I should not be writing this. I should be editing a manuscript about theological aesthetics, which is why I’m writing this. Also, a writer can only go so long without writing because, well…it’s that whole circular logic thing.
The boys are breaking in a new babysitter, or maybe the new babysitter is breaking in the boys. In either case, they seem a good match. The difficult thing about summer is the lack of morning down time. The boys pretty much wake up in full speed (especially when they don’t have to go to school), and though I hide in my bed pretending sleep as long as is conscionable, once the train leaves the station it’s damn near impossible to get off. All that to say, even though I’m at my desk needing to work, I am unable to work. My energies are splayed.
Have you heard that people, across the board, are less stressed at work than at home? So says the most recent study, and I am inclined to believe it because I need a reason to believe that I can find a way to balance more editing work with the bookstore work and home work and yard work and mama work that quite sufficiently fills my days thank you very much. I’m also inclined to believe it because when I am able to work, uninterrupted, for several hours, I experience something more than mere satisfaction. It’s half of wholeness. The working life gives the life of leisure meaning (as I begin to write in the “dissertation-speak” of the manuscript I am editing). In the words of German philosopher Josef Pieper, “The ultimate meaning of the active life is to make possible the happiness of contemplation.”
I turn to my work. I turn back to my children. I turn to my love. If I’m lucky, and smart, I turn to myself. I know—all this turning is like to make a person dizzy. Which, sometimes I am. But, there’s this:
Who among us has not suddenly looked into his child’s face, in the midst of the toils and troubles of everyday life, and at that moment “seen” that everything which is good, is loved and lovable, loved by God! Such certainties all mean, at bottom, one and the same thing: that the world is plumb and sound; that everything comes to its appointed goal; that in spite of all appearances, underlying all things is—peace, salvation, gloria; that nothing and no one is lost; that “God holds in his hand the beginning, middle, and end of all that is.” Such nonrational, intuitive certainties of the divine base of all that is can be vouchsafed to our gaze even when it is turned toward the most insignificant-looking things, if only it is a gaze inspired by love. That, in the precise sense, is contemplation…
As the poet Rachel Hadas says it:
…We recognize the people whom we love,
or love what we respond to as our own,
trusting that one day someone
will look at us with recognition.
(from the poem, “Recognitions“)
Which is maybe how we start to learn to love the world, recognizing everything and everyone as our own.
But I’m the lucky one who gets to see this: