"Well, I don’t think of myself as a mystic. I think of myself as a listener. You never know whether providential events are only coincidences or not, but as I grow older, more and more little things happen that are either of no consequence at all or else they’re just rare glimpses into mystery itself. I even hesitate to mention them because they’re so small and laughable in some ways. " ~ Frederick Buechner
Ash Wednesday/St. Valentine's Day, begins again One Hundred Days of Keeping. Are you ready for "glimpses into mystery itself?"
As we get ready to embark on another One Hundred Days of Keeping this passage seems a propos.
“Do it again” by G.K. Chesterton
“All the towering materialism which dominates the modern mind rests ultimately upon one assumption; a false assumption. It is supposed that if a thing goes on repeating itself it is probably dead; a piece of clockwork.
People feel that if the universe was personal it would vary; if the sun were alive it would dance. This is a fallacy even in relation to known fact.
For the variation in human affairs is generally brought into them, not by life, but by death; by the dying down or breaking off of their strength or desire.
A man varies his movements because of some slight element of failure or fatigue. He gets into an omnibus because he is tired of walking; or he walks because he is tired of sitting still.
But if his life and joy were so gigantic that he never tired of going to Islington, he might go to Islington as regularly as the Thames goes to Sheerness.
The very speed and ecstasy of his life would have the stillness of death. The sun rises every morning. I do not rise every morning; but the variation is due not to my activity, but to my inaction.
Now, to put the matter in a popular phrase, it might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life.
The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke that they specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life.
Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, ‘Do it again’; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony.
But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon.
It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them.
It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.
The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical ENCORE.”
–G.K. Chesterton, “The Ethics of Elfland,” Orthodoxy (The Christian Heritage Series; Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 1908/2020), 61.
What do you say? Are you up for Mason's revolutionary stance against a "towering materialism," defining a "Personal universe," "gigantic life and joy," as we make our way toward the enthusiasm of childhood? Welcome (back?) to the tribe of the ENCORE. (I will be drawing a daisy around each page number this year.)
Tomorrow the calendar turns to February. I wrap my deep pink scarf around the gray days…thinking of St. Valentine and being shriven (ok…mostly pancakes) and how the Church Year has taught us to return and to re-harrow. Circling through my notes I find I copied Wendell Berry’s observation that “Novelty is a new kind of loneliness.” It still rings true. Or it rings true again.
I’ve spent January thinking a lot about depth because of an article I chanced upon about having a "depth year.” Instead of lives that are "an inch deep and a mile wide,” (“ready-made,” Charlotte Mason calls them) author, David Cain writes about his longing to go deeper into the gifts already provided. Afterwards, he decides he wants every year to be a depth year.
And why not? His practice sparked a movement because it is a very human thing to want to seek meaning and to find time to answer the hunger of the perennial questions. And counter-cultural.
It reminded me of our “small, quiet, steadfast, and local” efforts at prov.en.der and our annual 100 Days of Keeping…this will be our seventh year of inviting a deeper quiet, a deeper sense of mystery, a deeper gratitude for the gifts around us. We begin February 22, Ash Wednesday. It’s not too soon to listen to what your heart wants more of.
It's not about the notebook. It's about using it.
Whether you are tech-ed out and subtracting something for your Lenten practice, or distracted and longing to add some focused attention ...why not try some paper postures? # You'll be in good company! We start in one week -The Wednesday of Ashes. Especially this year, let's choose something small and easy to do each day, something that especially rests us. I am asking myself, "what do I need and want more of?"
One Hundred Days of Keeping begins in one week.
Are you ready to play?
"The chief business of life is the navigation of an unknown craft." ~ Charlotte Mason
One Hundred Days of Keeping begins in just two weeks. Have you settled on which kind of notebook you'll keep? (I'm not talking about all the lovely notebooks there are in the world to procure.) Are you still standing on the bank wondering if you should dip in a toe? Now is the time to make a commitment to yourself to step away from the Social Media Dilemma for just a spell. It doesn't have to be perfect; even the tiniest measure towards what our hearts want to keep informs us of what we don't and is navigation worthy. Let's look at our schedules realistically this week and designate a daily time for keeping. What is likely to be your biggest obstacle? Sometimes it's helpful to say out loud, "all I have to do is not quit."
January 27, 2021 What shall we do with all these ideas? Keep them, of course! Have you decided which notebook is asking you to dance for 100 Days? Check the comments from previous years (on the Original Invitation page) for inspiration. There's also a list in Studying to be Quiet. If you've joined this merry band before, leafing through another year's pages may spark your heart. Let us all know in the comments what you're falling in love with and on Instagram, #100daysofkeeping.
January 20, 2021 Heyho - It’s time! Time to start thinking about One Hundred Days of Keeping; LENT begins in a little under a month. (Feb. 17 this year.) along with our annual ritual. What are you wanting to keep in 2021? (It’s okay if you want to answer, rather forcefully, NOTHING!) We are on a bumpy road into the new year and maybe not so sure which stars we are following this Epiphany or if angels really do accompany us and announce good things. May I humbly suggest that toning things down and drawing in with a notebook can be an anchoring? But join prov.en.der in these quiet postures for the joy of it, not because it will be good for you or because you think you should. What one notebook are you longing to spend time with? If you’re new to the Hundred Days, a Commonplace is a simple start…just record one sentence or passage that delights you each day. The gifts along the way might surprise you. You can read the original invitation here. Leave a comment or question. I’ll be here Wednesdays inviting us to reflect along the way. Spread the word!
"Thus, I propose that the middle of February remind CM admirers