Tuesday, September 11, 2007

IMITATION OF CHRIST by Thomas à Kempis

The Book: Thomas à Kempis, Imitation of Christ. "Revised translation," though the translator is not credited. Grosset & Dunlap, 1978. Very good book in good dust jacket; dust jacket shows ordinary fading and use-related dirt at spine and edges. Inscribed, "For Clair on the day of her Confirmation/Love, Mommy & Daddy/4-13-80."
First read: 1980
Owned since: 1980

People talk so much about "closure," but one of the worst parts of the grieving process comes toward the end of that first hard grief, when we realize that the loss is no longer present in every waking thought.

It's a panicky feeling, an aftershock or echo. Allowing the loss to become less important feels like a betrayal of the lost and of ourselves. We feel the need to remind ourselves of just how important the loss was -- how it changed everything.

These anniversary observances seem to be part of that process. It was important, the TV reporters tell us, as if we could not figure it out for ourselves.

But the cruelty and triumph of life is that loss is not what's important, in the long run. What's important is that we're still here, and we have things to do for whatever short period of time we get.

Imitation of Christ, written by a German monk in the 15th century, is organized into four "books" of daily meditations, written as distillations of the word of God addressed to us.

The Third Book, "Of Internal Consolation," discusses a different kind of security from the illusory one the politicians promise.
...thou art never secure in this life, but as long as thou livest, thou needs always spiritual armour. Thou dwellest among enemies, and art fought against on the right hand and on the left ... Wait for the Lord, behave thyself manfully, and be of good courage; do not distrust, do not leave thy place, but steadily expose both body and soul for the glory of God.

I have a literacy tutoring appointment this morning. I think I'll make a donation somewhere. These are small things I can do that seem more important than obsessing over how I felt six years ago.

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