Sacred Humanitas

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Community Retreat Spring 2002. Soul and Spirit. Presence and Absence.

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#set-community-retreat-spring-2002

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The Holy Father in a letter to Benedictine Prioresses in the year 2000, for the millennium, urged them to develop what he called a sacred humanitas, which has instigated a lot of consideration in my mind. What would a sacred humanitas be? And first of all, I think it's important that the word there, it's a curious association of English and Latin, and why was that done? I think it was on purpose, because sacred humanity wouldn't quite say it, although it says a lot, but humanitas implies a sensibility, a whole perspective, a culture, and in our day and age, maybe even Christian humanitas is not enough. It's got to be sacred humanitas, because of the nature of the world that we're in.

[01:03]

So when I was talking the other day about the Komaldele's involvement in the early Italian Renaissance and that humanitas, I urged us to think about what kind of humanism is needed in our day and age, a holistic or integral humanism that would also at the same time be deeply rooted in that sacred and obviously in the mystery of Christ. So I've dealt with a lot of threads this week. Monastic life and Komaldele's history and the apophatic and the cataphatic and metaphysical theology, which sort of considers the cataphatic world and also the unmanifest in the apophatic and so forth, and soul and spirit yesterday.

[02:07]

So it's like putting great big brushstrokes on canvas that needs a lot of filling in, or threads in a carpet, the warp and the woof that need then other threads to be put in. I'd just like to say a few more things that came to my mind after yesterday's talk and discussion, which was very valuable for me and new insights that it brought to me in the discussion and then even with discussion with others later in the day. I think we have to be soulful and spirit-filled people, and too much in the tradition we've concentrated on being spirit-filled people and forgetting the connection with the earth and the fuller development of human heartedness and psyche and so forth. And that's, I think, why Matthew Fox reacted so harshly against that notion of the spiritual ladder. Because if it's interpreted as up and away transcendence,

[03:12]

away from the earth and the human and the bodily and the heart and emotions and psyche and so forth, can be tremendously, you know, a great danger. Jung said one time he was having correspondence with Freud, and Freud asked him, do you have any spirituality or are you a Christian? Do you have a spiritual discipline? And Jung's answer was very interesting. He said, for me the spiritual ladder has meant mostly falling off the spiritual ladder. And, you know, Ronald Wald had that vision of white robed monks climbing the ladder to heaven. It's an interesting image if you see it as a connection between heaven and earth, you know, the axis mundi. But if it's just upward transcendence, it can be, I think, certainly dehumanizing and is certainly a kind of false religion.

[04:14]

Because religion means to bind, etymologically. It means to connect, religo, religare, to make the connections, to weave, to bring the threads together. Jacob, in the Hebrew Bible, saw the angels both ascending and descending at Bethel, interesting, both ascending and descending. In Climacus' ladder, if you've seen the icon of the ladder of divine ascent, you see the monks climbing to heaven and the demons falling off, which is also interesting. So it's an interesting image to play with. You know, it's something, it's an image that just is fertile, it just has so many associations. Nowadays there's a lot of writing, and I suppose it's in kind of new age literature

[05:18]

and sort of the spiritual soup that's out there, but there's a lot of interest in shamanism. And one of the terms that's been taken over from shamanism is the term soul loss, that people do lose soul. And, of course, one of the purposes of the classic shaman was to return a person's soul to themselves. But a psychological writer lists this as symptoms of soul loss. Psychic numbing, alienation, apathy, burnout, torpor, anxiety, cynicism. In one sense, the Western soul has been lost. That's why Jung says the grail myth is the myth of the West. We're in search of that cup, that vessel. In John Borman's film Merlin, which is not a great film, it's been called even a spoof on Jungian psychology,

[06:21]

and it's great to see it from that angle, but it has certain truths in it. I find it fun to watch, although it's kind of bloody and violent in parts, because when Arthur's kingdom starts to fall apart, and I'd love to go into the details, but I won't take time, the king is sick and the wasteland is sick. When our ego and our personhood is sick, then there's a wasteland around us. It spills over from us. At any rate, the knights of the round table go in search of the grail. Eowyn Gawain, after great trials and actually a death-rebirth experience, brings the cup back to Arthur. Arthur is collapsed in a chair. When he hands the cup to Arthur, Arthur's words are, I did not know my soul was so thirsty. I did not know my soul was so thirsty.

