Monday, April 8, 2013

elle fut le souffre-douleur des deux autres enfants

There is a prospect greater than the sea, and it is the sky; there is a prospect greater than the sky, and it is the human soul.
--Victor Hugo

One day, a very long time ago, my mother told me to come to the back door and see what my dog had left there for me.
Kobus, our black lab, was a rather dim-witted little pup.
But I loved him anyway.
But that particular day, he sat waiting at the back door, sitting very cheerfully over a tiny little baby bunny he had just set down at the door.
Its nose bruised and bleeding, the poor baby rabbit was shivering, barely breathing.
On a sunny day, our wooded backyard becomes a shimmering, sunny forest of green.
Kobus' coat was shining in the sun. There was never a more grotesque contrast between the sweet warmth of the summer day, and that poor little creature, shivering and bleeding.
Watching small creatures in pain awakens every motherly instinct within me.
Poor Kobus, so ignorantly proud of his find, was in disgrace for the rest of the afternoon.
I wrapped up the tiny little creature in a dishtowel to keep it warm and proceeded to cradle it in my arms for a solid hour, while I wept like Rachel for her children.

After a bit, there was a squirm.
And then a wriggle.
And the irregular gasps of breath became a steady fall and swell.
So I put the twitchy little creature back under the swing set where the rabbits' nest was, with some carrots and lettuce.

Sometimes, it's the little cruelties of life that shock.
For some bizarre reason, war and international conflicts are part of our assumed experience of humanity.
But seems horrendous that a small baby rabbit could be happily wounded by a puppy.
It seems inhumanly cruel for a young child to be neglected on their birthday.
It's not the vast injustices that hurt the most, its the paper-cut variety injustices.

We are called to try to deepen our faith by overcoming our fears. Doubt is normal and regular and faith can live with doubt. We believe despite our doubts. It is fear rather that is the killer of faith.
--Frank Quinlivan, C.S.C.

I've never read Atlas Shrugged.
But I think I should, if only because the title image is highly poetic.
What if Atlas, in a fit of ennui, or boredom, or pure self-interest, just didn't care about his task anymore, and shrugged the globe off his shoulders?
It's a mesmerizing thought.
The Ancient Greeks were really onto something with the titan Atlas.
Your world, your home, rests on good grace of a complete stranger.
You are trusting him every single day not to shrug.

If you walk across Hungerford foot-bridge at rush hour traffic, you (literally) run into this truth.
Your task, to get from one end of the bridge to the other, is turned from a commonplace journey into a ridiculously complicated adventure. People become obstacles to dodge, and competitors to out-speed-walk. If there weren't other people, the crossing would be quite easy.
But then you try to imagine yourself building a structure like Hungerford foot-bridge.
And you realize you couldn't make the journey in the fist place without other people.
If you simply notice the strangers jostling one another on Hungerford foot bridge, you find they all have a name.

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