Wednesday, October 03, 2018


Finishing the last two books left me in a desert place, unable to write. I'm still there, really, but I would like to share some insights about old age and judgement. At least something is finally stirring!

There is judgement; don't doubt it for a minute. It happens when the years start mounting up, but especially as you advance into the seventies. It consists of memories that arise from unfathomable depths, humiliating events in which you did or were done to, events you have not thought about for decades. They are unrelenting. They have to be faced. It is a whole 'nuther phase of purification, one that can't happen before you get old.

Sometimes you face them, you deal with them, but they still—force of habit?—persist like clouds of mosquitoes on the Arctic tundra. A Tibetan nun, in her inimitable direct French way, responded, when I asked her about these nuisance thoughts: 'Ask yourself why you need to cling to them.' Sometime later, another friend sent me a blessing with which he blesses himself at night. Astounding! was my knee-jerk reaction. Bless oneself???!!! And I wrote him back, 'Why is it so difficult to bless oneself?' It is a kind of nakedness to God.

All these little nudges mingle together, of course, and one of the insights is that purification is positive at this stage. If the thoughts persist after being dealt with, rather like a reflex, it is possible to ask, 'Why am I clinging to this thought? Why do I need to see myself like this?' And perhaps we see that even more than acknowledging our thoughts and weaknesses it is important to allow this false self-abnegation to fall away. 

'Negative thoughts' we tend to see as bad thoughts about other people or things or events; but it is the negative thoughts about our selves and our pasts in general that are even more insidious, because they block our receptivity to the forgiving mercy of God. We do not have to despise our selves to be acceptable to God. Our sins, yes; and some of them are truly horrendous. But, repented, they are forgiven, and to fail to surrender to that forgiveness is a kind of false pride that is worse that anything we might do. Perhaps it is the sin against the Holy Spirit.

Nothing earth-shattering, here, but a reminder.