Writers all devise ways to approach that place where they expect to make the contact, where they become the conduit, or where they engage in this mysterious process. For me, light is the signal in the transaction. It’s not being in the light, it’s being there before it arrives. It enables me, in some sense.Toni Morrison, quoted in Daily Rituals, p.61–2
Some days when I wake up, I open the window, sit at a little desk, and look out from my eyrie. At this time of the year, it is still dark and I watch the light return. When it is cold, like today, I layer up with jumpers or a blanket. New air flows over me. I watch, listen, smell, think, feel, and write.
There is all the difference in the world between a closed window and an open one. Closed, I am shut in, isolated, alone. Open, I am connected with the outside, the sky, with the rest of nature, however occluded we are by the human excrescence. I watch the birds. I watch the trees parade their vestments in the liturgy of the seasons. I watch us go about our little lives. I feel content.
Here is “that place” where there is the possibility of being the “mysterious process”, ‘’the conduit” for what wants to be spoken.
For too many days I have not braved this place.
Where is your place?
6 thoughts on “Where is your “place”?”
I sometimes think this is the most important thing I do…clear my disposition, connect with my purpose, open up for The Other, in whatever way that occurs, in whatever shape he or she shows up….
Thanks, Paul. I agree.
These are beautiful words Julian ..
I visited an elderly family friend in a Dementia Home today and your words of a closed window made me realise how I am still able to watch , listen ,smell ,think,feel and write which their world has now closed upon them as they are isolated and alone making me realise my privileged position and my place today…
Thank you, Tony. Much as I was glad to move on from hospital chaplaincy, you remind me how much I miss aspects of that ministry: being with people with dementia; sitting with the dying. They helped me so much. J
What struck me most, from this interesting account of such a simple but meaningful moment, is that you needed to ‘brave’ that place.
It reminds me that I sometimes have to make considerable effort to do that which, when done, is rewarding. It seems to fly in the face of logic (and all we know from behaviourism) that we should need to push ourselves to find a pleasure! Of course, that does not apply to all pleasures. I know that all too easily, I settle for more immediate and gross pleasures – including essentially unrewarding comforts: an extra half hour under the duvet, an episode of a soap opera, etc.
And how much comfort do we need? Some, for sure. And how much challenge is good for us? Again, some – but clearly – not too much!
I suppose it is the middle path again. I feel that we live best when we find a certain edge – our own certain edge: a point at which we move out of our comfort zone to the point where the degree of challenge is manageable and rewarding.
I have often felt that to stand ‘naked’ and to face the raw power of life is just too much. Possibly many of our institutions function to stand between life and us: to mediate its power, and to offer us protection. I am thinking marriage, the family, the church as well as society’s rules and norms – or at least, those we internalise and take as our own.
But like many things that offer us protection or support, it might be that they need to be used like scaffolding that ultimately has to be left behind. At the end of the day, we will have to face life in all its awe-inspiring beauty and terror alone. I suspect that if we cling to the scaffolding of internalised rules, norms, concepts and beliefs we might find it failing us as a critical time.
Braved moments, in which we move to the edge our personal world (discarding as much scaffolding as is safe) so as to experience a bigger picture, and to find a place deeper within our wider interconnected world, strike me as being an essential part of the opportunity this life offers.
Where is my place? It is always moving, but there to be found – if only I make the effort and brave it ☺
Thank you, Tim. I always love your personal, thoughtful, honest, and insightful reflections. J