Tuesday, March 9, 2010

(60) Love Qualified

"The longer I live, the more I am aware of a reaching out for the
intimacy of a man-woman relationship. I am not thinking simply or
primarily of physical loving, but of the more wide-ranging trust or
intimacy which is at the heart of companionship, which involves
our affective sexuality, but which is distinct from physical intimacy."
[Dominic Gaisford, OSB, "Cast Your Bread on the Waters," in
Publications, 1982, p. 164.]

Comment: "Love" is a word bandied about at so many levels of
human experience. Most of us love, fall in love, love in so many
expressed ways that such is hardly countable. On the other hand,
I have noticed in religious writings these tiers or categories of
Love as expressed by theologians, religious, and monastics.

And Fr. Dominic had the courage to write about his need for a
certain kind of love. At the time he wrote this article, he had been
long a monk at Worth Abbey, in England, as well as having had
served in Peru for a time. In other words, he was a seasoned
monk who had worked in a number of monastic capacities.

However, reading his sentences about his need for intimacy, it
was as if he were attaining towards a different kind of maturity,
not just going up the service ranks of being a monk. But because
he had declared living the celibate life, he needed to *qualify*
the terms of any love relationship he might hope to encounter.

Being outside the walls, though I can never count myself "wise"
when it comes to love, I rather imagine that it would be difficult
for a man and a woman to love one another without some sort
of physical intimacy. It's accomplished, of course, but it's far
from complete. Underneath any qualified love between the sexes
there's the glow burning away.

This *glow* stokes love, but under special circumstances I can
only presume that it's burn is controlled by a certain behavior
towards one another. No doubt it's do-able, but surely there
must be some sort of understanding between the two parties.
And maybe it's enough, though I suspect one side of the bond
will suffer more from the relationship than the other.

But one thing for sure, Love is a need whether a monk or not.

Monday, March 8, 2010

(59) Work

"Work...must be congenial and satisfying if the spiritual life is to
develop normally: it cannot be all Cross and austerity."
[Cardinal Basil Hume, O.S.B., SEARCHING FOR GOD, Paulist
Press, 1977, p. 94.]

Comment: The late Basil Hume, once a Bendictine abbot, was
called to be the Catholic archbishop for England. He was well
loved, probably because he was gentle and wise. And I feel
quite lucky to have found this little pearl of wisdom as stated above.

Like the countless billions of other folk on this planet, I have worked.
I'm old enough to have seen my way through two careers, and now
I am embarking on a third life phase.

I have to admit to some considerable good fortune, in that my two
earlier careers were indeed "congenial and satisfying." But I have
to admit, also, that the times were right when I found myself in the
workplace. Coming from a small generation, too, I no doubt didn't
have the competition for positions that younger people now face.

So probably "luck" plays a big part when it comes to our work
situation. But luck isn't always with every person. Bad luck can
give one a raw deal. On the other hand, bad preparation nearly
always guarantees a poor hand when it comes to work. But
not everybody has the inclination towards academic study. Still
there's technical or vocational training. However, this presupposes
that a person *knows* the kind of effort or work that best suits him
or her. School testing, other forms of personality tests might help--
if one wants to bead-in more expertly where their talents lie.

Yet, not every one in this world has access to tests, to job availability,
etc. Our world lives on multiple tracks of existence, from the ultra-
urban to the agricultural realm to tribal societies. So finding that
good creative work that suits might be an impossibility.

Nonetheless, Cardinal Hume is surely on the mark when it comes
to work and its impact on the spiritual life. We are not necessarily
talking Religion here, but really more about our own personal human
spirit. If our work is creative and pleasant--and especially meaningful--
then we possess a happy spirit. And usually happy spirits spread
and share their happiness!