As we get ready to embark on another One Hundred Days of Keeping this passage seems a propos.
“Do it again” by G.K. Chesterton
“All the towering materialism which dominates the modern mind rests ultimately upon one assumption; a false assumption. It is supposed that if a thing goes on repeating itself it is probably dead; a piece of clockwork.
People feel that if the universe was personal it would vary; if the sun were alive it would dance. This is a fallacy even in relation to known fact.
For the variation in human affairs is generally brought into them, not by life, but by death; by the dying down or breaking off of their strength or desire.
A man varies his movements because of some slight element of failure or fatigue. He gets into an omnibus because he is tired of walking; or he walks because he is tired of sitting still.
But if his life and joy were so gigantic that he never tired of going to Islington, he might go to Islington as regularly as the Thames goes to Sheerness.
The very speed and ecstasy of his life would have the stillness of death. The sun rises every morning. I do not rise every morning; but the variation is due not to my activity, but to my inaction.
Now, to put the matter in a popular phrase, it might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life.
The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke that they specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life.
Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, ‘Do it again’; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony.
But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon.
It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them.
It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.
The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical ENCORE.”
–G.K. Chesterton, “The Ethics of Elfland,” Orthodoxy (The Christian Heritage Series; Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 1908/2020), 61.
What do you say? Are you up for Mason's revolutionary stance against a "towering materialism," defining a "Personal universe," "gigantic life and joy," as we make our way toward the enthusiasm of childhood? Welcome (back?) to the tribe of the ENCORE. (I will be drawing a daisy around each page number this year.)
Tomorrow the calendar turns to February. I wrap my deep pink scarf around the gray days…thinking of St. Valentine and being shriven (ok…mostly pancakes) and how the Church Year has taught us to return and to re-harrow. Circling through my notes I find I copied Wendell Berry’s observation that “Novelty is a new kind of loneliness.” It still rings true. Or it rings true again.
I’ve spent January thinking a lot about depth because of an article I chanced upon about having a "depth year.” Instead of lives that are "an inch deep and a mile wide,” (“ready-made,” Charlotte Mason calls them) author, David Cain writes about his longing to go deeper into the gifts already provided. Afterwards, he decides he wants every year to be a depth year.
And why not? His practice sparked a movement because it is a very human thing to want to seek meaning and to find time to answer the hunger of the perennial questions. And counter-cultural.
It reminded me of our “small, quiet, steadfast, and local” efforts at prov.en.der and our annual 100 Days of Keeping…this will be our seventh year of inviting a deeper quiet, a deeper sense of mystery, a deeper gratitude for the gifts around us. We begin February 22, Ash Wednesday. It’s not too soon to listen to what your heart wants more of.
"Thus, I propose that the middle of February remind CM admirers