Thursday, September 17, 2020

39-40. The Fugitive and Time Regained by Marcel Proust

 





I began this journey of seven volumes on August 2, 2019, and here I am on my 51st spiritual birthday FINIS with the whole thing. 

It was quite a journey, and I feel like I need to go out and celebrate. I saw an interview with Shelby Foote once. He said this was his favorite novel. 

I started this because I was in bed with a broken leg last year. You can read the humor of my first post on the first book in the saga:

This is Proust. It is considered one of the greatest books of the 20th century. So, I am tackling the whole seven volumes while I am recovering from a broken leg. I wrote this in my review of How Proust Can Change Your Life, but it bears repeating that Proust's brother said, "The sad thing is that people have to be very ill or to have broken a leg in order to have the opportunity to read In Search of Lost Time." LOL! 

I listened to an abridged version of Swann's Way 11 years ago. I wasn't super impressed, but I am older now, and I have done a lot of reviewing of my "Blessed History" through the Spiritual Exercises so this is basically Proust's secular recollections of his history. George and I had such a nice conversation yesterday about how certain things trigger our memory. For me, a ride on a boat (which happened the day of my broken leg) flood my memory of times with my family boating and me singing to the sound of the engine as my dad drove around Lake Millerton or Mohave. This book inspired me in many ways to do more recollections and write about them. I had done a recollection many years ago that made my brother cry, but where did I put that thing?

So, there are seven volumes, and I bought the whole massive thing in one Kindle book for 1.99. So, here I go!


Here is a summary of what this is all about from the "jacket" of the Kindle version:

On the surface, a traditional Bildungsroman describing the narrator’s journey of self-discovery, this huge and complex book is also a panoramic and richly comic portrait of France in the author’s lifetime, and a profound meditation on the nature of art, love, time, memory and death. But for most readers it is the characters of the novel who loom the largest: Swann and Odette, Monsieur de Charlus, Morel, the Duchesse de Guermantes, Françoise, Saint-Loup and so many others — Giants, as the author calls them, immersed in Time.
In Search of Lost Time is a novel in seven volumes. The novel began to take shape in 1909. Proust continued to work on it until his final illness in the autumn of 1922 forced him to break off. Proust established the structure early on, but even after volumes were initially finished he kept adding new material, and edited one volume after another for publication. The last three of the seven volumes contain oversights and fragmentary or unpolished passages as they existed in draft form at the death of the author; the publication of these parts was overseen by his brother Robert.

“In Search of Lost Time” is widely recognized as the major novel of the twentieth century. —Harold Bloom
At once the last great classic of French epic prose tradition and the towering precursor of the “nouveau roman”. —Bengt Holmqvist
I am in a state of amazement; as if a miracle were being done before my eyes… Proust so titillates my own desire for expression that I can hardly set out the sentence. Oh if I could write like that! —Virginia Woolf
The greatest fiction to date. —W. Somerset Maugham
Proust is the greatest novelist of the 20th century. —Graham Greene
Our second greatest novel after “War and Peace”. —E. M. Forster
 

Monday, September 14, 2020

Monday Morning Freewrite Fifteen

I have not done a freewrite in maybe a month. So I am going to just let my fingers go across the keys and hope I can find all that is in my heart down in this freeflow of writing. (Google Freewrites if you are new to my blog.) 

This morning, Jessica V led our group of 33 people through a Visio Divina. Maybe it isn't that. But she gave us some verses to start with, and then we had five minutes for five emotions. We drew a meditation of what we were feeling in that, and then she played music. The emotions were SAD, MAD, GLAD, SCARED, HOPEFUL. I found it very helpful, and it got some emotions out.

SAD - I drew wildfire in Oregon. Destruction of homes and loss of life.   

MAD - COVID-19 and destruction and murder in Portland by anarchist/Antifa.

GLAD - Dancing to the Bee Gees Documentary, family meals, dates with George, Spiritual Direction, Spiritual Exercises, Prayer times with the world workers, Good Food, Supervision with Sister Joan and Sister Dorothy and the good article in Presence Magazine we discussed, reading good books, losing 15.2 pounds, a community we have and hold dear, Wednesday Imagine with the Brits, Sunday and Thursday Centering Prayer with the Bay Area Benedictines in Burlingame. 