[07:25]

So they're great spiritual truths, I think, sometimes in film and novels and so forth. Perhaps it's drastic to say that the West has lost its soul, but at least it's shriveled and anemic. I heard on national public radio a couple years ago about a Navajo Indian who had been in the Vietnam War and he came back very shattered and in great depression and virtually non-functional. They sent him through all sorts of treatment and so forth, and psychological work, and he still remains sort of shattered. So finally they sent him back to his tribe. And the tribe, the elders, had the wisdom to take him through a kind of ritual experience with the whole tribe involved. So it was a community experience and a ritual experience,

[08:28]

and in one week had a week-long ritual and brought him back where his soul was knitted together again. It was very interesting. I'd love to get a written description of that. So we have to be soulful people at the same time that we're spirit-filled. Dorothy Day was a very soulful person. And she fed her soul by obviously nourishing herself on scripture. And a whole tradition is a matrix of symbolism which nourishes our soul. That's why people who dabble in spiritualities and don't have a matrix, a tradition that nourishes them, it ends up being kind of thin and superficial. At any rate, Dorothy would listen to the opera on Saturday afternoon and listen to symphonies sometimes on an old little beat-up radio that she had, or read the great Russian novelists and Tolstoy and so forth. She had a tremendous humanitas, soulfulness,

[09:32]

a wideness of heart, and because of that, I think, a great wisdom. Plus, she could also be a spiritual warrior and confront the cardinal and take stands alone. God was with her and no one could move against her. She was just implacable. Don Virgil Michael, the great liturgist, had a breakdown when he was at Collegeville. And they sent him up to the Indian missions, up to Red Lake. It's very interesting what healed him and brought him back to health was being part of the Chippewa, Ojibwe tribal culture. They took him fishing, they took him hunting and so forth. It was something curative, you know. We talk about the care of soul. He was able to get a depth of himself back

[10:34]

that he had been out of touch with. I think the film, I Heard an Owl Call My Name, is another way of seeing that. And the young priest who knows he has a terminal illness but his bishop is wise enough to send him off to, I think it's Alaska, Indian tribe. And the inner experience that he goes through in that setting. Fr. Joseph said yesterday that this notion of soul is too psychological, and it is, and that's why I think psychology in our day is finally reaching out to spirituality and the wisdom of the spiritual traditions and so forth. But it's also true that spirituality has been reaching out to psychology in order to be grounded, in order to deal with the human, and so forth.

[11:35]

Hillman is certainly searching for that. Searching for spirit. So, psyche is carried by symbolism and images. That's why they can be so powerful. I was just giving some spiritual direction to a woman not long ago who said that she had virtually no religious upbringing except a little bit of contact with the Christian church when she was young. But she was in a terrible situation of trial and rejection and a lack of support and great loneliness and so forth. And she said, I happen to remember Christ carrying the cross and that image carried me through, my identification with that. So you see it's an example where an image has power.

[12:38]

And that's why a whole tradition, a whole matrix can be so nourishing. So, what I want to do today is talk about one poem, actually, which I'm going to share with you, that deals with a wide human experience, and that's presence and absence, and also presence in absence. And at the end of yesterday's talk, I shared with you the poem by Sister Mary Virginia Mica, a sister of St. Joseph that I know in St. Paul. I went to the College of St. Catherine. And I didn't know her when I was there, but I'd like to tell you a little story about how I met her since I went east. When I was working on my dissertation in the early 80s,

[13:41]

