Monday, September 13, 2010

September 11th, Jacob Jans

Jacob Jans wrote the following, hopefully the first step of a much larger project, in the Cloisters this past Saturday.

The Cloisters is a conjoining of the very old and the very new, quite literally, with pillars of old churches supporting newly constructed ceilings, ancient stained glass windows set in new walls, bright museum lighting perched above ancient altars, and beside a verdant gardened courtyard, a Pontaut House with crumbled walls, cracked pillars, a smooth ceiling and floor, and long wooden benches where Caitlin and I began our writing session by reading from The Rule of Benedict as was once a daily ritual at abbeys around the world.

I believe there is a certain joy to be had in setting aside a portion of each day to contemplate how we participate in the world. The chapter we read from The Rule of Benedict described the proper behavior of an Abbess.

This got me to thinking about the daily pressures our society throws our way in an attempt to define proper behavior for us, and how I often find myself struggling to have a solid sense of this, much less have the time to think about it intentionally.

Which gave me the idea of writing my own personal imitation of The Rule of Benedict. My initial attempt, composed at the Cloisters, is below.

The Rule of Doubt

Press shut your mouth, and hold, my friend
these thoughts, if you will,
in the silence of attention,
and notice the sounds which are not sounds,
and how your body moves
in accordance with their rising,
so that with this silence
you can again be aware of thought.

To you,
whoever you may be
who are renouncing noise
to create sound
under the reverence of doubt
these words are addressed.

And first of all,
as motion begins to flow toward your tongue,
the way water flows through the branches of a tree,
building tension to the very tip of a leaf,
allow awareness of your hidden motions to rise
so that you may choose them.


As I wrote this, I realized much of my life has been informed by the tradition of poetry. I am considering continuing this project using quotes from favorite poems and poets, the way The Rule of Benedict quotes Psalm and and verse from the Bible.

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