SCARED - Disappointing people. Directee who wants to wear a mask during direction and having to tell her that was a "no." That I would miss the deadline for the Enneagram and Relationships Conference (he extended it for me so I could get the discount). Zoom prayer time I am leading next Saturday. Spiritual Direction time with a new directee. 

HOPEFUL - That "The Sun will come out tomorrow" LITERALLY! We have been in smoke for six days! 


I need to dance with the Bee Gees more since I cannot walk and ride my bike right now. :)  I don't want to deny those scared, mad, and sad feelings; but I do feel very glad and hopeful. I am a make lemonade out of lemons kind of gal. I can exercise indoors. I can adapt and get my 10,000 steps inside. 

I am reading The Education of Henry Adams. He is 65 years old. His life is coming to an end. I have 1 hour and 10 minutes left on this very long 22-hour book. But I have really liked it. It has given a glimpse into one man's perspective on 19th-century life. He lives through the Civil War and all the changes in Europe. He is at the beginning of the 20th Century, and you can already see the precursors to World War I brewing and the Russian threat. Fascinating. I love to learn. Education is a lifetime endeavor.


That is 15 minutes. BYE! 


Friday, September 11, 2020

37. Cultural Amnesia


 I had never heard of this author, but what a fascinating book! The author narrated the book. It is an ABRIDGED version so there are many more people in history that I have yet to read in the UNABRIDGED book. 


He looks at people in history that were important figures, most in the 20th century. He has many things to say about communism and how Nazism came to be in Europe. So insightful and smart! 

Examples of people in this abridged version:

Louis Armstrong

Albert Camus

Tony Curtis

Sartre. 

There are many more, but I loved it. 


Wednesday, September 09, 2020

36. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

 


This book is winsome and wonderful. It is best to just enjoy it without trying to "figure it out." It is her 1970s musings about her observations on a creek near her home. She was attentive to the created world, and she won a Pulitzer Prize. I am amazed she wrote it at the age of 27!

It is on my 1000 Books to Read Before You Die list, but what really prompted me to read it was 1) my budding interest in being more attentive to the created world around me (being a Type A "get toward the goal and do not smell the roses" sort of person who has a husband who is a Type Z and constantly smells the roses and the geese and the insects [let's just say that our walks and bike rides take longer since our kids have also been brainwashed to do the same]), 2) Ignatian Spirituality encourages one to look for God in your everyday life, 3) I read Blue Sapphire of the Mind, and he is constantly quoting this book, and 4) My friend, Garrett, said it was his favorite book, and since I had just finished Blue Sapphire the day he told me this, I felt like this was confirmation that I should read it.

I was in no way disappointed. Just enjoy it and be challenged to look at the world around you. 

On the verge of reading this book, I read the quote, "Wisdom is born of wonder," and I think it goes perfectly with this book. Wonder at the world (at soon as the air quality improves - It is in the unhealthy range due to raging wildfires in Oregon). 

Enjoy! 

Monday, September 07, 2020

35. The Captive by Proust

 

The Captive (Remembrance of Things Past #5)The Captive by Marcel Proust
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The quickest I have ever read any of the books in his series! This was more about the relationship between Albertine and Marcel than French aristocracy droning on and on. So I liked it more.


View all my reviews

34. Blue Sapphire of the Mind

 


This was recommended to me by my dear Sister Joan. They were having a workshop on it that I ended up not going to. I like that this book gave a thorough history of contemplative spirituality and wove ecology into it. I found it fascinating, and it inspired me to read Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. The natural world is something we need to pay more attention to in good stewardship of the earth that God gave us. It is a valuable contribution to the dialogue. 

