Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Thought at 5 AM

I wrote earlier to an old friend who says she has no religious faith, and who boasts of her disbelief (as so many do nowadays) that it is a mark, indeed a necessity, of being sophisticated and enlightened and mature. And she takes comfort in the fact that everyone she knows shares her views.

It seems to me that she is like a person who lives next to some horrid chemical plant, breathing in its putrid fumes, subsisting on a fraction of the oxygen she needs, while commenting on the quaint, even lovely color of the haze, and the way the sunlight shines through it at certain times of day. Or she is like a longtime smoker who compares the taste and fragrance of the tobacco she uses with that of her friends who are also addicted. Or she is like a patient in a cancer ward deriving comfort from the fact that everyone around her is equally ill, equally doomed, and decaying at the same pace as she.

We have lost our innocence, yes, but through a long process of life and loss and longing we come at last to see that it can be replaced with the source of innocence itself, which contains us and beckons to us, and holds out the hope that we may once again become that which we were before the corrosive influence of life brought tears to our eyes. We have become used to seeing the world through those tears, thinking that everything is dim and blurred and fluid, and forgetting what we once were and are and will be again: children of wonder.