A Day in the Life at the Mission

It starts early and runs long. Usually, for me around 4:30 or 5 a.m., ending at around 10 or so. There are four class sessions and a “House Meeting” where you have to pretty much report in on how you are really doing. Add another three hours of dishwashing parsed out in three shifts and you have a pretty normal/full day.

The fun (and yes it can be fun) is what you do with the pockets of time here and there available.

So I am reading six books at once: Malraux’s classic “Voices of Silence” on art, Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises” (however I am tiring of the “Lady Ashley”), Parker Palmer’s “In the Company of Strangers”, two commentaries on the Book of Revelation, Kinsella’s “Field of Dreams” book “Shoeless Joe Jackson” and a scholarly text on Eastern Orthodox iconography by Ouspensky (not that Ouspensky) and Losse on St. Vladimir’s Press.

Rebooting the brain

While at the library looking for the commentaries I man had a librarian in tow looking for Pascal’s Pensees. I remarked that he should look for the Dutton edition over the Penguin as the Dutton is a finer translation and sports a forward by T.S. Eliot the other does not.

Even the librarian looked at me like an Uber-geek.

My brain has come back online different (and with a vengeance) after the “reboot”. It is like removing a host of viruses from your operating system and restarting. The sucker runs very fast now and dosn’t “blue screen” or “freeze”.

Would the library of my mind be available to me if I was still imbibing? Probably. The more subtle issue would be the dexterity of mind that now ransacks that library at will.

When not reading, in class, studying, creating or washing dishes, I go on short walks, smoke my pipe and have discussions with the younger guys who are spiritually hungry. Then I do art. I did an icon yesterday after a serious study of the history and theology behind them. It was my first attempt. I did it on good art paper that Jan sent me and it will be applied to a box.

It is not all serious though. No one who knows me would believe that. So while doing dishes Dr. J (the 28 year old cook) and I practice hip-hop moves. Young Dr. J has it figured out. You just “drive the bus”. Every dance move is just a movement you would do driving a bus. Wipers swaying, the round about wheel, pumping the brakes and my personal favorite “adjusting the seat”. I would say I look ridiculous (which I do) but I did say it was “driving the bus”, not ”driving the Miata”.

Dr. J’s brother has just entered the program. I have no nickname for him yet. It’s rude to do that when someone is detoxing.

A thoughtful and quiet young man with a drug problem. I am his assigned “Reader” which is like being his Jedi. It’s a good fit. Later Dr. J asks if he and some of the other guys can start meeting up later at night to do informal theological questions with me. It removes my last “extra hour” of possible sleep but I cannot say no.

The Word

I go on a walk and pick some wood out of the Wood working shop dumpster to paint on later. It is bitter cold and some snow flakes fall lightly as I talk with Scott Mitchell on the phone. He reads me a long passage from Thomas Merton’s “The Sign of Jonah” about the call of the contemplative. He also remarks that I seem to have regained my love for books. “In the past few years you sort of looked down your nose at that.” This statement, like the others made by those who really know me, cannot be disregarded. I have come to trust the perceptions of others about myself over my own…but only those who really know me like Rod, Scott, Leslie etc…

He says I sound different. Clear.

I cannot tell really. I just have to trust.

When I get back it is time for an informal Bible study with three of the younger guys. They approached me and asked to do serious study and would I teach them how?

My social calendar seems relatively open.

But I find there is a fine line I am dancing here. How do I shape such a study it so it is lean, direct, yet easy to handle? Worse, how do I do so without the usual tools available?

No easily available internet access for reference. No Greek commentary sets (they are in Monterey and I am not in a position to ask my parents to pay to have them sent up), and I am penniless. Hmnnn…

For now I will pray to be provided what they need. I don’t need much of anything as most of it is already in my head. For example, when we studied John 1 last night I already knew the background of the “Logos”. But how can I show them how I got there?

It’s gonna be a  challenge. The main library is sparse. I am serious when I say the one in my head is better stocked, yet for accuracy sake I’d like to have the texts.

On the one hand it seems silly to me. What kind of a world (and Church) do we have where you cannot get free access to Internet and where your local church has no Bible study helps to borrow?

On the other hand, I am learning to accept things that ARE, as they ARE, and to improvise.

Still, it is more than a little “Shawshank” around here and we have no Morgan Freeman (or I am him).

The End of the Day

I lay awake in my tiny room with scant possessions, no money and my roommate gets surly if I suggest we spoon. I am oddly happy and content.

As the 12 Step program suggests, I recount and examine my day. I am grateful and have no much criticism though I am not doing what I do as a means of earning anything. The word “stewardship” is better.

Should I now feel massive guilt for the destruction I have caused and the losses? Only if I wish to repeat them. True, amends and even restitution await me on a practical level as part of my program. But a morbid introspection is just as narcissistic and self-willed as drinking.

(And make no mistake dear reader. Behind each of our own “issues” is the very same core issue: “Self” or “Ego”. We are no different at the core of our human condition, it has just played out differently… perhaps less obviously. And that is a danger I do not face).

So to Hell with it all. Really.

What I am learning is that true spiritual freedom is worth most any cost; that adversity introduces you to your real self; and that the grace and love of God is wider, deeper and more pervasive than I ever thought (and my view was hardly small to begin with).

No it is morning time and time to do dishes.


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