Thursday, April 30, 2009

ROBERT : Ah, the American Dream . . . .

Ah, the American Dream.
      If you and I could find an abbot, out here in the world where we offer our prayers and oblations at an altar in the midst of the ordinary — nice phrase, by the way, you may live to see it in a book some day; whose book is the question — if we could find an abbot, he would not likely be too terribly concerned with helping us in our pursuit of the American Dream. More likely he would be trying to help us let go of the American Dream so that we might more faithfully seek and attend to the life envisioned for us by the One Who dreamed us into being in the first place.
     That holy dream, the most astonishing of all dreams, is a very different sort of dream than the American one, I suspect. It likely includes more sacrifice than success, more piety than productivity, more compassion than commerce, more being than doing.
      I also think that if we found an abbot, we would be applauded for seeking altars amidst the ordinary in the first place. Such a desire is a sign that we are trying to live one life instead of two, to live a life that is not divided between our spiritual life and our real life. ( There is a joke in there somewhere about two halves not making a holy, but I think I should pass. )
Finally I think an abbot would say to you or any of us to find a trustworthy friend or two, someone who will gently hold you accountable for the Rule that you make for yourself, and get on with it.
      A Rule is not about earning God’s approval, that sounds more like something the American dreamer might come up with.
      A Rule is about becoming the person God dreamed you into being to become. And you are the only one who will know if that is happening anyway.
      ‘Oh, begin,’ says John Wesley.
      ‘Oh, begin,’ says the abbot we cannot find. ‘And, sweet dreams, by the way.’


GailNHB said...

Sacrifice, piety, compassion, and being - sound good. They sound dreamy, in fact.

May His Sweet Dream, the Sweetest Dream of All become the reality of our lives. May that dream come true for all of us on this long pew of faith.

robert benson and ben stroup said...

The dreamers are the saviours of the world, in fact.

Thanks for reading and for writing.

Namaste —

R. Benson

John said...

Robert and Ben,

I've found an abbess of sorts...her name is Mary Oliver, her gift is poetry. She has little tolerance for the American Dream, but a fierce love for the altar of this world...

To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.
"In Blackwater Woods" by Mary Oliver, from American Primitive.

robert benson and ben stroup said...

Thanks for the poem. Shoot, thank you for reading us in the first place.

Namaste —