Thursday, August 24, 2006

An August Reflection

I wrote this last night.

Or should I say this morning?
A minute after midnight.

The second minute of Thursday, August the twenty-fourth (24th) of 2006. A week from today, I'll attend the first day of academic year 2006/2007. A week ago, I grumbled at the day wasted on a worn-out weedwacker.

Tonight, I can't feel my thumb, and I can barely hold this pen. I hear a distant, high-pitched and sustained ringing in my ears. My arms haven't been this stiff in a long, long time.

But my yard has been tended. I kept my property in order. The new weedwacker works well!

Summer is over. I'm content. How can I describe this serenity? How do I account for it?

It began when I believed God is Love once again. When I emptied my mind of my own prejudicial conceptions of who God is, I understood the truth. When I perceived the fullness of Love as he is, I saw my plaguing lust as the twisting and gnarled shadow that she is.

It continued when I saw The Cloud of Unknowing.

Leave it to Love to ensure that Mira and I would once again vacation in the arms of his Church. While touring Kennebunk, Maine, we stayed at the Fransican Guest House. It's on the grounds of one of Kennebunk's principal points of interest--the Franciscan Monastery. After taking a trolley tour through town, we departed at the very stop from which we had boarded--just outside the Friary. I had no small bills to tip the driver. Feeling remiss, I headed to the gift shop at the rear. Mira accompanied me.

I would have bought some small gift to break my $20.00 bill and have been done with it. While I knew that the trolley wouldn't wait, I was sure I'd see the driver again. As I browsed the gift shop, I came to the book section. That's when I saw it.

A new edition of The Cloud of Unknowing sat among the tomes.

I had read William Johnston's translation long ago. Seeing this one, my heart swelled open. I read this new version's opening chapter and fell in love. Bernard Bangley's modern translation preserved the essence of the anonymous English mystic's voice. Suddenly, I longed to hear it again.

Mira groaned. I insisted.

I opened it later at the beach. The counsel of this 14th century mystic nourished my own impoverished conscience. As the waves danced with the sand and the gulls sang, I experienced the immediacy of the moment with a fresh and penetrating new attention.

My prayer life received a vital resuscitation. I longed to be united with the Spirit once again. I wanted to be one with God who is love once more.

Each reading inflamed this desire. Tonight, I sat in contemplation. I let go of every thought, feeling, image--yes, my very me! I hurled my "love" against that cloud of unknowing between me and Love.

And my days in the desert ended.

Now, I'm content. I'm actually restless in my moment, my present of peace. I'll soon need to lie down and let sleep take me. But for now, I'm alright.

Twenty-five minutes into the first day of my last week of summer vacation, I'm alright.
Deep, huh?

It's all true. Paraclete Press publishes Mr. Bangley's rendition. If you're interested in purchasing it, and you'd rather forego Amazon, click here.