Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve at the Mount is hardly a wild affair! No one goes out to a club, some go to family or friends in the early evening, but most stay at home. We do have a party of sorts, with great snacks and a movie or two. Some of us manage to watch Dick Clark's Rocking New Year's Eve (he's still on?!), but most go to bed before midnight. We also have beautiful prayer, both for Evening Praise and then on New Year's Day itself, which is a Solemnity of Mary, too.

Here is something I've shared before (see December 10). It's from a rather old little book that is turning out to be a gem. The copyright is 1994 and although it has a very attractive hardcover, it is only about 5" x 8" x 1/2" in size. The title is Meditations..on the monk who dwells in daily life, by Thomas Moore.

Each of the 100 or so pages has a short reflection on some aspect of monastic life, coming from the dozen years he spent in a monastery as a young man...and his reflection on such years later. They are so simple, so beautiful and so right on.

Here's one to start the new year:

Withdrawal from the world is something we can, and perhaps should, do every day. It completes the movement of which entering fully into life is only one part. Just as a loaf of bread needs air in order to rise, everything we do needs an empty place in its interior. I especially enjoy such ordinary retreats from the active life as shaving, showering, reading, doing nothing, walking, listening to the radio, driving in a car. All of these activities can turn one's attention inward toward contemplation.

Mundane withdrawal from the busyness of an active life can create a spirituality-without-walls, a spiritual practice that is not explicitly connected to a church or a tradition. I have never forgotten Joseph Campbell's response when he was asked about his yoga practice: laps in a pool and a drink once a day. Anything is material for retreat--cleaning out a closet, giving away some books, taking a walk around the block, clearing your desk, turning off the television set, saying no to an invitation to do anything.

At the sight of nothing, the soul rejoices.