Sunday, September 03, 2006

Revel in paying for what you have received

As I've hinted at in my recent posts (and as some of you know all too well, as you've been receiving my "Discernment Dispatch" emails), the transition to the Novitiate these past few days has been quite tough. It's a kind of death, and I'm grieving my past life in SC. I want to share below part of an email I got back from a dear friend that strikes at the heart of the matter:
It's funny how deeply unreconciled we are with time; one never ceases to notice its inexorable movement, the way it destroys the illusion of the status quo (that we hold so dear) like water, whether by slow erosion and transformation or by engulfing change. I think it's because we are basically unreconciled to our own mortality--to the mutability of things--and to the way the Fall has shaped the world. The Japanese understand beauty to have an essential element of sadness because of its impermanence (the ephemeral, if you will) and the Saxons had a similar idea about the nature of courage and honor. This life is "leane" as the Pearl-poet put it. Fleeting. And so is
everything in it. And I think nostalgia is really about the dissonance between our sense that love and loveliness should last forever--that they are stronger than here and now and ought not be subject to the laws of time and space--and the way we see our past spinning away from us like honey dissolving in tea.

But the thing is, the sense (and not the senses) are RIGHT: those things do last forever, and there are no goodbyes. The dissolution is the illusion, every bit as much as the status quo is. To clutch the past to your heart is to embrace death, but death has not the same meaning for us it had for the Nara painters and the ancient Norse poets...Everything has a price. Revel in paying for what you have received--there's a kind of glory in it.
Death, where indeed is thy victory.

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