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.


Anonymous Christopher said...

Dear Martha

Your words on 'judgement' were very moving indeed. As I read them I couldn't help thinking of Herbert McCabe's wonderful paper, 'Forgiveness', then of how difficult it can be to simply rest, then of how much I would like to say that you, through your words, have been and are such a blessing in my life. It's all very well to liken, as people do, the work of silence to polishing a window, through which the light may flow into the eyes and lives of those around us, then note, as people do, how the window might just be content to get on with being a window. However accurate that may or may not be, it might just be good to say thank you. Though we have never met, I would like to say thank you. I am very grateful to you.

All Peace


9:02 pm, October 03, 2018  
Blogger CMeditator said...

Intriguingly timely for myself. Perhaps not earth shattering but it took someone very dear to me to point out the comments you make about being acceptable to God. I wonder whether each person has to learn this for themselves. If so I hope that they have someone such as yourself or a loved one who can point out the false pride we may be in danger of embracing. Many thanks to you though for sharing your learning in such an approachable way.

Peace and blessings


11:43 am, October 06, 2018  
Anonymous Kris Campbell said...

Thank you so much- honest and timely.
Much appreciated.

10:01 pm, October 16, 2018  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very interested to read this latest post. Having entered my sixties, I find a similar process of being confronted by memories from across my life (but especially from childhood) has begun to gather force. The memories form a very mixed bag but the common thread in my emotional response to them is a kind of 'tenderness' - in all senses of the word.

Is anyone writing about this?


7:36 am, October 17, 2018  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Maggie Ross, this post was ‘meaning full’ to me. Could you possibly share the blessing your friend shared with you?
May all be well with you,

2:56 am, October 21, 2018  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two writers who share their experiences of memory in later life are Marcel Proust (The Search is also full to the brim with unforgettable characters) and Clive James in his poetry: "Injury Time" and his new epic "The River in the Sky".


10:13 am, November 01, 2018  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'm 74 years now...what you say in "Judgement" post mirrors my experience...remnants not to worry over...more time on the cushion resolves/removes the scrubby traces. blessings of peace

7:19 pm, November 10, 2018  

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