Futility blessings

‘Four Quartets’ clip
T.S. Eliot

Trying to use words, and every attempt
Is a wholy new start, and a different kind of failure
Because one has only learnt to get the better of words
For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which
One is no longer disposed to say it. And so each venture
Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate,
With shabby equipment always deteriorating
In the general mess of imprecision of feeling,
Undisciplined squads of emotion. And what there is to conquer
By strength and submission, has already been discovered
Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope
To emulate – but there is no competition –
There is only the fight to recover what has been lost
And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions
That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.

Words from a Trappist monk–told to me, heard from a dying monk by a hosting monk when he was younger. The first monk the hosting brother witnessed pass away in community. ┬áThe death cementing the finality of his cloistered life discernment. ┬áThe abbey graveyard became a daily reality. The words shaped his spiritual life. ‘As my life draws to an end, I realize very few things were truly any of my business’. The hosting monk, elderly during our time together, wasting time gracefully, commented: ‘When I was young, I read voraciously, now I hardly read and what I do read rarely makes sense, nor can I stay focused. I am working with watercolors, however my efforts are abysmal. I have these images and colors in my mind, yet they do not come through. I once saw a snow covered pine tree through a window frame unintentionally placing a cross before the winter scene. It seemed something important presented itself. I wanted to convey it, yet I doubt my ambition will be accomplished. My efforts are childish’.


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