Inhabiting myself

“Unless we completely inhabit ourselves, it’s not possible to be completely present.” So wrote Gina Sharpe, founder of the New York Insight Meditation Center. Today I’m going to concentrate on inhabiting myself completely.

Most of the time (especially during the past winter, it seems), I’ve inhabited innumerable places other than myself: the countless tasks of work; the business (and busyness) of those around me, along with their demands and enticements; the chores and challenges of making home with my wife; the daily, sometimes hourly, even minute-by-minute barrage of news from the widening circles of the world (today I can’t get the ringing of Monday’s bombings in Boston out of my head).

My sense of hearing, the kind I do with what Benedict called the “ear of the heart,” has grown dull. I know that because my voice has grown quiet. Occasionally some burst of words is drawn out by the pressure of deadlines or the expectations of others, but too little seems (to me) born naturally out of the fertile inner ground where I feel most at home and from which my best has always arisen. I’m nettled by twin hungers, to be in authentic relationship with the divine Mystery, of which I am one expression, and with all that flows from it, and to express something of that relationship not only with words but with my whole being.

My heart and my will today are with Lewis Mumford, who wrote, “One is damned in one’s work, not by the cohorts of Satan, against whom one is on one’s guard; but by all the little Children of Light who bait one with their good intentions and make one surrender one’s proper virtue in the interest of their virtue, as if, in the long run, that would be more important. Henceforward, I shout to the heavens, I shall deliver no more lectures on behalf of good causes: I am the good cause that denies the need for such lectures. Avaunt! importuning world! Back to my cell.”

The whole day, of course, won’t be spent in my cell; I won’t inhabit myself completely and without interruption. But I shall spend the day there serially, returning to that holy place each time I recognize I’ve been distracted from it. Maybe the numen of that intimate place will still speak to me.

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