Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Indestructible Kernel of Hope

This is a picture of what I saw above me upon opening my eyes after a deep relaxation exercise in the Chapel at Kripalu during my teacher training. The Chapel was central to the life of the Jesuits who once lived in this monastery. Now, the large mosaic at the front is covered with cloth and there is a giant, dancing Shiva in front of it.

Sad because I think a dancing Shiva would be fine with an Ignatian mosaic.

In the following letter written by Thomas Merton in 1967, he speaks of an indestructible kernel of hope. My teacher training, for me, is yet more proof of this kernel and its indestructible nature.

No matter how depressed I have been (and it has been very bad, do not be mistaken), some part of me knew there was light at the end of that deep and dark tunnel. Some part of me continued to fight the good fight.

I am thankful that I have emerged from the tunnel -- not unscathed, surely, yet reborn better than ever.

Advent is about anticipating birth, creation, the radically new and transformative.

I have been living in an Advent of sorts for many years. Time to celebrate Christmas.

(Advent-Christmas, 1967) The times are difficult. They call for courage and faith. Faith is in the end a lonely virtue. Lonely especially where a deep authentic community of love is not an accomplished fact, but a job to be begun over and over... Love is not something we get from Mother Church as a child gets milk from the breast: it also has to be given. We don't get love if don't give any.

Christmas, then, is not just a sweet regression to breast-feeding and infancy. It is a serious and sometimes difficult feast. Difficult especially if, for psychological reasons, we fail to grasp the indestructible kernel of hope that is in it. If we are just looking for a little consolation-we may be disappointed.

Thomas Merton. The Road to Joy, Robert E. Daggy, editor (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1989): 108. (Emphases mine


Jan said...

Beautiful, Christine. I do so appreciate Merton and the clarity he brings. I am celebrating your move from depression to joy. Obviously, it has been a very long journey for you. I am proud to witness even a small piece of it. Now you get to spread the joy and I am honored to receive it. Love and more love to you this Christmas! What a blessing it has been to come to know you better this year. xo

ps. I think the side by side Shiva with the Ignatian window would have been awesome. I even think Jesus would have liked that...(wink) (Ever read any Anthony DeMello?)

Lisa said...

Lovely post.

So poignant.

Beautiful photo. Love those kind that come with such vivid memories as to when they were taken.

Sending you hugs of happiness & joy as you embark on this new (and still hopeful) part of your journey.

svasti said...

Despite being a raving heathen, and never really being into Christianity, I have a love for the beautiful architecture of old churches and cathedrals. There's such majesty and craftmanship in them.

Some of the cathedrals I was lucky enough to visit in the UK also seemed to be infused with love and the glory of true faith - the ecstatic union with the universe/god (however you want to put it).

There's many an Indian yogi who talks about the parallels between different faiths. In fact, a quote from Satyananda is: "Monotheism engenders intolerance".

If everyone was okay with everyone else's gods or lack thereof, we'd have a lot less conflict in this world.

As you know, I'm in my own process of transformation at the moment. And I wish you luck, patience, surrender and grace as you breathe your way through it. :D

Sallie Ann said...

This is a really lovely post. Depression is a really unfortunate and annoying affliction. But, it can also be a gift. Some pretty creative and amazing people have battled this noon-day demon (great book, by the way, and you must remember, you are so many wonderful things...depression is one of many many facets. You are giving so many wonderful, precious things to the world. Do more big and important things in 2010, and we'll be here to support, read and learn!