Austerity

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How do you continue to remain who you are after you lose everything that once defined you? After you have kept your hands open so long that everything you once held simply slips away? What are you left with after saying goodbye so many times over that you want never to say another hello? Rilke said,  “Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final.”

I may not know what you are left with when everything goes, but I do know that it is less. And with that less you must learn to keep yourself fed, warm, and alive. I think about the vows of poverty and chastity, the I think of the sacrifices of monks and sages, nuns and mendicants. The word, “sacrifice” seems petty in the face of this. You give up your cushions and in exchange you wait for a blanket from God. It is inevitable, after all.

Being good is a practise in austerity. Sterile, strict, rigid. Above all, disciplined. It is a discipline that goes far beyond “don’t call. Don’t text. Walk away.” It is a discipline of the self. You will look for your gods and you will learn how to pray. You will learn what knees were really meant for.

You will cast away the bullshit romanticism of “suffering” because someone decided not to love you, and you will work. Work on this mind. Sharpen it like a scalpel. Work on your faith. Who do you call on when your brakes fail and your best laid plans fall in a perfect sphere around you? Find out.

You will not take your body for granted. You will not take your own kindness for granted. You will not suffer fools gladly. You will not beg for love. You will beg for patience, for peace, for being enough. Be enough. Not more. Not too much. Not even your best. Just be enough.

I am putting away my phone and picking up my prayer beads. 101 times I will say the name that opens the door. 101 times I will say the word that lets forgiveness come home to be mine. 101 times I will make the sound that will deliver me from a day that promises to be gentler tomorrow.

 

“Give her up and I will give you your freedom from this mire of suffering.”
It is a deal with the devil.

I listen closer. There is silence for silence. Breath for breath. Offered, accepted, and returned. And sleep.
It is a deal with God.

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