Blogging & silence

That quality of hyperalertness is one of the things that has fueled the writing of this blog. Always searching, thinking forward to the next post. Hyperalertness has an addictive power of its own. During this window then, I think it will be better to obligate myself as little as possible. I want to relax the hyperalertness, and the vague feeling of dread that’s often at its center, with a quality that’s more peaceable, without an agenda, but rooted in gentle awareness.

— A Happening, June 14, 2005

Another reason [for no longer blogging] is that recently, I have only been writing things that will be published one form or another (including this blog). It’s almost as if I believe that thoughts are worth articulating and words are worth writing only if another will read them. This is false and dangerous, and I hope to discover what it means to write things that are not necessarily for “someone else.”

— The Dimly Lit Room, May 22, 2005

If we really wanted enlightenment, we’d stop talking…. I am tired of talking and tired of writing. I am tired of reading and tired of chasing ideas. It feels good to just watch. I feel curious.

– Lekshe’s Mistake, June 13, 2005

One of blogging’s serendipities is a happenstance of common themes. Even with a relatively small blogroll, I find that certain ideas and feelings are sometimes expressed at about the same time among my blogging friends. One such recent theme is a danger presented by blogging itself – does blogging interfere with the spiritual quest?

The Dimly Lit Room has recently quit blogging over this, and A Happening has recently cut back on the frequency of its posts. Lekshe’s Mistake has always written in spurts, which I believe is a healthier approach than mine. The timing of her posts seems more in tune with her inner life and less with developing a readership. I can relate to all three of the above-quoted recent posts about blogging (and writing and living).

The Dimly Lit Room has nailed me: my private journal shows the effects of blogging. I still use my journal in prayer and as a private record, but I have also rifled through it for inspiration for posts. Many of the pages are now sketches for future posts. The book is not as holy as it once was, and I have made no substitute for its original function.

The journal reflects my prayer life. I have gained a measure of freedom in this area in recent years, but I have stopped there. Part of it is how busy I have been this year, and part of it is the effort any relationship takes, even one with my Creator. Given a thought or impression, I have always found it easier to run away with it in thinking or in writing than to lay it aside and to empty myself.

I can also relate to the vague unease A Happening talks about. No one has pressured me to post by a certain date. Who turned this operation into a deadline-driven periodical? I did.

I know that writing is a part of me, if only so I can pray better. Perhaps I can put my innermost thoughts in a trunk in my attic, so my ego (an unreliable judge of talent) can imagine they will be published posthumously, aided by the drama afforded in such cases.

I’ve gotten a lot out of blogging, and I hope to get more. I enjoy the sense of friendship my small blogroll has engendered. I hope to figure out how to use something like blogging to help create a community of people committed in part to honestly and lovingly critiquing one another’s writing.

I suspect that – I hope that – my problem is one of priorities. Many of the blessings in my life have turned out to be curses because of my selfishness, my refusal to abide by the most fundamental understanding of my faith: “Seek first the kingdom, and all these things will be added to you.”

But is it really a matter of priorities? I read a one-sentence selection in Merton’s The Wisdom of the Desert, and I’m struck hard by a certain challenge it presents:Abbot Bessabion, dying, said: The monk should be all eye, like the cherubim and seraphim. I’m no monk, though the profession has a great appeal to me. Still, I feel a fundamental calling to be at least more eye, and less mouth and pen. It’s almost like a law of spiritual relativity – the more I want to publish, the drier the well. I’m going to try to bring up the water table, and give more out of an abundance and exuberance than out of some diseased part of me.

There’s a sense in which I must be all eye in order to be more eye. God often speaks in absolutes, and the result is a moderation and balance I could never achieve on my own.