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 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




global perspective 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."

Other Today's Takes by Arthur Jones
Mar. 1, 04 Preparing to cure what ails us
Jan. 9, 04 Rural tranquility and violent times
Jan. 8, 04 St. Magnus the non-violent
Jan. 6, 04 More thoughts at the dawn of a new year
Jan. 5, 04 The Gospel according to Fred Astaire
Nov. 6, 03 Don't expect anything
Nov. 3, 03 6.30 a.m. Mass
Aug. 21, 03 The fire in her belly isnít curry, itís Christ
Wouldn't it be great, while mobility still permits, to do some of the really big walks: Pyrenees, all of Britain, bottom to top, the thousand miles from Land's End at the southwestern tip to John O'Groats in the north of Scotland. Or walk Uffa's Dyke in Wales, or Hadrian's Wall. Or do Ireland around its perimeter.

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.

Arthurís Daily Ditty

From 10 to 20 I loved to dream,
From 20 to 60 I had to scheme,
Itís Lent now, the Redeemerís way to rest,
Itís spent now, I know now, that dreamingís best.

Arthur Jones' e-mail address is

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