Total Rip-Off Tuesday

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 every minute."

So there. 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.

2 comments:

  1. Kathleen Norris, even though she is not Catholic, introduced me to a Catholic way of thinking in "The Cloister Walk". Years later, I became Catholic. Thank you for sharing this! ---Rosemary

    ReplyDelete
  2. You're quite welcome. She's a truly gifted writer.

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