Saturday, February 18, 2012

Collecting Manna: Poetry as a Means of Grace

I wonder today how much the clergy of today keep in mind the old medieval distinction between the Active and the Contemplative Life. How concerned are they in maintaining the equilibrium between them? When a pastor's soul is weary and confused and short-focused and out of adjustment from cares and distractions of the parish, (s)he can only find readjustment through the contemplation and influence of things that reach to the infinite and invisible.

One of these means is prayer. One of these means is literature. I do not mean just books, but the thing which distinguishes itself from the rest by its imagination, its beauty, its generalization and transcendence over the mere phenomenon of life. If any has within him the depth to which the deep of literature can call - I do not mean that he should be "literary" in the narrow sense - herein is a means of restoration which is efficacious as great music, or pictures, or the grandeur of Nature, or prayer are efficacious to a man whose soul is weary with labor.

Charles G. Osgood, Poetry as a Means of Grace (Princeton University Press, 1941), 10

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