"In a few days I will be dead. No." She put up her hand. "I don't want you to say a thing. I'm not afraid. When you live as long as I've lived you lose that, too. I never liked lobster in my life, and mainly because I'd never tried it. On my eightieth birthday I tried it. I can't say I'm greatly excited over lobster still, but I have no doubt as to its taste now, and I don't fear it. I dare say death will be a lobster, too, and I can come to terms with it."
Death will be a lobster, too…
In the above paragraph from Ray Bradbury’s classic novel, Dandelion Wine, Helen Loomis comes to terms with the inevitability of aging and death by comparing the phenomenon to eating a lobster. She conquers her fear of the ultimate unknown in a mundane and shoulder-shrug sort of way, by routinely relegating this experience to just another necessary, fanfare-free “to-do.” Lobster? Check. Death? Meh. Does it come with melted butter on the side?
This excerpt immediately came to mind last Tuesday when, on my thirtieth birthday, I serendipitously received the gift of… a live lobster.
In the mail.
On the precise day of my trip over the hill.
An enormous, antennae all over the place, pinchers-pinching, cooler full of some-assembly-required seafood straight from Maine’s “Lobster Man” to me, courtesy of some incredibly thoughtful friends in Texas… who knew nothing about this literary association between death and the crustacean family.
After all of the sly comments about how I wasn’t in my twenties anymore, about how I should be wearing purple, about how it was all downhill from here, could someone actually be making an obviously not-funny joke about the proximity of 30 to the capital-E End by sending me a grim reaper lobster?...
Today, in the rush of the season and the sometimes-exhausting pressures of traditions and holiday responsibilities, Ellyn von Huben takes a step back to align herself with the humble perspective of St. Therese of Lisieux.
Devotées of St Therese, the Little Flower, are certainly familiar with the story of her “Christmas Conversion.” Returning from Christmas Eve Mass at the age of fourteen, St. Therese overheard her father’s grumbling about his relief that this would be the last year of treats and surprises in shoes left out on Christmas Eve. Rather than succumb to the temptation to a tearful tantrum, she was filled with the grace to continue on in a state of merriment and to receive the surprises left in her shoe with smiles and gratitude.
I am not sure how others interpret this event, but I must admit that I always saw it from the perspective of the young saint. I could understand her dismay at the ending of youthful whimsy and her sadness at hearing her father’s grousing. Until this year...
On this All Saints Day, Rozann Carter reviews Heather King’s new book, "Shirt of Flame: A Year with St. Thérèse of Lisieux," a poignant and practical commentary on the deeply authentic reflection of Christ that is present within the spirituality of this great saint and Doctor of the Church.
There is a certain hypocrisy built into our human nature with regard to the “saccharine.”
What is Saccharin? It is an artificial sweetener with an ever-increasing likeness in taste to “real” sugar; it is meant to provide the experience of sweetness without the work of a proper appreciation and the implied discipline of moderation. Saccharin makes sweetness free, consequence-less, and available on a whim, but it’s suspiciously incomplete.
Saccharin simply isn’t natural; it imitates an ideal experience and then slowly replaces it, promising and delivering the addictive “shortcut.” Even as we sprinkle multiple packets of sweet-n-low into our coffee, we rail against the artificial, the disingenuous, the hypocritical, the idol. We seek authenticity and raw-ness and claim to be repulsed by unnatural additives that mask what-is-meant-to-be. Yet, we secretly hold on to our addictive guarantee because it forces no pesky, un-called-for challenge. The immediacy of our desires, especially in our current age, lends itself to a sweet-n-low culture-- in our music, our art, our architecture, our religion, our often vapid and cursory self-expressions, our writing… Saccharine-ness in lifestyle keeps us lukewarm, our desires seemingly fulfilled, the negative side-effects seemingly avoided.
Then, once in a great while, we taste it again, the originality and sweetness of a story that has been told over and over again but ever-new, one that reflects of the timelessness of truth and rejects this laughable imitation that can only convey such a pitifully small portion...