“Without support and with support,
Living without light, in darkness,
I am wholly being consumed.” John of the Cross
During Advent we semi-hermits have the privilege of setting aside time to be still and wait in the darkness of the season and into the darkness of our world. There’s a certain level of being we come to if we are faithful to the waiting and the hoping.
Under the blunt pine
In the winter sun
The pathway dies
And the wilds begin.
Here the bird abides
Where the ground is warm
And sings alone…” Thomas Merton
The being out there alone is something I think we all experience when we are quiet enough. And it can be uncomfortable for its strangeness. As we stay with it in hope we might sense a bit of a support uplifting us as the unnecessary stuff within us leaks out.
“We live a pendulum between astonishment and perplexity.” William Desmond
Astonishment being the place of revelation and oneness, communion. Perplexity the abyss, the exploration out into the unknown. When we are in the place of lostness, this is not so bad a thing.
“And if, in the changing phases of man’s life
I fall in sickness and in misery
my wrists seem broken and my heart seems dead
and strength is gone and my life is only the
leavings of a life:
and still, among it all, snatches of lovely oblivion
and snatches of renewal
odd wintry flowers upon the withered stem, yet
new, strong flowers
such as my life has not brought forth before, new
blossoms of me—
then I must know that still
I am in the hands of the unknown God,
He is breaking me down to his new oblivion
To send me forth on a new morning, a new man.” D.H. Lawrence
The wrong kind of being lost
“Adam’s confused attention to everything…multiplicity, his despair. Adam fragments himself.” Denise Levertov
“Once man has lost the fundamental orientation which unifies his existence, he breaks down into the multiplicity of his desires; in refusing to wait for the time of praise his life story disintegrates into a myriad of unconnected instants…” Pope Francis Lumen Fidei
We all know the feeling of being fragmented. It’s the place we want to avoid. If we come to value the abyss of lostness since it can be the place where we let go of fragmentation, we won’t be afraid. This is a place of nothingness, a cleansing, where we are prepared to receive the time of praise, of adoration and oneness.
So how do all these thoughts converge? Mary is incapable of mimetic influence. She holds the true centre. Her focus rules her being. She is our perfect companion in times of confusion. She can untie the knots. She knows how to wait and hold the uncertainties. She knows what it means to not know and not understand and feel helpless. She knows that when we are in that place of unknowing, it can be fruitful. And she can accompany us.
“Blessed is the fruit of thy womb.”