Painful Ugliness, Aching Beauty, and Yearning Hope

Painful Ugliness, Aching Beauty, and Yearning Hope August 31, 2017

 

Sunset in a difficult place
A beach in Hawai’i, irrelevant but comforting  (Wikimedia Commons)

 

This is a really appalling story:

 

“Scandal Erupts over the Promotion of ‘Bourgeois’ Behavior”

 

If it’s no longer possible to advocate civility, childrearing within a faithful marriage, and a work ethic without being accused of racism, our culture may actually be past saving.

 

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And this is horrifying, as well:

 

“Linguistic McCarthyism”

 

It puts me in mind of the mind-numbingly silly controversy of a few years back surrounding the word niggardly:

 

“Controversies about the word ‘niggardly'”

 

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And don’t forget about this one,  which I’ve mentioned in a previous blog entry:

 

Gone with the Wind, Soon to Be Gone with the Wind?”

 

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If that’s not controversy enough, what about President Trump’s pardon of the controversial “Sheriff Joe” Arpaio?

 

I don’t want to leave you in suspense, so I’ll say right off that I disapprove.

 

These articles pretty well cover my reasons:

 

“Trump’s ‘Toughness’ Is an Insult to Law Enforcement”

 

“Trump’s Unmerited, Unnecessary, Impulsive Pardon of Sheriff Arpaio”

 

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I shouldn’t have used the word horrifying above, because having done so leaves me without one of the words that should surely be applied to the following story:

 

“Iceland Eliminates People with Down Syndrome”

 

Reading such things, I feel to join in this beautiful musical prayer:

 

Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariae
et concepit de Spiritu sancto.

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum.
Benedicta tu in mulieribus,
Et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Jesus, Jesus.

Maria dixit: Ecce ancilla Domini.
Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum.

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum.
Benedicta tu in mulieribus,
Et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Jesus, Jesus.

Et Verbum caro factum est
et habitavit in nobis.

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum.
Benedicta tu in mulieribus,
Et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Jesus, Jesus.
Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus,
Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae.
Amen. Amen. Amen.

My translation:

The Angel of the Lord spoke unto Mary,
And she conceived by the Holy Spirit.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Mary said, Behold the handmaiden of the Lord.
Be it unto me according to thy word.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

And the Word became flesh
And dwelt among us.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and in the hour of our death. Amen.

 

***

 

And now, as I do once or twice a year, simply because I’m in an unexpectedly melancholy and nostalgic mood, thinking about times and people who have passed on — but also because I grow tired of political ugliness — I offer a poem by the American writer Sara Teasdale (1884-1933):

 

Only in Sleep

Only in sleep I see their faces,
Children I played with when I was a child,
Louise comes back with her brown hair braided,

Annie with ringlets warm and wild.

Only in sleep Time is forgotten —
What may have come to them, who can know?
Yet we played last night as long ago,
And the doll-house stood at the turn of the stair.

The years had not sharpened their smooth round faces,
I met their eyes and found them mild —
Do they, too, dream of me, I wonder,
And for them am I too a child?

 

And I offer its achingly beautiful musical setting by the Latvian composer Ēriks Ešenvalds, as performed by the choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, in the United Kingdom:

 

 

 

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