Amoureax by Eve Arnold

Sanity breeds sanity. It is something that we undergo more than something that we create. We become more sane the more we are in the presence of sane people in sane spaces. To be sane is a gift. In this way, sanity is evangelistic. As St. Seraphim of Sarov said:

"The Kingdom of heaven is peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Acquire inward peace and thousands around you will find their salvation." - quoted in The Orthodox Way, Kallistos Ware, p89

Sanity is generative; captivating - it draws us into itself and in turn draws other into its circle. If we can identify it (which I suggest is a key skill for us to develop) and draw near we are drawn closer and begin to undergo it. It is like the mystery St. Paul writes of in the letter to the Collossians - it has been revealed and yet ever more remains. Kallistos Ware writes:
"A mystery is ... something that is revealed for our understanding but which we never understand exhaustively because it leads into the depths of God." - The Orthodox Way, p15

While I would not like to draw the parrallel too closely, there is something of this kind of mystery in entering into a sane space. The task can be grasped with the understanding but it is in entering into its practice that we are formed by it and find that there is yet more to undergo. Once we open a sane space and enter into it, in turn we are opened by it, we undergo it.

In his book on Self-Sufficiency, John Seymour suggests that keeping a cow has this generative quality:
"When you get a cow you immediately find the pace of all your other smallholding activities will be forced on. To feed the cow you will have to grow fodder. To use up the manure from the cow you will have to dig ir plough more land. To use up the milk by-products, such as skimmed milk or whey, you will have to keep other small stock - probably pigs. Your pigs will then produce even more manure and you will feel like ploughing more land. Besides, you will need to grow crops for the pigs. You will have calves to dispose of - what will you do with them? Your cow will go dry one day and you will need another cow to fil the gap. Then the time will come when boths cows are in milk. Unless you are part of a community you will then have too much milk. What do you do then - put the two calves on one cow and milk the other? Whatever you do you will find the purchase of a cow will push on the pace of your other self-supporting activities." - John Seymour, Self-Sufficiency, p42
What is of interest to me here, as you may imagine, is the way that the task of keeping a cow is described. The simple act of acquiring a cow demands many other tasks. It is a good reason not to get a cow if the satisfaction of the task cannot be entered into. However, where the fullness of the task can be taken up, keeping a cow, it seems, is a catalytic act.

I'm sure that most of us have experiences a creative action that we want to keep doing even as it gets dark or some other thing like sleep demands that we stop. For me it is building projects. The task draws me in to its ending - it is fun - satisfying - and I forget the time. It is such acts as these that I believe our lives may and must consist of - tasks which draw us into their satisfaction, their fullness and ours.

Of course, I am not suggesting that keeping a cow, to return to the primary example, is not demanding and costly. In fact, it is just its insistent nature which is important. I imagine that getting up early to milk is not always more attractive than sleeping in but it must be done and so a cow keeps us from sloth. If we do not heed the demand then waste occurs. The cow will experience pain if not milked and manure will because something to 'get rid of' if it is not returned to the garden.

The fact that entry into sanity is costly is precisely why I have called these reflections subsiding sanity. However, it a particularly satisfying cost and it is because I believe that a low energy, productive, sane life is a joyful one that I am driven to write about it. Like the mystery of Christ revealed and yet ever revealing, a sane space ushers us into its costly satisfaction and into other tasks of sanity. To step into a single sane space and accept its fullness is to enter into the whole world of sanity: the Kingdom of God.

We must learn to distinguish between mere financial cost and the cost of subsidising sanity, between acts of consumption and steps into sanity. We can change the light-bulbs and continue to use more electricity with no negative feedback (unless you live next to a coal station). To keep a cow demands change of us and then opens us to new and more sane vistas. We must bear in ourselves the costs in time, money and repentance that place us in proximity to sanity such that we begin to undergo it for ourselves. As we do so, others too "will find their salvation."

I would really love it if any folk who have been reading this blog since it started not so long ago take a moment to introduce themselves. I have taken this idea from Wes Daniels of Gathering in the Light, an emerging Quaker.

If you care to, please tell me a bit about who you are, where you're from, what are your interests etc. etc. If you have your own blog, please post the link, I'd love to read it.

Philip Adams would always address his radio program to Gladys, his one listener. I expect I have about as many readers, but I would love to be surprised.

Peace to you my reader,


Newer Posts Older Posts Home