58. Silence, Solitude, Simplicity: A Hermit's Love Affair with a Noisy, Crowded, and Complicated World
I had borrowed it from my retreat center library; but when my hand got tired of writing down gem quote after gem quote, I ran down to the retreat bookstore and bought it. (I only BUY books when absolutely necessary and usually just borrow them.) It is all marked up now.
It is about monasticism, but it is about going to the desert in order to emerge with God's love and compassion for others.
In quoting Gregory of Nyssa, she writes:
Speaking of Moses' desire to see God, Gregory writes: "And the bold request which goes up the mountains of desire asks this: to enjoy the beauty not in mirrors and reflections, but face to face." God's response to Moses: "He would not have shown himself to his servant if the sight were such as to bring the desire of the beholder to an end, since the true sight of God consists in this, that the one who looks up to God never ceases in that desire, " Gregory concludes: "This truly is the vision of God: never to be satisfied in the desire to see him. But one must always, by looking at what he can see, rekindle his desire to see more." (p.6)More of her own thoughts on Moses:
Then don't I need to be tested in the desert, challenged, purified, to become aware of my frailty and God's strength, of my infidelity and God's unending faithfulness, to be healed of my enslavements and set free at the heart of my being, to learn to trust deeply in the God of promise? I need to learn not to try to program God, but to believe in divine love, the divine will and capacity to care -- I need to rely on it and accept it as gift. I need to leave it to God to choose the time and place where, like Moses, I meet God and come to know divine love in direct communication. Must I not, like Moses, ultimately come to God healed of my radical self-centeredness, and with deep compassion for others and concern for their needs? (p.67)AMEN! YES! YES! WOW!
Another favorite quote:
A favorite image of the monastic person in the modern world is as sacrament -- an outward and visible sign to others -- of desire for God, for God's reign, for the nurturing and extension of God's life and love in the world. It is so easy to have desire eroded, to be diverted or enticed away from that central hunger of our being. We have to keep it alive. And how much the church and the world need free men and women of desire, who truly, effectively believe that God seeks them in love and desire, and that they will be found. Such persons -- whether inside or outside the monastery -- communicate a constancy of hope, confidence, and joy -- not a shallow optimism, but the living fruit of faith. Thus they become, as well, sacraments of thanksgiving and gratitude. (p.10)Thus why, since 1980, I have taken regular, extended times of solitude with the Lord: to press in closer. I hold no illusions that anything I do "for" Him is because of my doing. I am just a conduit, and those times of pressing in help me to make sure all the plumbing is working correctly in order to ensure a free flow.
I highly recommend this book. It is so precious to me that if someone doesn't like it, I do not want to know!