Wednesday, October 30, 2013

canon of shrews; apocrypha of ingénues

I was sitting crying to you over the phone 
While passing the border from one state to another 
Filled with people whom I couldn't help to relate to 
--King of the World, First Aid Kit

I was instantly smitten with Fr. Dunne's essay on Bernard Lonergan. Because, Fr. Dunne and Bernard Lonergan together seamlessly connected my dreamy Idea Crush of the semester with the Current Preoccupation of Life. 
My Idea Crush is this: 
Singleness of Purpose. 
I am haunted by Singleness of Purpose.
Singleness of Purpose, I think, means that each action of each day is entered into carried out and completed for one and only one reason.
This is almost the antithesis of undergraduate life, because there are five hundred different classes, meetings, and committees that pull you in every different direction.
We talk about juggling activities, not about integrating our activities.
I would liken my daily life to a butterfly darting about from flower to flower, sucking nectar haphazardly where she lands, and not to a beaver, steadily building her dam, each measured action focused towards her creation.
I want singleness of purpose.
I desire it, crave it.
In the midst of swirling attractions and undulating feelings, that idea of singleness of purpose shines as faithfully as Daisy's little green light.
(Gatsby. There's a man with singleness of purpose. I think I'm talking about a different singleness of purpose.)
Like many things, this is all the fault of the Missionaries of Charity. 
They brought this phrase into my vocabulary, as each day, as we prayed before apostolate: "give me singleness of purpose."
Well. Give it to me.
Where is it?
The priest who offers Mass has it; the young wife caring for her baby has it; my father has it.
Where's mine?
So that's the Idea Crush.

And the Current Preoccupation of Life is this, according to Fr. Dunne:

The experience of waiting on God, is I believe, the heart of prayer. It is a waiting on a God who is hidden in the darkness, not only the darkness that comes before and after life but also the darkness that is found again and again during life whenever one is searching for one's way in life. 

I read those words aloud as I sat outside in the grey October afternoon. An October that slipped through my fingers surprisingly swiftly. 
As I walked under the blood red canopy of a row of maples I felt my breath catch in my throat, and I realized that this October swirled by me like an eddy of fall leaves, bringing me right up to the edge of November.
I read those words aloud to my friend who sat next to me, whose sparkle of confidence was hiding under a layer of tears; her usual cut-throat competence had deflated into a puddle of dejection.
If you sit next to a human being, you can usually sense when they feel more like a crumbling chocolate chip cookie than an incarnation of Nike. 
There is a hard layer missing from their outside, and you can see inside of them.
My friend described to me what it was like to see an open heart surgery.
And my mind was boggled, not just because I cannot comprehend what it must be like to slice open someone's body and use a camera to repair their heart.
But mostly because he has seen inside a human being.
You're not supposed to see inside a human being; you're just supposed to see their skin, and hair, and every piece that we've designated as acceptable for public vision.
How thrilling and indescribably awe-ful that you can see inside a human's heart.
You can see into all that darkness and silence that's inside of us.
And like that little camera that projects a picture of the heart onto a screen for the surgeons to examine, if you can see inside the human, you have the opportunity to shed a little light into the interior darkness.

And so I hugged one friend close to me; and I stroked another's hair, assuring them that they are perhaps the most glorious and radiant human beings who have ever graced the earth's crust with the touch of their feet.
A hug is sort of a miracle, because it's a simple touch that somehow manages to communicate to another human that you love them.
So. That's sort of a bit of light in the middle of darkness.
And then Fr. Dunne says:

The waiting is the praying, and the coming of God is the answer to the prayer.

As we wait for God, we find that we cannot just sit stagnant, we must move forward.
But each forward movement is motivated by this waiting.
This waiting is God's singleness of purpose.
We find that in the waiting, through the waiting, we can and, in the words of the Beatitudes will "see God." 
Like the pure of heart, we will one day see God in the darkness.

Purity of heart, in the words of Kirkegaard, is to "will one thing."
Purity of heart is Singleness of Purpose.
A single desire of the heart.
A single yearning for a being to manifest Himself in the darkness.

No comments:

Post a Comment