I had cut and pasted this in a forgotten draft post about this book and just found it:

 The fourth-century writer Evagrius of Pontus likens the experience of contemplation to dwelling in a kind of place. "When the mind has put off the old self and shall put on the one born of grace," says Evagrius, "then it will see its own state in the time of prayer resembling sapphire of the color of heaven. the state is called by scripture, the place of God." This book believes that the ancient tradition of Christian contemplative thought and practice represented by Evagrius has a genuine contribution to make to the world of ecological thought and practice. At the same time, he says, the sense of the "the whole" emerging from contemporary ecological discourse has the potential to deepen and expand the classic understanding of contemplative life and practice. One of the striking features of the present historical moment is a deep and pervasive hunger for a less fragmented way of apprehending the world. Attending to these two traditions of thought and practice together, this book argues, recover such an integrated vision of the world. Additionally, there is a growing recognition in the culture at large, and in faith communities in particular, of the need for a response to the ecological crisis that expresses our deepest moral and spiritual values. Drawing on the insights of the early Christian monastics as well as the ecological writings of such figures as Henry David Thoreau, Aldo Leopold, Annie Dillard, and many others, this book forges a distinctively contemplative vision of ecological spirituality that could, the book contends, serve to ground the work of ecological restoration. (from https://oxford.universitypressscholarship.com/view/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199812325.001.0001/acprof-9780199812325

Sunday, August 30, 2020

33. Finding God in Each Moment: The Practice of Discernment in Everyday Life by Carol Ann Smith and Eugene F. Merz, SJ

 


Finding God in Each Moment: The Practice of Discernment in Everyday Life by [Carol Ann Smith]

Finding God in Each Moment: The Practice of Discernment in Everyday Life by Carol Ann Smith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a follow up to Moment by Moment which I enjoyed much more. I was going to use this in my summer prayer, but I ended up going through Finding Christ in the World (see below). I do like many of the questions in this book that I will use in my spiritual direction ministry. I have also used some of the questions in the book for conversation starters in a group setting with a wonderful effect! Also, there were times where it was instrumental in coinciding and confirming what God was teaching me in Finding Christ in the World.

View all my reviews

FINDING CHRIST IN THE WORLD - WEEK TWELVE: LIVING CHRIST IN THE WORLD

 



Touchstones:

  • When we say our yes to God with our whole hearts, we right away "glorify the Lord." (Amen!) 
  • The infinitely wise and powerful Holy Spirit is holding the Church as Christ's Mystical Body.
  • In our mature moments, we can say seriously with St. Paul, "For me, to live is Christ."
  • We can tell that we are praying well by how we are acting the rest of the day. 
  • This dismissal from a service sums up our life in Christ: "Go in peace, glorifying God by your life."
  • In our vocations, we are given the duty, along with the requisite virtues, to pass on our faith in Jesus Christ. 
  • We have the strength and assurance to cling to Jesus Christ through all of our lives. 
  • Living the Theological Virtues (faith, hope, and love), the Gifts of the Holy Spirit (wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord), and the fruits of life in Christ is living a fulfilled life with an assured - and eternal - future.
GRACE I ASK FOR: for gratitude that I have all the gifts I need for a holy and joy-filled life in Christ now, and in heaven. 

INTRODUCTION

"I no longer live, but Christ lives in me" (Gal 2:20). "It is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of humankind becomes truly clear" (Gaudium et Spes, 22)...Membership is entirely natural to us. We somehow belong with each other...We are just as firmly Texans, or Vermonters or Idahoans. Those identities dye our souls...We readily, easily belong...We disciples know that our need to belong has a much higher source. It's due to our being created in the image of God who exists as a Trinity, that Persons always relating. 

We are members and we thank God that it's our gift to belong to the Church...During these weeks of prayer, we have also looked at the Church from God's viewpoint. Seen from eternity, we see the Church "as the purpose of God's plan: 'to unite all things in Him" who is our Savior (Eph. 1:10). We are united not only around Him, but also in His Body...In becoming human, Jesus united himself to every other human...He did not wipe out humanity, he united it with divinity. 

PRAYER TALK - IN THE AFTERMATH

How "well" do you pray? Three points about answering that question. First: do you keep on praying? You're doing well. Second: do you let God lead you where you do not expect to go? You're doing quite well. Finally, Do you find yourself acting more and more holy? You're doing very well. That's the lesson that what happens during the rest of the day is more consequential than what happens in prayer. (This has been the BIGGEST blessing of the Exercises for me. It has been the desire of my heart for so many years to do this, and the Exercises are so conducive to that.) 

