Had a week of vacation with family and friends. Did the Southern California thing (Disneyland, Huntington Beach, etc.) It was a lot of fun. I didn’t get a chance to write about my diner with Alick two Fridays ago. Apparently he was intrigued with my experiences so far with the sabbatical. Particularly my efforts to stay on schedule, to remain disciplined. He called me after we first spoke about that and asked to get together again to talk more. It’s often hard to condense Alick’s teachings/advise/sayings, and this was no exception. But what it seems to come down to is that discipline and structure in matters like my sabbatical are GOOD…but they must be developed in order to reveal “my glory”. Glory is deeper than a feeling (satisfaction, happiness, contentment) it is a deeper sense of “rightness”. He made it clear that a component of whatever structure is used must be “saying no” to ones-self; the discipline of not sliding backward into what you used to be. He also said that this discipline simultaneously gets harder AND more important as one gets older. I’m still chewing on this with little progress…
In the meantime, I have chosen a stone for LAST week (week 8) called “Indulgence”. I don’t feel toxic guilt over a vacation like we had…but the fact is I do feel guilty. We spent money we don’t have, and the money we DID have to spend, could have been used for other things…”deeper” things. It’s not that I don’t think we should EVER have fun, ever take a vacation ( I still feel good about getting to England, God willing) it’s more about WHERE the line of indulgence gets drawn, and it’s different for different people. I don’t resent Brenda or anyone else for where they draw their lines…(truth: sometimes I do) but the fact remains my line is drawn differently…in a different place. When Brenda reads this she will feel a mix of frustration and guilt, wondering if I am judging her…if she should be judging herself, feeling frustrated that even a modest little vacation that MOST people would have no problem with has to be a problem for me…make her second guess…wondering if the WHOLE time I was just enduring, feeling guilty and judging her and everyone else…(or something close to those feelings). I’m sorry for that.
I don’t judge her. I judge myself. It’s not just the trip and the money – it’s that fact that when left to myself I would rather sleep and over eat than anything else. That’s the truth about me…it’s not about Brenda or anybody else. I am self-indulgent. What a waste of time this judging thing, 1Corinthians 4:3
On my way to the beach this morning, this little equation popped into my head (I was thinking about my book and a conversation I would be having with St. Francis) Un-met Expectation leads to disappointment, but Un-met hope just leads to more hope. I picture someone trying to start a fire: we have a tendency to pile too much wood on a fire too early. It will almost always be smothered. Eventually, we give up. But if we KEEP piling on, and KEEP trying to ignite the pile, the POTENTIAL fire grows with every stick of wood we toss on the pile in the HOPE that it will eventually catch. When the moment comes that a spark DOES catch, this enormous pile of wood/hope we have constructed becomes a conflagration. I think regardless of how much wood we pile on…it’s that we too often give up trying to get a spark.
CLASSWORK: I’m seriously doubting this writing project on multiple fronts: I’m unsure that I have any real talent for something like this. It’s already been done (once by a RELATIVE of mine!) and I’m not convinced I won’t beaver-out on the details of the story part. I’m considering whether I should abandon the “novel” portion and just try to collect some of my existing writings into some sort of volume.
READ/RITE/REFLECT; MARRIED TO DISTRACTION: Finished this book today. It ended with a luke-warm appeal to some sort “christian-like faith” which results in the fact marriages should be preserved. I don’t begrudge them that…I think I’m just a little annoyed that they come CLOSE to an orthodox appeal for marriage but still miss it. Oh well, I’ll chalk it up to a win that someone is at least writing a decent book defending marriage, forgiveness, servant hood and the like.
The up-shot was a pretty solid two part summary: Develop a PROCESS wherein you connect with each other and agree on a VISION for your marriage. The concise (if somewhat trite) “home run paragraph” from the end of the book says, “If you combine attention to the process of your marriage with an abiding pursuit of the dream you share, you will never fall out of love and you will always find hope, even when you’re down.” (emphasis mine)
It’s formulaic (which appeals to part of me) but it’s broad enough to allow for individual application (which appeals to OTHER parts of me)
I’m looking forward to talks with Brenda about Process and Dreams. The process part will likely be the easier. We’ve already put a “date night” into place, we’ve tried Evening Prayer together (not sure if we should give up on that yet or not) and we can work well together on putting this sort of thing together. The Dream part might be a little trickier. This is where we will likely dance with our co-dependency: she will wonder if I really want a more radical dream (a monastic simple life in a co-housing community or something) and I will wonder if she is simply tolerating the spiritual nature of my dream for us, and secretly just wants something more “normal” or worse…she needs someone with a better earning potential, more stable emotional life and better abs.
I am looking forward to talking through the “dream” thing though.