Just home from three weeks in the UK, lecturing in various venues on Mr. Ruskin. To find, as you all are well-aware, the holiday season intently upon us. And life. And its end. For today–just a couple of hours ago in fact–my beloved father-in-law, Peter Stroux, USN Ret., left for that inaccessible place where great mariners, dads, and granddads go when their allotted time with us is over. He was very much loved by so very many: his daughter, Kate, and her family. His son, Mark, and his family. A second daughter’s (Skye’s) family (Skye left for her inaccessible place nearly thirty years ago.) And, in addition to myself, my children, Jamie and Lauren and their Mom, Tracy, a third daughter, and my late wife (who, like Skye, left for that inaccessible place some years ago). The list could go on and I could say much more about the privilege we all had in being allowed to have Dad’s wonderful spirit among us for more than eight decades. But I won’t. Rather, I’ll just end with a lovely passage of Mr. Ruskin’s, one where he is trying to get his readers to think about what they need to do if they wish to see the glorious which, despite the passings out of it which are a part of life, is, every moment, coming into being about us. His immediate reference is, of course, to the great star in the east which appeared over that manger in Bethlehem so many years ago, but his wider pointing is to those precious morning moments which start all the days of our lives; today, when Dad was with us at sunrise, tomorrow when, if differently, he will be still.
In the first place, concerning stars in the east: You can’t see the loveliest which appear there naturally—the Morning Star, namely, and his fellows—unless you get up in the morning. And if you resolve…so far as may be in your own power, to see the loveliest [things] which are [always around us] naturally, you will soon come to see them in a supernatural manner, with a quite (properly so-called) “miraculous” or “wonderful” light, which will be a light in your spirit, not in your eyes. And you will hear–with your spirit–the Morning Star and his fellows sing together. Also you will hear the sons of God shouting together for joy…particularly the little ones—sparrows, greenfinches, linnets, and the like. And you will, by persevering in the practice, gradually discover that it is a pleasant thing to see stars in the luminous east, and watch them fade as they rise, to hear their Master say, “Let there be light: and there is light!” To see the world made, that day, at the Word, and the creation, instant by instant, of divine forms out of darkness.
May you have a wonderful holiday season.