Mr. Standfast

"Nothing taken for granted; everything received with gratitude; everything passed on with grace." G. K. Chesterton

September 15, 2004


I have a tendency to look for opportunities to call some moment in my life a new beginning. This might be a silly conceit of mine, or it might be a recognition of the real nature of things. Or both. The poet Theodore Roethke identified himself as a “perpetual beginner.”

Or maybe each moment represents a struggle between some will in ourselves to turn, to change, to erase yesterday’s pattern and make a new start, and another will, competing with the first, to settle in, to carry on, to build on yesterday’s foundation. The nature of the first impulse is to love revelation. It quests for the new thing. The nature of the second impulse is to love pattern, order, and steady comprehensible growth.

The perpetual beginner is the artist. The other is the scientist. These are not water-tight compartments, hard-and-fast identities, but shifting impulses. The one captures the soul for a moment, only to be overthrown by the other.

I tend to seek a perspective that recognizes the new thing here amidst the old order. I always want to claim the new beginning. I build the little monument each day and say, here, just here, we crossed our Jordan. Here was our new beginning.

What I’m saying is: here’s a little pile of stones. It marks a spot from which there is no turning back. It is called “Today.” It is a new beginning. Look! Do you not see it?


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