“St. Benedict’s Rule for Monasteries opens with an appeal: Listen. Perhaps it is the most important word in the Rule. Listen, obaudire, also means obey. In listening something new can emerge, something beyond my own assumptions, control, and agenda. Rainer Maria Rilke spoke of writing as an obedience to the moment, to what is given in the present. He would not find it strange if this were called a monastic approach to writing. He aspired to carry the cloister within him, although he knew he could not live in a monastery.”
—Brother Paul Quenon, an excerpt from “Prayer, Poverty, and Creativity,” a Christian monk’s reflections on solitude and community in the 2012 summer issue of Parabola: “Alone & Together.”
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written by me one year ago:
my entire life has been about listening. & throughout my life has been a theme of need for connection – which i suppose is true of all of us.
Myalgic Encephalomyelitis took pieces slowly from me. 1st i could not talk on the phone. then i could not interact in large gatherings. then i lost the ability to be fully present with people in the ways i so wished to be. finally it took my ability to read & write. it took film. & music. years ago it took my ability to think – to analyze & synthesize info in the ways that so thrilled me.
i turned to photos when i could no longer speak, write. my eyes continue to worsen & that way of listening/speaking has become more difficult.
i grew more still. i could still hear nature. & that connection became vastly deeper, though it had always been deep. in the last 10 months that i have descended into more severe ME, it is listening which most keeps me connected to life.
there is a male cardinal who has kept me company daily since spring. the wind not only brings me its voice but sometimes carries the sound of the freighters & the smell of the river. i can hear trixie breathing. & her movements throughout the house.
there are also the human elements. i can hear the sounds of the playground, the ping of a baseball bat, the laughter. last year these sounds wounded me. this year.. they save me.
the year i lost my ability to read, i bought this big book about bird migration & song. now.. i listen to the birds sing to each other. i know what time they start in the morning. & what time at night they go silent. sometimes i wonder what they are saying. mostly, i am so grateful to bear witness to the life still granted to me.
“Rainer Maria Rilke spoke of writing as an obedience to the moment, to what is given in the present.” this is how i felt about writing.. but i realize.. it is how i feel about life…..