Saturday, March 29, 2014

Mid-Lent Thoughts

  • I started out reading Julian's "Revelations of Divine Love," but then I totally screwed myself during the first week, for God's sake, by getting into a screaming match on a website (although I didn't start the argument).  This event intensely depressed me, and in fact immediately halted my prayer and reading disciplines in their tracks - and I do mean immediately.  I have only now just recovered from it, and feel able to pray and read again.  I must remember that I can't afford to do that any longer - anger is my worst sin, and I still fall prey to it although not as often these days - and especially not in penitential seasons.  I still always know how to make myself feel bad, and to screw up my own efforts, don't I?

    I wanted to do much more reading than I've done; I had tons of books lined up but haven't read any of them.  I just hope I can get more into prayer at this point.
  • "The Last Temptation of Christ" is on Netflix now, and I watched it last night; I'd never seen it before, although I had always wanted to.  I love both Kazantzakis and Scorcese - and of course I love the subject matter.  It was very good, I have to say; a bit 70s in places, but there's nothing too wrong with that.   The Crucifixion scene was stunning, I thought - and reminded me that Christianity is really so very elemental in its concerns.   I liked that they had Jesus trying to figure everything out as he went; that was a great approach. 

    Interesting, too, that little disclaimer at the beginning:  "This story is not based on the Gospels."  Well, of course it was; clearly that was added so as to minimize the complaints.  I don't really remember anybody freaking out over it, either, whereas clearly they would be today; American society has gotten much weirder over the past 30 years or so.
  • I've actually done the fast this year, all the way.  Most years I break it at some point; a friend has a St. Patrick's Day dinner every year, for one thing, and every year I break the fast at that dinner.  And I pay for it, both with intense gastric distress, and because it makes it much harder to get back in the fasting routine.  This year, though, I followed it all the way through; I went to the dinner, but only ate the stuff I was supposed to. 

    I ate fish on Annunciation (allowed - and it was just fantastic!), and have kept the fast (although occasionally eating before 4 p.m.) otherwise.  (People who've fasted for all these centuries really do know what they're doing; fish doesn't upset the routine at all, either physically or psychically.  And it's good to have that Annunciation break.)  I'm getting much better at vegan, and have actually advanced quite far beyond peanut butter and jelly now.
  • I'm in the middle of selling my house now, and will be moving sometime in the next two months.  I have a hankering to move out to the desert to sing and pray and meditate; I want to become a hermit, living on the edge of the world.  I'd actually like to be part of a community of hermits, just the way the Desert Fathers and Mothers did in those early years.  My "moving to the desert" would probably not be literal, though; I just want a small place in an inexpensive area - someplace cheap - perhaps in upstate New York or even in Massachusetts or Maine.  I want to be in nature and to have silence.  (In reality I'd be OK with an urban community - you can have a bit of nature even in the city - but it's just too expensive to live in most cities today.)

    If anybody's interested in joining my little hermit community, just let me know.
  • New York Polyphony is singing the mass at St. Thomas Church tomorrow.  I'm awfully tempted to go; it's a great mass, too:  John Sheppard's "Playnsong Mass for a Mene."  It's a Festal Eucharist, which probably means incense.  I think I'm talking myself into it.....
  • Then it'll be Palm Sunday at St. Mary's - followed by Bach VespersSchauet doch und sehet ("Behold and see, if there be any sorrow"),  BWV 46.  That's this one:

  • I really do like this time of year.  It's still so cold here, though; there's still snow on the ground in places, if you can believe it.   And it's very cold at night - still down into the 20s.  My car still has a whole winter's worth of salt on it, because I refuse to pay $18 to get it washed - but I can't turn on the water yet, or use it, or else the whole street will get icy.
  • My little tuxedo cat is dying; he's got a lymphoma, we think.  He's 16, so there's no real point in putting him through any treatment for that; I just give him some prednisolone (an anti-inflammatory) once a day, which has made him feel much better.  It makes him very  hungry, too - which was a good thing, because he's gotten so skinny; he's a shadow of his former self.  Still beautiful, though, with those deep green eyes, and still the sweetest cat who ever lived.  I'll miss him when he goes.

  •  From the read-'em-and-weep department: "Nasa-funded study: industrial civilisation headed for 'irreversible collapse'?" 


Caelius said...

Wow, that sounds like a busy and stressful time. I'll make sure to pray for you. I'd recommend living on the outskirts of Ithaca-Cortland area. There are some real estate deals up there, and amazing natural beauty. Best of all, Ithaca is a nice place to visit, if you want to go to concerts (both the community and colleges are very musically active) and have other cultural experiences. I'm not interested in joining your hermitage at this time, but maybe I'll drop in for a visit?

bls said...

Thanks for the prayers, Caelius - that makes a difference.

I was actually thinking of Ithaca, believe it or not; I think there are a number of monasteries up in that part of the world. And Finger Lakes, too.

And of course you're most welcome to drop in at the hermitage any time you wish....

Lee said...

Actually, my recollection is that people *did* freak out over "Last Temptation" (which I really like too). Particularly the scene where Jesus is fantasizing about having a normal family life and they portray him and Mary Magdalen, *ahem* being intimate.

I think the outrage at the time came more from the Catholic side though.

Blessed Lent and Holy Week to you!

bls said...

Yeah, you're right, Lee; I looked it up afterwards and was maybe going to edit the post on that account.

There were protests and whatnot - and as a matter of fact:

In 1953 the Church of Greece sought Kazantzakis’ prosecution on account of certain excerpts in "Freedom and Death" and "The Last Temptation," before the latter was even published in Greece. The following year, the Pope placed "The Last Temptation" on the Catholic Index of Forbidden Books.

I guess, though, in the era before the internet: who knew? You had to actually follow along with the "Nightly News" or something crazy....

Blessed Lent and Holy Week to you, too -