"Simone Weil... declared that Hitler's rise to power would be inconceivable without 'the existence of millions of uprooted [people]' who could not be roused to care about anything except their immediate circumstances... our failure to acknowledge our inner blockages can make us incapable of recognizing the blockages we have created in the culture... we come to assume that these conditions - injustice, poverty, perpetual conflict - are inevitable, the only possible reality, and lose our ability to imagine that there are other ways of being, other courses of action.
Wendell Berry laments the extent to which economics has been elevated to a position that God once held... We have come to 'treat economic laws of supply & demand' as though they were' the laws of the universe'. If there is a religion that encompasses all the world, it is the pursuit of wealth.
True sloths are not revolutionaries, [but] 'the lazy guardians at the gate of the status quo'."
"One great difference between these monks and today's pop psychologists is that the monks' process of discernment was likely to result in more self-knowledge, less self-consciousness. In our day, this is often reversed. People whose speech remains stuck in therapeutic jargon, for all the 'work' they are doing on themselves, often remain stubbornly unreflective. Even if they can catalogue their neuroses with great facility, they seem stuck within them.
Carmelite Ruth Burrows... regards any authentic religious experience as entailing 'a slow, demanding generosity,' one that does not short-circuit within us but flows outward naturally, until what we believe becomes what we do.
... 'What is integrity?'... 'Always to accuse [oneself]'.
By 'selfish' I do not mean observing the basic care of the self, knowing when to retreat, to hunker down in waiting out a storm... I may need 'time out'. I may need to 'cocoon'. But a cocoon is effective only as a means of change."
"... my husband and I have benefited on several occasions from marriage counseling, I have found therapy to be of limited usefulness, constrained in ways that religion is not, because it consistently falls short of mystery, by which I mean a profound simplicity that allows for paradox and poetry.
Anthony of the Desert once said that a true prayer is one you don't understand."
"To keep romantic relationship alive, one must be mindful enough to recognize the danger signs of inattention and sloth... Over time we found the accumulation of shared experiences provided us with a storehouse of memory that helped bear the worst of circumstances."
"For me, the most basic definition of sin - to comprehend that something is wrong, and choose to do it anyway - is still the most useful. It frees me from the narcissism of fretting over my more trivial failings, even as it forces me to admit to those actions that have hurt others.
As I experience the repeated ebb and flow, the danger is that I will grow weary and more easily discouraged, unable to appreciate that grace is real, and as available to me, as acedia.
How might I be solid as a wall yet alive with movement? How might I build on all that I have learned yet not resist new challenges and transitions? Two vows that are unique to the Benedictines are of use to me here, the vows of stability and conversion.
We live our lives not at the end, but... in the interval between birth and death... There is good psychological basis for the impulse, borne out in many of the world's religions, to pray in the morning, at noon, and at night, at the hinges of time, when we might be most open to God but are also susceptible to acedia and its attendant despairs. The psalmist asks us to place our hope in a God who will not grow weary of watching over us at these risky moments, who will 'guard [our] going and coming/both now and for ever' (Psalm 121:8).
'Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,/ they shall mount up with wings like eagles'... [Hope] is an action... To hope is to make a leap, to jump from where you are to someplace better. If you can imagine it, and dare to take that leap, you can go there - no matter how hopeless your situation may appear..."
"One of Saint Benedict's 'tools for good works' is to 'day by day remind yourself that you are going to die' (Rule 4:47).'
Commitment always costs, and there is a particular burden in loving another person, if for no other reason than the fact that this beloved will one day die."
"... the word transition cannot convey my struggle with the rigors of grief, a residual exhaustion from years of steadily increasing adversity, and the promptings of acedia to respond to all of this by not caring...
The monks and mystics of my faith all teach that persevering in a spiritual discipline, especially when it seem futile, is the key to growth.
... it is one thing to pray when you feel like it, and another to make it as much a part of you as breathing... 'we don't always have to say a prayer, we can live out a prayer'.
'... God is trying to get us to accept a state where we have no assurance within that all is well... where no clear path lies before us, where there is no way...' Only when we admit that have 'no way' do we have any hope of finding one. Out of what seems desolate a newly vigorous faith can arise, a certainty that is not subject to change in moods or feelings, or the vicissitudes of life.
People often remark that they would write, or paint, or sculpt, if only they had the time. But this is pure fantasy: the artist does whatever is necessary to arrange her life so that she will have the time to write.
... my sadness increases as I am less able to see the world as I know it to be: ablaze with significance, potent with meaning. Yet I know that even if I am too exhausted to see them, the images, correspondences, connections, and metaphors that would free me are there, to be discovered, and to live as a poet means not to abandon my search for them. Such insights may come as gifts, but it is the prepared and fertile heart not the one dulled by acedia, that is best able to receive them."
Kierkegaard in "Either/Or": "I would wish not for wealth or power but for the passion of possibility, for the eye, eternally young, eternally ardent, that sees possibility everywhere."
Currently watching: Young@Heart (2008)