Wednesday, June 06, 2007

A worldy woman meets Thomas Merton

from w

Peace demands the most heroic labor and the most difficult sacrifice.
It demands greater heroism than war. It demands greater fidelity
to the truth and a much more perfect purity of conscience.

— Thomas Merton

Recently I have been pushed to think about quietness, meditation, alone-ness rather than being busy with the intrusion of the telephone, emails, constant interruptions. Then I found a page of pencil scribbles from a Thomas Merton workshop I attended at Wesley Church in Geelong a few months ago. (The monk who gained a huge popularity in the 60s and beyond.) I really agree with some of the things he wrote. So I typed my scribbled page up. The task at the workshop was to imagine a conversation with Thomas Merton and write without editing - just to write quickly and spontaneously.

M Look around you. What do you see, hear, feel?
W The noise of people even a rooster. Laughter. Running feet on the cement footpath.
M Now go past the intrusions. Look down at the ground. Take off your shoes and feel the grit.
W I like that. You used to walk barefoot didn’t you? Near your hermitage?
M Yes in the woods. We should feel the scratchiness, the pebbles, the broken sticks, the underbelly of a forest.
W Yes I agree with that, but I am atttuned to the busy city too. Isn’t it escapism, this notion of solitude that you suggest we all should have? Isn’t being with other people more important that this?
M Stop talking so much. Concentrate only on this thing under your feet. There are living things, moving things in nature here.
W. Ants. Certainly no frogs here - because of the drought. .Can we sit down now.
M Lie down, then feel the grass and earth on your arms and face. It’s all connected.
W Hmmmm. One thing I don’t like this talk of ‘nothingness’ in your writing. I’d rather you called it ‘fullness’.
M Ahah! But you don’t get it do you! Nothingness means being empty of ego that trips you up.
W. So you are a Buddhist at heart.
M. I don’t like labels
W A New Ager we call it. There’s a Japanese method of focussing on world peace, not buteko, that’s breathing exercises but there is a similar name. It’s an idea about all of nature as vibrating, as being connected.
M We didn’t say that in my time but it does make sense. A Frenchman was into that idea too. Tielhard de Chardin eh. Go back to where we started about the earth under our bodies, touching the grass, feel the wind.
W I can’t. The world is too much with us.
M I’ve heard that before. You’ve pinched those words somewhere. Break the chain of attachment.
W. Yes, you are a Buddhist then not a Christian!
M Not a Christian? Come on, come on!
W That’s the crunch part. You moved quite a distance from your Catholic peers, haven’t you? I bet you got into heaps of trouble with the conservatives. They couldn’t keep up with you.
M I disagree because there are many people who walk this walk. You too?
W Well I concede I do like your nature poetry.
M But you do not like the hard work of meditation and the monastic life eh? And you do like to always have the last word.
W Hmmm. (goes off singing ‘Touch the earth lightly’ by Shirley Murray, a New Zealand clergyman’s missus.)

Labels: ,


Blogger Penny said...

There are many levels to you arnt there Wendy, I find it all fascinating, I dont think I like to look too deeply, I think I like people for what they are not what makes them tick. Probably a very selfish attitude. I found this an interesting discussion however.

3:14 PM  
Blogger Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Penny I'm very ordinary. I fall asleep before the TV, I cook healthy food but not fancy food. I read a book, then forget what it's about! But though I am very slack as a friend these days, I am interested in people, what they think, how they are motivated, and wonder why.

5:10 PM  
Anonymous Poetry said...

4 June 2007

After the storm, my mine cleared.

And a high wind arose and blew the tropics north.


running quartz crystals through a blender.

sand through your engines.

bubbles in your bays.

estuaries reaching out toward forbidden seas...

sand through your eyes.


5 June 2007

Calm as baby's breath

as peaceful as the storm's eye

Clouds spread and drawn with rough strokes of stratospheric winds

a warm and windy tropical day.


7 June 2007

Black water at dusk.

Lighting on the horizon.

Warm winds coming in across the darkening waters.

A flash of white wings as an egret takes flight.

And Thunder like God clearing his throat.


8 June 2007

Morning star in the still of the clear, dark waters.

a sky as clear eyed as a young girl.

bruised and tattered storm remnants limp off in the gathering light.

3:58 AM  
Blogger Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Thank you Michael for sharing your thoughtful poems. I had a look at your web page.

7:30 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home