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This impatient intransigence for the sublime

THESE DAYS, I feel that my life is bone-dry, empty of the excitement that always seems to grip the very depths of the lives of others. It is always the others who seem to bask in the rapture of high spiritual experience, never I. Yet I long for the experience of spiritual high, the fire of passion for God, a lasting glimpse of the Holy.

I am tired of living by rote and long for a mountain-top experience, one that lasts a lifetime. But how?

Even poets suffer this impatient intransigence for the sublime, for that “weight of glory,” as C.S. Lewis put it in a famous sermon of his. “One can even imagine a poet who experiences the sublime and demand a high style to express it,” writes the Polish poet Adam Zagajewski in Another Beauty, “but precisely because this is a rare event that requires patient waiting, in daily life he becomes one of poetry’s ironic prosecutors.”

Alas, there is the “painful world” they have to deal with, where the craft of that finely-tuned phrase is a daily and frustrating struggle. It doesn’t help that they must live through the commonplace, all the while longing for the dry bones to quicken and then to die, and then to live again, with a sensitivity to the tiniest ripple of emotions in the space of the personal: “To wake and fall asleep, drowse off and waken, to pass through seasons of doubt, melancholy dark as lead, indifference, boredom, and then the spells of vitality, clarity, hard and happy work, contentment, gaiety, to remember and forget and recollect again, that an eternal fire burns beside us, a God with an unknown name, whom we will never reach.”

When evening falls on the drudgery of the everyday, I sometimes retreat to a small corner of my thoughts, where I can listen to some Bach or Rachmaninoff on my turntable, and, like the prophet Elijah feeling that he has reached the end of his rope, I simply wait for sleep to come.


August 24, 2005.

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Written by Romel

February 20, 2010 at 7:19 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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