Over the weekend forced some impetus to begin installing insulation board in the roof-line areas of the gable garret (attic). In fresher mental moments, this hermit determines the space in the garret to be dedicated to St. John the Baptist--well, any of the John saints (Chrysostom, Climacus, Baptist, Apostle, of God, of the Cross).
Not sure why work on the hermitage has been very slow, other than a few aspects, all enhanced by what seems weakened faith, weakened bodily energy, weariness and uncertainty as to the outcome of such efforts on a "place" having the label of "hermitage", or a hermit's home.
Reading John Climacus' The Ladder of Divine Ascent, brings some renewed verve to the physical efforts of trying to make headway with seemingly overwhelming tasks in here. Good reading, helpful reading to a hermit, outstanding reading for any soul: it all helps. More on Climacus in a future post.
For now, finishing a discussion of the concluding chapters in Dom Lorenzo Scupoli's The Spiritual Combat ought to spur some energy and confidence. If not to proceed with the labors out of love of God, at least one may do so in recognition of past failures and errors, or in the acceptance of the rugged, temporal condition of the hermitage being a rightful and just penance for the sins of this hermit or the sins of any souls for which the hermit ought be embracing penance (even if no specific souls come to mind).
It is enough to mourn one's own sins yet not dwell on them to the point of inaction in the Order of the Present Moment. And, that can become a conundrum of back-and-forth questioning if one should continue on with the work efforts and expenses, or take time out to cope with the current lack of adequate heat, or to buck up and bundle up and embrace all the lessons one can learn in such an immense undertaking.
Last evening's prayers in the Divine Office (at least am making some progress in the discipline of praying the various prayers and Scriptures collected in what is also called The Liturgy of the Hours or Prayers of the Church) included this intercession which seems apropos to the priority a hermit ought have, concerning its temporal abode: the hermitage.
"When at last our earthly home is dissolved,
– give us a home, not of earthly making, but built of eternity in heaven.
"Lord, you are our life and resurrection."
Amen and Amen!
It is already nearing mid-afternoon, and the hermit remains cocooned in bed. There was an early morning phone call with a daughter and some tears of grief and mourning over two other family relationships that are so very painful and estranged.
It is easy to fall into the past and try to berate oneself when at the time so much love and resources and desires were poured into one's children who now for whatever reasons, are angry and not wanting relationships, other than one who also receives little to no response from a sibling.
When the hermit began to weep, the daughter said she did not mean to upset or remind of the past (something this hermit rips over far too often). But the hermit said the situation is truly sad and so very unnecessary, and that is part of its sadness. It is well to weep and to mourn for that which is truly pathetic and painful; just recently the Beatitudes said it again: Blessed are they who mourn for they shall be comforted. Penthos is part of what a soul, and a hermit's soul, too, ought to experience and live.
Another conversation was lengthy, with the young mother and wife across the miles. We concluded our discussion and earthly examples to our final chapters read in Scupoli. Impressed by his reviewing how to do an examination of conscience, as well as being humble and embracing what penances in our lives come our way (don't need to go looking for them; they arrive daily for our utilization!), we discussed his advice on cultivating a healthy, yet penitential attitude to our sins--without dwelling on them more than need-be in order to apologize to His Real Presence and call upon and accept the never-ending mercy of Jesus Christ.
Our next book we decided upon, by the grace of God and His inspiration: Harlots of the Desert (Ward). We are ready for some lives of saints, and these early desert mothers (or ammas) will provide brief encounters yet with enough depth and fine research to help us follow through on one of Scupoli's suggestions. Take a half hour a day to read some spiritual material that includes reminders of our sinful condition yet also of remediation, of penance, and the joy of success in moving forward in a healthy way to the salvation which His Real Presence has secured for us.
Now, despite it being later in the day, the hermit has rested and kept warm in relative comfort, surrounded by the utter disgrace of its living conditions. The hermit will rise, dress, and put in a couple hours or more of insulation efforts. The past has been reviewed enough. The future has been yearned enough. The priority is clear for desiring a home, a hermitage, built in the eternity of heaven.
Yet, right now, in the present moment, here in this temporal abode, the hermit must utilize the materials at hand to make the earthly hermitage warmer for itself and for any future dweller. Hermits of any time period require shelter from the wind, cold, rain, snow, heat, burglars and robbers, wild elements and creatures just as do any living persons on this planet.
Hermits in all of history have worked on building their hermitages or making them livable dwellings, with an emphasis on bringing glory to God in some aspect of the temporal decor and functionality. (Besides simply storage area, the St. John Gabled Garret may likely be a tiny, intimate chapel. The divine and the temporal may co-exist like the lion with the oxen.)
This earthly hermitage is not yet dissolved. The time is not now. God only knows when.
God bless His Real Presence in us! Little children, let us love one another! God is Love! Remain in His Love!