Walking from my office to the train the other day, I reflected on how wicked and dissolute I have been lately, relatively speaking. Not like a rake or a cheat, I hasten to add, but rather a choirboy; things like moments of sloth, violating my diet rules, staying up too late reading, want of charity toward others, dilatory prayers, stuff like that. Not that those are small things, at all; indeed, they loom very large for me. The reading thing is a real problem; I can’t seem to shake it.
Anyway, I was walking toward the train feeling rather willfully sinful; stiff-necked, and besotted with my worldly involvements. I was positively enjoying them. Mostly I was reeling from the moral challenges at work lately, which are calling for – and often not finding – a great deal of charity on my part. My dander was up: I was irritated, sore and a tad self-righteously angry. And sorry for myself; let’s not overlook that bit.
I reached into my pocket for no particular reason and encountered my little rosary. And so, reminded, I began to pray for people: Lawrence Auster, my friends and relatives who are in trouble, the tenor I once sang with who died in ‘84. The list goes on for about 50 lives these days. It’s really rather horrifying; it seems as though almost everyone I know is in some sort of serious difficulty or danger, however well the rest of their lives might be going. I suppose that goes without saying, and should not surprise me so much, and sadden me. But this habit of intercession as I walk has quickened my wit to the pervasive tragedy of life – to the agony sooner or later entailed by mere existence, much of which naturally ends up, so far as we can see, as a totally useless waste, nothing more than noise or heat attendant to the general and predominantly orderly flow of history; a cost of doing business here on Earth. It’s a sorrowful apprehension; but, also, beautiful.