LETTER XVII. Quietness in God our true resource.
Warmth of imagination, ardor of feeling, acuteness of reasoning, and fluency of expression, can do but little. The true agent is a perfect abandonment before God, in which we do everything by the light which He gives, and are content with the success which He bestows. This continual death is a blessed life known to few. A single word, uttered from this rest, will do more, even in outward affairs, than all our most eager and officious care. It is the Spirit of God that then speaks the word, and it loses none of its force and authority, but enlightens, persuades, moves, and edifies. We have accomplished everything, and have scarce said anything.
On the other hand, if left to the excitability of our natural temperament, we talk forever, indulging in a thousand subtle and superfluous reflections; we are constantly afraid of not saying or doing enough; we get angry, excited, exhausted, distracted, and finally make no headway. Your disposition has an especial need of these maxims; they are as necessary for your body as your soul, and your physician, and your spiritual adviser should act together.
Let the water flow beneath the bridge; let men be men, that is to say, weak, vain, inconstant, unjust, false, and presumptuous; let the world be the world still; you cannot prevent it. Let every one follow his own inclination and habits; you cannot recast them, and the best course is, to let them be as they are and bear with them. Do not think it strange when you witness unreasonableness and injustice; rest in peace in the bosom of God; He sees it all more clearly than you do, and yet permits it. Be content to do quietly and gently what it becomes you to do, and let everything else be to you as though it were not.
INSTRUCTIONS IN THE DIVINE LIFE OF THE SOUL
FROM THE FRENCH OF
FENELON AND MADAME GUYON.
INTENDED FOR SUCH AS ARE DESIROUS TO COUNT ALL THINGS BUT LOSS THAT THEY MAY WIN CHRIST.
EDITED BY JAMES W. METCALF
NEW YORK: PUBLISHED BY M. W. DODD, BRICK CHURCH CHAPEL, CITY HALL SQUARE 1853.
Every now and then I find myself suffering from a new kind of “fever” in our media saturated environment – something akin to “the virus of the podcast.” I will stumble across a media platform that simply seems to be speaking the language of my tribe, as though I have been a soul wandering lost in a contemporary jungle looking for the people who can understand both what I want to say, and what I want to hear. However, in the pauses, the in-between moments, the commercial breaks, I wonder what it is I am looking for, and why do I remain thirsty for more after drinking so deeply. Sometimes after taking in as much as I can stand, I am left like a person who has gorged at the trough. Not unlike those late afternoons having worked all day in the yard, coming into the kitchen to find a pizza on the stove, and finishing off half of it while standing there in the cool air conditioning. Very quickly there is a transition from feeling satiated to feeling the slightest bit grotesque; as though I may have been trying to satisfy more then my physical hunger.
Occasionally when I am binging on podcasts I am reminded that I have heard so much of it before; either in history books, biographies, or the philosophically informed commentaries upon “current events” that others have made through time. In all likelihood whatever I am hearing broadcast in my podcasts has been said before by someone else commenting upon the vicissitudes of other events during another place and time. Of course the difference lay in that current commentaries are addressing the events through which I am actually living. But there is some comfort in knowing that others have had their own say about the inscrutability of events, and that they sought to make sense of it by wandering through their own jungle in search of the tribe speaking their language.
I take comfort in recalling that folks like Fenelon, and many others, were also living through such times, and also seeking to find the “notes eternal” in their midst. I offer no remedies or answers of my own, and simply post this as a kind of flag along the trail – a reminder both for myself and others that there is always a visitor in the midst of our jungle – sort of like firing flares from the island. Blessings and Godspeed.