What are you looking for in your Examen? One good way to summarize it is that you are reaching for the behavior that leaves you content as a mature disciple of Christ. You want to behave the way a serious follower of Christ behaves...It's hard to really discomfort a mature disciple, in Jesus' mind. Abuse them and they bless you...Give them lots of trouble and they rejoice and are glad (Matt. 5:4-12)...Here's a daily Examen for mature Christians. Set yourself to enact those spiritual gifts...But you probably noted earlier on that letting the nation's mood overshadow your own is immature. It's not a new problem. St. Paul had to tell the Ephesians to struggle to be "fully mature with the fullness of Christ himself" (4:13)...Tell each other the truth...be "generous, sympathetic, forgiving"...Love is enacted...God loves us "even if our own feelings condemn us, because God is greater than our feelings and knows all things" (1 John 3, 18, 20). 

BRIEF NOTE: SENDING YOU

We are all destined - since before we were created - and invited - now that we are mature in freedom - to bring grace into our lifeworld...We are correct to think that one of the very finest parts of God's material creation of the enormous universes is a little creature on a little planet who can see and hear and appreciate what God has done and is doing. That's us. Doing that - just seeing and loving and appreciating God's handiwork - we are giving glory to God.


Matthew 28:16-20 - The Great Commission 

"When they saw him, they worshipped him." That just hit me more than any other part of the passage. Their worship propelled them into making disciples. That has to be the beginning of everything. Do we really SEE him?

Where the church is, there also is God's Spirit; where God's Spirit is, there is the Church and every grace. --St. Irenaeus 

WHAT ABOUT MY LIFE? APPLYING YOUR PRAYER

Throughout this retreat, I have sensed Jesus Christ being with me, especially when ... I am afraid...Strongest sense at the Ignatian Training Retreat! "Do not fear. You have found favor." 

I look back to the beginning and am now able to note that I have matured in Christ's grace in these ways...I am less afraid and more confident.

I thank God for...Always being WITH me!

Jesus is talking to me when he says, "Go, make disciples." In my life world, that means...Draw people close to me...learners at my feet (Jesus' feet not mine).

Those I "teach" include... I made a list of all my directees and people I meet with. I also saw a gate at the top of a hill looking out over the city. OPEN THE GATE, LORD.

REPETITION

All authority of Jesus to all nations. Don not fear...I am with you always. You have found favor with God. COMMUNITY OF THE TRINITY. 

How often I failed in my duty to God, because I was not leaning on the strong pillar of prayer. - St. Teresa of Avila. 

Acts 2:1-4 Pentecost 

BRIEF NOTES: THE BIRTH OF GOD'S PEOPLE

The Spirit descended on Jesus at his baptism so that "his whole life and his whole mission were carried out in total communion with the Holy Spirit" (Catechism, 1286)...We all received the gift of the Holy Spirit...We remain in the communion of the faithful. We pray with the community and receive the Bread and the Cup...Now, we are called to do the next thing they did: pass it on. We are called to share what we have, to pass on to others the graces that have been given us. We do that by contributing to church and charitable works - time, talent, treasure. We do that by helping those in our lifeworld who need help. We do that by getting involved, to the extent of our gifts and talents, in civil affairs. These are ways we pass on to others what is given to us...And now, as you complete this graced time, you might think about passing on these weeks of prayer. 

During the week: Let your memory drift back over your time in this retreat to see how the Spirit of God has guided you. 

Notice in the Scripture: Jesus' disciples, holding on to one another came together to pray. The Spirit came on them visibly and powerfully. They began speaking about Jesus and were talking languages they had not known.

Lectio of Acts 2: All together in one place (Lord, how I miss being "all together in one place" physically)...violent wind...filled the entire house...tongue rested on each of them...ALL were filled with the Holy Spirit...speak in other languages as the Spirit gave them ability. 

Lord, who is our "Upper Room" group? 

My thought for the Day: ALL together in one place. Holy Spirit fill us will be what I want to say throughout the day. 

"The Church is a ship, and even if the ship is in difficulty, it is necessary that we at least be in it." - St. Augustine

WHAT ABOUT MY LIFE? APPLYING YOUR PRAYER

I know that I accept being marked as Christ's because I ... want Jesus more than anything.