I borrowed a friend's lake cabin up near Syracuse. And Sister Plowsood went with me, and we went over to town every afternoon at 5 o'clock for the parish liturgy. We left the liturgy, and we were walking across the parking lot, and this woman came up to us and said, where are you sisters from, what order do you belong to, and so forth. And she introduced herself as Sister Mary Virginia Mica, the poet. And I said, oh, you're from St. Catherine's. I went to St. Catherine's. I'm a Katie. And so she said, why don't you come over to my apartment for supper, which is very interesting because it was a tiny little apartment in a private home. And she was at her microwave heating up tomato soup and making grilled cheese sandwiches. And she said, what do you do to support yourself? And I said, we cater French dinners. She turned around with her mouth open. There she was preparing this great gourmet meal.

[14:46]

Anyhow, we had a lot of fun talking. And I've sort of followed her poetry since then. And this is a little book that she sent to me within the last year. It's called Three Bridges. And actually, in one way, all 48 pages are in a way one poem that expresses her life and her spirituality. She must be up in her mid-70s or more now. And it's wonderfully rich. So I'm just taking part of it. And I'd like to... First of all, there's a section in the front that is simply too much to take in one section, but that section is called Hexameron, which is the six days of creation. And it's written during an eight-day retreat that she made in which she meditates on God's presence in creation. So it's cataphatic and very personal

[15:50]

and very much a scene of light in all things. But woven into that is also her meditations on the scripture that was occurring in the liturgy at the time. And part of the readings were on 1 Kings about Elias and Elisaeus. So I just want to snatch out the parts about Elias and Elisaeus, both from before and after the poem that I'm going to share with you today. Here is part of the poem Hexameron. He was bold, that Elijah, asking for twice as much as Elijah, and got it by God. Deeper in the same story, someone promises under certain conditions you will do even greater works. With these toys, meaning her words,

[16:50]

her ability as a poet, with these toys, where are the chariots and horses of fire? No mantle has fallen. So that's her talking about Elijah asking for a double portion of spirit and how inadequate she feels with her toys, which are her words and images as a poet. And from a later poem in this little booklet, continuing the image of Elias and Elisaeus, I'm talking about Elias in the cave. Listen up close for a tiny whispering sound. All it took for Elijah, hiding his face in his cloak in his cave, was a tiny whispering sound and then nothing. I'm not sure I understand this poem,

[18:03]

which is probably a good thing. And I actually, a couple of months ago, sent it to two of my friends, one who's a published poet and one who does write poetry herself. I asked them to give me an impression because it's titled In Flight and it's talking about her brother, and I said, is she talking about her actual brother or a friend? Or is she talking about Christ? Or is she talking about the presence and the absence of God? And maybe it doesn't matter and maybe it's all of those, you know? That's the thing about poetry. So they weren't sure either, but my friend who's a poet said that there's so many images coming in that it's a bit complicated. So at any rate, I leave it with you. I've read it probably 40 times and I found, even this week, the discussion that we've had has helped me sort of see angles of it that I hadn't seen before. So this question of presence and absence.

[19:05]

In a way, it's the cataphatic and the ataphatic, the cataphatic and apophatic. And I began the week talking about the fact that Ronald Rollheiser says that perhaps our society, though supposedly religious, is actually quite agnostic. We sort of believe there's a God, but we don't know much about that. So there's a lot of feeling of the distance of God in Western society. I think a lot of people simply ignore God and live in forgetfulness of God, but there's also a feeling of the distance of God. And maybe even theology can be partly responsible for that. I talked about making such a transcendent God a super being out there apart from creation and so forth. Woody Allen says in one of his movies

[20:10]

about God, he says, if only he would cough. And I think what you'll find in this poem is that this is a person who has heard a lot more than a cough or a clearing of the throat, who really has a sense of the words that always speak, and yet the mystery that goes beyond all the words. So, let me give you a copy of the poem. This is just three pages out of this

