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Immortal Diamond

Bacchus one day, the Black Dog the next.  I had a wonderful weekend up in the Sierras near Tahoe. My brother met me at a family friend's beautiful home that is one of the coziest places on earth.  We ate wonderful food, had some fantastic conversations, went on some mountain snow adventures, and played with puppies, horses, kitties, and chickens.  I had a lot of fun with my brother.  A wonderful weekend.

And yet when I got on the plane, melancholy jumped right into my lap for a long and heavy sit.  Tears streamed from my eyes for three hours, silently, while everyone around me, thankfully, pretended not to notice.  I was excited to get back to work - CS Lewis and more Dante on the docket this week, it's a dream - but I missed Greer so horribly, as if I was a little teenage Juliet who sees no other purpose for living except nearness to my boyfriend.  I can laugh at that even when I am in the midst of one of these fits, and I also begin to have more respect for that peculiar play.

I've been blue all day.  I came home to work with my personal library after lunch, and as I was clearing some space on my desk I found an article my beloved theology professor printed out for me around this time last year.  I never read it.  It's called "How to Fail or 'The Divine Delight that Fathers Thought.'"  He wrote it for a conference, the year before retiring from a truly spectacular academic career.  It's about academic melancholy, the black tar of impostor syndrome that leads scholars to think they have everyone fooled: we know that our ideas are worthless and we're faking it, and someday someone will pull back the curtain to show that we're just pulling levers to put on a show.  Apparently everyone has it.

It sounds like Gerard Manley Hopkins had it worse than anyone.  His late sonnets are referred to as the "terrible" sonnets; Denys describes Hopkins' depression as "the mind in self-destruct mode, the mind that like the snake of the classical myth endlessly circles back upon itself devouring its own tail, depleting its own energies as it feeds on the very sources of their power."  And yet, in one of the terrible sonnets from the throes of his depression, Hopkins makes reference to "the fine delight that fathers thought" - the divine elation that fills the poet with inspiration.  But in all the gloom, where is it?  He's writing poems, but clearly has no "fine delight."

Denys writes:

"For even when [the delight] is lost to him as mood it is still there as faith, for like the Heracleitean fire that is nature, he too

In a flash, at a trumpet crash
...am all at once what Christ is
since he was what I am, and
This Jack, joke, poor potsherd
patch, matchwood, immortal
diamond
Is immortal diamond."

Ah!  

What is lost to him as mood is still there as faith.  

I am what Christ is since he was what I am.  

And at my worst, I am still immortal diamond.  

Like the Heracleitean fire, we flicker and sway, wax and wane, blaze into brightest flame and snap into darkest near-extinction.  

Our moods do not change who and what we are.  Like it or not, we are still the beloved of God, the very body of God.  We are still eternal beings, magnificent in our salvation, the immortal diamonds in the crown of heaven.  

What is lost to us in mood is still there as faith.  

Comments

  1. How can this be so perfect for this particular night of mine all alone three years after this was written?

    ReplyDelete

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