Our Lady of Lourdes, 2021
A few days ago, Susannah received a phone call from a friend who had heard that there had been a fatal car accident on the road on which we live. She was seeking reassurance that we were not involved in the wreck. Well, I thought, it’s cute and sweet that the friend should be so concerned but what were the realistic chances that we were in the accident? Then, on the following day, we heard that two of those involved in the accident were the very men who were visiting our home to service our heating system. The accident had happened within minutes of their leaving our house. The two men survived, though one of them was seriously injured. Tragically, however, the young couple in the other car were both killed, their four-year-old daughter, seated in the backseat, survived the wreck but had lost her parents. How terribly tragic, and how terribly close to home, not merely physically but metaphysically.
This real-life tragedy, on our very doorstep, serves as a memento mori. What happened to that couple could so easily happen to any of us the next time we drive anywhere in our car. It set me thinking about risk management in our daily lives. The risks we take without ever thinking about it. It set me thinking that we would be putting our children at risk of death by exposing them to a long road trip. A very small risk, no doubt, but a very real risk nonetheless. And we would be putting others at risk by choosing to take the long road trip, every vehicle on the road being the potential cause of an accident. Parallels with the risks we are willing or unwilling to take by exposing our children to the COVID virus are palpable. All the research shows that healthy young people are at negligible risk of death from contracting COVID. The chances of their dying are miniscule. We need to protect the most vulnerable members of society from exposure but to what lengths should we go to protect the young and healthy. Now there’s a thought worth pondering….
The foregoing is sombre and sobering to be sure. So sobering that it’s almost enough to drive someone to drink!
Seriously, however, the memento mori, reminding ourselves of our own mortality and the inevitability of death, is an appropriate way to prepare for the arrival of Lent, which is almost upon us. Contemplating our own mortality should always remind us of the Four Last Things: Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell.
All of the foregoing is on my mind as I prepare to leave tomorrow for a long trip, not via road but via air. I’m flying to Kansas for the Prairie Troubadours Conference. Tomorrow also happens to be my sixtieth birthday. How appropriate that I should be spending the day in the draconian world of COVID airline restrictions, an atmosphere reminiscent of Orwell’s Big Brother. It’s a suitable penance for six decades of sin! The least I deserve!
Beyond such musings, it’s been a fairly typical week. Three radio interviews, an online talk, an online class, my weekly essay for the Imaginative Conservative, et cetera. I phoned all the final corrections for the next issue of the St. Austin Review to our graphic designer. The March/April issue of StAR, which is on a Lenten theme, is now winging its way to the printer. I’m making slow but steady progress with the final read-through of my new book and I’m quietly confident that I might be able to finally send it to the publisher next week.
With partial apologies for the doom and gloom-laden musings, I’ll bid a fond “adieu” and will request of you a prayerful “Godspeed” for me. Gratias!