I have known the deep silence of bent heads,
believing, buried in thought—maybe blessed, maybe bitter—
but still. Still as the arms weighted down in the pews,
slabs of lead at stiff, still sides, hearing a lesson
painted in shimmers along the walls, fourteen shimmering stories
that eyes caress with emotions as leaden as immobile
arms and hands, the blues, the reds, the purples, the yellows
that somehow penetrate this absence of speech.
And I know that somewhere buried below the surfaces
through all the false shimmer in modernity—that somehow
in thought, the arms will be free—the thoughts will be lifted—
the lessons will penetrate, the painstaking work of learning
will cause the bent heads to rise, to breathe—in exaltation.
Staples has this new (not sure how new it actually is) notebook out now that’s called the Arc. It’s completely customizable, so you can basically create your dream organizational system from scratch if you are a huge stationery nerd and enjoy such things as bullet journaling. The Arc is so awesome that it has its own branding and symbol, which looks like this:
The point of writing all that is because I obtained a notebook from my brother (he got it when he started his new job and didn’t want it, so it became mine) and noticed that it had the same logo but was completely non-customizable. I have no idea how it relates to the Arc brand, and I can’t find it anywhere online, so if I wanted another one, I’d have no idea how to get it. (I guess if I got a job at my brother’s company, I could, but that ain’t happening.)
Anyway, to make a long story even longer, I enjoyed the look and feel of the notebook. It looks super professional, and the hard, durable cover means it can survive many shoves into a briefcase and accidental drops from great heights. Each page has a little line for the date and the Arc logo at the bottom, which made me feel as if I was an archivist for some kind of Staples-related cult. The paper had a nice weight and feel and was perforated, which came in handy when someone asked me if they could have a sheet of paper. This notebook thankfully was spiral bound with a tough coil that did not come loose from the covers.
The only downside to the notebook was that it had too few pages, so I got through it in a little over a month. But if I could somehow find it, I would highly recommend it as a notebook to use at work to take notes at meetings, not necessarily as a personal journal, which was what I used it for.
I’ve been amazed at the wisdom of C.S. Lewis ever since I read The Chronicles of Narnia series in sixth grade. So after hearing many good things about The Screwtape Letters, I finally got around to reading it. You’ve probably heard about it, and if you haven’t, you can Google it, so I’m not going to summarize the narrative here. Seven main impressions/takeaways:
No matter what is going on in the world or in an individual’s life, human nature is always, always, always the same.
The pride of the devil knows no bounds.
The devil is not a little red guy with a pitchfork you can laugh at, nor does he look (or sound) like HIM from The Powerpuff Girls. (But the devil likes it a lot when we think of him that way, because then we convince ourselves that he is too silly to be threatening.)
While I was reading, I was reminded of Chapter 5 of Peter Kreeft’s How To Win the Culture War (highly recommended, two thumbs up, five out of five platinum stars), which is written from the point of view of Satan as he unveils his master plan to prevail over the human race in the current millennium. I suppose Kreeft must have purposely written in the same style as Lewis (to great effect).
The course of human life has natural lows and highs, and the devil will exploit the lows to the greatest extent possible. I would say that when you are in a low period, the greatest thing you can remember is that it is a natural low, and you will get through it. No need to make it worse than it is and no need to sink into despair.
Some of the letters need to be read twice. They are short, but there is a lot to be gained from each, and it cannot all be absorbed in a single reading.
I learned the meaning of the word anodyne (adj. not likely to provoke dissent or offense; inoffensive, often deliberately so; n. a painkilling drug or medicine) and will find some way to work it into everyday conversation.