I awoke this morning laughing over a short dream. A person of my acquaintance (whom I will call POMA) was reading a book by Pope Benedict (the guy in the red hat). Coming to a passage where the Pope commented on the Holy Spirit, POMA slammed the book shut scornfully and muttered, “He thinks he knows about the Holy Spirit!” You would have to know POMA to laugh as I did over this statement. I suppose there are many Catholics who think they know better than the Pope, but POMA probably knows better than all of them as well.
I passed on Mass this morning, opting for coffee with my bride instead. Marriage is the only vow I am ever likely to take. Best to honor it sometimes, I think.
The day quickly threw me a curveball. I drove from home to the Honda dealer thinking I did not need an appointment for an inspection sticker. That’s what the recorded announcement says on Honda’s answering machine. Not only did I need an appointment, for the problem I am having I need two appointments.
With unexpected time on my hands now, before a talk I was scheduled to give at UMass Boston, I found a comfortable chair in a convenient Starbucks and read the first chapter of The Ionian Mission, volume 8 in Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series. I finished volume 7 only yesterday but experienced a craving to begin the next book immediately. The first chapter begins with the domestic lives of both the newly married Maturin and veteran husband Aubrey, noting at the outset that “Marriage was once represented as a field of battle rather than a bed of roses.” I chuckled all the way through, especially when I came to the opening paragraphs on Aubrey:
As far as real battlefields and beds of roses were concerned, Captain Aubrey was far better acquainted with the first, partly because of his profession, which, with enormous intervals of delay, often cold and always wet, brought him into violent conflict with the King’s enemies, to say nothing of the Admiralty, the Navy Board, and bloody-minded superiors and subordinates, and partly because he was a wretched gardener.
Now that’s a sentence, and with a kicker.
For all his loving care the roses at Ashgrove Cottage produced more greenfly, caterpillars, mildew, rust, and grey mould than flowers—never enough at any one time to make a bed for a dwarf, let alone a six-foot sea-officer who tipped the beam at sixteen stone. In the figurative sense, his marriage was a good deal nearer the roses than most; he was a good deal happier than he deserved (he was neither a sure provider nor quite strictly monogamous) and although he was not ideally happy, although he might secretly wish for a companion with more sense of man’s carnal nature and somewhat less possessive, he was profoundly attached to Sophie; and in any case he was often away from home for years on end.
That’s another, and with another kicker.
Here’s a third sentence, much shorter:
As long as you can find yourself, you’ll never starve.
It comes from The Hunger Games, which a young friend has urged me to read and which I began listening to via Audible.com on my way into Boston. I have asked my daughter Marian to read or listen to The Hunger Games too, so that we will have another shared topic in the Father-Daughter Book Club. (Did I get you to click through to Marian’s blog? I hope so. You might enjoy what she has to say about coffee too.)
I will have more to write, much more, about The Hunger Games in future posts, but for now, I’m just hooked. It’s a YA book with a female protagonist, a chick-lit Harry Potter about a dystopic world in which 12-to-16-year-olds are chosen by lottery once a year to fight to the death, but I—am—hooked.
As long as you can find yourself, you’ll never starve might be a good epigraph for The Religious Sense by Luigi Giussani, which our CL Schools of Community are reading this year and which I dipped into again at Eucharistic Adoration this afternoon. But then that’s probably a topic for another longer post as well, and I am getting itchy, not to blog again, but to see whether the Red Sox can somehow, some way, hang on to the AL wild card. It’s 2–1 Sox in the 5th, but the Orioles are threatening . . .