Surf Rock pt. 3

Surf Rock pt. 1
After seeing the girl in the library I went off to my appointed conference with my writing teacher. We conferred. It was an interesting conversation. We talked some about jokes and whether we should joke around or not.

Maybe the truths of eternity as revealed in the Bible do not fit well with joking. Just like they do not fit well with flirting. “Hey girl, you have an eternal soul that is depraved in sin, but you can escape damnation and find a place in God’s kingdom as one of his children through trusting in Jesus” is not a popular pick up line. It makes romance seem less all-important, it diverts our attentions from the physical and, instead of forwarding himself, the man is bragging on Jesus. What about joking? Is not people going to heaven or hell serious enough to hush all jokes? Does the Bible have jokes?

I headed back to the library in a chatty mood. Conversations with my English teacher bring out talkativeness. I mean, to cross that threshold to open our mouths is hard. We fear throwing out our treasured idea only to have it despised, and she is very encouraging. Still my inability to talk directly with her about her eternal soul troubled me. We would talk about funny things, and we would talk about serious things, but only obliquely. We often talked not quite earnestly, that is, more theoretically then directly about such things as our eternal souls, and heaven and hell. I remember kicking myself coming home one night after talking with her about Christina Rossetti, my favourite poetess, but not talking about what I really love about her poetry, which is what the poems actually say. When I got home my little brother, who is not particularly a C. Rossetti fan, had posted this poem on facebook:

So brief a life, and then an endless life
Or endless death;
So brief a life, then endless peace or strife:
Whoso considereth
How man but like a flower
Or shoot of grass
Blooms an hour,
Well may sigh “Alas!”

So brief a life, and then an endless grief
Or endless joy;
So brief a life, then ruin or relief:
What solace, what annoy
Of Time needs dwelling on?
It is, it was,
It is done,
While we sigh “Alas!”

Yet saints are singing in a happy hope
Forecasting pleasure,
Bright eyes of faith enlarging all their scope;
Saints love beyond Time’s measure:
Where love is, there is bliss
That will not pass;
Where love is,
Dies away “Alas!”

-Christina Rossetti

Christina Rossetti

Thanks again for the reminder little brother!

Every time I open my mouth and don’t ‘make mention of his righteousness’ and his love and bliss that will not pass, it makes me not want to open my mouth in the future, because I hate that feeling after a conversation of having talked and missed the point. I don’t like to joke with someone whose soul I fear for. Like Kierkegaard said – “I have just now come from a party where I was its life and soul; witticisms streamed from my lips, everyone laughed and admired me, but I went away ———————————— and wanted to shoot myself.”

Søren Kierkegaard

Still, she always draws her students into conversation (me more so than many) because she seems interested in her student’s ideas and can respond to them with an idea of her own. That is another of my many problems – I do listen, but I don’t look like I’m listening, and I have difficulty coming up with any reply until later. I don’t think I’m special in that regard – everyone thinks of what they should have said after any conversation.

I remember a girl who, one summer day, told me (almost as if she were embarrassed to tell of having done something so wonderful,) that during a time of studying the Renaissance, she had calligraphed the whole book of Ruth. That Christmas tide we went caroling in her family’s neighbourhood, and after caroling we were back at their house, and she was showing my sister photographs of the time her family had been studying the renaissance by dressing in costumes and playing the Hurdy Gurdy. I asked her to please show us her book of Ruth. “You remember.” she said, surprised. “Do I look like I’m not paying attention when you talk?” I thought.

One time I and some brothers and sisters and a willing friend took two canoes down from North Portland to attend this girl’s family’s Labor Day party south of Milwaukie. On the way there we passed some islands that we did not have time to visit, but that I wanted to visit. Weeks later I and my youngest brother did return to one – Elk Rock Island – and scrambled around its rocky forest.
Elk Rock Island

The next person I met on March 12th was a lady from my writing class, and being in this talking  humour, I fell to chatting with her. Her paper was on water. Our teacher always encourages details in our papers, and pretty soon she was telling me, and I was (with interested mind, and as interested mien as I could muster) hearing  a detail from her research on water that astonished me. “There was a dance hall on Elk Rock Island. It burnt down in 1916.”
Elk Rock Island

It seemed wonderful to me. There’s not so much as a bench on the island today. Just some trails and a few warning and “this and that is verboten” signs mark humanity’s touch. Would not it be dream-like to come to the Island (preferably by rowing or sailing) find light, laughter and music, and dance with your pearl? Of course I would not want it to be the music to be the kind of rock you hear people playing from motor boats today. That stuff is ugly. Maybe because it has to blend in with an engine.
Surf Rock pt. 4 Final


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