A Quiet Moment – #2

A Quiet Moment

Writing is a tricky thing. It’s easy to get bogged down and agonize over every word, slowing your progression to a snail’s pace. One thing that helps is practice–constant outpouring of words to make writing into a comfortable habit, instead of (hopefully) survivable torture.

To that end, I’m going to try to post at least five days out of each week, for the foreseeable future. There will be weeks that I don’t hit that goal, but it’s good to have something to shoot for.

This morning, I find my mind is still wrapped up in my book club meeting last night. It’s not your typical book club; we’re mostly English (or other Humanities) grads, many of whom are now sessional university teachers, and the group is led by a professorial couple that we have all studied under (at least one or the other) at some point. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the works that we read are not your typical fare. In the last year, we’ve made our way through The Illiad, The Odyssey, The Aeneid, The Song of Roland, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and now are plumbing the depths and reaching for the heights in Dante’s Divine Comedy. I was just about to liken to group to a support group for recovering English majors, but it occurs to me that it might actually be more like a group with similar addictions, coming together to shoot up…Eek.

Anyway, last night’s meeting saw us transition from the depths of the inferno to the foothills of purgatory, and the comparison (young as it is) between the two has stuck like a popcorn kernel in my gum line. What I found most striking was the realization the way sin is characterized as weight, one that can bear you down into your own circle of hell, or be shed through penance in purgatory to lighten your steps and allow your ascent. And it is entirely within each of our control to put aside that weight, thus it is the unwillingness of those mired in the inferno to put aside their pride and reject their shortcomings that holds them there.

Now, I’m not Catholic; I’m not even Christian. And yet I can’t help but see how some of this rings true in our lives. Take a sin like gluttony (and for this example, let’s use gluttony in terms of overeating); arguably, all it would take is the conscious decision and the will to stop overeating to break the chain holding you, but you would still have a significant journey ahead–a physical and a spiritual shedding of weight, where the habits that contributed to that gluttony are purged, along with the burden they have resulted in.

The discussion also brought to mind a saying that is often ascribed to Buddism (though I’m not remotely sure that’s where it actually originates): “holding onto anger/hatred is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” In Dantean terms, you are only adding onto the weight of your own sins, which you will have to shed yourself of before you can hope to move upward/forward. Maybe Elsa was right; we just have to let it go.

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