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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

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Pondering the Meaning

Cleaning up some files I found a single page of what must have been a longer text that I composed. It went back almost ten years, to when I first came to the Church of the Holy Spirit back in 2000. My father had just passed away. Although incomplete and definitely a rough draft, I am going to share it online.

The moon is bright and round in the sky tonight.

Is it blasphemy for the soul to genuflect to this luminous host in the sky, bordered by the monstrance of stars?

Rustling leaves and the occasional cry of some indiscriminate bird are the only sounds.

Cool is the breeze against the skin.

I am alone.

Perhaps that has always been the case?

Even as a boy with siblings falling over each other, there was still a keen sense of aloneness.

Was this where I heard a calling to live apart from other men, even if I must live among them?

This I cannot answer.

My kin is Thoreau this evening, as I delight in the cathedral of nature.

Too cool for mosquitoes, the air bites at the skin instead.

The prickling of the flesh is welcome; it reminds me that I am still alive and conscious.

That might sound absurdly obvious; but I have discovered that the contrary is always threatening us.

We fill our lives with noise and activity.

There is little time or opportunity for quiet reflection.

Philosophers define human beings as distinct from the animal kingdom because of our intense self-awareness.

However, there may be many who sedate themselves against such self-understanding.

Could that have been the primordial sin?

A man was summoned from the brute animals and discovering that knowledge is pain, sought to turn his back on his vocation?

It is easier to be mechanical.

Passions and potions can fill our time and help us to escape the truth.

There are those who would help us to maintain the illusion that everything is going to be okay.

A good meal, an entertaining movie or a piece of music might satiate, if only for a moment, a yearning for the joy that seems to escape us.

How many are running their televisions right now?

The counters of ratings will contend that millions are watching the tube hour after hour.

It is easier to watch the stories of others than to live our own stories. 

We live such dull lives.

After awhile every day seems like the last.

We fall into patterns.

Long before our technology invented robots to work in factories and to build cars, we made ourselves into robots. 

Even poor animals can suffer, but not machines.

It is no wonder that so many deny the existence of the immortal soul.

We have driven all awareness of it out of us.

How many countless people live around me?

They are all bundled in their homes or in their cars heading home or to the store.

Here I am, in the cold night, seeking nothing more productive than to ponder the meaning of it all.

My nursing home communicants know what it is about.

Except for myself and a handful of aging volunteers, few from outside come to visit them.

They are forgotten, no more than that, purposely avoided.

Fred had his right leg removed last week.

Timmy has a head three times larger than the rest of his shriveled body.

His brain is alive and well, and there is the hell of it.

He is my age and has never left a bed that is little more than a child’s crib.

Gladys holds a baby-doll and tries to feed it.

Her mind has left her.

It has gone back to the days when she was a young and happy mother. 

Who am I to break the illusion about her child, now a grown woman who rarely pays a visit?

Wheelchairs, walkers and respirators– these are the things of living and of dying.

The…

It is there that the text breaks off. Maybe I will find the rest later? Of course, it was likely thrown away. The infirmed mentioned at the end have all died. Certainly they are with the Lord and they remain in my memories. The reflection probably ended on a higher note, sorry if the remnant seems a bit meloncholy.

2 Responses

  1. We mortals cannot help but marvel at the miracle of God’s universe in which we live. Against that backdrop, it is easy to feel small and insignificant, but it also enables us to be quiet and calm and become introspective. How many people throughout the centuries must have done so? And how many still to come in the centuries ahead I wonder?

    These thoughts are most beautiful and call forth several vivid images on which to ponder. Thanks for putting them to “paper” and for sharing them with us.

  2. Thanks for sharing. I’ve often thought that we are afraid of silence, preferring to tune out all that matters most.

    God’s peace be with you!

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