ILLUMINATIONS by Anthony Esolen
A Circle of Grace
A friend of mine and of this magazine is a beautiful elderly nun in a convent in Rhode Island, whose body is now confined to a wheelchair, but whose spirit is free. What I mean by that is not what the world means by it. We were chatting about the summers that my family and I spend in the country, in Canada, and I jested that someday I would give up my life of crime as a college professor and live with my wife in an old rectory on our island up in the northlands. Then I would have all the hours of the day to read or write, or talk to neighbors, or walk the dog, or do that most blessed nothing at all. "And time to pray," she added, with a sweet smile. Yes, time to pray, time to be in the presence of my Maker. She understands.
As I grow older, I find myself less and less impressed by Big. I shy away from cities. I haven't been in a shopping mall in about ten years. I don't subscribe to the newspaper—the ordinary bathroom tissue is cheaper, and more comfortable. National politics seems more and more like a loud, vulgar circus of buffoons. Recent novels seem literally jejune: thin, insipid stuff. Recent films manage to be bloody and insipid at once. Even the poetry I glance at in my favorite journals seems a kind of world-weary Big Editorializing in meter. If I wanted that, I'd go to Hardy or Eliot; but I don't want it.
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Anthony Esolen is a professor at Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts in Warner, New Hampshire, and the author of many books, including Real Music: A Guide to the Timeless Hymns of the Church (Tan, with a CD), Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture (Regnery), and The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord (Ignatius). He has also translated Dante’s Divine Comedy (Random House). He and his wife Debra publish a web magazine, Word and Song (anthonyesolen.substack.com), on poetry, hymnody, language, classic films, and music. He is a senior editor of Touchstone.
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