To Save Your Life, Lose It
Spiritual reading puts us in contact not just with words, with ideas, but with reality—with God.
To seek God is to seek reality. And this must be something more than a flight from images to ideas. The interior life is not merely what is not exterior.
Thunder and rain during breakfast. Curtains of mist hanging over the knobs, pigs garrulous in the lush wet grass, and a dove in the cedar tree. Enough for a haiku?
Temptation: to put together a book the way one furnishes an apartment—to surround oneself with things and act as if one had made it all. The Braque on the wall, the T’ang vase, the Persian carpet. A Cistercian should, no doubt, not even know such things. But a Cistercian on the point of going to New York cannot help but think of them. Caught between good and evil, and sometimes not knowing which is which.
Julien Green was always asking himself, can a novelist be a saint, can a novelist save his soul? But perhaps the salvation of his soul and, even more, his sanctification, depends precisely on taking this role. “He that would save his life will lose it.”
August 19, 1956, III. 67-68