Reflections on Writing: Part Two
March 28, 2015 marks the fifth centenary of Teresa of Avila’s birth. It also marks two years of blogging for me. I received my first copy of the Interior Castle as a Christmas gift in 2004. Unfortunately my interest in reading outweighs my ability get through the books. They may sit for a while prior to reading them.
My youngest daughter asked me to take her and a friend to a Christian Night Club in downtown Minneapolis for a “battle of the bands”. She preferred I give her space and find something else to do instead of hanging around the club. I grabbed my copy of the Interior Castle and found a comfortable place to read. It was a crowded summer night on “Block E” — and I sat in solitude. I began reading the Interior Castle by Teresa of Avila for the first time. I believe I got through most of the book that night and in the words of Bob Dylan:
Every one of them words rang true
And glowed like burnin’ coal
Pourin’ off every page
Like it was written in my soul . . .
Periodically I would break from my book and “people-watch”. A homeless man sat near me. He held his sign hoping for a little money. People respond to these signs in various ways. Some take the “get a job” attitude and hold the sign-holders in contempt. Others avoid guilt by avoiding eye contact. Some “know better” than to give money, because, they say, it will only go to booze. A few give restaurant gift cards so the person can get something to eat. Most tune-out because it is a common occurrence.
I saw three young men coming down the street. The trailer of the group stopped his friends. He glanced at the homeless man, pulled out his wallet, took out a couple a bills, folded them in half, and held the money out. The homeless man reached for the bills, but the young man withdrew the money and said, “Are you going to buy beer with it?” The homeless man nodded yes. The young man unfolded the money and put it back in his wallet: “Why don’t you come with us — we’ll get you a good beer.” The homeless man leapt to his feet and followed the three young men to the bar. I wondered: How did this young man know the homeless man’s problem was not alcohol, but loneliness?
I returned to the Interior Castle and began reading again:
But here the Lord asks only two things of us: love for His majesty and love for our neighbor. It is for these two virtues that we must strive, and if we attain them perfectly we are doing His will and so shall be united with Him. . . .
The surest sign that we are keeping these two commandments is, I think, that we should really be loving our neighbor; for we cannot be sure if we are loving God . . . but we can know quite well if we are loving our neighbor. (Teresa of Avila: Fifth Mansions: Chapter Three)
I noted that passage along with many others that night. I let the book sit for a few more years occasionally referring back to the highlights. I picked up a couple other editions of the Interior Castle in the next few years for study and writing. One day, while writing, I grabbed that first copy again and found on the inside of the front cover:
Camron was only six months old at the time so I’m guessing he didn’t do the shopping himself. But I have a nice reflection on family life and the first of a couple connections between my grandchildren and the Interior Castle.
Camron (NYC 2014)