"As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; / [ . . . ] Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: / Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; / Selves -- goes itself; 'myself' it speaks and spells, / Crying 'What I do is me; for that I came'." --Gerard Manley Hopkins

02 January 2007

Suffering and Serenity

I found a copy of William F. Buckley's Happy Days Were Here Again -- a collection of some of his older essays -- for $.75 at our used bookstore. How could I not succumb?! So I read it through during finals and while we were at my mother-in-law's, so I could leave it with my folks, who are great Buckley fans.

One essay is a eulogy for Malcolm Muggeridge, and Buckley quotes a letter he once received from Muggeridge:

As an old man, Bill, looking back on one's life, it's one of the things that strikes you most forcibly -- that the only thing that's taught one anything is suffering. Not success, not happiness, not anything like that. The only thing that really teaches one what life's about -- the joy of understanding, the joy of coming in contact with what life really signifies -- is suffering, affliction.

Buckley then continues:

He suffered, even at the end. But throughout his lifetime he diminished the suffering of others, at first simply by his wit and intelligence, finally by his own serenity, which brought serene moments to those graced by his presence.

Oh, that when I die, someone will say that my presence diminished the suffering of even one other person! I cannot imagine a more lovely, a more meaningful eulogy. Lord, help me to find and give serenity by knowing You.

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