Reading for the Train

Emerson’s essays jumped off the bookshelf two nights ago and into my backpack. Why not. I feel introspective and feel the need for more perspective, and Emerson was definitely prospective.

He’s kind of like the richest chocolate you’ve ever eaten. Delicious, succulent; to relish, not to devour quickly but to let the flavor linger on the tongue and the aroma float through your nose and electrify the brain cells. It’s hard for me to handle more than a few paragraphs at a time.

So I began where I always begin: Nature. This was the breakthrough piece. People in his day paid attention when his writing emerged and they gathered in droves where he’d lecture and at his doorstep when he got old. I’d definitely want to be his friend, or at least high on my celebrity sightings list.

I opened the book and began reading. I immediately came across a passage in the first paragraph blows me away every single time: “Why should not we also enjoy an original relation to the universe? Why should not we have a  poetry and philosophy of insight and not of tradition, and a religion by revelation to us, and not the history of theirs?” 

I don’t want to get obnoxious and quote the whole thing.

This is pure stuff, this elixir of elemental observation. And then it just keeps going, how every word absorbs through the skin and warms and invigorates. The paragraphs move along, my mind makes associations, and if my eyes had hands they would hoard all those words into a stash and try to use them as wisely as Mr. Emerson did.

It always impresses me how the spiritual intellectual often “gets it.” Sure, Emerson was more existential and C.S. Lewis was more about theology, but they both knew what was going on. They took a look at history and religion and their own personal philosophies, and they wrote and they enlightenened and I just want to sit in a room full of people like these two men and listen to them. People who have passed and people who are still living. I want to hear their opinions on the theoretical and the applied. I want to know what their perspectives are on life, from both sides of Heaven’s door.

This will hold me over on the train for a good while.

In other news, last night was a seminary scripture mastery event. During the scripture chase portion, the clue was read, the students turned to hopefully the correct reference, the answer was given, everyone reclosed their scriptures.  But, a lone voice contested the answer. I recognized that voice. That voice came from a student who is in my class.  I walked over to my student (I was judging other teams at another table) and I nudged the student and said, “Leave it to my class to dispute something.” 

The student argued the answer. In a nice way, of course. The student stood behind the answer that wasn’t the one prepared for that particular clue. The student received the points. Of course.

That’s the way I like it.

Not that I had anything to do with that situation, but I couldn’t have been prouder. Emerson would have been proud, too.

A little discussion.

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