The Independent Newsweekly
|Today's Take: NCR's daily Web column|
|Each weekday over the course of a week, a member of the NCR staff offers a commentary on one or more topics in the news. It's our way of introducing you to some of the people carrying out the NCR mission of faith and justice based journalism.|
|March 2, 2004||
Vol. 1, No. 210
If only we had the time!
by Arthur Jones, NCR editor at large
Oh, if only we had the time! For what? All the marvelous things life offers that we'll never get to. Wouldn't it be great to be able to take half a year and study painting technique, or calligraphy? Or to take on a new field of study - the temptations are so numerous.
I'm fascinated by science (and no good at the technical, scientific stuff). I get the reports from all the major scientific institutes, particularly the medical/health related ones like the Howard Hughes.
As a member of the National Association of Science Writers, I could apply to do a month or two at Wood's Hole Oceanographic Institute. Can you imagine the fun, the new frontiers, the multiple opportunities to exclaim: "Oh, now I understand."
Or to learn to truly sail a catamaran. Or to beach a boat on Innisboffin, one of the islands off the West Coast of Ireland, knowing that even if a foul Atlantic storm does come up, one could still get the boat off the gravel and back to Cleggan in a display of fine motor-powered seamanship.
Or to learn ceramics. Tilework particularly. Granada, Seville, and Isfahan in Iran. Or wood carving. I'd lose a finger a week.
Or to go back to the languages one loves and truly master them.
Or to have time to re-read as well as read. I've given away more than 300 of my books in the past nine months or so. Almost 900 volumes in the past five years. And the catalogues come in, and I look at a book like Knowing God by Experience: The Spiritual Senses in the Theology of William of Auxerre (of whom I've never heard, and therefore about whom I know nothing), and think: if only.
(It's by Boyd Taylor Coolman, new from Catholic University Press).
"For William," says the catalogue blurb, "the end of human life is an experiential apprehension of God." An "experiential apprehension." The words have me hooked already. It continues, "To capture the fullness of this encounter, he employs the ancient doctrine of the soul's spiritual senses. Not only will the blessed see divine beauty, they will also hear its symphony, smell its odor, taste its sweetness, touch its suavity."
William, shall I ever get to know ye?
We're in Lent. I'm not very good at Lent. I don't get worse (necessarily), but I don't get much better, either.
I just get filled with greater longings. Or, I allow the ones already there to surface so I can treasure the fact that -- like wanting to be a Christian -- that even if I never perfect any of these longings, at least I've held them.
Arthur Jones' e-mail address is email@example.com.
© 2003 The National Catholic Reporter Publishing Company, 115
E. Armour Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64111
TEL: 1-816-531-0538 FAX: 1-816-968-2280