11.28.2011

Sacred Time and Murderous Fairies

A blogalectic with Masha and Mr. Pond.

The holidays have arrived! Thanksgiving weekend closed with the first Sunday of Advent, in honor of which I caught the flu, unfortunately missing the first day of the new Mass translations and everything. But among the changes introduced by the season is the blogalectic's temporary shift into a discussion we can all more or less post freeform upon.

"Sacred time," said Mr. Pond, by way of topic suggestion. "In the quotidian," added Masha. And though we spoke of talking primarily as artists, as it turns out I can't think how to separate this idea from religion.
"O my God, since Thou art with me, and I must now, in obedience to Thy commands, apply my mind to these outward things, grant me the grace to continue in Thy Presence; and prosper me with Thy assistance. Receive all my works, and possess all my affections."—Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God
If only I were close to making all my time sacred, to devoting the proper hours to work and prayer and not to futzing around on the Internet or marathoning through insanely creepy 800-page novels on the excuse that I have the flu. I confess I'm not. And it's hard to be sorry when I know that thanks to the novel-binge, I can now spend the hours before bedtime working on my own stories and not reading madly, convinced that I'm condemning myself to dream about murderous fairies.

But there's no time like Advent for remembering that I never regret having prayed morning prayer, that getting meals ready in reasonable time is a worthwhile act of love, that minimizing the Internet and maximizing Scrivener will nearly always leave me happier about my day. Or that all of these things can be done in devotion.
[Brother Lawrence] examined himself how he had discharged his duty; if he found well, he returned thanks to God; if otherwise, he asked pardon; and without being discouraged, he set his mind right again, and continued his exercise of the presence of God, as if he had never deviated from it. “Thus,” said he, “by rising after my falls, and by frequently renewed acts of faith and love, I am come to a state, wherein it would be as difficult for me not to think of God, as it was at first to accustom myself to it.”—from The Practice of the Presence of God
That book says some things better than I ever will. It's also short, and every bit as free and online as this blog.

There are, however, a few key things I'd love to talk about in regard to sacred time and the artist: silence and ritual, for instance. I'll save them for the next few weeks.... Masha, the floor's all yours.

6 comments:

  1. Thanks! What is this creepy fairy book you read???

    I can never really seperate art from religion from daily life from anything else, so I appreciate the mingling here :)

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  2. Masha, it was Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. Review coming in a few weeks, I think. Still not sure what I thought of the book overall, but I know exactly what I think of that fairy.

    Oh, and good--I was afraid I'd just be annoying. :D

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  3. What an intriguing topic: "sacred time . . . in the quotidian." I'd like to cull out what a secular-artistic "sacred time" means, at least to me, in relation to the artistry of teaching (since I'm not an artist in your sense of being a fiction writer).

    I regard every class meeting with students as sacred time: a time to "dwell"--with ideas, each other, and why these ideas matter in our lives every single day. This dwelling space is not to be taken for granted, nor is it to be made fun of. Every meeting is a new and special occasion unable to be replicated, to be greeted with a big smile and to be treasured for its uniqueness.

    It takes a lot to prepare for really being in such a sacred space (though not just in terms of reading). Mostly it involves a commitment to oneself, to one another, to learning from whatever surfaces. When we connect in this sacred space, it's unsettling and calming and exhilirating and rejuvenating all at once.

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  4. I like the idea of "a time to 'dwell'", Carrie-Ann. It's too easy to take such things for granted, but they're important moments. And you're absolutely right. It takes a great deal of commitment and preparation to be wholly there, not to just show up and wing it.

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  5. Carrie-Ann, I really liked your phrasing - "a time to dwell" "really being in .. sacred space". It reminds me of something from Rilke: "being awake and being alive are Deeds, not states" and they must be done actively. The creation of sacred space is the same, it take preperation, attention, and the choice to really be in the moment.

    And I love "the artistry of teaching", it's beautiful to think of the shaping of minds and hearts.."to affect the quality of the the day," for each student! Thanks for your contribution!

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  6. Glad you liked the (what's for me) quotidian sacred space of teaching contribution.

    I'm so very thrilled that you reminded me of Rilke, Masha! This one from his Book of Images seems fitting here:

    "Out of infinite longings rise
    finite deeds like weak fountains,
    falling back just in time and trembling.
    And yet, what otherwise remains silent,
    our happy energies—show themselves
    in these dancing tears."

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