Thursday, July 26, 2007


When in the midst of several heavy blows, I feel that I lost my footing; I lost my trust. I know rationally that God will lead me out of the blackness, but it feels so consuming, that I lose sight of it.

Change, whether good or bad seems to put my life out of kilter. I suppose I have to trust that I'll find my path again.

It reminds me of the Camino de Santiago. The yellow arrows that lead us onward sometimes disapear or are missed in the choas of cities or broken or lost in the wilds, and we find ourselves on unfamiliar ground, unsure of where we are going. It is at those time we must open a map and make our best guesses as to how to get back to the camino.

So it is now... I spread out my map, say a prayer, to find the way again, and look. "Lord, help me to find your way for me, my vocation, how to pray, mysticism and writing." I must find a way to slip the mass back into my schedual, meditation, reading, and times to write. Perhaps back to a night scedual? Perhaps keep to a morning one? Structure will help me through the tough changes.

But I shall find the way. The Camino is only lost when I give up.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


Yesterday I had a rough day. Staying up late the night before compulsively rereading Harry Potter 6 didn't help. I was depressed, sluggish, down. I didn't pray, I didn't get anything of much done. Just a couple of crits.

My attachments were in my way. All this time and I am no better at detachment than I was in high school. I suppose it's because I haven't tried, haven't focused on it. My desire for worldly things is strong. Just because most of them of are positive worldly things, friendship, belonging, intellectual stimulation, imagination, human interaction, I tend to think they're okay. That wanting those things, them not being evil, won't hurt me.

But if I want them to much, it leaves me in a state of anxiety and desire. My mind and spirit aren't willing the one thing, but the many, and I am destroying myself as surely as if I am desiring not so good things. They are still "feel good" drugs, just ones under the guise of acceptable, normal, or natural.

I, and I alone, can make this journey. There is no one but God who can walk it with me. Not even my friends who are dead, although they can walk it further than those surrounding me in life.

Yet at the moment the loneliness of it seems oppressive. Is there not one mystic who can take this interior journey with me? Do I not have one interior friend?

Who can see my soul? Who can know the depth of my heart? Jesus is my interior friend, the only one who can make the journey with me. Yet, the human part of me feels lonely, longs for companionship, wants, desires, with real strength, a solid other half, a solid person who will fill the void within.

No solid person can fill the void. I know this. But yesterday it didn't help.

All day I suffered, and then I went to bed. My mind was a wild thing, an untamed animal. I knew, after Tuesday what was necessary. Meditation would give me sleep. Yet, rightly, it felt like surrender. Despite the fact my thoughts were circular, mostly destructive, and not entertaining, I wanted them. I wanted to think, to ponder. I like thinking. And I didn't want to give them up for a "boring" mantra. I didn't want the droning repetitiveness of prayer. I didn't want to surrender.

And yet, I was so lost, tortured enough, that I did. And I slept.

I never thought of my sleep problem as a spiritual problem before, but at this point, I think it is. Part of me is skeptical that prayer that puts one to sleep "counts" but the other part of me figures, whatever "works" works. Perhaps my sleep problem is spiritual. Perhaps, I do not sleep because in general I won't surrender to it.

Sleep is like death. You release your thoughts, your mental and physical activity. You let everything go so that it can be restored. You surrender what you are doing, what you want to do, what you just did, and go into a sweet oblivion. It is not so different from prayer.

So do I not sleep because I do not pray? Perhaps. Perhaps the first step to God is to pray myself to sleep and restore my body. Perhaps surrendering to nature I will learn to surrender to God.

Although it does show me how very far from heaven I stand.

And somehow, becoming a mystic by sleeping just doesn't sound right. But it seems to be the camino set before me. All I can do is walk, and see what the camino brings. All I can ever do, should ever do, is walk.

Ultraya! Animo! Viva la Camino! Santiago, here I come.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Meditation and Sleep

Each day brings a gift.

I didn't sleep last night, the sort of night where my mind goes wild, and drags the rest of me with it. Circling thought about nothing in particular. While they aren't unpleasant they do impede sleep. I finally got up at 3:55 AM, tired of it. I was dragging this morning, and nothing seemed important, least of all mysticism.

