"Human consciousness plunges into depths to which we normally have little direct access. We might think of consciousness through the image of a spiral," theologian Wendy Farley begins her book The Wounding and Healing of Desire. "Spiraling down deeper, we find the places where the ingrained habits of our spirit dwell . . . deeper still we come to an incandescent fire that has the power to burn away every obstacle to love. When, like Dante, we pass through this sweet, excruciating fire we come to the great emptiness where the divine image burns beyond light and darkness in a purity and luminescence that nothing can stain."
This volume seems to be a meditation upon suffering and the spiritual ways of healing. This summer I've mostly read books from areas of Christian theology of which I was only marginally (if at all) acquainted. I've previously read two of Farleys books. Her Tragic Vision and Divine Compassion: A Contemporary Theodicy we read in my undergraduate Evil and Suffering course and the book was transformational in my own thinking on the topic. Gathering Those Driven Away I read a few years ago and it shaped an Advent sermon series on desire. So, I'm reading this book because I enjoy Farley's writing and thinking.
This book is a little different. More reflective and less focused. At first this didn't engage me as much, but over the few chapters I've read, the style is connecting with me. She wrote this as she was recovering from an illness and was listening to a lot of folk music, which she takes as a source of profound theology.
This beauty beyond all knowing and naming pulls us out of ourselves and toward ourselves and in doing so pulls us most intimately and scathingly toward the world. It is impossible to be drawn to the beauty of Christ without entering more vividly into the beauty of everything else.
I'm in the final week of my sabbatical. After 11 weeks of not working I am both eager and a little grieved to be returning to work. It has been difficultly strange not to do what I love doing for so many weeks, but also a wonderful time of simply being and not focusing on a list of professional tasks to accomplish.
Yesterday we finished the patio installation and now look forward to design and landscaping and decorating in the coming months and next spring. Today I did yard work and am, this afternoon, cooking a fun meal of old comfort foods--the beans are even now cooking, and how I delight in that smell.
Tomorrow I will head to Red Cloud to visit the Willa Cather site. One more stop in my sabbatical endeavor to visit some of the locations in the region that I hadn't so far. I've been thinking about the soundtrack for the drive. Definitely some Emmylou Harris because of her song "My Antonia."