Revisited indeed. Long ago, I read that book so quickly it was gone in a whirlwind. Seeing as the new version is out, I figured it was time for me to see the old film. And so I returned to the story that has remained with me, more vivid than any book. I felt, as I walked through Oxford, sat at the great Brideshead fountain, stood by the dying old man's bed, that I had lived through it all like my own life. It is remarkable how someone can make a story so real, just with the use of words.
It occurred to me that it is perhaps the most honest book about Catholicism. Not because we are all pigheaded Brideys or charming Sabastians, but because it makes no apologies for the suffering. It disguises nothing. And yet by the end, you see the flame shinning in the sacristy lamp and know how much you need it.
Modern poet and novelist Wendell Berry has filled my lazy summer days with the beauty of one of his latest novels, Hannah Coulter. It is a simple story, unpretentious and reflective. It draws you into the unhurried flow of Port William, a farming village in Kentucky, and leaves you there unconsciously rapt in the humanity of the place and its people. The horror of world war two is as real there as the budding trees and the rundown farms. And the story of a farm girl who never saw the world somehow has more meaning for that she never left Port William. With her, you watch the times slowly change, the tractor take over the horse, and finally the desertion of the land which has been her life. Read it.
"I salute you. I am your friend, and my love for you goes deep. There is nothing I can give you which you have not. But there is much, very much, that, while I cannot give it, you can take. No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today. Take heaven! No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant. Take peace! The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy. There is radiance and glory in darkness, could we but see. And to see, we have only to look. I beseech you to look! Life is so generous a giver. But we, judging its gifts by their covering, cast them away as ugly or heavy or hard. Remove the covering, and you will find beneath it a living splendor, woven of love by wisdom, with power. Welcome it, grasp it, and you touch the angel's hand that brings it to you."
- Fra Giovani
- Fra Giovani