Sunday, August 7, 2011

repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand

john wesley used to say that one should preach until one heard himself. i'm trying to listen to what i'm saying. so, after the last post, on the temptations of s. dominic, i have sold my book cases, taken several piles of books hither and yon, and a bag of stuff to the animal shelter thrift store, in memory of my little grey squirrel, who seems to have died from the heat.
and i am off to the wilds again. well, soon, at the first of september. there are still many books and a few other things to disperse. and, somewhat surprisingly, i am off to the coast. i really miss the ocean, the tides, the smells. perhaps i can find some sea otters who will befriend me. i have stayed here in the hills far longer than the two weeks i had expected. with occasional interruptions, it's been more than six years now. every other time i have started to leave, i have been constrained. but now it seems freeing. i'm sure i don't know what's in store next. i am packing light. pray that i am ready.
perhaps i will really build a coracle.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

the temptations of s. dominic

i well remember when i first began to discover the differences between the franciscans and the dominicans. i was in a sort of 'franciscan period,' all excited about lady poverty and giving away my stuff. there was even a day when i had a sort of epiphany, or an e-pie-phany, if such a horrible pun may be excused. i was living in bellingham, had about $3.00, and wanted a piece of berry pie. (one can tell this was a while ago, when a piece of pie cost still less than $3.00.) to reach the pie store, however, i would need to walk past a group of panhandlers, who would all ask me for money, and i felt honour-bound to give it to them. but a voice from heaven, as it were, proclaimed that the holy one loved even me, and that i might from time to time have a piece of blackberry pie, too. and so i did. st. francis would have kicked me out of the hut for days.

francis of course was also noticeably anti-bookish; no psalters allowed for his little brothers. (obviously the franciscans did not continue that tradition.) even then i had a psalter. indeed, i had three books. then i read a bit about s. dominic, and found that he not only allowed the brothers of his order to have books, but encouraged them to stay up late at night and read. so my franciscan poverty became a dominican poverty. in rich fat america, it's easy to find books for free, of for less than a piece of pie. there were always several free boxes in bellingham. now that i live in the ozarks, there's the hillspeak pass along program, with about 30,000 free books.
so, about 2,000 books later, i find that i am so deep in the poverty of s. dominic that it's hard to see over it. it's a very enjoyable sort of poverty, but it really seems more to be an indulgence in temptation than poverty.

now if of course know that these books aren't 'mine' and i share them, and give them away, and pass them along. but i am no longer free. now, i must provide shelter for hundreds and hundreds of books that i think of as relics, not only in the sense that they contain the thoughts of many wonderful men and women who put their hearts and minds into the words saved on all these printed pages, but also because they almost all of them have belonged to and been read by people before me. one can feel the thoughts and prayers of those who have read them before. they are an important part of my connection to the communion of saints.

and yet. and yet i know that mies van der rohe was right: less is more. st. francis was right: we don't live in houses. st. dominic's poverty is good for some, but for me it mostly a temptation for more pie, and the excuse to indulge in eating. the good news is always the same. repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. perhaps never has it been said better than by the indigo girls: