The night was cold and maybe for this reason I slept as sound as I have in a long time. It was one of those sleeps in which one awakes and feels a measure of peace, with a yearning to go back and try it all again. But morning has come and such a blessing is not to be repeated at once, the straining after it would ruin the peace of the moment.
With it nearing the solstice I notice my room has a curious neolithic monument quality. With each passing day the sun shines more and more into my room, with each day’s progress indicating that by the longest day of the year I might wake up to the sun shining on my face. It will not linger long there to be sure, and so my bed is like Newgrange, in which the solstice sun shines into the deepest recesses on one day only. In Winter the sun never makes it into this room. Unlike at Newgrange it is not really a sign of anything unless I make it such… just an interesting note on this late Spring morning.
I woke up with a fair measure of prayer because of this peace, wanting to rest in eternal conversation and instead finding myself drifting away to various other roads. I hold onto the prayer and yet as I do this my heart is filled with a discontent, a thanksgivingless frustration, over a seeming lack of progress. This surprises me, which is a good sort of response to such negative emotions as I’m able to both feel such and analyze such in the same moment. It surprises me because of the quick transformation from one end of the spectrum to another, with my easy infrared flashed to ultraviolet in a matter of a half hour. Interestingly this was borne out of spiritual reading, the words striking at my heart and provoking my sense of incompleteness, renewing my sense of Joseph’s journey before he became assistant to the Pharoah of Egypt.
“What blessings?” he might have asked, even as God was working and even as he had faith God could work. Yet there were blessings at work, and there are such at work, even if they are yet shadows to some unmanifested reality in which hope is the closest thing to palpable participation.
I look behind and wonder about this desert road, wondering about what I’ve passed and what lies ahead, my thoughts faithful and suspect all at once, not wishing to alight on anything in particular for fear that it turns out to be a mirage. The thirsty seek satiation, sometimes too much. The only water around may turn out to be brine, and thus death. So appearances do not speak of fullness, and shadows may or nay not manifest possibilities, and hopes do not always translate into realities. It is the realities that I want, that I want to taste and hold and ponder. Want too much and I drift into thankgivingless moods, wearying of a journey fraught with much besides palpable blessings, either internal or external.
So the trick is to both hope and be still, to understand the Call and be patient in its progress, trusting that it is the Spirit who is to fulfill and I who am to become.
I say this, knowing this but not feeling this, feeling only that weight which drives a soul beneath the waves, as it yearns for a tangible hold. And yet there is encouragement.
“I don’t know how old you are, Patrick, but you have the golden touch, and however old you are is inconsequential anyhow. Pursue the muse.”
This comment came after I sent a thank-you for a previous note.
“If you’re not a writer, I have a strong feeling that you ought to be.”
Having the same feeling does not mean that I don’t greatly appreciate, even need, such encouragement from someone whose writing I very much respect.
It’s a curious thing because I’m being pulled away from writing right now, into a teaching position that is interesting, and yet right now fraught with more than a little connected irritations. Encouragement like this comes, I’ve found over my life, at moments of decision in which I need to hear that I’m not a fool for my path, and not blind about the realities which seem to be forming out of the shadows. It is not that palpable change that seems so important, but it is affirmation that pressing onwards is not a waste of time. I can wait, and I can yearn, and I can exercise patience with progress, but with even small words of affirmation I can do such with a measure more of joy and hope.
And really it is that core reality of joy that spurs me onwards into all manner of directions. I may feel a measure of discontent, and yet I still must pray, and keep praying, and continue to trust that efforts made are not in vain. In the continuation of the knocking, in the faith outside of accepted possibilities, in the prayers for the impossible and trust in the curious continuing no matter my vacillations of mood, in the keeping of the faith and the standing, the demons themselves are repelled and light does shine.
So I am urged to pursue the muse by someone who crafts writing I regularly see as brilliant. I know this is where my own joy can be found, and I know that when I write I enter into a joy that mere outline development and associated busywork never approaches. This urging, however, raises not a slight worry in my soul, for my soul knows itself. I worry that this muse before me is that Celtic call, the voice of the Leanhaun Shee who seeks the love of mortals. As Yeats writes, “The fairy lives on their life and they waste away. Death is no escape from her. She is the Gaelic muse, for she gives inspiration to those she persecutes. The Gaelic poets die young, for she is restless, and will not let them remain long on earth–this malignant phantom.”
This means I find solace in both writing and in spiritual reading, in the pursuit of expression to myself and others, and the wisdom of those who learned how to fight malignant phantoms, so as to find life even as they faced death.
So I listen for the voice of that muse, and seek the vision of my soul’s satisfaction in prayer and faith, knowing that God is at work and he does a good work for those who are patient and faithful and filled with thanksgiving.
That is something, even if just a hope and a challenge. For right now… that is something.