February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday

Those of your readers who have been with me for a while know I always quote T. S. Eliot's "Ash Wednesday" today. Well, I am going to quote something different this year: Eliot's "Four Quartets". Emily Hale hosted a gathering last week where we all read and discussed the first two of the "Four Quartets." I still haven't read them all, but I am taking them as the main subject of my Lenten reading (full list below). I was incredibly moved by the images and lyricism in this poem--and also by the joy. These lines from "Burnt Norton" were (it will not surprise you) my favorite:
Sudden in a shaft of sunlight
Even while the dust moves
There rises the hidden laughter
Of children in the foliage
Quick now, here, now, always—
Ridiculous the waste sad time
Stretching before and after.

During our conversation B brought up the similarity between another passage from "Burnt Norton" and the motto of the Cathusians: Stat crux dum volvitur orbis (The cross stands while the world is turned).

This, it seems to me, is the perfect meditation for this Lent. Life is busy, increasingly so as every new day begins. I'm tired of the busyness. As Anthony Esolen said in a recent lecture at Georgetown: "There will be no Sunday to contrast with the everlasting Monday of our modern lives." But, if Christ lives in our hearts, then every day is Sunday.

With Eliot's "Four Quartets" in mind, my reading curiculum for Lent is (in no particular order):
+ The Habit of Being by Flannery O'Connor
+ Leisure: the Basis of Culture by Josef Pieper
+ On the Nature of the Gothic by John Ruskin
+ Watch With Me by Wendell Berry
+ Allegory of Love by C. S. Lewis
+ The Children's Book by A. S. Byatt

1 comment:

  1. habit of being is fantastic. i look forward to hearing what you have to say about it.
    i have leisure, too; maybe i should read it . . .