I love the way an egg rises, beaten a pillowy white. This morning as NPR reported on manhunt and capture—stories of violence and prejudice and division—as the boys bickered and Jonah shouted “get off me Gabriel!” from the breakfast table, I just sort of lost myself in an egg white. And it didn’t feel like escape, it felt like presence. Just beating an egg, wholly aware of the complications and fine with it.
Simone Weil certainly has something to do with my lapse into the ineffable. A friend recommended I read Weil’s short meditation, “Concerning the Our Father,” and in the relative leisure of this Saturday morning I finally picked up the book (at the bottom of the stack by my bed) and started in. On “Hallowed be Thy name,” Weil writes:
Man’s only possibility of gaining access to [God] is through his name. It is the Mediator. Man has access to this name, although it also is transcendent. It shines in the beauty and order of the world and it shines in the interior light of the human soul. This name is holiness itself; there is no holiness outside it; it does not therefore have to be hallowed. In asking for its hallowing we are asking for something that exists eternally, with full and complete reality…
That “full and complete reality” is what I’m trying to get at with the egg white. A hallowing of a moment, thick with reality, but light with it too. Earlier Weil writes, “There is nothing real in us which does not come from him.” And then later, turning the idea of prayer upside, “To ask for that which exists, that which exists really, infallibly, eternally, quite independently of our prayer, that is the perfect petition.” Which is what makes the Jesus Prayer so powerful and essential.
Time to step away from all this heady thought (heady, but alarmingly simple). We’ll see what happens when I do the dishes.
(But not before I quote Weil on desire—that most innate of human drives I’ll always be trying to make sense of. Her rendering here summarizes the entire point of Great Lent.)
We cannot prevent ourselves from desiring; we are made of desire; but the desire that nails us down to what is imaginary, temporal, selfish, can, if we make it pass wholly into this petition, become a lever to tear us from the imaginary into the real and from time into eternity, to lift us right out of the prison of self.
[all quotes taken from Simone Weil’s “Concerning the Our Father,” published in Waiting for God]