Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

What the Abbot said

We were back in the car, about to leave Mepkin. At Stan's request, we had swung around to the compost bins to pick up some monastic guests who were returning some golf carts to their garage. As Aug was pulling away, I said suddenly: "Stop the car, Aug. I need to talk to Stan for a moment. I'll catch up with you."

I walked over to Stan, who was still standing around with a few others by the golf carts. "Father Stan," I said, and my voice cracked. I took another breath. "Father Stan, what would I need to do to get a copy of Father Francis' letter?" Stan pulled out a manila folder, and produced a printed copy, one of many. (That's so like the monks. They didn't offer copies of it, or announce it, but clearly they anticipated, or at least hoped, that people would ask.) I thanked him, gave him a hug, and he just said, "Give our love to Janet."

I jogged back up the road. I had meant for Aug to drive on, but they had waited for me. I got in the car. "I wanted Francis' letter," I said, and there were murmurs of approval.

We dropped off the guests, said our goodbyes, and began to drive down the long, long oak-lined drive that leads into Mepkin. I felt an awful wave of despair, because I really wanted to stay longer and it physically hurt to leave now.

Five minutes later we stopped at the "El Cheapo" gas station. I sat in the car and finally read the sheet that Stan had given me. Aug came back to the car. "That was some letter from Francis, huh?" he said. "I'm just so happy for Francis," I said, and then I shook with silent sobs, eyes and lips and fists all clenched. When I got my breath again, I said, "Because he was so good, he did so much . . . and he finally got . . . to just Be." And I lost it again.

We pulled away from the gas station, and Aug said quietly, "You know why you're crying, right?"
"Oh, I have my suspicions."
"Because that's what I want. He really lived that way, he really . . . lived that way . . . and that's all I want."

After a few moments: "And I grieve so much for the loss of the Brothers . . . because here they are, facing Ragnarök, struggling to stay alive, and the best thing that ever happened to them, the only person who stood a chance of doing it, is taken away from them. And here I am -- my community is dying, just dying, and there's nothing I can do about it."

Aug said: "You realize the irony, of course?"
"Oh yes, I know . . . I know that he did so much, but his full realization of God only came in his diminishment."

And a little later: "It was also his consummate . . . vocation. Everything about his life was about one thing . . . and he got it. And know that I'm not fulfilling my vocation, and I haven't for a long time. All I want is to know that, right now, I'm doing the right thing with my life . . . and the only time I ever feel that way is when I'm leading an SKS meeting."

Augie said, "Well . . . all I can say is, it has been a privilege to play with you tonight. Because moments like this are the only reason I need a community."

We talked more, a lot more, about community, and the Brothers, and living in the world. But the storm in me subsided. I had heard what I needed to hear from Francis, and I had said what I needed to say. And that felt, in a way, like the beginning of doing the right thing with my life.


Post a Comment

<< Home