No Exit

I remember a play from my college theatre days – “No Exit” by Jean-Paul Sartre in which three characters, after dying, are brought to a clean and comfortable room for eternity rather than go to the tortures of hell as they expected. They have, instead, been placed together in this room, one character says, to make each other miserable. And proceed to do so.

I am in a clean, comfortable room. At least moderately so. The heat wave continues unabated and our air conditioner, which hasn’t received the attention it deserves in this never-ending heat, is not keeping up. We are living with fans and the house temperature is in the mid-80s. I got up early and began calling heating-cooling repairmen. One promises to come by late morning.

In the meantime, I’m pondering escape.

It’s too early for a movie and going to a mall at eight o’clock in the morning hardly sounds fun. What’s to do when there’s no escape? The only cool places are on the West coast and they are so unusually cool this summer, they’re uncomfortable too. Shots from West Coast ballgames show people in coats and hoods. I don’t want to be in a coat and hood.

Most of you reading this are also having your summer of never-ending heat. With or without air conditioning. And we’re all getting a little testy. And when we allow our testy-ness to come out on other people, we make each other miserable. And testy in turn.

So for words of wisdom this morning, for both of us, I picked up my much-used copy of an old friend’s book. I first met Monique Pasternak in Hawaii when I lived at the retreat center. She’s a poet and a mystic, and her book “The New Siddur For Creators.”

“The soul is like a lake: The less storms agitate its surface, the more it can absorb the rays of the sun. As the being learns to rest inside the body, letting go of unnecessary winds and thunders, the soul begins to operate at its full potential. As we empty ourselves, more of God can enter.”

So if you’re trapped in a one-way-no-exit moment…Stop. Go get a bag of ice and put it on the top of your head (it worked for me)! Bring yourself back to emotional balance, and if you don’t want to be a lake absorbing sun, be a lake in a mountain meadow. Allow yourself to enter into a place of calm.

It’s always there, regardless of the circumstances, if we make that choice. And pretty much, we’re all in this summer thing together. Allow the holy presence to soothe your way today, and in that soothing, be the holy presence for others, (and especially for air-conditioning repairmen)!

6 thoughts on “No Exit

  1. i like to scream along with the beatles, with the windows down, in the car, i guess that’s my quit lake. quiet or loud thank god for distractions

  2. We are all in this together and I want to weep when I see my flowers and the birds suffering. I also can offer you John McGilton, my long time furnace, air-conditioning man who is wonderful and lots cheaper than most I’ve met. His number is 797-6087, 24 hour service, loving man, who has come to work on my stuff and given me $100 for all the work I’ve sent him Definetly taking his card to my new job. Call him!

    1. Thank you! I got up early this morning and began making calls to AC people. And a gentle wise young man came and gave us back cool this afternoon. I’ve learned that air conditioners need to be maintained and cleaned often. Oh. So now it’s clean and running and I’ve learned another lesson.

  3. While watering my butterfly garden, which is rapidly becoming a tangle of uncontrolled wild morning glories, I was struck with the similarity of a “heat wave” to a snow day!
    Few people are out walking on my urban street. I hear no dogs barking in their fenced yards. Even the sparrows and finches are squatting beneath shade trees, their wee little beaks gaping in silent pantings for relief.
    And in the silence, I am reminded to whisper a prayer for the homeless and rejected souls of the cities who struggle to find the most basic needs on a day like this.
    Bless them, God, with what they need, according to your wisdom, not mine.

    1. Thanks for the prayer for others, Valorie. Indeed, they are in much worse straits than we are.
      I turned on the sprinkler to low so the birds can get a fresh bath. They came to my window and sat there panting. So along with the birdbath that gets too warm too fast, they have a shower.

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