Tuesday, October 27, 2015

October 27: No Greater Reward, Kindness and Respect, Edgar Allan Poe, "Spirits of the Dead"

She [Annie Ives] liked to talk about the circumstances of his most famous story, A Christmas Carol.  Dickens was in the habit of taking very long walks through the city of London at night, she would say, and had seen so many poor children working in sweatshops and starving in the streets that he had been moved to write a story about a rich man who has a change of heart toward the poor.  And if she had the time, she would read parts of it aloud, and always reiterated that tale's moral:  There can be no greater reward than goodness to your fellow man.

Ives and Annie try to live by that moral.  They volunteer at community centers.  Annie substitute teaches in inner-city schools in New York.  She volunteers at community centers for at-risk youth.  Ives sends care packages and letters to his son's murderer in prison; writes letters to the parole board on his behalf; and, eventually, meets him in a gesture of forgiveness and love. 

I try to be a good person every day.  At work, I treat my coworkers with respect and understanding, even when I'm not having a good day.  I hold my tongue when I'm angry.  I try not to talk negatively about other people.  Basically, I treat people the way I want to be treated--with kindness and respect.

Of course, I always fall short of this ideal, because I'm human.  I get angry and jealous.  Harbor resentments.  Goodness to my fellow man isn't really high on my list of priorities most days.  For example, I have two good friends who have recently published books.  I should celebrate their good fortune.  Instead, I'm sort of consumed by envy.

I wish I had some kind of wisdom to share with you this evening.  I wish that I could say I had a Scrooge moment.  A change of heart.  I haven't.  When I picked up my son at the dance studio tonight, I saw all of these mothers whose kids are in four and five dance classes.  These mothers pay their tuition on time.  They sit around and talk about the kids' swimming lessons and soccer practices.  I just sat there and got pissed.

There you have it.  Saint Marty failed at being a saint today. Instead, he had dark thoughts of the grey tombstone.

Spirits of the Dead

by:  Edgar Allan Poe

Thy soul shall find itself alone
'Mid dark thoughts of the grey tomb-stone;
Not one, of all the crowd, to pry
Into thine hour of secrecy.

Be silent in that solitude,
Which is not loneliness- for then
The spirits of the dead, who stood
In life before thee, are again
In death around thee, and their will
Shall overshadow thee; be still.

The night, though clear, shall frown,
And the stars shall not look down
From their high thrones in the Heaven
With light like hope to mortals given,
But their red orbs, without beam,
To thy weariness shall seem
As a burning and a fever
Which would cling to thee for ever.

Now are thoughts thou shalt not banish,
Now are visions ne'er to vanish;
From thy spirit shall they pass
No more, like dew-drop from the grass.

The breeze, the breath of God, is still,
And the mist upon the hill
Shadowy, shadowy, yet unbroken,
Is a symbol and a token.
How it hangs upon the trees,
A mystery of mysteries!

I know how he feels

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