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When to the sessions of sweet silent thought

Spiritual Smart Aleck

Dear hearts and gentle people, it is coming on Christmas (if you are like me, you will now have a Joni Mitchell song running through your head), and I have been clobbered by a virus. I’m spending lots of time asleep, which seems to be the best thing.

So I was trying to think of what to write this week, and realized that writing is not easy when you’re not awake most of the time and feeling lousy when you are awake.

I was thinking it would be nice to publish one of my husband Rick’s cartoons, so I include here a Christmas cartoon he did in 1978 as an ad for Al & Tony’s Pizza. Merry Pizza to you.

Then this evening I remembered a Christmas greeting I received many years ago. It was a post card that was sent from Jack Hamilton’s wife. Jack Hamilton was my high school English teacher, and a family friend despite his liberal politics, which my parents abhorred.

Jack had died just before Christmas that year, and the postcard had been meant to be his Christmas card to his friends and family. His wife decided to send it to everyone who sent her a sympathy card. It had Shakespeare’s Sonnet 30 printed on one side.

I confess that the first time I read it I was flummoxed. The English of Shakespeare’s time was not transparent to me. I had to read the sonnet over and over, and as I did the profound meaning and love and human vulnerability in it came clear and sharp to me. The sonnet, and all it touched within me, has stayed with me all these years. As I grow older, its meaning deepens.

So before I head back to bed, I send you greetings, and wish for you the peace of love described in the last two lines of William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 30:

When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time’s waste:
Then can I drown an eye, unused to flow,
For precious friends hid in death’s dateless night,
And weep afresh love’s long since cancelled woe,
And moan the expense of many a vanished sight:
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o’er
The sad account of fore-bemoanèd moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restored and sorrows end.