I thought to myself, how do those mystic manage anything when they're tired? I did a crit, went to mass, and was hardly awake for any of it, knowing the second I lay down I'd be wide awake again.

So I decided to meditate.

I don't have much luck with meditation. Perhaps procrastinating on the whole mystic bit can partially be blamed on that… I mean, that's what mystics do. Meditate, contemplate. All I could do was fall asleep. I struggled with it for an entire year of centering on sleep instead of God, before giving up. It was horrible frustrating. (Sorry Lord, couldn't keep awake with you an hour, but I did try.)

I had no problem with the idea today. If sleep was the worst that could happen, that was more than fine with me. I suppose our perspective changes with age. I figured if the best I could do was sleep with God for half an hour or so, that was just peachy with me. So I gave it my best shot.

I was not disappointed. Mantra became dream, my brain still didn't shut up, but I knew I was pretty much asleep, because I wasn't conscious of directing my mind for most of it. When I could, I returned my focus, but mostly I slept. Even the mundane and dull nature of the dreams failed to arouse and disappointment. 45 min of sleep meditation seems worth five and half hours of insomnia in bed.

One of those mysteries of the universe I guess.

I for one, think I'll be "meditating" a bit more often these days.

The Annunciation and Writing

A week ago exactly, down in the crypt at Mt. Angel Abby, during mass, I had a revelation. I think I was standing up to go to communion, when the icon of the Annunciation caught my eye, one of Brother Claude's work. Mary was stepping forward in it, her stance strong, and above her head a gold circle of light sent down a single beam towards, doing the work of the incarnation. Gabriel in front of her had his right hand lifted in a priestly blessing, a perfect mirror of how the priest blesses us with the sign of the cross.

And I knew then, as surely as I can know anything—that what I wanted was to be her. For me, the Annunciation became about writing. Mary bore the Word of God into the world, and I realized that was what I wanted. I want to give birth the Word of God, in the form of novels, so that He can touch the souls of the world and bring them to him. So that he can save them.
All I've wanted for a very long time is to bring at least one soul to God. Part of me felt that if I could save just one person, my life, and the cost of it, in both the blood of the Lamb, and the blood of my brother could be worth it. Silly of me, but I have desired that for a long time.
And here I was wanting to bring the Word of God to millions. But that is what vocation is about, is it not? Bringing Jesus to others? Do you think Mary would criticize my ambition to be her? Do you think the Father would?

I don't think so. Despite the bordering heretical edge to my desires, I know they are good. The part of me that knows, believes, can feel that God and Mary not only don't mind, but encourage me. If Father Jeremy can invite the Father and Son to quarrel over him, why cannot I desire to be Mary?

So, fired with loves urgent longing, I return to my vocation, and work yet again, to show Jesus to the world in my work.

Monday, July 16, 2007

This Journey

I've waited long enough.

The call to mysticism is no less a part of my vocation than the call to storytelling, or at least what I perceive as those calls. I hear darkly, impeded by my lack of connection to God, by my failings, by the world I live in. But I have known much longer that mysticism drew me than writing, and it's time I jumped.

The void looks rather black from this end. I'm afraid of death. I must die to myself before I can live, and yet the idea has always terrified me. I have postponed it too long. Avoided it. Rationalized it. Let the cares of the world step between me and my hearts desire.

Yet, the more I struggle with my writing vocation, the more I understand that the two are connected. How can I give what I do not have? How can I draw from depths I have not tapped? No, my writing shall remain superficial until I take the interior journey, until I brave the depths, and give myself over to God.

For too long has writing and prayer, authorship and sanctity, been made into a false dichotomy in my mind. The two go together, not against each other. Just because the mystics who write fiction are few, doesn't mean I can't be one of them.

And so, I am starting this pilgrimage, my inner camino, and to help myself stick to it, I am walking it in public, as all pilgrimages are, to hold myself accountable. I will struggle to think, to read, to pray, to meditate, and to go to mass. I will struggle to bring God into writing, into my life, into my mind and heart and soul. I will jump into the darkness, knowing that He could take it all from me, strip me of what I long for, but knowing that even if He should, the journey will be worth it.

I will lose myself, even if at the moment, the promise that afterwards I will find myself feels dim and insubstantial.