More on Distraction

During Bible Study, while we were reflecting on the scene with the woman with the alabaster jar at Simon’s house (Luke 7:36-50), one of our sisters said, “Maybe if I think my sins aren’t very great, maybe my love isn’t very great either.”

Sins against Love!

Last night at Vespers as we bowed during the chanting of the Gloria patri, bored to tears literally, I glanced out the Mary window toward “Duckville”.  And I thought, here I am, bowing in reverence in the presence of the One with such a Holy Name we can’t know or say it, but I’m furtively glancing out the window to see if anything anything is happening out there in the garden!  And I purport to love The Divine Holy One, I chose and still choose to live a life in harmony with worship and service.  And I’m yawning?  When any guest comes I manage to stay focused and interested even out of mere politeness.  When I’m tired I rifle through PBS online to keep up with new postings of British murder mysteries (Oh, boy, yet another murder in Oxford!) and manage to stay awake.  But for the Ultimate Great & Holy Mystery?

I’m not saying this isn’t normal.  It goes to show we’re like puppies when it comes to divine things. (Speak for yourself, Guthrie, you might be saying, but who do you think YOU are, the Dalai Lama?) Some breeds appear to be more prone to distraction and addled than others, but, I think it’s still early in our evolutionary journey toward Consciousness.  We’re still looking out for the giant cat stalking us when we venture outside the cave to hunt.  We need to keep the one trait and still develop the other.

Training, practice, singing the damn psalms, sitting in silence.  Opening to the Other.  Like skydiving, climbing cliffs, spelunking, scuba diving, this thrilling exploration of the Soul on the boundary of Infinity astounds us!  What happens when you lose concentration skydiving, or climbing, or spelunking, or in the depths of the ocean?  You can lose your life.  But in prayer – you simply, gently, call yourself back  “without recrimination”, as Brother Bede says, toward the Dark.  But without the endorphins.

Ladder of Paradise, inspired by John Climacus (525-606), Russian manuscript page, 16th century

Ladder of Paradise, inspired by John Climacus (525-606), Russian manuscript page, 16th century

Here’s a helpful and humorous quote from John Climacus that I didn’t find a place for on the webpost this week.  (  The beginning underscores meditation prompt three (don’t judge) and the rest of it cautions not to attribute natural-born character traits to your good discipline.  Good quote for ego-watching.

Some, I know not why (for I have not learned to pray conceitedly into the gifts of God) are by nature, I might way, prone to temperance, or stillness, or purity, or modest, or meekness, or contrition.  But others, although almost their own nature itself resists them in this, to the best of their power force themselves; and though they occasionally suffer defeat yet, as men struggling with nature, they are in my opinion higher than the former.  Do not boast, man, of the wealth you have obtained without labour.  For the Bestower, foreseeing your great hurt, and infirmity, and ruin, at least saves you to some extent by those unmerited gifts. 

-John Climacus, Ladder to Paradise, Step 26, Section 28-29

One Response to “More on Distraction”

  1. L. Says:

    Oh wow–I so needed to read this one. Thank you!

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