Friday, January 14, 2005

Accepting Incarnation

Three nights ago, after several days of increasing restlessness, general dissatisfaction and compulsive computer use in an attempt to fend them off, I expressed befuddlement as to why, although spending the day on the computer was an indulgence, I was grouchy, but the simple physical act of doing the dishes seemed to help me feel better, bane of my life though they are.

"Hon," said my husband gently but pointedly, "you're an incarnational being."

Quite frankly, I don't think much of incarnation. Mine, that is. Since I was very young, I have resented being forced to be contained in a physical structure that (like everyone else's) limits and distracts the mind. "After all," I've often growled heavenward, "with all the eternal truths and possibilities the human spirit is capable of comprehending and conceiving, why does it have to be chained to a body that has such needs to be constantly coddled--a distraction at best, and a roadblock all too often!?! One would think that with Your potential You could've at least designed a good practical stainless steel exterior! Would have been much more efficient!"

But Kathleen Norris, in her book Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and "Women's Work", reminds us that meaning in life, as in poetry, is contained most often not in grand epiphanies and explications, but in corporal objects and activities--the stuff of the commonplace:

We want life to have meaning, we want fulfillment, healing and even ecstasy, but the human paradox is that we find these things by starting where we are, not where we wish we were. We must look (in)...unlikely everyday places...Although artists and poets have not been notoriously reverent in the twentieth century...the aesthetic sensibility is attuned to the sacramental possibility in all things. The best poetic images, while they resonate with possibilities for transformation, are resolutely concrete, specific, incarnational.

She's right. The best poetry consists of specific, concrete images that embody forth meaning rather than explaining it. You leave the poem conscious that something has changed within you, some new window opened into understanding, even if you're not yet able to put it into words. The best lives do the same thing.

I hesitate to use the word "we", but given that the majority of people who frequent cyberspace are iNtuitives (naturally preferring to view life through the lens of possibility) and that the majority of those iNtuitives are Introvered (preferring to focus on the reality of the inner world rather than the outer), I bet I'm not alone in my frustration at not being able to achieve in the outer world everything of which I can conceive, at not even being able to achieve that to which I'm obligated, for that matter! We grumble. We snarl. We kick the baseboards. We reach for Twinkies to gnash our teeth upon.

Yesterday I gave up. Mentally and emotionally drained by self-imposed obligations to make something of life, to measure up to my own grand desires in that regard, I managed only the most basic of household necessities, the humblest of chores. Dishes. Laundry. A Meal. Sweep the Floor. A Brief Time Outside. Another Meal. Brush My Daughter's Hair. Bed.

And today is better for it. A window slowly opens.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful. Convicting. Just what I needed to hear. Will have it in mind as I do whatever needs to be done this weekend.

Thanks, LuCindy. You make my life richer by your willingness to share yours.


Ben said...

That's some good stuff Cindy. I can get high on it.
I like Kathleen Norris. My favorites are Cloister Walk and Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith. I liked Dakota too. Ok, so all of her stuff is good even though The Virgin of Bennington went on about 75 pages too long. :)

Toad said...

I like reading your stuff. :)

As I read this it started to clarify my frustration with my current situation . . . equal but opposite. Since Roy's wreck I desprately want and need to do mundane tasks like get my house in order. It is, at the moment, my foremost desire but is simply not possible. However, I cannot count the number of epiphanies and realizations I've had (concerning practically everything intangible of which I've wanted a better understanding). I think we are blessed to experience these things at the same time and I'm glad God had you explain it to me. And where's Mrs. Dryer when there's irony to be appreciated? Much love, appreciation, and admiration to you.

r said...

Lucinda, my friends and I joke frequently about how much food we have to make and that "we keep feeding these children and they keep needing to eat again."

I am so with you, but as an Extroverted iNtuitive ;p

Thanks for the encouraging words and I am off to save the book to my wishlist.

Joyella said...

Cindy, I feel perhaps that we are "insync" somehow, as I have been struggling with similar things right along with you. Thank you for your encouraging words and epiphanies. I recall that C.S. Lewis referred to his canational being as "Brother Ass", as he felt it slowed him down from doing what he wished, just a funny thought.

Joyella said...

oops, sorry for the typos.

Cindy said...

Beth--Hopefully your weekend went well for you.

Ben--Cloister Walk is my personal favorite of Norris's books, but this one is only a fraction of an ooch behind. Actually, this one's probably most good for me. Glad to have found another fan. As our older daughter says, "How cool is that?"

My dear Toad--I do not envy your situation, but I am covetous to know your epiphanies. Evidently they're almost the inverse of mine. I think it's time to share your wisdom with me, Cheryl. You are learning things, I suspect, that are out of my range of experience to provide.

Rae--Check out Norris, definitely! I ran across this one almost by accident, even though I'm a Norris fan. A definite must for women who think (and especially for those of us who sometimes think too much). Even if they are extraverts. :D ;)

Oh, Joyella--I've often thought that if Anne Lamott and St. Francis could be combined in one body, you'd pretty much have Cindy Lawson as the result. The "Brother Ass" attitude is one I'm in sore need of right now. I've got the "ass" part down; it's the "brotherly" part my attitude balks at. :p