an image diary

"And if he left off dreaming about you, where do you suppose you'd be? ... You'd be nowhere. Why, you're only a sort of thing in his dream! If that there King was to wake you'd go out -- bang! -- just like a candle!"

"Hush! You'll be waking him, I'm afraid, if you make so much noise."

"Well it's no use your talking about waking him when you're only one of the things in his dream. You know very well you're not real."

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

. . .

Spent the last two days at the priory with morning classes and midday mass and found myself floundering at prayer and contemplation, which surprised me though it shouldn't have given that my resources in store towards a quiet steady internal life are petty or almost nonexistent, and that my inclination towards distraction is nearly perfect. Maybe the work of any writer is distraction; maybe I've made a life it.


Sometimes, rarely, you get to see people do their work as they must in the most mundane daily ordinary sense and you are awed by what they do, if only because the task proves impossible for you. Because what you witness you don't understand. Because, in the end, despite however drawn you are to love (and always with an enthusiasm you mistake for love), you lack charity. Sometimes the witness is revealed as nothing more than a location, something less than a lens or a point of view, nothing so determined as an observation, or even an opinion. And the location is this: I watch them from my patch of sun on the chapel floor and I see them close their eyes and kneel prostrate on the flagstone and I hear their silence. They are beautiful.

And the direction? I am turned towards them. But this is not enough.


On the first day it was a conversation filled with awkward silence. There were lapses, doubt and self-consciousness. My mind wandered. I felt nothing. I felt silly. I had no words, so my mind listened to itself remember things--words I'd overheard or read--until I was distracted into looking for images full of loveliness and solace. I watched the clouds in the sky from the chapel and thought of the pomegranate we sliced open on Sunday afternoon. Too much trouble to eat, Herman said when I held the whole fruit against my face and felt its coolness and heft before photographing the spill of red seeds. I watched the incense smoke uncurl in the window light. I thought of seeds.


Our words, which slip into real garments and reduce them to costumes. But without words, no knowing, either. I keep working on the difference. Word against word.


"Intentionality? What do we mean by it? There is something fundamental in the vegetable life; something exists inherently. Something is in waiting within the seed, a thing implicit that will become explicit, intentionally, potentially, virtually. It proceeds by succession. ...Christ speaks of Grace as a seed. " --Brother John-Luke


Yesterday--the Feast of Mary's Presentation--after mass during the silence allotted for prayer, I gave up. I saw the futility of my being there and saw the end of my day at the priory, and I wondered if my hope was a hope for the wrong thing, whatever my hope may have been (I don't think I know). Then, without my anticipating it, as if from disappointment or release: tears and trembling. It went on and on, inarticulate, welling up, seizing on astonishment and conviction with a clarity I can't seem to summon now. What did it say? Beauty, it said. Just bend towards beauty.


"and what is the use of a book...without pictures or conversations?"

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