It was a great retreat: Large swatches of time alone where the silence sank deep into my bones. Anointed scriptures, quotes and questions that stirred the quieted heart. Ample time to share with others--in the large group, in small prayer groups, in casual time around the table. Creative nudges through various artistic tasks that expressed more than we knew we were saying.
"I don't really know what I want to do when I grow up," said my high-schooler as we discussed college possibilities.
"Me either," I said.
"Well, you're running out of time," he grinned.
One of the loveliest things about getting away is returning home; returning to those particular comforts you'd grown accustomed to that others don't seem to deem necessary. After two weeks in climes held captive by the sun, I greeted our fine feathered fog with the delight of a long lost lover.
"I hate it already," my son said after negotiating the annual schedule screw-up a few days before school started. "I hate it already," I thought a week later as I affixed my signature to the requisite stack of papers. (You can always tell how asinine an organization is by how many papers are required to cover its ass.)
Opus Dei means work of God, the work that we all hope to take part in. Opus Dei is also the name of a group within the Roman Catholic Church and a secret-society bogeyman in Brown's DAVINCI CODE. Founded in 1928 by Josemaria Escriva, Opus Dei focuses on the holiness of ordinary, everyday work--both as a means for personal transformation and as a way to transform secular society. Primarily a "lay organization" Opus Dei currently has around 85,000 members worldwide, over half of whom are women.
A box of books--12-step, psychology, birth order, sexual abuse....I pull out a hardback with no dust jacket and ruffle the pages. THE CHALLENGE OF ART TO PSYCHOLOGY by Seymour B. Sarason. This looks really boring. I place it on the this-looks-really-boring stack. The desk is covered with stacks: prayer, healing, 12-step, family, steals, boring. Later as the desk thins out--books shuffled onto shelves--I remember that the mixing of Art and Psychology is an important part of my writing classes. I look at the book again and decide to take it home.
Since people of different traditions staff The Word Shop, our faith and knowledge expands as we encounter the variety of perspectives. The downside is that I regularly find rare treasures from one tradition priced at a mere pittance by someone who didn't recognize the diamond in the dust. Or, as was the case last week, discovering a handful of recently acquired books stuck outside on our free shelf. "Yikes," I said gathering up Thomas Merton's SIGN OF JONAS, a book on the Trappists, and a couple of others. "These we need to price and sell."
Running the last gauntlet of errands before Christmas, I feel the desire for a new notebook rise up. Ten running feet of spiral notebooks already lurk on various shelves, many notebooks only half or three-quarters full. Pads proliferate. Lack of paper is not the issue. More tantalizing is the desire is to start fresh, to bask in the shimmering potential of empty pages, to sit in a small room with a wide view and be able to hear myself think.
If you're casting your shadow before you
If moving forward you see only darkness, failure and imperfection.
It is possible that the light is at your back
And it's time to turn around.
Five of us sat on the edge of the queen beds in the hotel room--knees almost touching, an inch of wine in our plastic glasses. In the post-glow of the OSL conference we talked of the deep and abiding pleasure of praying for others, of ministering under the anointing.
Once upon a time there were three chairs: A great big leather papa bear chair that Adrianna gave us ten years ago, two twin soft mama bear chairs that Sherrie gave us and a wee baby bear chair Devorah decorated, which doesn't enter into the story at all. One day Julie was enjoying lunch in one of the mama bear chairs, when she noticed the arm was loose. "This chair is breaking," she said.
"Maybe the Lord will send us another chair," I said.
On Monday, Sunnie saw couple of ten year-olds take an armful of books from our window. She was a bit concerned but reasoned that the sign does say "Free Books" and we do want people to take them. Then the kids returned and put some back. Turns out they had cruised the neighborhood asking if anyone wanted a book. Two people came into the store that afternoon as a result of their efforts. Best PR we've had all year. Sunnie said we should add them to the payroll. Jelly beans and chocolate eggs.