15 April 2010
This afternoon I finished reading Agatha Christie’s So Many Steps to Death, which I read about a zillion years ago. It was first published in 1955. Intriguing story line- a group of scientists secluded in a type of closed society, utopia, in order to do their work to the exclusion of politics, economics, and what have you. Yet the heroine of the story proclaims; “The well-appointed cage! Was it for this, she thought, that all these varying personalities had abandoned their countries, their loyalties, their everyday lives?”
Yet, don’t we often make our lives a cage, with regular schedules; from mealtimes to going to the polling places every 2 or 4 years? A woman who led Women’s Consciousness Raising groups in the early 1970’s, to start conversation and open minds to new ways of thinking about women’s lives and possibilities understood the limitations often imposed by standards, expectations.
Another mystery writer both of note and a favorite of mine; Margaret Frazer, author, The Bishop’s Tale, published in 1994, is part of a multi-book series set in the Middle Ages. A few quotes found their way into my journal. “He valued every book he had as a candle lit against the darkness, against the ignorance we all sink into if we know only our own minds.” AND this one; “…He also said the Unknowing reminded him that ‘It will be asked of you how you have spent the time you have been given.’”
I just made a card with a similar quotation. (Click on picture to read quote.) Every time I quote Erma Bombeck I marvel at the facility she had to look at her world and find delicious humor in such ordinary routines as cleaning house, raising children, cooking dinner. So we’re back to routines, standards, expectations. Bombeck could have been an example of a woman in a categorized life. She was so much more though. This woman with a wonderful capacity to see ordinary and translate it into comedic died of kidney disease, because she would not allow her writing fame to push her to the top of a kidney transplant list. Do you ever imagine people you would like to meet, talk with, listen to? She’s in the top 10 on my list. Who’s on yours?
Note regarding Unknowing, mentioned above.(www.contemplativeprayer.net) “In 1974, Father William Meninger, a Trappist monk and retreat master at St. Josephs Abbey in Spencer, Mass. found a dusty little book in the abbey library, The Cloud of Unknowing. As he read it he was delighted to discover that this anonymous 14th century book presented contemplative meditation as a teachable, spiritual process enabling the ordinary person to enter and receive a direct experience of union with God.”

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