Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Quotable and Ponderable...

... though I can't precisely say why. It's just an intuition.

I'm about to make the turn from the "at home" portion of my vacation (this is the eleventh day thereof) to the "on the road" portion (the next twelve days, in eastern and northern Michigan and Door County, Wisconsin). The summer reading that I'm in the middle of, and which I'll be taking with me, is Steinbeck's The Winter of Our Discontent, one of the (many) classics I missed when reading was forced on me and which I'm getting around to only in my dotage.

It's Easter morning, and the story's narrator, Ethan Allen Hawley, is conversing with his wife in their kitchen after getting home from church.
"Do you know whether you believe in the church or not, Ethan? Why do you call me silly names? You hardly ever use my name."
"To avoid being repetitious and tiresome, but in my heart your name rings like a bell. Do I believe? What a question! Do I lift each shining phrase out of the Nicene creed, loaded like a shotgun shell, and inspect it? No. It isn't necessary. It's a singular thing, Mary. If my mind and soul and body were as dry of faith as a navy bean, the words, 'The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures,' would still make my stomach turn over and put a flutter in my chest and light a fire in my brain."
"I don't understand."
"Good girl. Neither do I. Let's just say that when I was a little baby, and all my bones soft and malleable, I was put in a small Episcopal cruciform box and so took my shape. Then, when I broke out of the box, the way a baby chick escapes an egg, is it strange that I had the shape of a cross? Have you ever noticed that chickens are roughly egg-shaped?"
There is perhaps more truth here than can be spoken, more than was intended--more than Ethan intended, doubtless more than Steinbeck intended. It invites reflection.

Unless something quite unforeseeable happens, my mind will be other places than on blogging until well into the first week of August, and probably for a few days beyond that, as there will be a pile of demands waiting for me when I get back into harness. I intend to focus on the natural beauty of the Great Lakes and the northwoods, and to enjoy the mostly undivided attention of the one whose name rings like a bell in my heart.

Summer is, for me, the icon of "things as they were meant to be." I intend to drink it in with abandon, and store up such spiritual reserves as will help see me through the darkness and gloom that will descend inexorably all too quickly.


Anonymous said...

While I can't imagine summer anywhere but here in Oregon being "an icon of how things are meant to be," I do pray you safe travel, much rest, and a good measure of Undivided Attention.

Elder Oyster said...

Thank you for posting this.

One of my college professors was a Stenbeck junkie. Interestingly, Steinbeck was an agnostic. He had two wives, one of whom was a Christian, and one of whom was an atheist. The wives sparred frequently, and so one day, Steinbeck told his wife and ex-wife to hammer it out over faith questions. :)