Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A living work


I keep finding myself in the midst of life... And, invariably, daily, within the question of life itself... a compelling question, one that arises not from any casual thought, but from the depths of the organism itself.

Work in life, I see, must be a living work. It can't just remain a work of the intellect, a theoretical work. That may be where it began for me, many years ago, but it has since- like water percolating downwards into the darkest, most intimate parts of the earth- penetrated into the very bones, the marrow, of my life.

This is how it needs to be. My work needs to permeate me, to saturate me, or my wish has no power.

If I misunderstand this need... If I keep searching from within intellect... My wish is a lost wish. I'm puzzled by where it is, why it doesn't motivate me more... Why, as Dr. Welch used to say, I don't work.

So many of us reach middle age without a clear understanding of this point. It's at this point, however, that the shock of realization can become most powerful, and create the most fertile possibilities. That moment when I see that I am turly growing older, that this process ends in death (yes, finally I begin to irrevocably admit that to myself, rather than equivocating it) and that the "meaning" I try to extract from the achievement of outward tasks pales in comparison to that question.

I am headed towards an appointment with death. How am I conducting myself?

So it's here, at this age, where I face the real terror of the situation, that I discover the greatest possibility. It's possible for the elements inside my body to enter a new relationship, where the intellectual urgency of the situation...fused with the beginning of a meaningful emotional understanding... meets with a newly energized, active physical force that actually has the power to sustain an effort in life, instead of just thinking about it.

We talk a lot about that force, and we read about it. Yet we have so little understanding of it. In some ways, the discussions about it and the intellectaul framing of it- the form we assign it- are a hindrance. It's only by the living of it, the sensation of it, that I can investigate it, and the moment I deconstruct that to attempt an understanding, I have already misunderstood.

In a way, then, it is only in the silent contemplation, the silent appreciation, of this moment that I can approach the question. (The only medium I have discovered with the potential to leave enough open air in the question to allow it to breathe naturally is poetry.) These discussions of life we engage in become wearying... They're so repetitive,, aren't they? We must find a way to be more than just parrots... and yet the parrot in us so dearly loves itself.

We have both an obligation and a responsibility to engage, and to exchange. It's not enough to just sit here absorbing the vibrations- I'm called upon to be active enough to stand in the middle, between the active and the contemplative elements of my life, and to supervise a dialog between them.

Ah, that sounds good... Yet "I" don't "do" this. If it happens, when it happens, it is the living work itself that does it... And perhaps we might say that this living work has no "I", at least not as it is understood now. The living work is already connected to- arises from- transmits- a force that transcends this little "I" that loves itself so much.

So to be touched by this potential for a living work already requires a surrender. I don't well understand the nature of that surrender... I can taste it with the soul much better than I can touch any part of it with the mind.

And it's that intimate contact alone which can lead me deeper into this question of what I am, and why I am here.

May the living light of Christ discover us.

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