Lately, I am not getting much of a theme or prompt for Coffee Hour, but instead a bristling little dread that I can’t seem to get out of the way of myself when I am preparing to share this space with whomever arrives. But what if this dread is simply the beginning of letting go and getting out of the way? A gate to pass through. I’ve been doing a lot of reading and listening about the nervous system and motivation, and this bit by Dr. Andrew Huberman has shifted the way I am thinking about the discomfort I feel before I am about to do any of the things I really want to do: “There’s just so much in our culture that’s about trying to get homeostasis … and trying to get back to this place of calm or flow … and what they don’t appreciate … is that all forms of adaptive behavior in the animal kingdom and in humans, whether or not it’s with the mind or the body or both, involve a fairly high level of stress and anxiety that was designed to move us forward.” I am exploring the possibilities of discomfort as gate rather than barrier.
At the same time, I am so weary of the need to optimize ad infinitum. In another month it will be a year since a handful of us started gathering, since I was having conversations with the wonderful, dearly missed Glenn Jordan about what a space for faithful gathering could be and do. A space free from the ambition to multiply or institute anything. A space that has the form and freedom of a desire line, the path that people want to take.
In Coffee Hour today, I want to read a poem, be present, hear others. If Lent is a meaningful structure for you, you may wish to read Pádraig Ó’Tuama’s beautiful reflection on the first Sunday in Lent (and also on Ash Wednesday), which gets into the Gospel reading and the way public recognition drove Jesus into self-reflective solitude in the wilderness, while the unjust arrest of John drew him back into social action.
I want to sit between receptivity/ reflectivity and whatever action or refusal has integrity at this/ that particular moment. I want to refuse to fuse with my own states of dread (whether about the world or my own damn self), to be receptive to what comes when I simply acknowledge these states — and acknowledge their transience.
And, when I need to act, to act.
Coffee Hour is a lightly-facilitated, gently theological online space where you are welcome, no religious commitment assumed or expected. It happens every week at 1-2pm Irish time. The password changes (today it is PadraigOTuama), but the video conference link is always the same: https://meet.jit.si/CoffeeHourWithFriends2021
The lectionary is here, if this is of interest.
And a Lent-themed poem below.