Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Freewrite before the RUN TO THE NUNS

I am so happy to have just this 15 minutes for a freewrite. Something I have not done for quite a while because I have been doing "Morning Pages" ala The Artist's Way. I am not going to lie, the discipline of writing three handwritten notebook size pages every morning has been SO GOOD! (I know you probably thought I was going to say that I was not going to lie about it being super tough, but NO! I love it. Kinda' like I'm not going to lie, prayer is a joy and delight for me. Suffice it to say that I won't be speaking at any women's retreats because I don't struggle like most people do in things most people do struggle. I acknowledge that the struggle IS REAL FOR MOST PEOPLE, and I have great compassion for everyone. But I digress - But this is MY freewrite, and I can digress all I want. Tee Hee.

So here I am writing away until I join the nuns of East Mosely (near London - I think) for their 8:30 pm Centering Prayer period. I was not able to join that for Monday and Tuesday because the last two days have been somewhat hectic. But I don't mind. I don't feel guilty if I miss a prayer period. 

I led a 2nd Half Collaborative small group this morning for 90 minutes. Those times just take so much out of me. I have to be so honest about that (That is where I can say, "Not going to lie - it is tough for me to lead small groups. You would think after 40+ years of leading small groups - my first one being 1979 - It would be easy. I am capable, but it is not easy for me. Spiritual direction one-on-one - a synch though.) I am tired from the time. I love all those people. I think I just long for a longer conversation than just a snippet of 10-15 minutes, and I don't like rushing people through the time, but I have to because there are 6 people who need to share in 90 minutes. So, it is sort of stressful for me. I am much less stressful about the other group I lead: The Order of the Mustard Year of Preparation Cohort. I have four people to share in 2 hours. That is so much more manageable, even though I have quite a bit more content to get through with the Order of the Mustard Seed people. 

I think I am medium nervousness about the group that I lead on Friday mornings. I have different groups of people doing it. I am taking a break though until after June! 

I gotta run to the nuns for Centering Prayer!

Sunday, February 06, 2022

Zen in the Art of Archery

I am really glad I read this! I have never really understood what "Zen" is, and this helped sum it up. A German philosopher, Eugen Herrigel, went to Japan and learned archery from a Japanese master and wrote about it. 

Eastern philosophy is so different from Western! We could learn a ton from them, and I can do it without compromising any of my faith! So here are so quotes that were perfectly timed as I was contemplating a certain method that looks at strategy and statistics which I cannot help but think leads to ego gratification. It is when we are indifferent (Ignatian concept here) to success that we can proceed. 

I also could not help but think about the movie, Karate Kid, the whole time I was reading this! 

Great Quotes:

"The right art ", cried the Master, `is purposeless, aimless! The more obstinately you try to learn how to shoot the arrow for the sake of hitting the goal, the less you will succeed in the one and the further the other will recede. What stands in your way is that you have a much too wilful will. You think that what you do not do yourself does not happen. " p. 31

Assuming that his talent can survive the increasing strain, there is one scarcely avoidable danger that lies ahead of the pupil on his road to mastery. Not the danger of wasting himself in idle self−gratification ˙ for the East has no aptitude for this cult of the ego but rather the danger of getting stuck in his achievement, which is confirmed by his success and magnified by his renown: in other words, of behaving as if the artistic existence were a form of life that bore witness to its own validity.

The teacher foresees this danger. Carefully and with the adroitness of a psychopomp he seeks to head the pupil off in time and to detach him from himself. This he does by pointing out, casually and as though it were scarcely worth a mention in view of all that the pupil has already learned, that all right doing is accomplished only in a state of true selflessness, in which the doer cannot be present any longer as " himself ". Only the spirit is present, a kind of awareness which shows no trace of ego− hood and for that reason ranges without limit through all the distances and depths, with " eyes that hear and with ears that see ". p.43-44

How does skill become " spiritual ", and how does sovereign control of technique turn into master swordplay? Only, so we are informed, by the pupil becoming purposeless and egoless. He must be taught to be detached not only from his opponent but from himself. He must pass through the stage he is still at and leave it behind him for good, even at the risk of irretrievable failure. Does not this sound as nonsensical as the demand that the archer should hit without taking aim, that he should completely lose sight of the goal and his intention to hit it? p. 73

Here is why James Mustich thinks it should be one of the 1000 Books to Read Before You Die:
When Eugen Herrigel, a German professor of philosophy, went to Tokyo in the 1940s, he studied ikebana (the Japanese art of flower arranging), apprenticed to a master of archery, and spent six years studying Zen Buddhism through those activities. Zen in the Art of Archery is his distillation of that experience, an attempt to make the purpose of Zen practice understandable to those outside of its native culture. Despite the wide dissemination of Zen ideas in the ensuing years, Herrigel’s book remains an illuminating, graceful, and inspiriting introduction, through Western eyes, to the meditative insight of Eastern philosophy.

