Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Well, that and the curious fact that he goes to Moldova in his search for happiness


Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your Name give glory; because of your love and because of your faithfulness. Psalm 115:1

St. Francis is the mirror of Christ rather as the moon is the mirror of the sun. The moon is much smaller than the sun, but it is also much nearer to us; and being less vivid it is more visible. –G. K. Chesterton

It is really quite humbling to be given four days of quiet. And I thought about that adjective for a long time. Which one would best qualify sitting in front of a wood stove with a second cup of coffee and nothing on the schedule besides wandering under the last of the fall leaves in Golden, Colorado.

Twenty-four hours is indeed a gift, freely offered day after day by the LORD God Almighty. And how often is it squandered, gobbled up by fretting and distractedness and not even lifting my eyes up off of the sidewalk.

But the whole point of a friar was that he did not know where he would get his supper. There was always a possibility that he might get no supper. There was an element of what would be called romance, as of the gipsy or adventurer. But there was also an element of potential tragedy, as of the tramp or the casual labourer. So the Cardinals of the thirteenth century were filled with compassion, seeing a few men entering of their own free will that estate to which the poor of the twentieth century are daily driven by cold coercion and moved on by the police. Cardinal San Paolo seems to have argued more or less in this manner: it may be a hard life, but after all it is the life apparently described as ideal in the Gospel; make what compromises you think wise or humane about that ideal; but do not commit yourselves to saying that men shall not fulfill that ideal if they can.
And the difference between a friar and an ordinary man was really that a friar was freer than an ordinary man.
That is but a distant adumbration of the reason why the Franciscan, ragged, penniless, homeless and apparently hopeless, did indeed come forth singing such songs as might come from the stars of morning, and shouting, a son of God.
This sense of the great gratitude and the sublime dependence was not a phrase or even a sentiment it is the whole point that this was the very rock of reality. It was not a fancy but a fact; rather it is true that beside it all facts are fancies.
Rossetti makes the remark somewhere, bitterly but with great truth, that the worst moment for the atheist is when he is really thankful and has nobody to thank. The converse of this proposition is also true; and it is certain that this gratitude produced, in such men as we are here considering, the most purely joyful moments that have been known to man. The great painter boasted that he mixed all his colours with brains, and the great saint may be said to mix all his thoughts with thanks. All goods look better when they look like gifts. - G. K. Chesteron

And the thing about being at my sister’s home in that every wall is lined with books, books from all over the world and from all of the times. And I can sort of restlessly sift through dozens of them before settling down on the worn leather couch with a cup of peach tea.

And last night I finally pulled The Geography of Bliss by a longtime foreign correspondent for NPR who is searching the world for the happiness. And he does so with wit, self-depreciating humor and an apparently bottomless expense account, which stands in stark contrast to the barefoot friar.

And I am ashamed to admit that what caught my eye as I scanned yet another back cover was my identity with the author who declared As a child my favorite Winnie-the-Pooh character was Eeyore, and who spent his life notebook in hand, tape recorder slung over his shoulder, roaming the world telling the stories of gloomy, unhappy people. Which is a mind boggle from the eyes of whom Chesterton calls the one happy poet among all the unhappy poets of the world. He was a poet whose whole life was a poem. But at some gut level space Weiner gets it, and begins his journey with the conviction that One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.

And may I join my brother Francis who did not want to see the wood for the trees. He wanted to see each tree as a separate and almost a sacred thing, being a child of God and therefore a brother or sister of man.

As I begin my journey of this twenty-four hour gift, today, may His name be glorified. Because of His great love and faithfulness.