidden in a field - so it takes both patience and intentionality to discover. But the blessing is there, our connection of the arch of the moral universe is there, too. And so the wandering begins anew.