After my throat blessing on the feast of St. Blaise, I had a sore throat for two weeks.
Solidarity takes all sorts of funny forms: you start to shower less and your fingernails get dirty. There’s a black grime all over my bedroom. I’m not sure where that’s from, but I clean my room more than I ever did in all my years in New York.
The less I own, the less I want. I’m determined to clean my room to such a point that there’s nothing left in it. This, then, is perfect freedom.
I spent much of February sitting at the literary knee of Rebecca Solnit, whose Field Guide to Getting Lost charts the journey of human becoming in an aspirationally gorgeous way. Her writing is one of the places that make me feel at home.
“Maybe if I really paid attention to my life I’d notice that I don’t know what’s going to happen this afternoon and I can’t be fully confident that I’m competent to deal with it. Maybe we’re willing to let in that thought. It has some reasonableness to it, I can’t exactly know, but chances are, possibilities are, it’s not going to be much different than what I’ve usually experienced and I’ll do just fine, so we close up that unsettling possibility with a reasonable response. The practice of awareness takes us below the reasonableness that we’d like to think we live with and then we start to see something quite fascinating, which is the drama of our inner dialogue, of the stories that go through our minds and the feelings that go through our heart, and we start to see in this territory it isn’t so neat and orderly and, dare I say it, safe or reasonable.”
I’ve been cleaning out my hard drive as well as my room—my digital closet, with apologies to Eminem—and trying to limit the amount of cloud storage space I’m consuming. Donald MacKenzie’s wonderful essay in a January issue of the London Review of Books claims the carbon emissions of digital advertising is comparable to aviation. The digital world seems so—well—ethereal. It’s physical costs seem negligible, because they are so hidden.
I’ve spent too much time the last two days deleting photos and videos of cats, of flowers, multiple photos of the same photoshoot, photos of friends, fall leaves, books, and screenshots of Peter Maurin Easy Essays, book chapters, and snapshots from morning prayer on my park bench, the office of readings.
What I treasure about the photos is not so much their continued presence in my cloud storage, but the fact that seeing them, touching them—not physically, but digitally—even in the process of throwing them away, brings to mind the memories that they capture and prompt gratitude for moments that once were and have been.
This Lent, we’re singing night prayer at St. Thomas of Canterbury Church in our neighborhood. Listen to the recording of last week and pray with us here: