Poverty, chastity, obedience – we know these words as evangelical counsels or as religious vows: the vow of poverty, the vow of chastity, the vow of obedience.But apart from their significance as monastic vows, their place in the theology of the cross, they have a modern spiritual significance which even nature and the changing season can point to. I believe that the demands of our age make these concepts particularly relevant. The following short commentary – Poverty, Chastity, Obedience – and poems approach the spiritual relevance of these ideas…
The time of year, November, is a paradox: the sun rises through mist and peers directly into your eyes. Each day it stands lower in the sky. Each day, while it gives up its abundance, it stares more searchingly into your being, for signs of the poverty, the chastity, the obedience, which govern its descent. You must let go of your treasures, let go of everything, if you will follow me, it seems to say.
The words are not popular. But the season points to them. The Spirit of the Time, the Zeitgeist, points to them: Poverty, Chastity, Obedience. Abundance crumbles like dust in our hands and leaves indebtedness. Our limbs stray from the purity of what we need and leave cheapness, a lack of value. We depart from the kinship of our own true nature and find a chimera, a hollow image of freedom. The debt of nations, negative equity, hallucination. The times are calling out for that level searching of your own being.
Raise your arms above your head; bring them down on either side to describe a circle around you. There is your eye of the needle. A caravan of camels, laden with treasures, stops before you. Oh my world! I leave behind your wonders, which were arms and legs and torso to me. Only I will go through. I am poor, chaste with cold, and obedient. Master, will you take me for what I am?
Shall I preach to the air
that I find myself so lost for ears?
At the point of creation
there is only the birth
of self into the sky.
And the creator – Father, keep me
in your Grace – who rises in me
like a sun through mist.
Am I self or more than self
that the angels give ear to my silence,
give strength to my sound?
My arms describe a circle around me -
it is the eye of a needle.
A caravan of camels has stopped before it,
laden with treasures. Only I
will go through. Oh my world!
I leave behind your wonders,
which were arms and legs and torso to me.
I am poor, chaste with cold, and obedient.
Master, will you take me for what I am?
Best wishes, today,
© landar 2011. All rights reserved
Image: Giotto, Allegory of Poverty
Poverty, Chastity, Obedience