Final Journal Entry for this Sojourn:
The last morning. There is always a last morning. It begins with a sense I remember: Urgency. Gotta get going. Gotta get ready. Gotta strip the bed. Gotta wash up. Gotta clean out the wood stove. Gotta move everything onto the porch. Gotta gotta gotta. It is a strange feeling in the Canyon, felt only once each sojourn here: on The Last Morning. I have no idea what time they’ll come. Maybe not til lunch time. Maybe in ten minutes. Andrew came ridiculously early one year when I was in the middle of my personal wash up. Good thing I have about three minutes of warning from the time they enter the Canyon to the time they reach the casita. That cloud of dust is not from an elk.
I’m ready to leave - the cold is intense, though I am warm enough in the casita. The urgencies tug me, the strings originating in Albuquerque: Living School applications. Directees. Beth. Helena. Deb. Daniel. Marsha. Book. Jan. Thanksgiving and Christmas, now less than two months away.
And I’m not ready to leave. I feel I have a new relationship with Silence I still need to explore. It’s like recognizing your heart’s true love at a train station, three minutes before you each must board a train taking you to opposite corners of the planet. It’s like discovering a new way of breathing that works much better. How do I carry this in my body in the city? How do I not let the Urgencies drive it away? How can I drop back into it when fear chokes off my breathing? What is the connection between the Silence and my work of opening myself so I can actually feel incoming love?
Silence, as experienced in a place like this where the wind, water, and wild life are a constant presence, is a stilling of urgency. It is not about absence of sound. Rarely in a Canyon is there no sound. Here even the stars sing. Assuming Mazlov’s Hierarchy of Needs is satisfied, when nothing productive can go either in or out, all urgency is quieted. No deadlines except sundown. No have to’s. No promises to fulfill, no needs to meet. It is only because I am such a wealthy person of privilege that I have the leisure to do this in this way. And it opens me to a spiritual reality which I have been growing into only very slowly for decades.
Silence is nakedness. Utter and complete nakedness. In Silence there is no defendedness, no argument, no alternative proposal, no Plan B. There is only the here and now as it is. As I am. Not as I hope to be, want to be, aim to be.
“And here, O merciful Lord, we present unto thee ourselves, our souls and dies to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee” (BCP, Eucharistic Liturgy, Rite I).
I know I am utterly right when I say the Presider should be stark naked when - whispering - these words, for they are words requiring much courage to speak with full-hearted intention.
These are the words which require Silence to utter. The inclusion of the word “here” gives them a specificity which is particularly vulnerable. Not next week when I have it all figured out, but here, now. With soot on my fingers, my unwashed, sticky-uppy hair, my belly-fold, my headache, my conflicting feelings, my failed friendships, my growling tummy, my stripped bed, my unexpelled poop, my uncertainty how I’m going to fill all the needs that are already salivating, waiting to eat me up when I exit the car this afternoon.
That is precisely when I pray it: HERE, O merciful Lord, in this cacophony of noise, these voices crying “Mend my life! Mend my life!” (forgive me, Mary Oliver, that line really does need to be doubled) - that is when I pray it. And in doing so, as nakedly as possible, remove any defense to love. Open to friendship with people but first to friendship with God. There is real incarnation: intimacy with the Transcendent. Not quite as pal or buddy, but as cherished Presence with whom we speak most eloquently in the language of Silence.
Another thing about dwelling in this naked Silence - it is the purest form of confession. Words can be useful, especially when speaking as the psalmist speaks, but our utter reluctance to stand in the Silence of the Lord is eloquent enough, especially when we do it anyway regardless of our fear. Hence the fullest meaning of the word “present” (“pre-ZENT”) in the Prayer. Military troops present arms to the heads of government; the Royal Guard present their colors to the Queen. We present the entirety of our naked, humble, unfinished and yet fully-complete selves to the Lord our Mother-Father God. It is rather astonishing. Who can understand it?
And here’s the real kicker. It is how that same Lord, Creator and Lover of the Universe, the Word at the very Beginning, presented Lordself to us: as a naked, helpless, vulnerable baby in cow’s manger; birthed in pain and blood and a bit of scandal. There the Holy One might have said:
“And here, oh humans, I present unto thee myself, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee.” It makes me weep to behold it.
There is the tender mutuality of that German exchange between children and their parents:
Hir bin ich.
Da bist du.
Sigh. The urgencies have waited long enough. Time to go empty the Honey Pot.