A Cistern (thoughts at a lay Cistercian meeting)
We are sitting around coffee and sweet cakes and fruits. Treats both foreign and local . We drink and nibble and we stare. We are instructed to stare . We are not staring at one another. We are to find Christ, then find He ” dwells among us”
And , Of course we know it might be impolite, to stare , outside of love . So we are staring at what we are instructed to focus on at the moment. Certain to find Christ . certain to find love. It is of course among us .
Still , We are just staring at a cup. It isn’t really a cup , but it is a picture of a cup. It is a cup placed before a hazy window pane. It is a picture of some reality that we all know . We know about cups of course. We are now drinking from styrofoam cups. And …. The widow panes of our eyes fog as we are
I peek over my syrafoam cup of half drunk, half full coffee . I peek to look at the cup and wait for it to ” tell me what is seen” . I see coffee. Maybe it is hot because the window behind it is quite foggy.And my eyes are too. Everything seems insignificant when the center is just a cup.
It is like a Cistercian . Centered , upward, waiting, could be full or filling. It is like the one teaching us. It is sitting there , face up , staring. Ready , Receiving.
But really, “lets be real “we say to the teacher “ it is just a ….
I think how I don’t know much about Cistercian folk. I forget about the cup in the picture. I close my eyes and suddenly see Cisterns instead of Cistercians. What is a cistern I ask myself not caring that Im not staring at the cup . “It is a tank” I remember, it is made to hold water for something . Maybe flushing toilets.
Perhaps , I am not very close to being a Cistercian who looks at cups and finds treasures of thoughts about Jesus . Perhaps I am a closer to being a cistern.
I might like to be a cistern and hold the water , not the muddy coffee water I make , but hold living water. I would like to hold pure living water to flush away the feces that pollutes souls.My soul.
I will tip my soul open like the face of a cup and see what comes of
I will turn up my cup in the company of Cistercians.
1.Definition of cistern : 1. An artificial reservoir (such as an underground tank) for storing liquids and especially water . 2. A large usually silver vessel formerly used at a dining table (Merriam-Webster-Webster)
2. And the valley he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed food to the Potter to do. Jeremiah 18:4
3. Lay Cistercians are from many different places of work and and church and locale. They practice in their faith journey the rule of Benedict who found a balanced way to keep centered ones life in Gods will. Lay Cistercians do this by the daily patterns of SILENCE , SOLITUDE , PRAYER, COMMUNITY, and WORK.
Such good materia, vunglaub! Keep your inspired thoughts coming!
Excellent entry, vunglaub. I have a longer reply which I wii leave later, but this will do for now. I always enjoy your posts. Please keep them coming. Blessings on you and yours!
I am new to all of this, vunglaub, and have spent the last several days trying to find your URL, without which no comment of mine could bs logged on. The two shorter replies were trial runs ahead of this one, so what follows is what I tried to send you on my first reading of your post, “Cistern.”
Food for thought, vunglaub. It is interesting that you see “cistern” in your “Cistercian” thoughts. Many years ago when I was in Ethiopia I happened to read snippets of Thomas Morton’s “The Sign of Jonas” while visiting a Franciscan mission. It was a Sunday and therefore a day of rest, and I found myself on the mission library where I just happened onto this book in its original English publication. I could not read the whole book on the time I had but I devoured whole parts of it between Mass and lunch. This really was my introduction to Cistercian thought and values, and I have always been grateful for this to my Franciscan hosts, most of whom were from France and Italy.
The following day was Monday and for me it was back to the job of building a large water holding tank—a cistern it you will—in an effort to provided non-polluted bringing water to the local population who would soon be filling their large pottery jars on a regular basis once the project was complete.
In all these 50 + years I have not considered the juxtaposition of these two concepts, Cistercian and cistern—until I read your post just days ago, and it has really gotten me to think.
And following your train of thought, where the cup might be a tank, or any container—even a cistern—and now we consider its possible contents, maybe cold coffee yesterday, or cinnamon tea tomorrow, or even holy water next week.
The point here is this, that to me not only the container is subject to change, but so are the contents. Extrapolating further, we might even see the container (cup, or tank, or cistern) as a metaphor for something else—say, the human heart, and what might THAT hold? Maybe in God’s own Time and Way it might be filled with love beyond measure, or joy past telling, or resolve beyond counting—or maybe contentment, gratitude, happiness, or any concept that so takes us we cannot even hold it all. And then maybe our “cup,” our “cistern,” overflows…
I will ruminate on all of this further, vunglaub. As I noted above, you have provided me with MUCH food for thought, and the cistern that I carry inside me is very much the subject of my thoughts just now. Thank you. God bless you. Keep holding your lamp high and sharing the light that is yours. And yes, please keep writing and posting!!