[21:12]

sort of long 48-page. It's independent poems, but they deal with sort of the same themes, so you might want to get the whole book sometime. The thing about poetry, you have to live with kind of brackets about things. You can't pin it down. A long flight, yet how far we have come, your hand simple in mine, on my forehead what you have printed. Stars could be tongues in the dark, but in a tenter, her old face an irrevocable gaze. The planet returns expanses of azure, emerald, black gold, with first the finger of morning, then the finger of night, as if we too had been merely curving in place, in and out of low rooms,

[22:12]

or how once somewhere the loosening small bud of a mouth opened before closing on a sharp tightness with no sound, because the child tossed in play through the air must get busy and dream a slow, inluctable embrace will catch him all his names intact, back into his life tossed away so wildly as it seems, up down the swallowing air. Who timeless transparent catches the child? Name that a joint one by whom we need not remember nor imagine flight in only one way. Somehow the plummeting child feels his foot catching the first rung of the ladder up over rock, say, or knows himself suddenly free, brother among stars. I stood waving my small white cry after rivers of wind, did you see? Do you see? By some bidding we who abide rooted still

[23:15]

seize the air, here, there, everywhere in one grasp. Turn inward, you will find me nestled, wing folded, quite unafraid. I am that breathing between layers of your garments of journey. Those are my arms tightening lest you slip. Yet comb through, become one smooth, unbroken ascent, I know nothing but flight. How little I know is already too large, drinks my life. I know this, my brother, we are both of us, naked in full flight, in exile, heavy with unfallen tears as the ash tree bowing its berries to all who pass by again and again. This is now the next part where I think it becomes very interesting. Courtesy asks that when we call to the table of absence, when not look too hungry,

[24:18]

but concentrate rather a deep bow to six chairs, the six chairs are the six days of the hexameron that you've been talking about early, I think. Say in greeting something like this, my pleasure, brother and son, where here it is, night, and you, my same brother, restless asleep within many-tongued dreams. Sit down here, brother, roaming the shore. And you, here at my left, brother, rushing dry-shod overseas. And you, all my brothers, simply away. Sit at my right hand, dearest brother, written God, who swallows the distance between us. So be it. For distance is God's, like this night, a place of richest engagement. That's the presence and absence. Distance is God's, like this night, a place of richest engagement. We're soon heading towards Pentecost,

[25:21]

and Raymond Brown says in his commentary on John's Gospel that the Holy Spirit is Christ's presence in his absence, which you could nuance theologically, but anyhow. For what is unreachable lengthens the flame, determines the imperiled glance, gave rise to the fork. See, we're each at that table with one little fork with the six days of creation around the table. Held in this grace, the woman dining alone will bow her head north to south, east to west, and spoon absence up. Although the ash berries may hold themselves steady kingdoms of blood, each berry a name, its own heart, the milkweed goes spilling its life out into millions of ghosts wild for adventure. Do not, therefore, waste pity. The film of ice on the pond dies with mourning,

[26:23]

neither holding nor abandoning lives long enough to be counted as loss. With the sun slipping in and out, I gather and spend everything everywhere against your going, O my brother, against your return. Read like a letter that this is what I am learning. What of distance? Tip the photograph this way and that into the best light, then dare set it aside for unimaged space where communion takes shape. Is communion the circle? Solid words hand in hand may begin but never define it. That's very apathetic. Finger your necklace a sort of rosary of wishes or trace the line on your mouth thoughtfully. Or is communion the center? The fathomless gaze asking at once all. Help me make the best possible case

[27:27]

for distance between. Help me picture, for instance, the heart grown by leaps and bounds in each reach outward, a supple circling, the old planet nodding in time, day and night. That's, I think, a very important image there, the heart grown by leaps and bounds in its reach outward. That's giving embodiment to soul and spirit. O my brother, come, go if you must, but in the distance between where is no body, find me, dance there, dare praise distance, redeem it. Who is it prepares the banquet of being? I just love that term, the banquet of being, because there we sit with our little fork, you know, and creation is the banquet of being. Who is it prepares the banquet of being

