December 15th, 2012
There is a certain point in a paper writing process when, all of a sudden, you feel as if you do not know anything at all about what you are writing about. Despair grips you to the point where you actually believe that you did not learn anything all semester. Going to class, doing the readings, writing about the readings, doing assignments on the readings—somehow, you scrape through all these learning opportunities without acquiring one valid piece of knowledge.
If we were to envision what happens, we might say that the writer is happily, earnestly climbing up a mountain—he is eager to synthesize his knowledge and research into some distinctive position, and he enjoys some success. However, right when he gets to the top of the mountain (when he is confident enough to articulate his bold and creative thesis), the force of flinging himself on top of the mountain flings him right off of the precipice.
All of a sudden, a few new considerations reveal that everything you know and think might be wrong. Here I sincerely think to myself: “I know nothing of Aquinas—I do not understand him at all. How can I write?” I acquiesce to the falling, and watch as the cliff’s top becomes further away from me as I descend into the rugged valley. “I think I’ll just stay here. Lie here for awhile.” “Let’s forget Aquinas ever happened. Can we tell that to the registrar?”
Happily, there is strength to overcome such despair. Upon finishing the paper I realize that my despair—though likely an inescapable part of the paper-writing process—is wrong. “I guess I know one or two things about Aquinas,” I concede to myself: “At least, much more than I knew four months ago.” And what more can I ask for?
October 25th, 2012
My whole life, particularly as a student, I have had a hard time holding on to writing utensils. Buying lead refills was always in vain: I would almost always lose the pencil before it required a refill.
Why would this happen? I expect that I so objectified each pencil, as an instrument for my own use, a mere means to an end, that I would not care for the pencil itself, in any regard.
This made me realize that if, as Avicenna contends, the body is merely a tool for the soul, I would probably not care a bit for my body. Also, I would consequently quickly lose my body.
October 24th, 2012
He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase,
To added affliction He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half-done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.
His love has no limit, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men,
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
He giveth and giveth and giveth again.
Annie Johnson Flint (1866-1932)
October 18th, 2012
Greater life hath no man than this:
that an old man lies down in love
with an old lady friend.
For passion to soar so high
When skin, it droops so low:
What great life you have, my dear!
80 years, you passed without me
80 years, I’ll never know.
So much faith it takes to meet her
When all’s soon drawing to a close—
All the poets being wrong.
But of your lovely life so grand:
That I may have a slice so small!
To fall in love with you, my dear.
80 years, I do not know you
And in a few years, we’ll be gone.
Greater life hath no man than this.
October 17th, 2012
My sister doesn’t live here anymore
Down the hall, from my room
Near the stairs.
I don’t either.
But in my mind she lives
Down the hall, from my room
And if I close my eyes in bed
Far away from home
I can see it.
Mothers, I understand
that not just the absence, but that the empty space
It can no longer receive what was.
Even the Angel said “He is not here”
And Mary did not stop to see the empty tomb transformed into
“He has risen!”
Indeed! But where have you risen to?
Why are my motherly tears so melancholy?
This knot in my throat—
“Do not be afraid!”—
Its darkness moaning,
like a forlorn poet,
of “the tender grace of a day that is dead”
and it is I that won’t come back to me.
How is it to be so old?
For the words “10 years” to have such meaning?
For “50 years hence” to sound so hollow?
Yes, “10 years” signifies with so much force
you end up living on a station’s bench:
Thoughtless, you watch
the last signs depart from every trace of meaning—
The phrase itself catapults off a cliff.
How is it to not raise your glance
and view only those huge expanses,
slightly rolling, unending plains
which we graze upon and frolic?
How is it to not raise your glass?
to expanses tinted by a lazy sun—
We mistake for eternity from the front porch.