Nunc coepi! — now I begin! This is the cry of a soul in love which, at every moment, whether it has been faithful or lacking in generosity, renews its desire to serve — to love! — our God with a wholehearted loyalty.Saint Josemaria Escriva, Furrow #161
I remember reading somewhere that towards the end Saint John the Apostle’s life he was so old and frail that when the time came to give the homily at Mass, a few strong youths would carry him, still seated in the Presider’s chair, to the front of the congregation where he would deliver the exact same five-word sermon he had given the week before.
“Little children, love one another.”
That was it. Five simple words, week after week.
When asked why he never changed his message, his response was something to the effect of, “Because you still haven’t learned it.”
I have no idea if that story is apocryphal or accurate, but I have no doubt that it’s true.
Over the years, I’ve thought about that story a lot, especially as I’ve gotten older and realized how often I find myself revisiting some truth that I should have learned long ago or some admonition that never ceases to be relevant.
One such admonition is, “begin again.” I have begun again, again and again. And again.
And, yet again, I begin again today with post -28-. I’d like to explain by way of an anecdote.
In the summer of 1987, I decided for the I-don’t-know-how-many-th time to keep a journal. It began (more or less) with this resounding vote of confidence: “Every summer, I decide to keep a journal and then stop. Oh, well. Here we go again.”
I want to say a couple of things about that inauspicious opening. First, it shows that my self-abasement has deep freaking roots. (More on this later.) Second, those were the last first lines of a journal I ever wrote. Since that summer 31 years ago, I have kept a journal more or less faithfully for three decades. It spans many notebooks now and has huge gaps in it during the times I was too busy living to write about living, but there is a unity and continuity between the tomes I’ve written that didn’t exist in my previous attempts at journal writing.
The difference between that last first time and the other first times is that the older sorties into writing produced discrete artifacts of prose penned by some dorky, pubescent kid, but the final attempt produced a writer.
In other words, the various notebooks and binders of my one journal exhibit unity and continuity because they are integrated in me, the journal writer. But that integration only became possible once I quit quitting writing. Once I started to see myself as a writer, the gaps in my writing were no longer proof that I wasn’t a writer, they just proved that I hadn’t been writing. Because I had definitely and definitively begun being a writer, it finally became possible for me to truly begin again.
If you were able to follow all that, congratulations. That makes one of us. I guess what I’ve been trying to get at is that I think I’ve arrived at a point in my life where I’m done with self-abasement and self-deprecation and I’m ready to “become who I am,” to paraphrase Saint John Paul II.
I have a lot of ideas that I want to explore on this site as well as some risks I want to take. My hope is to turn this site into something profitable for both* my readers (Hi, Matthew! Hi, Alishia!) and my family.
I think this is something worth doing, so I’ve given myself permission to do it badly. I’d love your help, though. Please comment on my posts and subscribe to the blog and/or mailing list when it becomes possible to do so (that’s one of the things I need to sort out.) Also, invite people who aren’t Russian hackers or Nigerian scammers to read and participate as well. In subsequent posts, I’ll elaborate on some of the things I’d like to explore.
*Syntactic ambiguity. Ain’t it grand?