[28:28]

has called you by six names, as if one were scarcely enough, nor are six really, nor seven, perhaps the infinite eight, vibrant in rest, crowning all things, including emeralds, tides, and the soft wild intentions of angels under the seas we circle above, racing the wind, perhaps in this alone names you, seals you fast home. Stars spill from my tongue, letter by letter, distance and time go down, and the names someone has called you. Sacred Humanitas, I think, means allowing the virtue and the gift of wisdom for us to build a house, you know, wisdom builds herself a house, and that house has a grand table,

[29:31]

and the next poem connected with the one on the distance in flight is called The House, and it's about the house of wisdom, and I think it says something about the Sacred Humanitas. So this is the house, and I didn't copy this for you because I think it's simpler and says it. In your absence, my dearest, I am building a house, its windows already brimful of the everlasting, deep-changing colors of seas, bearing everything known or still to arrive, more leisurely from every direction. Wisdom herself, beguiled by such spacious becoming, instructs me. See, image is feminine and inclusive, all-embracing, even the Book of Wisdom says all-embracing. Through image upon image, melt in the hand closing around it

[30:34]

no glance nor gesture of your remembered grace but describes you will admire rooms larger than air, doorways simply a gaze widening end to end. Our house of Sacred Humanitas, which is wisdom, has to have doorways simply a gaze widening. We don't need to build a fortress all closed off but create a house of transparency that can be extended. A gaze widening end to end in comprehension of drift feather, pulse lightning, cleaving the heart and the winds moan. And all night those seven fires that once leaped at your touch to open the dark burn on more abundant than day, no extravagance denied. So when ships bring you your word of how dark distance wakes here, while I climb watchtowers of sleep,

[31:37]

give wisdom her due. Sacred Humanitas is giving wisdom its due. I wish I could say how often of late this house feels lifted at dawn into an indescribable amber light as of the original finger of God beginning his plants. And the feel of my body then breathing is so at home in its prayer you might picture what I was last wearing as born by desire more courteous than hunger. I descend to where all you have ever spoken returns noun and verb clusters of warped fruit full of mourning, full prisms of day. This house, yes, like your name, is coming to house all manner of light. How it insinuates itself into every conceivable moment, sings and hollows how it runs fleet along

[32:38]

beams to far places where there is otherwise no light claiming exiles land and sea back before winter dusk lowers. Believe, yes, that while by the hour your absence lengthens to whole seasons, stark as well as in leaf, so does the reach of my house. You should know this, beloved of my life, lest I die or you die or any last least wonderment of being hour after hour die. What is time else not having been housed? Time is simply what we have not housed, what we have not embraced, what we have not found room for. Yates, the poet, said that talked about his life being an ever-widening gyre, something that moves out from that center

[33:40]

our own sense of personhood and uniqueness, but then reaches out just as Hildegard's The Lanthan to Wisdom, O Sapientia, connects heaven and earth but moves out in circles circling, turquoise state. So, I'll just throw it open for discussion. Sister Mary Virginia Micah. She was the poetry editor for Sisters Today for a number of years until it finished publishing a couple of years ago. CSJ, Sister of St. Joseph. What about

[34:41]

the Holy Father's injunction to Sacred Humanitas? Any suggestions? When we were at the formation conference in for the Cannabis last fall, we were printing out this document, just nine brief points about things we wanted to emphasize. And where it struck me is, I was trying to get Vincenzo to say the whole person, the formation involves the whole person, spirit, soul, and body. And he kept going right to that word, humanitas. That's what he, we didn't want to put an Italian

[35:43]

word in English, we wanted to put the word humanitas. So, this is the second time it's come across so strongly. To his mind, that's what humanitas means, this integration of body, soul, and spirit. Interesting. And he's, of course, his big emphasis at San Gregorio is that the students would be exposed to great cultural life. This is also a big emphasis of Alessandro. Italians are much bigger on that than we have ever been. In order for the whole person to develop, the monks should be exposed to culture. And, of course, that's a big thing for the Italians, especially Alessandro and Vincenzo. Vincenzo has two weeks worth of astrophysicists visiting, and he wants them to go to museums, and operas, and meet great thinkers, and so on. I think

