Saturday, April 09, 2005

Signs & Wonders

Gentle visitor, your humble Contributor rising voluntarily before 6 a.m. is a terrestrial event of such rarity that the annals of such things contains scant mention of it. He is of the most reasonable opinion that, having retired after the sun sets, one should not rise before the sun also rises -- or, at least, not before it suggests itself on the eastern horizon. To do otherwise would be an affront to the gods upon whom your humble Contributor relies for something resembling a lawn.

Nonetheless, yesterday morning, he made an exception -- stumbling from his repose in his ceremonial fuzzy slippers (upon reflection, each on the wrong foot), donning his characteristic death mask of morning, and sporting a Kafkaesque coiffure. Then, there came the tense moments of decision -- does the ground coffee go in the filter or the water container? -- what does the "on" button do? -- should one place the carafe below the basket or allow the brewed coffee to flow onto the counter and, thence, the floor? -- each question made virtually insoluble by an EEM (Extreme Early Morning) operating mental capacity slightly below a common marsh rice rat.

All this to witness an ancient ritual in Latin, Italian, and Greek, with some grace notes of Arabic, Tagalog, and Swahili. That it was ancient was apparent -- a solemn liturgy that has changed relatively little over the centuries; vestments that were more or less settled 1500 years ago; and, a setting that reaches back, well beyond the Renaissance, to the ragtag Semites dragged in chains to the ancient Imperial City. Yet, it was new in the many countries represented -- paying tribute not to the Emperor but to the "Papa" -- and the relative youth of those who attended. What old man who, finally, cannot walk or even speak can command such love of those who are bright-eyed, fresh-faced, and on the move.

Maybe the young have learned something from the ancients, who saw portents in signs and wonders: whether the terrestrial or the celestial -- such as the rare, hybrid eclipse of yesterday. One ancient saint is said to have referred to the late pope the "labor of the sun", who was born in the penumbra of a magnificant partial eclipse on May 18, 1920. Hard to tell, but it does point out the poetic and, even, romantic longing in many hearts -- especially as against skepticism, cynicism, and ennui.

Surely, the massive celebration of the life of a good and great man leads one to believe that it's all about something. Or, failing that, that ministers from Iran, Syria, and Israel wished each other peace. Or, failing that, that your humble Contributor voluntarily rose before the rose-fingered dawn.

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2/06/2006 07:46:00 PM  

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