When a prisoner recalls the light, is it the same light that illuminates you?
Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice were the words Paul wrote from prison. Rejoice in the light, wherever it finds you; rejoice in the Lord, even in prison. Rejoice.
I guess the answer to Neruda’s question depends on whether the prisoner recalls light as overcoming darkness, and whether those of us who live in light-bathed freedom are aware that we could find ourselves in a darkness that doesn’t end when the sun rises.
[For more information, click Neruda’s Book of Questions above. Better yet, buy the book.]
For a four year old, four years is an entire life; for an eighty year old, it’s only five percent of a life. 4 may be 4, but the sense of duration can be vastly different.
Toting four pounds of bricks is a lot easier than hoisting four pounds of feathers. Same weight, varying levels of difficulty.
I’m enough of a math geek to confirm that 4 is 4, and I’ve lived long enough to know that 4 of anything may be quite different for one person than another – or even the same person at different life stages.
How about sevens? Lucky for some, assigned other characteristics by others, a seven is still a 7.
If this is true of numbers, which are widely considered constant, how much more true is it for less quantifiable realities? I’m going to try and keep that in mind the next time someone offers a completely different understanding of God’s presence among us or what happens after death.
Perhaps Paul was right: in the end, it’s just these three things that remain constant: faith, hope, and love….and maybe he was wrong.
Doesn’t this seem to be a time full of questions? Who, what, where, when, why, and how fly around inside and outside my head. Perhaps that’s why this new book crossed my desk and made it onto this blog: Book of Questions (Libro de las Preguntas) by Pablo Neruda. It’s visually stunning and verbally fascinating, and one of the few poetry books that’s ever been on back order immediately after publication (thanks, New York Times book review!). So let’s dive in…
Is 4,4 for everyone?
My thoughts in a few days. Why not add yours – just hit the comment button….
Pablo Neruda (Sara Lissa Paulson, trans.), Paloma Valdivia, illustrator; Book of Questions (Libro de las Preguntas); Brooklyn, New York: Enchanted Lion Books, 2022
Last Friday, we packed the car and headed to Philadelphia. I’ve made this drive numerous times, but not recently; I had forgotten the manic driving on full display from lower Connecticut all the way through Philadelphia. Numerous cars, not just an occasional one or two, were weaving from lane to lane, cutting between cars at high speed. Brake lights marked the path each speeding car made as it continued forward, and more than once a car had to swerve to avoid getting clipped.
I wonder what goes on in the heads of the speedsters. Is there an emergency, or something vital that they cannot miss? Do they think about their effect on the drivers they leave in their rearview mirrors – the ones who had to brake to avoid a collision? Are they more than minimally aware of anyone outside their own vehicle? What can be so important that it’s worth endangering others?
Once I got over the Mario Cuomo Bridge and onto the Garden State Parkway, I pulled into a service area. A quick stretch and a snack later, Dave took the keys and drove the last leg of the trip. The reckless drivers continued to appear in the rearview mirror and disappear from sight through windshield.
I wonder if this isn’t a good metaphor for these times. A pandemic has created islands of isolation, interacting but not creating a greater sense of connection – passing by rather than engaging. Perhaps it’s easy to telescope down until all that seems real is our own little reality, and everything else becomes a blur outside the window. If so, I’m really hoping to park the car soon – I’d much rather meet someone than just see a blur passing by on the road.