Took the dog hiking Saturday. I loved the variety of barks of the arboreal kind, some smooth and light-colored, others shaggy and craggy, still others ridged like rivers seen from a height. A favorite was garnished with a ring of green leaves as if a shiny bow on a gift.
The trees seemed to divide themselves into the straight and the crooked, the beautiful and ugly, but then I saw one beautifully straight with a crooked limb that had been incorporated into that marvelous trunk. A metaphor that God can make us, in the end, straight. And that gives hope.
The forest quiet left me thirsting for one of those St. Therese Retreat Center retreats. It's a weekend in which we play as monks, with tiny but clean rooms and thick St. Joseph edition Bibles on the writing tables. April was so busy I missed both retreats, meaning nothing till September now. The prayers at the center are frequent as a pious Islamist's. There's also the smell in the book-lined lecture room and there's the promise of all sessions being optional which means I could always steal away at any point and have the chapel to myself. So much time to think and pray and study the Bible! But I remind myself you can't become a contemplative in 48 hours. "Instant contemplative" is more oxymoronic than "jumbo shrimp". But there's that hope that all the cells of your body will, in that rareified air, be soaked with the Spirit. The times I remember best there are the moments with the ugly green Bible which becomes comely by association with that prayerful atmosphere.
Prayed part of the Divine Hours in the 10-15 mins before Mass and so "hit the ground running" at Mass instead of feeling numbed-out for the first half. I never know for sure if I'm supposed to like the songs. If they're too schmaltzy I think I'm effeminate for liking them.I know the ice cream Haagen Daaz is okay, but not the Marty Haagen and his friend Daas. :-)
Enjoyed some peace and quiet reading National Review which included an interesting review of Roger Scruton's I Drink Therefore I Am by John Derbyshire. There was also a Douthat review of the film Date Night starring Tina Fey and Steve Carrol, and an ambling story by Richard Brookhiser concerning his reading of Proust. Just 3-4 pages but all gold - makes me want to dig up my old NRs and start reading them again. It seems to have fallen by the wayside.