Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Desire for serendipity

I have wanted to post that passage from Father Guardini on words and their power since before I even knew what a blog was. Having finally accomplished this task yesterday, I thought, "Nice piece of work completed." Then I saw this post, over on the CIN blog. In it, Clairity's sister, Love2LearnMom (thanks for the correction, Clarity!) explores parts of the Holy Father's meditation on the Our Father, particularly the phrase, "Hallowed be thy name."

Things happen for a reason. The Guardini passage I quoted yesterday is taken from Guardini's meditation on the Our Father, particularly the phrase, "Hallowed be thy name." Okay, Suzanne, sounds like a coincidence. But there is more to this. Guardini and then-Cardinal Ratzinger have each written many books, including one from each with an identical title: The Spirit of the Liturgy. In the Preface to Ratzinger's book of that title, he writes, "[Guardini's The Spirit of the Liturgy's] contribution was decisive. It helped us to rediscover the liturgy in all its beauty, hidden wealth, and time-transcending grandeur, to see it as the animating center of the Church, the very center of Christian life. It led to a striving for a celebration of the liturgy that would be 'more substantial' (wesentlicher, one of Guardini's favorite words). We were now willing to see the liturgy -- in its inner demands and form -- as the prayer of the Church, a prayer moved and guided by the Holy Spirit himself, a prayer in which Christ unceasingly becomes contemporary with us, enters into our lives."

When Benedict XVI was elected Pope, I remembered the above passage, and I thrilled to the thought that the Holy Father and I share a great esteem for Father Guardini's work.

Love2LearnMom's post, "Risk and Friendship," introduces her discussion of the Holy Father's commentary on the Our Father as follows:

I've been thinking a bit lately about how making a step toward friendship with someone or even *being* friends with someone makes you vulnerable in many ways and can, at times be a frightening thing. Or at least something where fear can get in the way and prevent you from making that step. My mind, at least, tries to put these road blocks in my way - "Ugh. Maybe they'll think I'm stupid or presumptuous. Maybe I shouldn't say anything at all." Friendship does sometimes cause extremely painful misunderstandings. There's a significant risk there, especially to someone who is sensitive about such things as relationships.

Of course the rewards of friendship are much greater and entirely "worth it", but not everyone can make it past that first big hurdle and I know, for me, that first hurdle can be very difficult. There is also a significant sense of relief when my offer of friendship is accepted by the other.

Discussions on the Internet can be like that too. If I really share my opinion, which may not be fully formed, will I sound stupid? will some people misunderstand me or dislike me?

There's a certain degree to which the practice of humility is necessary in making such steps (at least in an act against pride which is uncomfortable with vulnerability). It also reminds me of the charity and openness and understanding I should have to others.

So I was interested to understand in a new way, in a portion of Pope Benedict XVI's Jesus of Nazareth, how God models for us a participation in such risks. God came down and made Himself vulnerable to us. Wow!
(posted by Love2LearnMom on the CIN blog)

My first thought on reading these words was, "Wow!" because risk and friendship have separately and together been themes I've been pondering quite a bit lately. What she writes about joining discussions on the internet could have been written by me, at any point during the past few weeks.

Can you call a person a friend when you've never met them face-to-face? I remember being so alarmed once, when a friend told me she was planning to marry a pen pal she had never met in person (she did meet him, eventually, two weeks before the planned wedding, and called the whole thing off). There is so much we don't know, can't know, about someone when we don't share concrete space and lived experiences with them. And yet, there is so much we don't know (and perhaps, in some cases, can't know) about many of the people who do share our concrete space and lived experiences. I think of my friend, Marie, who lives two blocks from me and who takes part in my School of Community; I began to get to know her in an entirely new and rich way when I began to read her blog, Naru Hodo. Our friendship has more threads, a richer texture, now that we can enjoy each others' blogs.

In my case, the blog world, which once seemed like a distraction potentially hazardous to my already over-extended life, has opened up possibilities for me -- possibilities that allow me to be more human, more fully myself. I can't communicate as well verbally as I can in writing, and there are so many things I don't know how to say with spoken words. Thoughts and emotions go unexpressed and remain bottled if I can't write them. I used to burden my friends with long emails, which felt intrusive or irrelevant to those who don't share my problem. Most people can communicate just fine through speaking and have no need for a supplemental annotation to their lives!

But to encounter people, like Clairity (and now her sister!), who are "out there," pondering things that I also ponder, writing about things that I want to read about -- and also want to write about (!), is just a pure gift.

Its new and young and involves a circumstantial distance I've never dealt with before, but I am calling it friendship, and it is worth the risk.

Here is one of Clairity's photo's, "Butterfly on a Coneflower," chosen because it reminds me of how she visits so many flowers and brings pollen with her wherever she goes:

And one of her poems:


Across the span of wasteful spaces,
stars scatter spirals of light.
Glassy jellies, pearled shells tumble and glitz
under the ocean’s verdigris crust.
Rain severs shelves of rigid red rock,
and gusts rifle hills of untillable sand.

A lone seraph perched on the clouds
sways over billows of breezes and ice,
as a small one sparkles away early
with a burble of joyous brief breath.

The culled grains of the waiting soul
send pleas over synapse and salt,
pulling the winds of the world
back through the heart’s gorge.

CC 2005 Sharon Mollerus


clairity said...

You are so kind, Suzanne. I do love to read the Holy Father, but in this case the post "Risk and Friendship" was actually written by my sister, Love2LearnMom ( We are coauthors of The CIN Blog.

I will take credit for the picture and poem, however. Thank you for sharing them! And I look forward to meeting you face to face next week which will make our collaboration even more direct.

Suzanne said...

Do I ever feel silly! Well, I think I've fixed the post and given it a more honest title. It's always a temptation to shoehorn reality into my own categories in order to find (more like "make") significance -- but how much more significance it has when it is undoctored!

I look forward to meeting you, too, but I hope I won't blush...

clairity said...

It can be so hard to figure out who's posting or quoting what. LOL. You will enjoy the connection with Alicia, too. I love the title!!

Dumbstruck by the Mystery

...our temptation is always to impose our prejudices or our measure on reality -- except when we are faced with a fact that leaves us dumbstruck, and instead of dominating the fact ourselves, we are dominated, overcome by it. If there were no moments of this kind, the Mystery could do anything, but in the end, we would reduce everything to the usual explanation. But not even a Nobel Prize winner can stop himself from being dumbstruck before an absolutely gratuitous gesture. If there were not these moments, we would find answers, explanations, and interpretations to avoid being struck by anything. It is good that some things happen that we cannot dominate, then we have to take them seriously, and this is the great question of philosophy. If the conditions for the possibility of knowledge (see Kant) impose themselves on reality or if there is something that is so powerfully disproportionate that it does not let itself be "grasped" by the conditions of possibility, then the horizon opens. If this were not the case, then we could dominate everything and be in peace, or at least without drama. Instead, not even the intelligence of a Nobel Prize winner could prevent him from coming face-to-face with a fact that made him dumbstruck -- instead of dominating, it was he who was dominated. Here begins the drama, because I am called to answer. It is the drama that unfolds between us and the Mystery, through certain facts, certain moments, in which the Mystery imposes itself with this evidence. These are facts that we cannot put in our pocket, which we cannot reduce to antecedent factors.
-- Julian Carron in "Friends, that is, Witnesses."