Unfortunately, my postings since the beginning of the year have been few and far between. This has been a disappointment for me because I derive great nourishment from the beauty, wisdom, and inspiration that I discover in my conversations with friends in the blogging community. From time to time, however, the pressing demands of everyday life escalate to a level that leaves little breathing room for either pleasure or reflection.
With the demands in my own life compounding lately, rather than abating, I woke up and came into my office around 3:15 this morning, intending to post a note stating that I would be taking a sabbatical from blogging until things improve. As soon as I retrieved my blog, however, the banner of current postings by others reminded me of how much I need these conversations in order to meet the challenges of life. That caused me to pause for a moment and pick up the book I have just finished reading, namely, Beauty: The Invisible Embrace, by the late John O'Donahue, a fine Irish writer and one of my favorite navigators of the human heart. Turning to a dog-eared page, I reread a passage that I read a couple of nights ago and which has resonated deeply with me since then. I quote that passage below because it speaks more eloquently than I can about the terrain through which I have been passing for several months. The depth and power of these words convinces me that I must not allow the distractions of the day to divert me from the sources of strength that I will require for the journey. Thus, rather than take a sabbatical from postings, I am going to redouble my efforts to post on a more frequent basis.
From Beauty: The Invisible Embrace, under a subsection titled "The Lost Voice" —
A time of bleakness can also be a time of pruning. Sometimes when our minds are dispersed and scattered, this pruning cuts away all of the false branching where our passion and energy were leaking out. While it is painful to experience and endure this, a new focus and clarity emerge. The light that is hard won offers the greatest illumination. A gift wrestled from bleakness will often confer a sense of sureness and grounding of the self, a strengthening proportionate to the travail of its birth. The severity of Nothingness can lead to beauty. Where life had gone stale, transfiguration occurs. The ruthless winter clearance of spirit quietly leads to springtime of possibility. Perhaps Nothingness is the secret source from which all beginning springs.
There are also times of malaise, when life moves into the stillness of quiet death. Though you function externally, something is silently dying inside of you, something you can no longer save. You are not yet able to name what you are losing, but you sense that its departure cannot be halted. Those who know you well can hear behind your words the deadened voice, the monotone of unremedied sadness. Your lost voice cannot be quieted. It becomes audible despite your best efforts to mask it. Sometimes even from a stranger one overhears the pathos of the lost voice: it may speak with passion on a fascinating topic, yet its mournful music seeps out, suggesting the no man's land where the speaker is now marooned. Put flippantly, no-one ever really knows what they are saying. The adventure of voice into silence and silence into voice: this is the privilege and burden of the poet.
Since first reading Anam Cara, I have long treasured O'Donahue's insights into the spiritual landscape of the human heart. I did not discover O'Donahue's meditation on beauty, however, until after reading Fireweed Meadow's wonderful posting, Beauty by John O'Donahue, which I heartily recommend to other readers. Thanks, Fireweed, for bringing this book to my attention and inspiring this post.