Sunday, October 11, 2015

On Being: Mary Catherine Bateson

October's bright blue weather... leaves just beginning to turn. The air is wonderfully crisp.

Another long gap... today I want to play with the words Anchor/Anger....Mystery/Misery/Ministry...

a student misread some word as "misery" and I'm trying to remember what it was.  Not sure , but possibly "Ministry."

I'm making my annual retreat here in Emmitsburg and should probably not be writing here, but it feels right, especially since I listened to the episode of ON BEING on NPR this morning.  It was aired last week, and featured a wonderful interview with Mary Catherine Bateson.

I read her book  Composing A Life  back in 1997 or 98, and it had a large impact on me.  This quote particularly stays with me:
"Because we are engaged in a day-by-day process
 of self-invention - not discovery,
for what we search for does not exist until we find it -
 both the past and the future are raw material,
 shaped and reshaped by each individual...
These are lives in flux,
 lives till indeterminate
 and subject to further discontinuities.
 This very quality
 protects me from the temptation
to interpret them as pilgrimages
to some fixed goal,
for there is no way to know
 which fragments of the past
 will prove to be relevant in the future.
Composing a life
 involves a continual reimagining of the future
 and reinterpretation of the past
 to give meaning to the present  (Bateson  280-30)."
Her interview this morning was very powerful for me to hear.
Until this morning, I hadn't known Bateson was the daughter of Gregory Bateson and the Samoa lady, anthropologist Margaret Mead.  They were atheists, but Bateson is a fallen away, then "returned in her sixties" Roman Catholic.
One of the things she says in this interview is about what she calls "Active Wisdom:"
"When you have the harvest of a life of learning and thinking and observing, and at the same time, you're still active... I have to ell you, it's wisdom on the hoof."
More on this tomorrow ( I hope)

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