There have been occasions during these weeks when I felt the Holy Spirit being with me, as when...I do Centering Prayer with the Mercy Center and my retreat at Mount Angel Abbey.

Looking into the days ahead, I see certain times when I will really need the Holy Spirit, like...when I do spiritual direction. 

If there is one thing I really need the Holy Spirit for right now, it is...communicating with my friend on a difficult subject. Yikes! 

Repetition of Acts 2:1-4

KEEP IN MIND

About prayer: Remember that finding prayer easy, being in consolation is a gift. Thank God for it.

Lectio: Sound like a violent wind. 

My thought for the Day: All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit. 

"Trust the past to God's mercy, the present to God's love, the future to God's providence." St. Augustine

During this week: As you reflect on your spiritual growth, note the signs of maturing in your relationships and how your spiritual insight is helping you appreciate them. 

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Galatians 5:22-26

BRIEF NOTE: SOCIAL ENGINEERING 

Ignatius was a fiercely organized man..he suggested thinking about the Commandments, taking each one, examining whether you are obeying it well, resolving to do so...Capital Sins: pride, covetousness, lust, envy, anger, gluttony, and sloth...the devil would be glad to have you imagine that you could never, ever be proud, or slothful, or anything between...examines the virtues and powers that the Lord give us...Theological Virtues (so-called because they are the ones that connect you to God): faith, hope, and charity...Cardinal Virtues - the ones on which the rest hinge: prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance...and then there's our need these days for temperance in our political opinions and judgment about other nations and classes. Take each Cardinal Virtue to the Examen for a week and swee whether you're applying it...Virtues are like muscles, as you've noticed before: the more you use them, the stronger they are...You are the recipient of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. They are yours, in your capacities and abilities. Take them one by one, a day at a time, and ask yourself where you apply them: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord...Perhaps even more than failures, virtues are worth praying about in the Examen. 

KEEP IN MIND
About your prayer: Remember to begin in the Holy Presence (when I do this, I am just filled with a sense of peace and awe), ask for what you want, think and ponder, and then tell God what you come up with, ending with the Our Father.

During this week: You are preparing for "life after Exercises," and exercise the virtue of fortitude (courage)! 

Notice in scripture: St. Paul is teaching what was revealed to him, that the mature disciple has reached "the freedom of the children of God" - the freedom of life in Christ. 

Galatians 5:22-26

Love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (even temper, forbearance), kindness, generosity (goodness, benevolence), faithfulness, gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence)

My Thought for the Day: Fruit is the work which His presence within accomplishes! (AMP) So I need to be more aware of His presence within!

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle

WHAT ABOUT MY LIFE? APPLYING YOUR PRAYER

One virtue I really need right now is...temperance in my political opinion.

I have found certain spiritual acts invite me to be calm and quiet, and I mean to hold on to these...Centering prayer and Imaginative Contemplation this summer have been so awesome. 

During these weeks, I have found in Jesus some characteristics that I will be happy to have and continue growing in, like ... not worrying about what people thought of him, not sharing his political opinions, rendering to Caesar what is Caesar's. 

Repetition

This is the THIRD time "Generosity" has caught my eye. In most of my translations, the word is goodness. The word is not the meekness implied by the English word for "goodness." It is "character energized, expressing itself in agathon, benevolence, active good. It does not spare sharpness and rebuke to cause good in others. A person may display his agathosune, has zeal for truth. Christ's righteous indignation in the temple (Mt. 21:13). His goodness (agathosune) but not his gentleness. 

MY THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Generosity is "active good" not sparking sharpness and rebuke. 

Luke 1:46-55 (New American Bible)

For this final contemplation, I did it with the wonderful help of Imagine and the Jesuits in Britain. I went for a walk during the journeying to meet Elizabeth part and imagined myself walking with Mary to go and meet Elizabeth. The art is powerful at the end. Here is the link: 


I did this same meditation while on my Ignatian Training Retreat, and it was powerful as I contemplated the meeting of Mary and Elizabeth and looked outside the window to see a statue of the same scene!

