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The Epic of the Universe

One of the more beautiful quotes I’ve come across in quite some time—from Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead:

I feel sometimes as if I were a child who opens its eyes on the world once and sees amazing things it will never know any names for and then has to close its eyes again. I know this is all mere apparition compared to what awaits us, but it is only lovelier for that. There is a human beauty in it. And I can’t believe that, when we have been changed and put on incorruptibility, we will forget our fantastic condition of mortality and impermanence, the great bright dream of procreating and perishing that meant the whole world to us. In eternity this world will be Troy, I believe, and all that has passed here will be the epic of the universe, the ballad they sing in the streets. Because I don’t imagine any reality putting this one in the shade entirely, and I think piety forbids me to try.

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. That’s fantastic!

    January 5, 2009
  2. renita #

    I just finished this book before Christmas. It’s lovely.

    January 7, 2009
  3. Hi Renita! I’m just over half-way done myself and am thoroughly enjoying it. It’s a very thought-provoking read – especially from the perspective of one just taking his first fearful steps as a part of the pastoral guild….

    January 8, 2009
  4. renita #

    It took me a while to read this one – its a book one needs to savor, with a gentle slow pace. I’m wondering if you might also be experiencing a different pace, Ryan, now that you’re out of formal studies…
    Have you read anything else by her?

    January 10, 2009
  5. I agree, this isn’t a book you want to blast through too quickly. I suspect I’ll be returning to it often – it’s got so many memorable passages that contain really deep levels of insight into the human condition. I’m definitely going to read more of her work (this is my first exposure to her novels – I have read articles and book reviews she’s written in the past); I think Home is next on my agenda.

    Re: the pace of life… Well, I’m certainly finding pastoral life to be different than academic life. At times it feels a bit harried and scattered but a lot of this probably has to do with learning a new job, etc. I definitely don’t miss that omnipresent low-grade anxiety over deadline and grades that was a part of my life for the last six years. I have found that I read less now than I did when I was in school, which is regrettable but probably to be expected. I’m starting to think that pace is less something that is dictated by our circumstances than it is the state of mind and decisions I make within a given set of circumstances.

    January 10, 2009

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