[36:45]

that's where our Italian brothers would drift, toward that, toward culture, and art, and civilization. Very often, the Italians, sort of. I'm not sure that's the only thing it includes, but, certainly, that's a big theme of theirs. And, certainly, in other forms of religious life, the cultural life has gone hand in hand with, at least with theological education. It can have its own paucity as well, though, it seems to me. It also can be sheerly overwhelming in terms of quantity, like in our day and age. To understand the new science, and art, it's enriching, but there we are with our little fork at the communion of being, and all of this. Is there any way that we can filter it?

[37:49]

Are there, as I referred to the other day, weather vanes, people who really can tell us what the significance of this, instead of us being overwhelmed by it, overfed. You certainly understand I'm in harmony with that thing about humanitas, but it's got to be a sacred humanitas. When I got that letter from the Union of Benedictine Prioresses, I had a sufficient in Uccenzo note it, because I knew he was doing some ghost writing for the Holy Father. So it's no surprise that the virtue quote is connected. The thing I was thinking that also occurred to me at this meeting, when they had their little talk on sexuality, during that thing, I was terribly disappointed in their understanding or at least their explanation of things sexual. I thought the thing that they

[38:50]

don't have, that maybe we have, at least going on in America, they don't seem to have a rootedness in the earth. In their way of looking at the world. Maybe what we lack in terms of culture, they lack in terms of that kind of humanitas. It's not just all psychic, there's also the body. I'm not sure they have a well-developed sense of sexuality and body and rootedness in the earth. Even though they're very corporeal and sensual and in food and in humanity. But, you know, when teachings about sexuality come out of the church, they say oh they're very important and they ignore them completely and never really deal with the fact that you can't say one thing and do something else. So I think that maybe the West's literalism is our gift to this humanitas. That's five points jammed together. I would certainly think there is something

[39:52]

unique about American humanitas. We're perhaps culturally deprived in the sense of the great old culture, but we also have something new and it has to do with creativity and tradition can, cultural tradition can so weigh. I mean, look at Rome with the masses of stone. There's the tradition, but it just sort of weighs down. I don't know how to answer that, but I think you're onto something there. We have perhaps a greater sense of psychosexuality rather than just literal sexuality or one-dimensional sexuality. Anybody else? That phrase sacred humanitas can be interpreted in some ways which

[40:53]

are really heavy. One way can be monasticism as the sort of museum and curator and custodian of culture. Think of monasticism as a kind of Vatican museum of Iranian Western culture and also sacred, which means very carefully carefully ironed or something like that. In some way it's a robe. It's bearing this conspicuous image of the sacred as distinct from the secular. I think it's wrong. I think a champion, American champion of sacred humanitas might be Merton, for instance. Notice that Merton is into everything, but he's coming from a center for one thing, which is the distinctive monastic contribution to humanitas. Perhaps it's the center of the person. You might say the light at the center of the person. Which is

[41:55]

a contemplative thing in the end. To be able to project that light upon culture as a kind of refining, filtering, simplifying. The other thing is that Merton had a very acute sense of the person. In that sense, of every person, avoiding an elitism of any kind, which can also be in that sacred humanitas. A whole bunch of cultured religious who have had the leisure and the finances to get very well educated and therefore have this kind of crust of culture, which also is repellent from the point of view of monastic principles. So, both the contemplative sense, that kind of contemplative light, which Merton was always coming from, I think, and also the sense of the person, which is universal to every person. That's the other thing that's happened today. It can't be any kind of privileged precinct.

