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Discussion in 'Essays' started by ChrisA, Nov 8, 2006.



  1. ChrisA Guest

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    Inside the Grail Chamber

    Today I printed a copy of Book One of my novel. Tomorrow I will send
    it to my mentor at the University of Chicago, Alane Rollings. What was that feeling in the pit of my stomach, after having worked for an entire year on a single manuscript? I held the forty-five pages with double-sided print in my right hand and the book seemed meager and inconsequential. In day-light, it appeared smaller than it had appeared in the light of my imagination.

    In the last couple months I have exerted so much energy to make that manuscript my best work. But now, having accomplished the task I set out to do, I feel empty. It is not only the novel. Lately I have been obsessed with reading and writing poetry. Eight or ten poetry books checked-out from the library are scattered across my coffee table at home. Why am I compelled to read almost in a trance from morning until night?

    According to Richard Rohr, I am building my “Tower” and this is a perfectly natural thing for a young man to do. But, of course, I ache because unconsciously I am striving to get somewhere and become something. While looking out at the cornfields across the street from my house, I write a poem every morning. My one desire is to write poems with ease and complacency, to reach the tranquil abode of my own voice. For me, freedom is expression through art. If all of my efforts went toward one goal it would not be to publish a Pulitzer-prize winning novel or to compose an epic poem, but to sustain the joy that I get from creating art with language, creating images, worlds, moods, with my pen.

    Mostly I am striving and building my Tower, but every so often something slides into place and I feel as though I am transformed momentarily into my ideal self—this is the occasional nudge into Grace. Or, what Rohr calls “movement into the Grail Chamber.” Art is my Grail Chamber. For some it is love. For others it is religion. For others it is education. As Rohr says, “Anything can be a Grail”. The Grail Chamber gives us that feeling of union and bliss that we have been seeking ever since we can remember—ever since we realized there was something broken or missing inside of us. God is in the Grail Chamber.

    In effect, the quest for the Grail is a conflict that takes place inside each one of us. I am obsessed with writing poetry and fiction because art is my Grail Chamber. I will do anything it takes to get fifteen minutes inside that inner “holy room”. It seems my whole life is devoted to engendering that single experience. So I build a tower higher and higher, but never find what I am looking for. I am looking for an experience of God, but that experience will continue to elude me as long as I keep trying. I am still afraid of giving up control, or letting my voice be what it wants to be, or letting my poems sound how they want to sound. I am still trying to make things perfect, trying to fix things.

    I really wish I didn’t have to go through this epic struggle to get inside the Grail Chamber. And when it happens, when I’m finally admitted by Grace, I wish I could stay there forever. But neither of these things is true. Richard Rohr writes:

    The strength and stability of the human person depend on maintaining a living connection between the center (Grail Chamber) and the private self. Not identification with the center, which is hubris; not an alienation, which tells us we are nothing, are worthless, stupid. A living connection, rather, is the procession moving back and forth.

    (italics mine) (141)

    Being completely immersed in the Grail Chamber leads to inflation, or hubris. This is the singular identification with God that led Nietzsche to devise his concept of the Übermensch, or Superman. On the other hand, being completely shut out of the Grail Chamber leads to alienation, a complete lack of identification with God. This is what the Existentialists often describe in their writings. Human experience, however, is neither a total identification, nor a complete lack of identification with God but characterized by the mutual tendencies of both: the mundane and the numinous, inflation and deflation, agony and ecstasy. According to Rohr, this movement back and forth is this “two-step” that comprises the dance of our existence.

    But what is the purpose of getting into the Grail Chamber in the first place? And who does the Grail serve? These are the questions we all must ask ourselves.

    Why do I want to create art through language? Now it occurs to me that the purpose of my quest is to open up the possibility of seeing the world and reality in new ways. I am striving to open up this possibility for myself. I long for the Grail experience because it illuminates and expands my consciousness. But if I continue on my quest, my purpose may soon change. When I become accustomed to moving in and out of the Grail Chamber with greater ease, adept at dancing the two-step between the center and periphery, then I may have a new purpose for my life and art, namely, to open up the possibility of seeing the world and reality in new ways for others.



    Notes: Quest for the Grail. Richard Rohr. Crossroad Publishing. NY. 2004



    CRA

    11/8/2006


    Posted By ChrisA | Nov 8, 2006
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  2. Artistic

    PaintedDiary JPiC Mentor

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    Dear Chris,

    I enjoyed this read very much. Twas very enlightening, informative, I could relate well, and I agree with your statements. It was also a smooth read, flawless actually. You truly capture the essence of the soul of your topic. You have a wonderful range of topics in your essays, and I enjoy them very much. Thank you for yet another wonderful essay. Gave this an excellent rating!

    {{{{{~~~***KIM***~~~}}}}}:)
  3. ChrisA Guest

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    Thank you Painted Diary. After getting your comments, I read the essay again. I'm glad you brought it to my notice . . . it was something I needed to read over. We learn these things about ourselves and then forget them. Thanks again.


    Posted By ChrisA | May 29, 2007
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