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Sabbath Day – Spain

September 25, 2015

I don’t shave every day. I shave each Sunday for worship. I shave on Tuesdays, which tend to be days on which I have a lot of meetings and see a lot of people. I shave on Fridays, which are spent in my office and on pastoral calls. If weeks were only six days long that would work out neatly as every-other-day. I don’t shave on the seventh day either, my sabbath day, and today I remembered why. My son loves me with stubble. He loves caressing my chin and cheek after a day or two of growth. This morning he held my face and said “I like you.” I believe he was talking to my hair as much as to me.

I have offered to be a chaperone on a school field trip next month and he has requested that I grow a beard for the trip. Why not?!

My sabbath day today was spent perusing several books to understand the virtue of hope in the Augustinian tradition. Hope, according to Charles Mathewes, allows us to “live as best we can in the world – the world that we find ourselves in, not the world that we tell ourselves should be.” This requires a form of realism, seeing the world as it is without either turning away (in denial or retreat) or explaining away (through ideology and understanding). It refuses determinism and despair (two sides of a coin). Which is risky.

So hope is fundamentally an attempt to communicate the volatility of the world, the idea that the way things are can change, change radically, sometimes for the worse, but also, sometimes, for the better. This hope is not optimism, for it does not visualize a route from the way things are now to the way they will be. It is rather a profound apprehension that “the way things are now” is not the final word. (Republic of Grace: Augustinian Thoughts for Dark Times)

The work before us then is a mixed blessing, both “to be delighted in and to be endured” as we are being prepared as citizens of the kingdom of heaven and waiting expectantly for unimaginable joy. – Companions today also included Reinhold Niebuhr, Hannah Arendt, and Eric Gregory’s Politics and the Order of Love: An Augustinian Ethic of Democratic Citizenship.

This was a busy seven days, so my week of reading multi-national literature was spent largely with poets from Spain: Juan Ramon Jimenez (Nobel Prize in 1956), Camilo Jose Cela (Nobel Prize in 1989), Frederico Garcia Lorca, Gerardo Diego, Antonio Machado, Gloria Fuertes, Angel Gonzalez, Luis Garcia Montero, and more. This included representatives of the Generation on ’98 (Machado), the Generation of 1914 (Jimenez) and the Generation of 1927 (Garcia Lorca), and two of the five Noble Prize winners from Spain (Jimenez and Cela). Spain has more Nobel Prizes in Literature that any other country, and with Latin America give the Spanish language the most Laureates of all. This photo of Frederico Garcia Lorca can stand on for the whole lot.



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