pityitspithy

Depth in the Shallows

Month: March, 2018

Infinite Now

Forever In Place

The Poetry of Brother Paul Quenon, OSCO

Brother Paul Quenon is a Trappist monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky. The Abbey of course was once home to Thomas Merton. And it was Merton’s The Seven Story Mountain—the tale of his journey from playboy to monk—that led a seventeen-year old Paul Quenon and many others to monastic life. Quenon entered the monastery in 1958. He’s been there ever since. In the ensuing decades, along with work and prayer, he has written volumes of poetry and taken many photographs. He has a keen sense of sight, to be sure, but it is the vision of eternity with which his work his shot through that opens both eye and soul. It appears alongside the ordinary—if there really is such a thing—and everyday of the here and now. He hints at the fullness that abounds in the emptiness that surrounds.

Confessions of a Dead-Beat Monk

Of course, I’ve set the same bench
brushing off flies and thoughts,
how many years? What winters of
silence and summer variations,

what prodigious mockingbirds
I’ve heard! And that kitchen job!
Broccoli and spuds on Mondays,
rice twice a week, and Oh,

toasted cheese sandwiches,
Fridays! This diet of psalms,
fifty and hundred, runs ever
on from bitter to sweet,

returns like the sun to bow
and stand. And I tread the same
stairs and stare at walls, blank
or lit rose and gold. I rise

with whippoorwills singing
at 3, though night ever keeps
its secret from me, ‘till in
its treasure I’m locked.

Then I will be what always
has been, that enigma of
sameness between
now and the then.

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Jocko Says Yes And I Believe Him

Discipline Equals Freedom by Jocko Willink

This post is a bit of a departure from previous posts. I don’t do “motivational” or “inspirational.” When it comes to books–even in music and movies–if I see either descriptor offered as a selling feature, I usually look the other way. Why? Because what motivates you may not motivate me, and what inspires you…you get the point. For me, what inspires or motivates is ephemeral. If I hitch my wagon to either, I will only disappoint myself and others. How do I know? Because I’ve done it. What has worked for me, when I’ve been most successful, is discipline. But I never quite thought about discipline in the way Jocko Willink does.

Jocko is a retired Navy SEAL who led the operation to secure Ramadi during the Iraq War. All Navy SEALS and Special Forces operators are people who perform at the highest levels. This means they have a lot to teach us. The primary lesson is simple. But not easy. Discipline–in all things–equals freedom. It is a message that bears repetition. And in an age of instant gratification, it is a message of real power. Jocko’s books and podcasts hearken back to a warrior tradition of the Samurai and Spartans but it is as relevant to the elementary school teacher as it is to the grocery store cashier. We can all be more, achieve more, and live more. Not to check the boxes, collect the awards, or satisfy the ego. But to live fully, completely. In total freedom.

“THERE IS NO EASY WAY. There is only hard work, late nights, early mornings, practice, rehearsal, repetition, study, sweat, blood, toil, frustration, and discipline. DISCIPLINE.”

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