BRIEF NOTE: MAGNIFY - We also magnify the Lord 

During this final day: Join May in glorifying, praising, and thanking God for the "great things" he has done for you. 

Notice in Scripture: Why not memorize the Magnificat? 

His mercy is from age to age...He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart...lifted up the lowly...The hungry he has filled with good things (on a day I was fasting)

MY THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: The hungry he has filled with good things. 

"In all created things discern the providence and wisdom of God, and in all things give Him thanks." --St. Teresa of 

I REVIEW MY WEEK OF PRAYER

I came to see some things I had not noticed before: the whole definition of fruit as being "the work which His presence within accomplishes" (AMP). 

I felt God's presence this week in this experience of my daily life: Walking with Mary (and also praying for a Mary in my life who has not acted as Mary would have acted). 

Saturday, August 29, 2020

32. Finding Christ in the World by Joseph Tetlow, S.J. and Carol Atwell Ackels


 This was a pretty thorough 18th Annotation of the Spiritual Exercises that I did along with 1100 people from 44 different countries this summer. I had the privilege of facilitating a group of people through half of it (it took that long for them to organize all the groups). The 18th is a shorter version of the 19th (Full) Exercises. I liked it. It is a workbook and is somewhat spendy, but it is all in one where you write in the book. I have been journaling my insights on this blog for the last few weeks because it has been helpful to summarize. 

Saturday Sixteen Freewrite

 The summer is winding down. It has been a good summer. Some highlights:

1) I have lost 14 lbs

2) I have walked, biked, hiked, canoed, and kayaked. Since July 27th, I have covered 275 miles on the Virtual Camino de Santiago. 

3) I completed this website, and I love the result: https://bodyandsoulcompanion.com/. It was so hard to "put myself out there," but I did it in obedience.

4) I stood up for myself when I felt uncomfortable with the format of the retreat I was at in August. That was HUGE. 

5) I, really and truly, believe that God has healed me from my December encounter with someone who I have suspected has not liked me for many years and was confirmed. It was such a turning point to do the "Walking with God" Exercise in Central Oregon and truly experience the touch of God. I have not been the same since. Turning point.

6) Finding Christ in the World was a very good thing for the three months of the summer. I am also grateful that I finally got a group together, even though it was only for three of the six times. 

7) I have such JOY. I am so GRATEFUL. I have such HOPE. 

This week was pretty amazing in that I went for a bike ride with no particular destination in mind, but as I headed on over to the covered bridge, I prayed that one of my college friends would come out of his house because he has been on my heart for the last 20 months because of the life difficulties he has been facing. JUST as I was riding by, he came out, and two hours later, I had a fuller picture of what he has been going through. My heart broke, and I fasted and prayed for his situation all day yesterday. I will continue to listen for what "active good" (One of the fruits of the Spirit that goes beyond the "goodness" most translations give but the Scripture I read THREE days in a row [from two different sources] had the translation "generosity," and it led me to discover that this Greek word means "beyond goodness" and it can have a rebuking aspect to it.) So I am waiting for further direction from the Lord. In the whole scheme of things, it is in my "Circle of Concern" but not in my "Circle of Influence." Actually, he is probably more in my Influence circle, and the other party is in the Concern circle. So far, I feel actively good toward him, but I am not sure the other person is even open to anything. I got that impression when I met with them soon after I heard of the crisis. The whole thing is very sad. 


All that said, I had some epiphanies since that conversation two days ago. I am SO GLAD I moved on from that group of people from college days! I was never really a part of their "inner circle," but I did not fit in it. I am so glad God led me to the Navigators. I will be forever grateful for the people I met and the love and community I have had with those people. I am also so thankful for the on-fire believers we are a part of now. It was right to move on and not wait for depth to occur. We are seeing the long-term fruit of their dependence on each other. I was sad when I was rebuffed in March of 2019, but I remember walking away unscathed. I move on with JOY! 

I don't even know if this makes sense, but I wanted to freewrite it.  

39-40. The Fugitive and Time Regained by Marcel Proust

  I began this journey of seven volumes on August 2, 2019, and here I am on my 51st spiritual birthday FINIS with the whole thing.  It was q...