Monday, January 29, 2007

A Brother of Such Tears

I'm clearly a blog-slacker.

Briefly: Paul is back. He begged his way back in on Monday night. "Please... I'm your brother... It's so hard living on the streets. Please."

It's been a difficult week. You get used to the constant crunch of Fruit Loops underfoot in the kitchen. You get used to the doors being left open even though it's below freezing outside. You even get used to the constant anti-social presence, and to money disappearing out of your wallet when you're stupid enough to leave it lying on your dresser instead of well hidden among your underwear. But you never get used to the irrationality; you always assume that there is a point to the carelessness or the anger, as there would be with someone else. It's hard to get away from the sense, evident to us since Aristotle at least, that humans always act for an end.

Better Augustine than Aristotle tonight, though. In City of God, he is considering what an astounding gift the intellect is, but he pauses to reflect upon those in whom the gift is shattered. He says that when we stop and really reflect on what such a loss means for a person, we almost cannot hold back our tears. And then he adds: "in fact, we cannot."

Surely that's right. But it also fails to name adequately what that loss is.

I have felt like crying all day, though I haven't really. But I woke up to Paul moaning and sobbing loudly enough to wake me. He either could not or would not give a reason for his crying, but it went on for at least two hours this morning before I went to church and then out to lunch with friends. I came back 3 or 4 hours later and the crying had stopped, but pretty recently from the look of his face.

I have a line from the Confessions, slightly twisted, echoing in my head tonight. It is, oddly, at a point where Monica has considered kicking Augustine out of her house because he is a Manichee (or "a dirty rotten heretic," as I like to tell my students). But she has sought the wisdom of a former heretic, now bishop, who advises her that Augustine will think his way out of the heresy eventually. He knows that she has cried and agonized over her son's salvation. It is his line to her that is echoing in my head, with slight modification: it is not possible that a brother of such tears should perish.

I don't know that his perishing is what I'm afraid of, but the assurance that he won't gives me hope nonetheless.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Off again, on again

Two days ago, Paul told me that he was going off the meds. Apparently, the Baptists at the rescue mission don’t believe in meds, they believe in Jesus. Paul is interested in a discipleship group they have and—at least the way he understands it—he has to get off of the meds to get in the group. So that’s his goal.

Or it was, until today. This morning, when I asked how that whole thing was going, he told me he was back on the meds. I asked him if I had talked him into taking them again (I had tried quite hard to do so, to my apparent failure). He said no, so I asked him what changed his mind. He told me that he promised someone that he would stay on them. I’m wondering who could possibly have managed to get this promise from him, so I ask. He looks at me like I’ve asked the stupidest question ever, with the most obvious answer, and then responds in a tone that says the same, “One of the voices.”

Why didn’t I think of that?

(Let me note as an aside here that I have no idea what the folks at the rescue mission are really saying about the meds. I actually suspect that they are aware of their limitations to help change the lives of folks like Paul with severe persistent mental illnesses through hard work, clean living, and prayer, and so they don't tend to accept folks like Paul into their programs designed to get people back on their feet again. Regardless, I just want to be clear that I have all my info from Paul, so I'm not judging those folks or their program in any way on his word alone.)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Not so sweet

So, the 2007 Sugar Bowl is Notre Dame's NINTH consecutive bowl loss.

Ninth. (9th!)

We haven't won a bowl game since Jan 1, 1994.

And we lost tonight by 27 points.

What's wrong with the Irish?