the gift of restoration, unwittingly received

W.H. Auden, from his Horae Canonicae:

That, while we are thus away, our own wronged flesh

May work undisturbed, restoring

The order we try to destroy, the rhythm

We spoil out of spite: valves close

And open exactly, glands secrete,

Vessels contract and expand

At the right moment, essential fluids

Flow to renew exhausted cells,

Not knowing quite what has happened, but awed

Alan Jacobs:

Our bodies – our animal bodies, working heedless and independent of our ruined, rebellious wills – bear witness not just to God’s creative power, but to his ever-gracious, universal, ongoing work of healing and restoration. Whether we suffer righteously, or suffer the inevitable consequences of our own ‘spite,’ the restorative work of our flesh continues, a free gift offered to all and, yes, received by all – though by most unwittingly.


The mystery of virture

Alan Jacobs, in his book Shaming the Devil – Essays in Truthtelling:

I want to suggest…that we (and I mean here especially we Christians) need to explore the mystery of virtue as well as the mystery of iniquity, to press our audiences to see the strangeness of goodness, the extraordinary unexpectedness of love and grace…

How does this kind of thing happen? I demand to know. Why is anyone good to anyone else? That we’re cruel to one another doesn’t surprise me in the least; I want an answer to the problem of goodness. Even if it takes a lifetime, or more, to figure it out.

The deep caverns of volition

Alan Jacobs, in his book, The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C. S. Lewis (242):

Objections to Christianity…are phrased in words, but that does not mean that they are really a matter of language and analysis and argument. Words are tokens of the will. If something stronger than language were available, then we would use it. But by the same token, words in defense of Christianity miss the mark as well: they are a translation into the dispassionate language of argument something that resides far deeper in the caverns of volition, of commitment. Perhaps this is why Saint Francis, so the story goes, instructed his followers to ‘preach the Gospel always, using words if necessary.’ It is not simply straight-forwardly wrong to make arguments in defense of the Christian faith, but it is a relatively superficial activity: it fails to address the core issues.