You are currently browsing the monthly archive for February 2011.
Post 1: February 8: “Deep Purple Shadow” – “Wintertime Prayer”
Post 2: February 20: “A Duplex For Wrens” – “Railroad Flowers” – “History Lesson”
Post 3: February 28: “Negating Natural Erasers” – “Point of Departure”
Many thanks to Nancy for calling attention to my work.
If we take our vulnerable shell to be our true identity, if we think our mask is our true face, we will protect it with fabrications even at the cost of violating our own truth. This seems to be the collective endeavor of society: the more busily men dedicate themselves to it, the more certainly it becomes a collective illusion, until in the end we have the enormous, obsessive, uncontrollable dynamic of fabrications designed to protect mere fictitious identities – “selves,” that is to say, regarded as objects.
Thomas Merton, Raids on the Unspeakable (New York: New Directions) 15
There is much emphasis on notoriety and fame in our society. Our newspapers and television keep giving us the message: What counts is to be known, praised, and admired, whether you are a writer, an actor, a musician, or a politician.
Still, real greatness is often hidden, humble, simple, and unobtrusive. It is not easy to trust ourselves and our actions without public affirmation. We must have strong self-confidence combined with deep humility. Some of the greatest works of art and the most important works of peace were created by people who had no need for the limelight. They knew that what they were doing was their call, and they did it with great patience, perseverance, and love.
We all have our secrets: thoughts, memories, feelings that we keep to ourselves. Often we think, “If people knew what I feel or think, they would not love me.” These carefully kept secrets can do us much harm. They can make us feel guilty or ashamed and may lead us to self-rejection, depression, and even suicidal thoughts and actions.
One of the most important things we can do with our secrets is to share them in a safe place, with people we trust. When we have a good way to bring our secrets into the light and can look at them with others, we will quickly discover that we are not alone with our secrets and that our trusting friends will love us more deeply and more intimately than before. Bringing our secrets into the light creates community and inner healing. As a result of sharing secrets, not only will others love us better but we will love ourselves more fully.
We like to make a distinction between our private and public lives and say, “Whatever I do in my private life is nobody else’s business.” But anyone trying to live a spiritual life will soon discover that the most personal is the most universal, the most hidden is the most public, and the most solitary is the most communal. What we live in the most intimate places of our beings is not just for us but for all people. That is why our inner lives are lives for others. That is why our solitude is a gift to our community, and that is why our most secret thoughts affect our common life.
Jesus says, “No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house” (Matthew 5:14-15). The most inner light is a light for the world. Let’s not have “double lives”; let us allow what we live in private to be known in public.
Selected poems from the four poets who spoke during the Second Bethlehem Branch Library Poetry Reading, February 17, 2011, in Bethlehem Community, Alexander County, North Carolina, USA. (I am second)
Many thanks to BuD Caywood for arranging this reading and to Micah Henry for videotaping these poems for The Taylorsville Times.
“With the keen observations of a naturalist and the reflective probing of a theologian, Losse’s poems unearth epiphanies from ordinary life. Seeing Queen Anne’s Lace or a Dried-Up River Bed become occasions for spiritual renewal and revelatory wonder. Losse invites her readers on a soul’s journey from mountain peaks to valleys. Her collection Seriously Dangerous is like the liturgical dancer that holds the candle, and whose performance rises like incense. Losse’s poems dance and sing the spirit alive.”
There’s still time to advance order Seriously Dangerous. Please do.
To be able to enjoy fully the many good things the world has to offer, we must be detached from them. To be detached does not mean to be indifferent or uninterested. It means to be nonpossessive. Life is a gift to be grateful for and not a property to cling to.
A nonpossessive life is a free life. But such freedom is only possible when we have a deep sense of belonging. To whom then do we belong? We belong to God, and the God to whom we belong has sent us into the world to proclaim in his Name that all of creation is created in and by love and calls us to gratitude and joy. That is what the “detached” life is all about. It is a life in which we are free to offer praise and thanksgiving.
It would be absurd to suppose that because emotion sometimes interferes with reason, that it therefore has no place in the spiritual life.
Thomas Merton. Thoughts in Solitude. (New York: Farrar, Strauss, Giroux). p.12.