Lenten Observance: Day 40

Holy Saturday — my chief memory of Holy Saturday comes from when, in HS, I was one of the altar boys in the whole cadre of altar boys (there must have been about 40) who were in the procession at the beginning of the service.  On Holy Saturday, the church service begins in the dark (Christ is in the tomb, after all), and the Perpetual Candle for the New Year is lit, and the old year’s candle is switched out with the new.  Fr. Tolland was the primary server at the service (all 4 priests were there) — the lighting of the candle took place at the front of the church, and the first few pews were filled with altar boys, so we had a great seat.  No artificial means are supposed to be used in the lighting of the candle (so matches are o.k., or one can use flint to get a spark going).  The church had bought a match that always lit — it involved striking metal against the flint, and the spark would catch the fabric wick and catch fire.  That was the theory.  In this case, the match didn’t light.  What I recall is Fr. Tolland striking the match against the flint and hearing a quiet “Damn;”  again a strike and again a “Damn;” one more attempt, and then a more flustered “Goddamn it!”  Fr. Tolland then reached into his pocket pulled out a Bic lighter and lit the candle.  In its own way, it was a moment of comic beauty.

Tao 79, 80, and 81

79: “Failure is an opportunity.”  Wow, I’ve got plenty of opportunities!  Of course, Thomas Edison is credited with saying that the secret to success was failing 99 times  and getting it right on the 100th.  I think there is some truth here.  The US doesn’t like failure and likes less to admit it, but getting something wrong can be a step closer to getting something right. 

80: “If a country is governed wisely, its inhabitants will be content.”  This  chapter I found a bit puzzling as it seemed to suggest that happy people are content with their lot, don’t go anywhere, and don’t really need anything.  This seems to suggest that progress is not a good idea.  And I wonder about that.  Travel is not just an escape by people who are dissatisfied, but a way to get another POV on things.  Travel is broadening. 

81: Again, the work ends with the idea “by not dominating, the Master leads.”  It also says that “true words aren’t eloquent; eloquent words aren’t true.”  And I only partly believe this.  The Tao itself is fairly eloquent, and revisits the same idea over and over again, but that does not make it false.  One could say that eloquence can mask a lie, and that too fancy a presentation is likely to mask its truth with its pyrotechnics.  That said, one needs to get people’s attention and to get them to entertain an idea.  That involves some “framing” of the matter.  After all, the story of the Crucifixion that won out was that Jesus was a great religious leader but a threat to the political world which killed him, but his words (and some say he) live on.  Had the Roman Empire never fell, the dominant story might have been that he was a rabble-rousing troublemaker who wanted to destroy Rome, but Roman authorities dealt with the problem.  Framing is important. 

And now we are at an end of Lent.  I was glad that I took the time each day (about 15 min) to write something.  Most of what I had to say was my flailing around, but the discipline of the writing helped me at least.  Have a happy Easter!

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