Saturday, December 09, 2006

Odds 'n ends

I was googling around looking for information on oblates for a post on another site when I ran across Shared Solitude by Deborah Smith Douglas, a fellow Camaldolese oblate. It includes both a discussion of oblature, as well as this wonderful description of New Camaldoli:

This respect for solitude and silence permeates the hermitage in California's remote Santa Lucia Mountains. Even the architecture reflects it. The monastic enclosure contains not a traditional cloister, but a collection of tiny round houses in which individual monks live: they are alone, together. The guest accommodations (nine private rooms and five more distant hermitage-trailers) are designed to honor the solitude of those on retreat. Consequently, the silence and the invitation to contemplation are extra-ordinarily deep.

This commitment to shared solitude is also evident in the daily practice of silent meditation after Vespers. When the final office of the day has ended, those who wish to remain file in silence from the chapel into the vaulted rotunda beyond, which is empty except for a central altar holding the consecrated host. Monks and guests take small rugs from a stack and arrange themselves among cushions, Zen fashion, on the stone floor. After a moment of settling in, with the sound of prayer beads being taken out and shoes shuffled off, the lights are extinguished, except for a single candle. People sit and pray in total silence. At the end of 30 minutes, the prior strikes a single bell-like note on a singing bowl. People stand, bow toward the altar, put on their shoes and leave, still in silence.

That half hour of wordless adoration is my favorite part of the beloved hermitage day. I love the sense of time-out-of-time, and the space it-self--round and empty as a bowl, resonant as a bell. It is an inhabited emptiness, a living silence. A shining darkness, as St. John of the Cross might say. The rotunda reminds me of the hold of a ship, a large enclosed darkness beneath a turbulent surface. Sitting there reminds me that we are pilgrims, fellow travelers, holding still but heading home, moving purposefully through deep darkness. Alone, together. Immersed in God (as St. Catherine of Siena put it) "as a fish is in the sea and the sea is in the fish."
A perfect description. I was googling around for a post at Making Light: What is it with fruitcake? Of course the Official Fruitcake around here is the Hermitage Fruitcake.

1 comment:

sushil yadav said...

In response to your views on silence, solitude and meditation I want to post a part from my article which examines the impact of speed/ overstimulation and industrialization on our minds and environment. Please read.

The link between Mind and Social / Environmental-Issues.

The fast-paced, consumerist lifestyle of Industrial Society is causing exponential rise in psychological problems besides destroying the environment. All issues are interlinked. Our Minds cannot be peaceful when attention-spans are down to nanoseconds, microseconds and milliseconds. Our Minds cannot be peaceful if we destroy Nature.

Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment..

Subject : In a fast society slow emotions become extinct.
Subject : A thinking mind cannot feel.
Subject : Scientific/ Industrial/ Financial thinking destroys the planet.

Emotion is what we experience during gaps in our thinking.

If there are no gaps there is no emotion.

Today people are thinking all the time and are mistaking thought (words/ language) for emotion.

When society switches-over from physical work (agriculture) to mental work (scientific/ industrial/ financial/ fast visuals/ fast words ) the speed of thinking keeps on accelerating and the gaps between thinking go on decreasing.

There comes a time when there are almost no gaps.

People become incapable of experiencing/ tolerating gaps.

Emotion ends.

Man becomes machine.

A society that speeds up mentally experiences every mental slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

A ( travelling )society that speeds up physically experiences every physical slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

A society that entertains itself daily experiences every non-entertaining moment as Depression / Anxiety.

Fast visuals/ words make slow emotions extinct.

Scientific/ Industrial/ Financial thinking destroys emotional circuits.

A fast (large) society cannot feel pain / remorse / empathy.

A fast (large) society will always be cruel to Animals/ Trees/ Air/ Water/ Land and to Itself.

To read the complete article please follow either of these links :