[42:55]

Whatever it is that's humanitas, it doesn't have to be contagious enough so that somehow you find it in every person. Even the word culture becomes prevalent at a certain point. It's too special. It's too self-imposed, too complacent, too happy with itself. So somehow it has to open itself and spill itself out of you all the time. That sounds kind of confusing. I see what you're saying. It's the American character of not being tied to the past and moving out to the frontiers and sort of a new energy, you know, the cowboy, the frontiers person. Oh yeah. And reacting against that kind of class system and so forth. My view on monotheists, the sacred monotheists, is really organically in our humanness in the way God created us.

[43:57]

We don't really need an agenda that I have to do this, I have to effort to do this, I have to effort to do that, I have to effort to be spiritual. If we go organically to where we are, go inside and we can't go to the empathetic until we're ready to go to the in our personhood. Try to deal, and most of us are in the ego state where we have to deal with our emotions, deal with our the things that are blocking, we can't lose our soul, we can just lose contact with it. Get in touch with our soul, and when we're in touch with our soul, we get in touch with reality, that we're all one in God. The sacred humanitas will come naturally when we see that we're all brothers and sisters in Christ. And the world and all that is all part of creation and it will naturally flow. But to effort that I have to do this, then I think we get lost in our

[44:59]

in this river of all these efforts. And maybe it's still stuck in not knowing where we are, but if we can go down then we gradually get glimpses of the unity of being and the eminence of God in us and everything else. And it's natural, I think. A connection I was thinking of in the room, Bernadette, in the reception of guests, the thing that's said that first surprises me is you have to receive every person with humanitas. And that's I think the personal that Bernadette was referring to, and I think it's incarnational, it's the respectful, it's spiritual, physical, of course, in the middle, because you care for the guest in every way. And you receive the guest as Christ, so there's a gift coming to you, so it isn't from you to them, it's both directions. But it's just, you know, Bernadette

[46:00]

uses that word in my testament, that's very striking. I couldn't exhaust what that means. Yeah. Thanks, Officer. It speaks to me about looking at all of our interactions with ourselves, with the world, with the sense of awe, that there's always something deeper behind what we initially see. And rather than think that we're ever going to grasp it or understand it, or in some ways contain it, that really what's deep is the opposite, a sense of letting it wash over us, letting it swallow us, letting us become a part of that, realizing that it's not us that are somehow in charge, or making all of this happen, but that we're a piece of a much larger process, and so that if we're taken into it, and being open to be transformed by it, those were some of the thoughts that came to my mind. Yeah, you mentioned

[47:01]

several times this morning about the Native Americans, and several of us here have done the sweat lodge, and somehow, when I think of Sacred Hamanicasa, I think of that experience, you know, and that real connectedness between body and earth, and sort of spirit. You're in this experience, and you're very much in your body, and you're very much one with everybody in this enclosed experience, and you're praying and interceding for all of the world, and the pain and the suffering of the world, and you come out of the lodge, and usually you're in a very beautiful setting, in the wilderness, and you're so one with nature, and all of creation. but I think that, and you find it in every person, and there's a unity and a oneness of this experience that you're finding within yourself

[48:03]

and with everybody. For me, that's not only an image, but an experience that sort of brings it all together. Right. It reminds me of another line from Yeats, I must lie down where all the ladders start, in the fallen rag bone shop of the human heart. A human experience, which is universal. I was going to end with just a simple poem from Rainer Maria Rilke. I live my life in widening rings. I live my life in widening rings which spread over earth and sky. I may not ever complete the last one, but that is what I will try. I circle around God the primordial tower, and I circle ten thousand years long. And I still don't know if I'm a falcon, a storm, or an unfinished song.

[49:03]

Well, thank you very much for this time with you. I feel a greater and greater connectedness with this community, and it's been very enriching for me. And I hope suggestions for you are things to consider and think about and reflect on. Sister, we want to thank you for being with us and for sharing with us these conferences, sharing with us your study, your research, your expertise. Opening, perhaps, another way for us to further understand ourselves as we walk this spiritual journey. May our prayers go with you, for your intentions, for Sister Jean Marie, for Transfiguration of the Holy Spirit. And note that you're always welcome here at our home. Thank you. Applause Applause

[49:58]