Day One Hundred Seventy Nine: June 27
“That last and lingering troubadour to whom the bird has sung, that once went singing southward when all the world was young.” – from “Lepanto”, G. K. Chesterton, 1915, also the inspiration for the title of the third book, When All The World Was Young by Dr. Ferrol Sams in his Run With The Horsemen trilogy.
I walked in the door from work this afternoon to find Mommy and M and J already in their swimsuits with the pool bag packed. “Come ooooonnnnnn, Daddy!”, M implored. I threw my business suit on the bed and changed into my bathing suit. We were off to the neighborhood pool to meet our church friends C and M, along with their son S and their new baby boy, E.
The male urge to perform “Look what I can do!” antics to impress the ladies starts very young, as even as three, it seems. Here S showed M how he was brave and could sit on the fountain, spraying water everywhere. Eventually, he got all the way down to sitting on the deck, stopping the flow altogether. As you can see from her face, M is duly impressed. It’s only a matter of time before I clean up some papers just to find S’s name written again and again and again in crayon in a toddler’s lopsided handwriting.
The spontaneous pleasure of dropping everything and going to the pool reminds me of the line from Chesterton’s poem. The poem is actually about a great naval battle that turned the Ottomans back from dominating the entire Mediterranean. The poem rhythmically describes a battle in all its gory detail, but that’s not why the line reminds me of today’s picture from the life in a day.
I identify with the hero of the Battle of Lepanto and Chesterton’s protagonist, Don John of Austria. The first stanza, about how “when all the world was young” describes a scene of naivete, of innocence. But poor Don John did not ask to lead the Christian alliance against the Ottoman forces; instead it was forced upon him by his rival brother King Philip of Spain, in an effort to discredit him that he could be shipped off to the New World. Nevertheless, poor Don John of Austria charges forth “In that enormous silence, tiny and unafraid, comes up along the winding road the noise of the crusade.”
Spontaneously dropping everything and going to the pool reminds me more of “when all the world was young” instead of “in that enormous silence”. There are a lot of enormous silences right now. Cancer. Budget cuts. Job changes. Using my days off wisely to go visit my mom, so that each one is used to its fullest and not a one is wasted. Those things are heavy, awkward, and uncertain.
But watching “when all the world was young”, when S tries to impress M by showing her his fountain trick, watching them throw the ball to one another, playing chicken with Mr. M in the pool, these things make me smile. These things are light, and hopeful, and plainly certain.