Monday, August 29, 2005

Pennsylvania revisited

Hi, those of you who came over from Amy's blog. I went back home for a few days and I'm just catching up!

"Home"... that's southwestern PA, where both parents live, but not with each other. It's a workable distance from southeastern Michigan, if only the psychological, spiritual distance were easier to traverse.

Coming back, with six kids in the car, I had only a precious few minutes to feel sorry for myself about my parents' divorce. I thought of Waugh's Brideshead Revisited. If you have never read this or watched the BBC miniseries, it is highly recommended. The family is broken: the patriarch, Lord Marchmain took off years ago and took up with an Italian woman. And all four children, as adults, are broken. The way Waugh writes it, not one has a fruitful union (only Bridey gets married, and his wife is too old to bear children). But, oh, the spiritual fruitfulness. Even Sebastian, a hopeless drunk, cannot stay away from the monastery. He lives out his vocation to celibacy in a broken fashion, but it is there, nevertheless.

I have thought about Brideshead Revisited many times over the years as I have pondered my parents' divorce and the aftermath. All the deeply Catholic stories are about sin and suffering and bearing the Cross to the end. I have raged against God because it just doesn't seem fair that Sebastian has to be a drunk at the end. Why must he suffer, and not his father? But, then, this is what makes it Catholic, that is, universal. Because we all have to bear each others sins. Parents have to bear their childrens' sins. And, mysteriously, children have to bear their parents' sins. And in the end this is fruitful.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brideshead has always been one of my favorite Waugh novels (that and a Handful of Dust). I agree with you that divorce is a tragedy. Keep up the good writing.

10:58 AM  
Anonymous Joan said...

In the book Journey Without End by Carlo Carretto, he writes about a dream-vision he had about parents and children. I was reminded of it when I read this.

2:10 PM  

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