Showing posts with label Heidegger. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Heidegger. Show all posts

13 December, 2019

From Field Notes -- Lauds: Procession to the Long Night Moon

Wednesday, from The Abbey of Gethsemani, Trappist, KY:  Instead of observing Lauds and Mass this morning I came down to the cafeteria to sit with my coffee facing the windows that look out onto the patio that leads to the garden. On my way downstairs (where I was planning on staring out the window, anyway), the moon caught my attention through a window near the top of the stairs; the moon shined bright and hung low over the abbey. I decided to catch more of it because it was a crisp, clear, and cold moon. A December moon. And  with sunrise not until almost 8 AM, she would hold sway in the pre-solstice darkness.

My thoughts wandered, as they often do, wandering into wondering about ... well... my wonderings. My ruminations. And I found myself pondering the plusses and minuses of the contemplative life that Merton wrote about so eloquently. I can't be, nor do I have the desire to be, a Religious. But what about the notion of being a "secular contemplative"?

I had just read an article online about this, but the solution laid out there was to teach... an option I don't really have and, if I'm going to choose poverty in order to be able reflect and write,  I'll choose straight poverty and not sign up to be exploited.

Then there's the whole being in one place thing, which seems to be common among contemplators of various ilks and ordinations. But I think I try too hard to place contemplation and restlessness in opposition, even though I know in practice this isn't so. This tendency is World-bound thinking. Machine Thinking. My Ego, my enemy, still tries to set me in opposition to myself.  Merton maintained that "contemplation is dangerous" if only because the world at large tends not to understand the need for it.

Merton's thoughts on contemplation remind me of Heidegger's fears about calculated (machine) thinking -- a product of the industrial revolution -- causing humanity to reject what makes it human: the ability to reflect. Reflection and contemplation is a large part of what gives meaning to people's lives. How we think about life is what gives life  meaning; and without contemplation, without reflection, people deny themselves context for their own experience and have no choice to rely on some other, inorganic framework.

As usual no answers presented themselves. And probably, that was the answer anyway.
Of course, my nature has always been bent towards the contemplative, just as much as it's always been restless. This is what it means to be a dreamer. And I have most definitely always been that. Unapologetically.

I sat and watched the moon slip from the cradle of two giant arms from the oak tree out and to the other side. Even with the moon hidden briefly behind the tree, it's halo glowed like something out of a Renaissance painting.  Mars was stil visible... at least I think it was Mars... but as I left my monocular back in my room and couldn't retrieve it without crossing the balcony during Mass, I can't even get a minimal look at it. But I know it's there, orbiting the sun with us,  unobstructed by light pollution as the moon peaked out on the other side of the exterior limb: rounded, glowing. Beatific.

Wide-eyed dreamers:
we end up either
restless moon chasers
or bitter failures.

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