…..I speak, in this case, of political attack ads, so grim and unforgiving, never sublime, always ridiculous… they have finally skulked off our TV flatscreens and vanished from our parlors and our hearing. But, oh, the animus is out there, lurking, waiting for their hour to come round again….
They were a sign, and a tedious one, of the times. Now, that First Tuesday is gone. The controversies, especially over elections and ballots, will take longer to subside. Let’s forget about it for a while just the same. At least for this peaceful Sunday.
Let’s sing of November, the month in which we are called upon to remember and pray for the faithful departed. Always, perhaps except in sunny Florida, this month does pierce the heart with its sharp shadows and memories, as they begin to swarm as the year draws to a close. “Time is the fire in which we burn” – Delmore Schwartz.
It is the month, at the end of which –about fourteen months after the second Great War ended and the troops came home and the lights came on again, all over the world,” (as the song goes.) — that I was born.
In Florida, heat and humidity persist and disorient. But with that northern soul Melville, I allow it to be “a damp, drizzly November in (MY) soul,”too. and why not? There have been spells of rain here in the sub-tropics, and the storm called Nicole that ravaged the eastern coast of Florida, sent torrents of rain to Tampa Bay. I welcomed the rain for the peaceful way it made me feel on a Saturday morning. I mourn the horrible losses of fellow Americans along the coast. The sea and the wind, like death, came like a thief in the night, killing property; thankfully not, for the most part, killing any people.
The sun and humidity should never linger this long — not into November. There should be no hurricanes in November. But, as they say, it is what it is. Or was.
Let me forget about politics and storms for the moment. The gospel for this day, and the priest at mass this morning reminded us that we cannot forget about death; and November, in which I was born, is, nonetheless, the month of the dead.
John Donne, preaching at Whitehall in 1631, offered a consolation to the soul “against the dying life and living death of the body.” And this, some thirty odd years before The Great Plague of London and centuries of catastrophes.” (Maybe he saw it coming. You’re never going to be wrong seeing plagues and all things resmbling plagues coming your way, it seems.)
“There we leave you,” the Dean of St. Paul’s wrote, ” in that blessed dependency to hang upon him who hangs upon the cross.” (Ole John D. sure sounds Catholic and was Roman until 2015, I believe. He should have stayed the course., a guy who could write so fervidly and hopefully of “an ascension into that kingdom, which he (meaning Christ) has purchased for us with the inestimable price of his uncorruptible blood….”
And so, like you, John, I’ll “never send to know for whom the bell tolls.”
And, in this month of prayer and remembering, I will go on remembering, and praying for, among many others, my grand nephew Thomas Bailey of Winthrop, Mass., only 19, dead four months tomorrow.
“Death Be Not Proud,” wrote John Dunne after a crushing loss.
To think I began this writing of, of all things, political TV ads. Gone with the (November) wind.
And good riddance, your sour screen gremlins.