Boundaries

St Francis and the snow bird

It’s about this time of year, each year, that I get stuck. It’s not the cold so much, although it is cold, and it’s not even the snow, although goodness knows we have snow, it is rather a stuckness in my being. Christmas is past and Lenten meditations not yet here. I need some leverage to get myself out of the drift.

I can only imagine what St. Francis, Mediterranean mystic that he is, must think of our garden at the moment. He does not look happy. I understand. Although digging him out won’t accomplish much as there’s more snow predicted. And besides, foul or fair, he watches over this corner of our lives.

If it were Lent, I’d have some focus, a boundary for my wandering, unfocused mind. But Lent, alas, is still weeks away. And so, turning to well-stocked bookcases, I found and pulled from the shelf, Mysticism after Modernity by Don Cupitt who was Dean of Emmanuel College Cambridge. I’ve never read it, bought in at Borders, Overland Park, sometime after 1999 when I moved here. But it’s been waiting for me.

In the Introduction (yes, right away I began underlining sentences!) he writes about the “postmodern” age we live in. “In the past, all of people’s ideas about reality and objectivity – their sense of life’s basic shape – depended ultimately upon the authority of a deeply ingrained sense of religious law, and proximately upon a framework of shared philosophical assumptions. In modernity these assumptions especially concerned the human subject, consciousness, experience, reason, and language. But in postmodern times they have all broken down. Metaphysical realism has come to an end, and our whole world-view has become very much more pluralized, pragmatic, free-floating, and maintained by continual bricolage, or improvisation.”

i.e.: I’m not the only one floating around boundary-less. If we have lost the imposed boundaries of organized religion, what do we improvise with?

However, now I have a focus, a book, ideas to ponder, and way forward. Most of my life, actually, when I’m foundering and looking for a way forward, I’ve turned to books.

What helps you move forward – not just the every day forward, to-do lists will serve for that, but the forward that feeds your spirit with focus? Books? Music? Painting?

What feeds your soul? What removes you from the drift and self-imposes a boundary?