Wherein I "rip-off" another writer. Not taking credit, just sharing good stuff. Today's choice is from Kathleen Norris' Acedia & me: Marriage, Monks and a Writer's Life. If you're not familiar with Kathleen Norris, she is one of the finest spiritual writers around (not Catholic, but with a great affinity towards the Church).
Could we regard repetition as a saving
grace, one that keeps returning us to essential understandings that we
can discover in no other way? The human need for routine is such that
even homeless people establish it the best they can, walking the same
streets, foraging in the same dumpsters, sleeping in the same spots, in
an attempt to maintain basic relationships with people and places. For
any of us, affluent or not, it is by means of repeating ordinary rituals
and routines that we enhance the relationships that nourish and sustain
us. A recent study that monitored the daily habits of couples in order
to determine what produced good and stable marriages revealed that only
one activity made a consistent difference, and that was the embracing of
one's spouse at the beginning and the end of each day. Most surprising
to Paul Bosch, who wrote the an article about the study, was that "it
didn't seem to matter whether or not in that moment the partners were
fully engaged or even sincere! Just a perfunctory peck on the cheek was
enough to make a difference in the quality of the relationship." Bosch
comments, wisely, that this "should not surprise churchgoers. Whatever
you do repeatedly has the power to shape you, has the power to make you
over into a different person - even if you're not totally 'engaged' in
So much for control, or ever consciousness. let's hear it for
insincere, hurried kisses, and prayers made with a yawn. I may be
dwelling on the fact that my feet hurt, or nursing some petty slight. As
for the words that I am dutifully saying - "Love you" or "Dear God" - I
might as well be speaking in tongues, and maybe I am. And maybe that
does not matter, for it is all working toward the good, despite myself
and my most cherished intentions. Every day and every night, whether I
"get it" or not, these "meaningless" words and actions signify more than
I know. Repetition... helps us to be more honestly and fully human. It
knows us better that we know ourselves.
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