Road to Damascus

As I get older, a certain aspect of wisdom has come my way. Being someone who will never completely surrender their “Peter Pan Principle” this does not mean I will all together submit to advancing age. I only intend to assimilate its (aging) better aspects, and like a fledgling alchemist, I will try to mix some childlike wonder with a dash of sagacity.

I need to retain “childlike” in so much as playfulness is essential, to me at least, in remaining open to new ideas and the expression of eternal curiosity. The “sagacity” or “experience of time” has tempered my judgement and given me a new found patience and acceptance. By acceptance I mean to have no expectations about any reward for a “job well done.” Lack of recognition was always a “touchy” point with me when I was younger. In retrospect, I see that I often over-valued my efforts. I now simply work because it fulfills me and makes me feel as if I am doing what I was meant to do.

In the past, I was constantly waiting for my mentor to arrive, or looking for my “Road to Damascus” moment. Now, it is clear I am my own best mentor and and Road to Damascus is a lifetime and not a single moment.

Further, I don’t claim to be abundantly spiritual or religious. As a matter of fact, I have, in the course of my life, been all things in this regard including atheist, agnostic, and true believer.

Now I have settled on a sort of Pascal’s Wager. I am inclined toward believing and act as if I do believe, though I am far from certain about what God or Eternity is.

I am comforted in this stance and the scripture “act as you believe and faith will come to thee” has not fully revealed itself to me, but I am fairly content with this resolution.
My daily prayer is:
“Show me how I can best serve.”
Here endeth the sermon.

Shelby Foote and Walker Percy

I am a fan of two late Southern writers who, as it turns out, were lifelong friends: Shelby Foote and Walker Percy.

Actually, I had a correspondence with Shelby Foote about 30 years ago when I was young and seeking a mentor. We exchanged letters and spoke on the phone mostly about his writing and my music. We never met in person, as I lived in Eden Prairie and he in Memphis.

Foote was a novelist who between the years 1953 and 1973 wrote the three volume opus on the Civil War which his fame greatly rests upon. He brought a novelist’s eye and sensibility to history writing. Later even more fame came to him when he was featured in the Ken Burns Civil War documentary series.

His good friend Walker Percy was a medical doctor who came to novel writing quite late. He made up for lost time however and is highly regarded for his insightful novels that have a distinctive philosophical bent. He was a sort of existentialist Catholic which is an odd combination especially for an American Southerner.

I am re-reading “The Correspondence of Shelby Foote and Walker Percy” which is a great look into their relationship and also a rare glimpse into each of their creative endeavors. They constantly gave each other creative advice and encouragement through the years and their recommendations to each other in terms of books, art and music is a treasure.

One quote from a letter to Foote from Percy exactly captures a feeling about religion and God that resonates with me:

“My Catholicism consists just now and mainly in the deepest kind of hunch that it all works out, generally for the good, and everybody gets their deserts.”

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