The sun breaking through clouds and mist burning off Cusop Hill, visible from my study window. Went down stairs to make coffee and found that the wind and rain have torn the petals off one of the bright orange lilies blooming in a glazed pot. Tomato plants threatening collapse. Blackbirds and house martins in the garden, hopping across the grass.
Staying in the day with gratitude and sober resolve. Yesterday wasn’t easy, a difficult conversation with Ula back in South Africa, felt selfish and heartless for not being able to provide all the definite decisions she wanted to hear. But I am not going to lie and both and she and myself will have to live with that.
Very enjoyable breakfast yesterday, talking about liberation theology and Hans Kung’s vision of the church with Paul. I have more reservations about the Catholic church being willing to transform itself than I used to have, but I love the idealism of those who want to see meaningful change and trust in the movement of the Holy Spirit. And while I don’t talk much about God because my own inauthenticity gets in the way, I like hearing someone share from a very committed and sincere place.
Last night we watched a documentary film on vipassana practice being introduced into one of India’s largest prisons. Doing Time, Doing Vipassana was the title. For all my doubts about this being less effectual than some good old solid social transformation and prison reform — change the material conditions and the heart will follow — the descriptions of the calming of the mind and gentle observation of thought processes was very encouraging. I recall the retreats I have done in past years and how that breathwork and meditation enabled me to reflect on some of my more distracted and painful mental habits. The rehearsing of what I would say to others, distrust of the spontaneous, the recoil from aversion, the scattered thoughts all at odds with one another. An inability to stay in the moment and be present to my reality. An inability to watch without comment, to observe without reactivity.
Perhaps I can join with others here and do some sitting practice. As well as getting some exercise. I should get out and walk at least once a day, along by the river or up one of the hills.
One day at a time. This is a difficult and uncertain time, filled with wonderful new discoveries and love, but scary and oddly futureless unless I can get permission to stay in Britain. The writing is the most frustrating aspect of my life from day to day and there I must simply persist. Every worthwhile activity begins with breaking stones. It isn’t the writing itself that causes such distress but the expectations I bring to the writing.
The sun is giving up the battle and the sky over Cusop Hill is low and grey. Birds loud and seemingly in competition. All day I shall work, sitting here at my desk and scribbling away or sitting at my desk unable to write a word, and then it will be time for an early supper and a meeting. At some point I must plant new herbs and rocket, perhaps put in a shrub or two if we can get to a nursery.
Focus and persistence, that kind of a day. Learning to trust the process. Learning to be in a relationship with no guarantees. learning to live with another and share, give of myself. Learning to ask for what I need. And simply putting one foot in front of another. To be there for others, to work hard, to live an ordinary life that is open to mystery. Myself as part of the whole.