The Interior Castle

On this Fourth of July weekend, I’ve been reading a little bit of The Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila. This castle is a metaphor for our souls. St. Teresa writes,

Rarely do we reflect upon what gifts our souls may possess, Who dwells within them, or how extremely precious they are. Therefore we do little to preserve their beauty; all our care is concentrated on our bodies, which are but the coarse setting of the diamond, or the outer walls of the castle.

As I reflected on this, I thought of those who would whitewash the exterior of a deteriorating mansion in the name of upkeep. It doesn’t take much to look beyond the whitewash to see the decay, and beyond that, to get a sense of some of the beauty of yesterday year.

It made me think of our fascination with ‘Abandoned America’. I spent some time looking through the pictures of abandoned churches. I remember time I have spent on church vestries, at times as a treasurer or clerk, talking about how to keep these institutions financially stable, how to afford the upkeep of the buildings. I remember discussions about how the church needs to get outside of the building, think outside the box, and I see the struggles of trying to maintain a beautiful building, some of the history of the institution, while at the same time being a vibrant part of a community and not just a dying tradition.

I think of St. Francis being told to “go rebuild my Church, which you see is falling into ruins” and rebuilding the church at San Damiano, as well as the greater church.

I wondered about churches struggling in Connecticut. The Episcopal Church has some interesting Tables, Charts, and Research Reports. Using Studying Your Congregation and Community you can get historical data about members, attendance and income. This led me to look at churches for sale, which has plenty of listings.

It seems like there is some sort of allegory that could be written here, especially apt if we stop to wonder what it is that we are celebrating this weekend, what it is that makes our country great.

A New Golden Calf

This morning, as I got ready for church, I read various Facebook posts, including one with a picture of a current U.S. Presidential candidate, with the words “If you believe America should always be first! Please Like and Share!”

First!

What does that even mean? First in what? I thought of the toddler screaming, “Me first! Me first!”. I thought of people who shout down differences of opinion chanting, “USA! USA!”

My thoughts drifted to what the Bible has to say about being first. Matthew 20:16 - “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” I thought of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet at the Last Supper.

No, those who paint their faces like the flag of their country and chant “USA! USA!” in hopes that a leader will come along, to “make America great again”, to protect America’s safety and prosperity from people who are different from us, are worshiping A New Golden Calf.

Ramadan

“That looks like cancer”,
the bereaved mother
who had lost her son
to neuroblastoma
said to the handyman
carrying his bottle
of some weird
bright blue
power drink.

I thought it looked
more like solvent
or perhaps one of
those nasty chemicals
they pump you full of
during chemo.

“At least I’m safe here”,
she said
as she adjusted her hijab
looking down the street
at the homeless man
selling cigarettes
to the drunks
and addicts
when three young black men
ran by
chasing a stranger
down an alley
as something went wrong.

The sun hung high in the sky
shining on the just and unjust,
the Muslim, the Christian and the agnostic.

It would be three more hours
before she could break
her Ramadan fast.

July

Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit. June comes to a close and we start July. June was not an easy month. I fought a summer cold and have been pretty lower energy. I did not post as much as I would have liked, but still managed to get 21 posts up for the month. I’m still ahead of a blog post a day, but just barely.

I did manage to swim over six miles during the month of June, in spite of sickness and fatigue.

I’ve been listening to a Librivox recording of Evelyn Underhill’s Mysticism during my commute. I’m over half way through it. I’m sure it is feeding into my thinking and poetry.

Last weekend as Poetry Sunday at St. Mark’s in New Canaan where I read one poem during the service and another during a poetry reading afterwards. The poems seem to have been well received.

We’ll see what July brings.

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The Pilgrim

He carefully placed his foot
thoughtfully, deliberately,
in front of the other,
as if
he was walking
on holy ground,
or on a journey
to some profound
destination
diligently pursuing
his passions
into the wilderness.

He sat at the table,
joyfully ill at ease
as if he were
an honored guest
whose welcome came
unexpectedly,
undeservedly.

He lifted
the dark
multi-grained
bread,
lovingly made,
to his thankful lips
remembering
so many other meals;
the day old
factory made bread
once
perfectly similar
to every other slice
before being squished
onto the shelves
of the outlet store.

He remembered
happier times
when he would take
the hard sour dough rolls
and a slice of cheese
or apple
that his mother had provided
with him as he disappeared
into the woods
for a day long
childhood hike.

Quietly
he listened to the clamor
of his brothers and sisters
as he shared a brief smile
with the soup kitchen
volunteer.

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