Driving through America is the antidote to sentimentality.
Ecclesiastes 2: I made me great works; I builded me houses; I planted me vineyards:
I made me gardens and orchards, and I planted trees in them of all kind of fruits:
I made me pools of water, to water therewith the wood that bringeth forth trees:
I got me servants and maidens, and had servants born in my house; also I had great possessions of great and small cattle above all that were in Jerusalem before me:
I gathered me also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings and of the provinces: I gat me men singers and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men, as musical instruments, and that of all sorts.
So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me. And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labour: and this was my portion of all my labour.
Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.
Christian Wiman delivers the commencement address at North Central College in Illinois. It’s disheartening watching peoples’ expressions as the best speech they’ve ever heard flies over their heads. Unfortunately, I probably would have ignored it as a 22-year-old college graduate, too. More unfortunately, in ten years, I’ll probably regret the things I ignored as a 31-year-old, too.
by John Paisley (Click the author’s name for his biography)
Upon that night the others were away –
Wives, children, all the troubled world
And I was there alone and quiet until he came
As one awaking from a dream
I knew, at first, only that I struggled, then slowly
Grew aware of my antagonist, a dark one
Naked to the waist with gleaming skin,
With well-proportioned form. Then when his face
Came near, I saw his bright and piercing eyes,
A brow majestic crowned with flying hair.
All night I wrestled with him on my bed of earth
And stronger were his limbs than any man’s.
And as we twisted, muscles growing taut
And bodies seeping, his breath was hot, his touch
Like fire, a torment. He closed about me like
A night with clouds, and at the bottom of a
Dizzy gulf he wounded me. I fought him
With super-human strength, instinctively,
Nor could I tell if it was fear or hope
That drove me on. He seemed to hold me in
His power, yet overcame me not. Then as the light
Began to glimmer in the east he bore me upwards
As an eagle bears her young and all the earth
Fell reeling far beneath and as we rose
The air was parting. And there he left me, lonely
On a crag, to vanish nameless.
But when the risen
Sun had turned the rocks to gold and earth
To green, it shone at last on me. I found
Both joy and pain and could not separate
The two, yet humbly thanked him for a prize
Worth wrestling for on any night;
All nights ’till break of day.
(Special thanks to Christopher Myers for sharing this with me.)