spirits that speak


lenten discipline

so i'm giving up 2 things for lent: movies and fast food. movies will be the more difficult of the 2. much more difficult. but, my priest recently provided some good news. the time between ash wednesday and easter sunday is actualy 46 days...because there are 6 sundays.

those sundays are actually intended as "feast" days, when people take a break from the fasting. so on each of those sundays i will watch 1 movie. the first one will be a movie i've been waiting months to see: shutter island. however, for the other 5 sundays i've decided to honor high fidelity and revisit my all-time top 5 movies.

now, 4 of them i'm definitely decided on...the 5th i'm not sure is a "top 5", so it may change. nonetheless, here they are (in no particular order):

1. eternal sunshine of the spotless mind
2. good will hunting
3. the departed
4. goodfellas
5. funny people (may be subject to change)


a window to the soul

the next is a series of posts that i have made regarding a recent "quiet retreat" i took with some people from my church. it was kind of a roller coaster, but here are my thoughts on it. it ends with the post titled "back to everything else".

arrival night

we’ve just recently come back from night prayer. i’m just realizing it’s possible that this weekend may be a time to figure out what’s wrong with me. i actually had hoped to think about some very specific things during this time. things like plans that my wife and i are making for our family for the next year or so. i guess it’s possible that i may still get to reflect on that (please). however, it seems like ever since i’ve been coming to st. benedict’s table i lose control over my emotions during liturgy. right around the time our priest encourages us to confess our life to Almighty God, and reminds us that no matter how many times we fail, God calls us home “again, and again, and again”...i lose it. even as i write this i’m tearing up. what the hell is my problem? i couldn’t get through a few words of night prayer (just another version of a quick liturgy) without almost weeping in front of everyone. i don’t know what’s going on but i think there’s something big that i’ve been neglecting. something i accidentally buried deep down inside and it’s being dug up. is this from God? i honestly don’t know. i’ve decided that tonight will be time to take a shower, then spend some time in the chapel and just let things happen. i pray that i start understanding this soon.

after morning prayer – saturday

i’m enjoying everything that’s going on at this retreat, but starting to get a hint of what’s going inside me. while i was away at bible college, i got involved in prayer. during prayer, i would often sob or even weep and got a very clear sense that this was for those who were suffering something in silence. or experiencing some kind of stress. however, during the times of liturgy or prayer (whether at church or here) i’m starting to realize that i’ve been crying for me. there’s a heaviness and a sadness that i’m starting to pick up on from my soul. i have some ideas about why it’s there, but i don’t yet feel hopeful that i will get away from it. it feels like i’ve been chained to the worlds heaviest boulder and will never get away. i pray that i do, but also that if it takes some time that i don’t make my family suffer because of it. off to guided meditation now.

after guided meditation - saturday

i’m not really sure how i feel right now. i broke down during guided meditation. had to leave the room because i couldn’t hold back the sobs anymore. so i went to the bathroom and wept. there’s a bit of relief now, although i still feel a heaviness in me so it’s likely temporary. arranging a time to talk to jamie this afternoon and tell him about the things i’ve been feeling. it’s possible that my soul needs to breathe. maybe all this time i’ve been keeping it in some kind of chamber where the oxygen is very conservatively controlled and it’s constantly on the verge of suffocation. when i went to the chapel last night, there was a candle that was under a very solidly colored cover. it had the effect of the candle being very dim but still clearly “lit”...just not beaming the way an open candle would be. that’s how i think my spirit feels at this time. now it’s off to mid-day prayer with the sisters from the monastery.

after lunch – saturday

gonna listen to some johnny cash and some jurado/bazan today. food for the soul.

aside – saturday

just sitting in my room to prepare some playlists. there’s a lot of art around the monastery. i randomly chose which side of the room to sleep on (2 beds but no roommate). i didn’t notice it at first, but the side that i chose (the one at the window) has a painting hanging up of a very small person in a forrest with very tall trees. there is a bright light shining down on the person and there’s a wind-like angel reaching out to...i’m not sure what. it almost looks like the angel is getting ready to scoop up the person (the angel is huge too) or, possibly reaching out in protection, or to embrace the person some how. i want to think that the person is me. lost in a huge dark forrest. now i’m waiting for the light and wondering if the angel is actually there. i’m not sure.

pipe walk with a priest

decided i would talk to jamie about some of my issues. he suggested that we both bring our pipes and go for a walk. how could i turn that down? we walked, we smoked, and i confessed some of my struggles to him. i told him about the sadness. i told him that i think it’s being caused by some things that i’ve allowed to be in my life that should not be part of anyone’s life. he encouraged me to get rid of those things, and he has pledged to hold me accountable, particularly during lent. so, during lent, i will have a fight on my hands to clear out the trash. it was a good talk and jamie was gracious. i don’t feel sad now, and we’ll see what happens during vespers and communion tonight.

after supper – saturday

vespers went well, i only felt emotional during one specific part, but i think it was a good kind of emotion. i feel like i’m in much better spirits. i don’t know if this will last, but i will try to really live in it while it’s here. now, i think i will go listen to some more music and do a little more reading. then it’s off to communion. after communion we will be watching a movie called “unstrung heroes”. should be a good night and hopefully it will stimulate some more thought and meditations.

last call – saturday

well, communion was good. we passed the elements around the circle and pronounced “the body of Christ – broken for you” and “the blood of Christ – shed for you”. then we had fun, talking and eating cheese and crackers. it felt like a family re-union. then we watched the movie. still processing it. following that we did what was called “compline” in the monastery chapel. very casual, seemingly, since very few of us knew what we were doing. but it was inspiring. we chanted. that’s what it was. we sang our prayers. it was one of the greatest things i’ve ever experienced in my life of faith. tomorrow is the last day. 2 meals, with morning prayer in between. then it’s basically over. not sure i’m ready for it to be, but life doesn’t wait. my challenge now is, somehow, taking the very little that i’ve learned in the last day or so and bringing it with me. application is always so frustrating. now, i’m off outside for a few minutes just to look at the stars i so rarely see in the city. my friends damien jurado and david bazan will accompany me. we’ve got some catching up to do.

after morning prayer & reflection – sunday

this morning we joined the sisters for their morning prayer. this time it was almost all singing. not bad. some of it was more chanting and some was hymnal singing. the hymns aren’t really my cup of tea, but i participated (mostly because i didn’t know what i was in for ahead of time and was already there now). following that, we all went up to sit and talk about our feelings on the weekend. a lot of it was spent discussing “unstrung heroes”. more people had a personal connection with it than i realized. the story is mostly about how a family deals with the matriarch getting terminally ill. there were different perspectives on how people connected with that story emotionally. overall everyone seemed to agree that it’s been a good weekend. i can safely say i didn’t get nearly as much thought and reflection done as i wanted to, but i think some important things were investigated. now i think i’ll have another pipe and then some more music and reading before lunch. be back for 1 more entry.

back to everything else

that’s it. i guess my big weekend is done. i definitely do not regret taking this short journey, but so much feels left incomplete. i pray that i will remember to take time out for reflection more regularly and that i don’t forget what little progress i did make. may it be branded in my heart and mind.