Tuesday, October 24, 2006

From 1973...

American religion columnist, and "Crunchy Con," Rod Dreher posted two excerpts from Fr. Schmemann's Journals last week. The first one reminds me of Milton's poem "On His Blindness." It is a lesson I need to keep on learning, that "they also serve who only stand and wait." The second one resonates very strongly with me personally as I've been on the road a fair bit these days. Father Alexander's words about the warmth of lit windows reminded me of my days homeless in Paris. These bits are so good I cannot help but to share them here:

March 9, 1973

"Tragic news about Father N.'s breakdown. So the symptoms I had noticed three weeks ago were real. I am afraid that the reason is clear: "He buried himself in his activity." And that is just what one should not do. One becomes unable to put things in perspective, to detach oneself, to push away all the fuss and the petty details that encumber our life and can devour our hearts. Actually, the cause is the same arrogance that seeks to convince me that all depends on me all relates to me. Then the "I" is filling all reality, and the downfall begins. The essential error of the modern man is to identify life with activism, with thought, etc., hence an almost complete inability simply to "live," i.e., to feel, to appreciate, to live life as a continuous gift. To walk to the train station in a light that feels like spring, in the rain, to be able to see, to sense, to be conscious of a morning ray of sun on the wall -- all of these are the reality of life. They are not the conditions for activism or for thought, they are not just an indifferent background, they are the reason one acts and thinks. Only in that reality of life does God reveal Himself, and not in acts and thoughts. That is why Julien Green is right when he says: "all is elsewhere" -- "the only truth lies in the swaying of bare branches in the sky." The same is true of communication. One does not communicate through talks and debates. The deeper and more joyful the communication, the less it depends on words. On the contrary, one is almost afraid of words because they might destroy the communion, cut off the joy.

I felt that most acutely on that New Year's eve, when I sat in Paris, in Adamovich's mansard. I had always heard that he preferred to talk about unimportant little events. True. But not because there was nothing to talk about, but because communicaton was so clearly what was happening so vividly between us. Hence my dislike for "profound" and especially spiritual conversations. Did Christ converse with his twelve followers while walking along the roads of Galilee? Did he resolve their problems and difficulties? Christianity is the continuation of that communication, its reality, its joy and effectiveness. "It is good to be here."

Outside, a beautiful springlike day! It is almost hot. I spent the whole day at home at my desk. Happiness."

December 17, 1973

"I love my home, and to leave home and be away overnight is always like dying -- returning seems so very far away! I am always full of joy when I think about home. All homes, with lit windows behind which people live, give me infinite pleasure. I would love to enter each of them, to feel its uniqueness, the quality of its warmth. Each time I see a man or a woman walking with shopping bags, that is, going home, I think about them: they are going home, to real life, and I feel good, and they become somehow close and dear. I am always intrigued: What do people do when they do not "do" anything, when they just live? That is when their life becomes important, when their fate is determined. Simple bourgeois happiness is often despised by activists of all sorts who quiet often do not realize the depth of life itself; who think that life is an accumulation of activities. God gives us His Life, not ideas, doctrines, rules. At home, when all is done, life itself begins. Christ was homeless not because He despised simple happiness -- He did have a childhood, family, home -- but because He was at home everywhere in the world, which His Father created as the "home" of man. "Peace be with this house." We have our home and God's home, the Church, and the deepest experience of the Church is that of a home. Always the same and, above anything else, life itself -- the Liturgy, evening, morning, a feast -- and not an activity."


Blogger kimberley said...

Such truth. Important reminders.
Thanks, Matt.

Quiet walks and warm light to you and your girl.

Love, Kim xo

12:52 PM  
Blogger Mira-cle said...

Thank you for posting this :) God bless you!

Love in Christ,

8:25 PM  
Blogger Simply Victoria said...

good thoughts. thanks for sharing.

3:25 PM  

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