Friday, August 19, 2022

In the sure and certain hope...

I've fallen into the habit of reading the local obituaries and, too often, finding one for a friend. From Patrick Kurp's "The Ice Growing Thinner Below Our Feet":
[W]e have reached the age at which we start accumulating deaths, celebrated and obscure, and it becomes increasingly difficult to ignore them. ....

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-94) died at the impossibly young age of forty-four.... For years Stevenson had suffered from pulmonary tuberculosis or a related respiratory disease but managed to produce an enormous body of work, much of it excellent. In his essay “Aes Triplex,” Stevenson writes:
[A]fter a certain distance, every step we take in life we find the ice growing thinner below our feet, and all around us and behind us we see our contemporaries going through. By the time a man gets well into the seventies, his continued existence is a mere miracle; and when he lays his old bones in bed for the night, there is an overwhelming probability that he will never see the day.
That Stevenson quotation reminded me of this from Chesterton:
The greatest act of faith a man can perform is the act that we perform every night. We abandon our identity, we turn our soul and body into chaos and old night. We uncreate ourselves as if at the end of the world: for all practical purposes we become dead men, in the sure and certain hope of a glorious resurrection.
Patrick Kurp, "The Ice Growing Thinner Below Our Feet," Anecdotal Evidence, August 19, 2022, G.K. Chesterton, "The Meaning of Dreams," found in Lunacy and Letters, Sheed & Ward, 1958 (pdf).

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