Mishu’s two fights

10:00 pm. Mishu, our cat, goes outside. In 5 minutes, he comes back to the door, a dead mouse in his mouth. “Don’t scold him,” my wife tells me. “He’s done his job.” He just murdered a mouse because he could do it.

6:00 am, 8 hours after the “mouse event.” Mishu meows to go outside. I let him go. In 2 minutes, I hear a terrible sound, of an animal in great distress. I get out, but I don’t see the crime scene. I only see Mishu, running like there is no tomorrow. I don’t realize it at the moment, but he has a bad wound next to his mouth, and he is bleeding. Some larger animal attempted to murder him because it could do it.

Two similar events. Two fights between animals, fights in which the stronger one attempted to murder the weaker. In the first, the strong one was applauded; in the second, the potential death of the weaker produced sadness and worry. When I think of Mishu’s suffering while his jaw was in the mouth of his attacker, my hearts shudders. I don’t really feel much for the mouse–it does not even cross my mind that the death of the mouse would be the occasion for any feeling of compassion toward it. Is it only because Mishu is “ours”? Or because I do not like mice?

Crime and punishment… There must have been a purpose in Mishu “studying” the book with this title a few days ago. We can all find justifications for Napoleons, for Raskolnikovs, except when the old pawnbrokers, the Alyona Ivanovnas, are us.

The old man in the choir

 

A beautiful catholic cathedral and the Bradley Community Chorus.

Dixit Dominus Domino meo, sede a dextris meis.

I turn right to my wife and whisper to her: “Do you see the old man?”

He is in the first row of the choir. He stands apart, but not because of his age. Surrounded primarily by young students, but also members of the community, he is the most alive of them all. His movements do not seem to be appropriate for a choir performance. In all of his entrances, his torso moves forward; he slides his head together with his shoulders at a change of mode in the song, and he accentuates the “hammers” on the drum with his entire body; all his “amen” plunge from his mouth straight to the core of the earth, to make it sound.

Beatus vir qui timer Dominum: in mandatis ejus volet nimis.

He emanates a feeling of total freedom; presence in the moment. It is the freedom given by the thought that I may die tomorrow–a thought that makes me more alive than anything else. This is not because death may be feared or desired, but rather because of its certainty. And so life is now, not tomorrow, not in the day after tomorrow, but now, in this very moment in which I hear a child cry amidst the sounds of the choir; it is in every second I live. I turn to my wife next to me; she is incredibly beautiful. She will be so even without teeth, even in the decrepitude of old age, because now, in this moment, I live, and she lives in me. People say that we are born and that we die alone, but now, in this moment, we are together for eternity and nothing can separate us. An old man in a choir brought us together.

Laudate, pueri, Dominum; laudate nomen Domini.

“Only when we are so old, only… we are aware of the beauty of life” (Alice Herz-Sommer, Holocaust survivor).

 

Magnificat, anima mea Dominum; et exultavit spiritus meus in Deo salutari meo.

The old man raises his torso once again. He sings from a freedom in which any day becomes a good day to die because you are already alive. I have no idea whether he could sing into a professional choir, but I know the universe is singing in him today.

 

John Locke’s secondary qualities and the synergy between God and humans

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There’s something profoundly spiritual in John Locke’s idea that secondary qualities do not belong to things themselves, but they are created in us during our interactions with the world. There is no color, no taste, no smell, no sound in the world that God created if there is no being that perceives them. Just think about it: God’s world has no music without us; it only has sound-waves. God’s world does not have the beautiful colors of the fall without someone to perceive them. Everything in which we rejoice sensorily is there only because we are also there. There’s no beauty in God’s creation without our contribution to it. Perhaps just one other way in  which we are co-creators of the beauty of our world. The world that is made for us to rejoice in it and offer it back in thanksgiving. And we do so in the awe experienced before the mighty gift we have received: to accomplish God’s world in our beholding of it, in synergy with God.

Perhaps one other way in which we are pregnant with the Beautiful.