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Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Thoughts on Black and White Two

After prayer and some discussion with three lady friends, I have decided to go back into black and white. When I was in Tyburn, of course, I was in black and white. After I came out again, STS said he thought I should return to the world of color.

And, living off and on in Malta, one see color and wants to wear color. In addition, the second-hand stores do not have black skirts.

I have been looking for more black skirts, but none of the second-hand stores, (and I have been to these many times in the past five months) seem to have these.

  • The two I have are shorter than I want to wear, but wear them I shall until I can find long ones.

The reasons for going back into black and white have to do with three things, which are traditional reasons why some orders, and some lay people, like St. Catherine of Siena, chose in the past, wearing a sort of habit, or a full habit.

  1. Penance and mortification. One most likely is not attractive in black and white. The simplicity of the colors refer to death to the world, literally reminding others and one's self of the transient nature of this life.
  2. Simplicity for the sake of simplicity. Not having to think about cloths or what matches relieves one of certain preoccupations, and frees one up even more.
  3. Identification with a life which is a "sign of contradiction" in the world.
  4. The hideous colors on the White House not only angered me, but brought me real sadness, even grief. Black and white remind me of Gandalf's saying in The Lord of the Rings:
"I am Saruman the Wise, Saruman Ring-maker, Saruman of Many Colours!"

'I looked then and saw that his robes, which had seemed white, were not so, but were woven of all colours. and if he moved they shimmered and changed hue so that the eye was bewildered.

' "I liked white better," I said.

' "White! " he sneered. "It serves as a beginning. White cloth may be dyed. The white page can be overwritten; and the white light can be broken."

' "In which case it is no longer white," said I. "And he that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom.
I thank those who helped me with my Tyburn cloths and ask all to pray that I can find long, black skirts. The ones I found at that time are too short for my liking.

I repost my old thoughts on black and modified as I am in the world. But, the sentiments are similar.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Thoughts on Black and White

Well, an update…I have given away most of my colored clothes and shoes which are not black, and am moving into a black and white stage. I have already passed on all my books, except the few I need for the convent (NO daily and Sunday missals, Rule of St Benedict, diaries and notebooks), and am finishing collecting things on the list from Mother General.

Going into a black and white stage is really dying to self. That is the entire point of a habit. It is not only a “sign of contradiction in the world” but a denial of self-expression.
I did not think this would be so hard, as I am not particularly attached to my clothes, but the reality of giving away things and living by a list complied by someone else is the beginning of purgation.

The commentators on the Rule of Benedict write that it is sometimes the small things which cause the most anxiety at first. One’s favourite pen, or one’s special tea cup or coffee mug; one’s hair-dryer or one’s bubble bath are not BIG things, but part of the rhythm of life about which one surrounds one’s self for comfort and continuity.

There will be a new continuity, which I have partially experienced, of the daily hours and daily schedule organized for centuries in Benedictine convents and monasteries throughout the world.

Prayer, work, study, more work, more prayer. The denial of free time or coffee breaks again is part of the denial of self in a small way. One cannot stop and have a cuppa when one feels like it. One cannot sit down in choir, but kneels or stands.

The denial of self happens in the world as well, such as when one faces financial ruin, or cancer, or the death of loved ones.

One cannot escape, nor should one run from suffering. Sometimes God paints us into a corner, so that we cannot run away unless we want paint all over our shoes and leave a messy, ruined floor behind.

The denial of color allows God to paint the empty canvas of the soul. Memory, understand and will become purified over time. The advantage of the monastery is that this process speeds up the three-fold movement towards perfection, if one cooperates.

Cooperation involve many things: obedience, conformity, denial of singularities and eccentricities (which are caused by pride and encourage pride), setting aside one’s own ideas and even ways of working.

Last year, I had to learn how to clean without cleaning supplies, as the monastery in Cobh only uses water on the floors and rarely uses sprays. The nuns live as if the 20th and 21st century had never occurred.

The value of all this self-denial must be rooted in the growing awareness of God’s Love.

One can set aside one’s own ideas and habits and even expertise for one reason only, and that reason is love, the love of God.

Even that love is sprinkled with pride and self-seeking until one gives up everything.

Purification is death.

The black and white clothes I am rolling up and packing in my suitcase remind me of death.

But, the truth is that we all die and face God. Is it not better to allow Him the freedom to start the process of purification, leading to illumination and, finally, unity, now?

If one loves someone, one will do anything for that person. One wants to be with that person, and eventually, one wants to be completely united with that person.

So, too, with the Brides of Christ in Tyburn. They only want to love and be loved.

Black and white, life and death, death and life, love and sacrifice for the Significant Other, who is Christ.

People ask me why I want to do the hard thing. I want to be like Christ.