GEORGE AND MERTIE’S PLACE

As I said at the time …

You asked about my handle, Jnana. In essence, it’s Sanskrit for the spiritual “path of the intellect,” but that knowledge comes into fullness only when it finds harmony with the other forms of devotion – passion and compassion, physical labor, humility, charity, and so on. “Theoretical knowledge” misses the mark; rather, the name was given to me, in the ashram, only when I came to appreciate all the other spiritual gifts people have. Eliade calls it “the knowledge of ultimate realities” as well as “philosophy.” Perhaps “discernment” would be its equivalent in Christian practice. Whatever, I do tend to dwell in the mind and to dance in a field of ideas; I become grateful for those around me who help ground me in everyday applications.

Here it is, two months after hearing of your decision to shutter the place. (Hmm, was it a rooming house, bed-and-breakfast, or mountain inn? – so many possibilities!) Six years is a respectable run and for that, our gratitude and respect.

I once heard that before Caterpillar was launched, its editors had resolved that a journal has only three years of fresh insights to offer, and so they limited its life span to that – truncated, in my opinion, though I have my own theory of being in the public eye, which I first saw when I was pushing new comic strips and text features to newspaper editors: I see the “talent” as having a 10-year creative span – two years for readers to catch on to a new regular feature, and roughly five for a feature to start to take off in popularity; meanwhile, the artist/writer is using up the conceptual reservoir, so at five years the project is going into decline. You can tally your own list of television, radio, newspaper, or magazine projects that continued long after they had gone stale. (Of course, sometimes an individual will catch a second wind, but that’s another story.)

A year-and-a-half ago I stepped down as clerk of Dover Quarterly Meeting after a six-year term. That meant I had been presiding officer of a fellowship that met four times a year, gathering most of the local Quaker congregations in New Hampshire. (New England Yearly Meeting is the parent body, obviously named.) I was really happy to discover in the Book of Faith and Practice that limit to the length of service in any one post! It was long enough – I had initiated all I could.

More recently, I had hoped to be sending off some new material for you to consider. After a number of upheavals, of a positive sort detailed below, I’m back at writing again – got tied up, though, in some heavy-duty theological drafts rather than “creative” stuff. Things like why “Christ” equals Logos or Light more than Jesus, or why God wanted Adam and Eve to eat the fruit and why their expulsion from the Garden was not the cause of Original Sin, contrary to Augustine’s teaching. Who knows what those whackos in your neck of the woods would make of all that.

Your observation about the lack of time really hits home. It’s a disease or unease of today’s America – something that has received a lot of consideration in our Friends Meeting when we look at what we’d like to accomplish as a faith community, and then what we feel we can volunteer. Or when I debate whether to accept some OT shifts, which would help with all the bills, but decide instead to decline.

And your plans to move hit home, too. Guess the best place to catch up is just to cannibalize from the long-draft of my annual Yule letter from this past winter. Maybe some will resonate. If it doesn’t, skip!

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