“[Louis] Menand himself seems not much to admire any of them. Is he saying that, given an unlimited amount of freedom, this somewhat uninspiring group—the way he paints it, anyway—is the best that post-WWII Western civilization was been able to produce?”
“I think that the Church is the only thing that is going to make this horrible world we are coming to endurable; the only thing that makes the Church endurable is that somehow she is the body of Christ and that on this we are fed.”
Well that’s good news, because left to my own devices, I can work up zero love for the vast number of people who annoy, frighten or perplex me. But we have to bring our body, one way or another, to this supernatural kind of love.
After the Angelus, whichever of the old ladies who had led would say another prayer that over time, I came to memorize. “Oh Jesus, through the immaculate heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day, in union with the holy sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for the intentions of your Sacred Heart”….
“I do not work with natural dyes simply because I was born into the tradition, or because there is money to be made, or because it is a trend. I work with natural dyes because I discovered my gift and calling within our traditional practice and developed a profound connection with Mother Earth.”
The massage guy, Viktor, I’ll call him, was nice enough. His studio rocked the usual dim lighting (provided by a row of plug-in “candles”), tuneless faux-sitar Muzak, and a chemical floral-musk scent.
All typical, and so far so good. He asked what I wanted and I laughed, “Can you just fix my entire being?”
“Remember the wife of Lot. Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses it will save it. I tell you, on that night there will be two people in one bed; one will be taken, the other left. And there will be two women grinding male together; one will be taken, the other left.” The said to him in reply, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the body is, there also the vultures gather.”
Living in Oklahoma in 1999, Green would read in the morning paper of executions that had taken place the night before, including descriptions of the prisoner’s clothing and last meal. “Comfort food,” she thought. “It humanized Death Row for me…I related to that inmate.”
I doubled over laughing at this, my favorite passage. Because at the end of the day, this is kind of how it goes. We never know whether we’re “progressing” or whether we’ve been treading water for decades. Lately, I find I don’t much care. Whatever is happening, I’m alive, observant, and grateful.
“Most people put every ounce of effort into getting ahead or making more money. Some people use great intelligence in deceiving others and taking advantage of people. But what if we used our intelligence and effort to do everything possible to become holy and to help our neighbor?”
I felt as if I were a guest at some exotic villa where the owner had discreetly left me to explore and marvel on my own. If I’d had any idea of the range and distinction of this one-of-a-kind horticultural haven, I would have scheduled my day so as to to spend way longer.