Saturday, February 05, 2022

In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway is not my favorite author. I thought I was DONE reading all the recommended classics on all the lists, but here was yet ONE MORE!

This is a bunch of short stories. Hemingway conveys emotion in very few words. I can see why he was famous, but his deep sadness comes across in all his writing. So, I don't like to read him (except The Old Man and the Sea). This motivated me to watch the Ken Burns PBS documentary on Hemingway

Here is why James Mustich thinks it should be one of the 1000 Books to Read Before You Die:
Following upon the appearance of two small volumes in Paris, In Our Time was Hemingway’s first full-length book, and his first published in the United States. It is composed of sixteen stories, each followed by a brief prose interlude—often a paragraph, never longer than a single page—labeled as a numbered “chapter.” The chapters—scenes of peril and desperation drawn from the battlefield, the bull ring, and the annals of American urban violence—act as a kind of visceral punctuation to the stories, giving an ominous historical context. The disciplined directness of Hemingway’s expression—the way each word seems chosen and set with care, the modulation of cadence, the telling use of quiet—informs a style of stunning alertness as he explores youth’s conversion from innocence to experience. Although the character of Nick Adams is not central to every tale, the course of his coming-of-age shapes the book’s development. We share his youth and his admiration for his doctor father, the confusions of his first romance, his friendships, the aftermath of his wartime ordeal, and his fragile determination to make a home for himself in a homeless world. All the while, the something out there that’s not fooling infiltrates the space between the lines to intensify the hues of Hemingway’s attention to life, love, and death. Despite—or perhaps because of—its often miniaturist scale, In Our Time may well be the truest expression of its author’s prodigious gifts.

My Family and Other Animals

This is a dramatic BBC Version of this book. It is very entertaining. What a dysfunctional family that totally loves one another. It is the story behind the TV series Durrells in Corfu

Here is the author's biography from Goodreads:

Gerald "Gerry" Malcolm Durrell was born in India in 1925. His elder siblings are Lawrence Durrell, Leslie Durrell, and Margaret Durrell. His family settled on Corfu when Durrell was a boy and he spent his time studying its wildlife. He relates these experiences in the trilogy beginning with My Family and Other Animals, and continuing with Birds, Beasts and Relatives and The Garden of the Gods. In his books he writes with wry humour and great perception about both the humans and the animals he meets.

On leaving Corfu he returned to England to work on the staff of Whipsnade Park as a student keeper. His adventures there are told with characteristic energy in Beasts in My Belfry. A few years later, Durrell began organising his own animal-collecting expeditions. The first, to the Cameroons, was followed by expeditions to Paraguay, Argentina and Sierra Leone. He recounts these experiences in a number of books, including The Drunken Forest. Durrell also visited many countries while shooting various television series, including An Amateur Naturalist. In 1958 Gerald Durrell realised a lifelong dream when he set up the Jersey Zoological Park, followed a few years later by the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust.

Durell was married twice; Jacquie Durrell (1951-1979), Lee Durrell (1979-1995).

Gerald Durrell's style is exuberant, passionate and acutely observed. Gerald Durrell died in 1995.

There are several books on the 1000 Books to Read Before You Die List written by his brother, Lawrence.

Here is why James Mustich thinks it should be one of the 1000 Books to Read Before You Die:

It’s a cliché that an unhappy childhood gives a writer ideal material. In the case of Gerald Durrell, however, just the opposite occurred: A blissfully happy childhood not only supplied him with wonderful matter for several bestselling books, but also started him on his life’s path to a career as a famous naturalist, zoologist, and conservationist. Warmly humorous, replete with intriguing natural history, and delighting in the merry eccentricities of the Durrell household, My Family and Other Animals is a splendid trip in very good company.

Autobiography of a Face

Wow! This is quite a book. I am really glad I read it. She is able to communicate her journey so beautifully. 

Here is why James Mustich thinks it should be one of the 1000 Books You Read Before You Die:

Lucy Grealy was nine years old when it was discovered she had cancer. Years of grueling treatment followed, including nearly thirty operations and the partial removal of her jaw. Autobiography of a Face is Grealy’s powerful, riveting account of growing up during those two decades in a society whose true religion often seems to be the worship of physical perfection.

Tuesday Ten Minute Freewrite

I am going to go great guns for 10 minutes on this freewrite. I am meeting with a person (not sure if she wants direction - she just wanted ...