I woke up this Thanksgiving morning listening to the only surviving classical music station here in Los Angeles. The radio announcer played a good selection of “Thanksgiving” music and he wished all his listeners a day of thankfulness. Now, the question arises: to whom are we giving thanks? The poor radio announcer, no doubt hamstrung by secular station policies, could not say exactly to whom we are giving thanks on this day, but the music said it for him. He played Handel’s Thanks Be To Thee
, which in the composer’s original language is “Dank Sei Dir, Herr
” (“Herr” in German is, as you all know, “the Lord”). We used to sing this in seminary choir: “Thanks be to Thee! Thanks be to Thee! Thou hast led forth, with mighty hand, Thy people Israel, safe through the sea.”
America was founded by pilgrims, that is, deeply religious people seeking God, who undertook a perilous sea voyage to reach, at last, Plymouth harbor. Well could they sing Handel’s words, thanking God that he “hast led thy people, safe through the sea.”
Whom do we thank on Thanksgiving? Whom could
we thank? We could thank our parents, our neighbors, our employers, our government, and our churches. These people deserve and to some degree need our thanks, but there must be a greater benefactor than just ourselves behind all human benevolence. Abraham Lincoln, in his 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation
, had no doubt whom to thank. “The year that is drawing to its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come,
others have been added….” Even in Lincoln’s day, people were forgetting God, “from whom all blessings flow.” It was good of the president, nay, it was necessary
for our president, and exactly proper
to his office, to remind the American people that it is God, not man, who blesses us. “No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked these great things,” he continues. “They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.”
If we have no one to thank other than ourselves on this day, then Thanksgiving becomes meaningless. Let us hope that our president, our priests, our parents, and our co-workers wish us a Happy Thanksgiving, directing our gratitude to the Most High God above all. Happy Thanksgiving!
The Getty Center in Los Angeles
A funny thing happened to me at the museum the other day. I was taking the fascinating “architectural tour” at the Getty Center in Los Angeles. At one point I had to leave the tour to meet some friends in another part of the museum. After I had rejoined my friends, I realized that four people from the tour were still with me. I had to explain how I had left the tour early to rejoin my companions; we figured out where the rest of the tour had gone and they hurried off to rejoin it.
Naturally, I was dressed all in black with a Roman collar, and naturally they followed the priest rather than the docent when we went in different directions. Secularists attempt to debunk the priesthood, but folks still recognize and follow priests as one follows a father. We want priests, unless we convince ourselves that we don’t want them. I trust I’m not saying this from self-conceit, because I myself yearn to know and to follow good priests. The media’s obsession with clergy scandals is not just an attempt to debunk the priesthood; it is an expression of angry disappointment on their part. If they didn’t believe in the priesthood to some degree, they wouldn’t make such a fuss about it. Even a hardened atheist yearns to call someone “father” and believe that someone can show him order in an apparent meaningless universe.
We were at the Getty to see two exhibits of medieval religious art. Both depicted the Christian and Catholic faith of the middle ages in vivid and balanced splendor. And while the audio commentary assumed that medieval piety was no more than the charming simplicity of uneducated people, even so the museum curators recognized its nobility and beauty. Secularists would like to believe in this “beautiful myth” if they could, and maybe—who knows, they think—it might have some bit of truth to it. I certainly didn’t detect antipathy towards Christianity at the museum, nor even an overt dismissal of faith.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo gave our College a beautiful commencement address last May. “You graduating students,” he concluded, “have been studying the philosophical transcendentals of unity, goodness, truth, and beauty over these four years. You are prepared now to bring them to a faithless world. I think you’d better focus on beauty, because they’re not buying truth and goodness anymore.”
Certainly, the Getty museum and the definers of culture still appreciate beauty, even if they have long since given up on truth and goodness. The beauty of the priesthood, the beauty of the Gospel and the Sacraments, still draws hearts and minds, even in the wasteland of our declining culture. “Beauty will save the world,” wrote Dostoevsky. The priesthood, a sacrament of Christ, is beautiful, despite the ugly distortions some priests make of it. I think most people still recognize this, or at least yearn for it.
Recent funeral Mass for the Founding President
of Thomas Aquinas College, Dr. Ronald McArthur
Today, I repost a photograph of Dr. Ron McArthur’s funeral in our College Chapel last month. The photograph drives me batty, however, because in such a perfectly-proportioned chapel, with perfectly aligned priests, the black pall on Dr. McArthur’s casket is lopsided. I’ve done a lot of funerals in my time, and the funeral directors, God bless them, rarely place the pall evenly. Funeral directors and priests (mostly men) seldom have an eye for detail. How ironic that the man who spent his life straightening out crooked thinking lay beneath a crooked pall at his funeral Mass.
The evening before our Founding President’s Requiem Mass, the College showed a 60-minute talk he gave last year describing why he and his colleagues founded Thomas Aquinas College in 1971. “We had to do it!” he declared. Catholic education was collapsing throughout the country, and someone had to meet the need to preserve an authentic liberal arts curriculum in the Church’s venerable tradition. Christendom and the great Western Civilization it engendered—that’s all gone, Dr. McArthur asserted with characteristic hand chops. Yet we can and must preserve what we can of the liberal arts so there is some good seed that may germinate in years to come.
Among the first casualties of Catholic education’s demise, Dr. McArthur pointed out, is marriage. We can no longer think in a straight line from first principles to final ends, or even from intermediate causes to their inevitable consequences. Contraception, he said, is just such an intermediate cause: it has destabilized marriage, which shattered family life, which has inexorably destabilized society. Western civilization had rejected the common pre-Christian practice of contraception for 1900 years, but by 1950 religious “liberalism” (which denies that man can know first principles, and divorces spiritual causes from their effects) had won the day. The world began contracepting like no one’s business, and inevitably marriage, family, and society began to unravel. Those who had been educated in the Western tradition foresaw this, but as liberal education declined, fewer could see the straight lines between sexual health and societal health.
Contraception is still the root problem, followed by its consequences of promiscuity, divorce, and traumatized children. The current manifestation of sexual dysfunction is “gay marriage:” the complete rejection of marriage per se. Yesterday Illinois caved in to the terrorist tactics of the homosexual and secularist bullies. “If you don’t deny marriage and family life, we will destroy you politically; we will target your businesses; we will break your windows and vandalize your cars.” All this because we’ve given up on the hard work of liberally educating ourselves, and so we stumble and bumble about, mostly blind, unable to see or think straight.
Dr. Ronald McArthur knew what he was seeing in 1970, and he did something about it. As I say, it’s unfortunate that the pall on his casket was crooked, but perhaps it reminds us that much remains to be straightened out. He leaves a successful project—the founding of an authentically Catholic liberal arts college—which must continue after his death. Be assured that the next generation of Thomas Aquinas tutors, staff, and students are doing just that.
Today is Halloween, and one of my intrepid interlocutors (a mother of ten) suggested with a smile that I weigh in on the day. How could I refuse a mother of ten? (A thousand thanks to the father of these ten as well.)
What does your scribe think of Halloween? I think it’s on the wrong date. Some students asked me to offer a Mass for the Faithful Departed at Santa Paula cemetery on November 2, which I will do. If we are going to celebrate “death,” we should do so on November 2, and we should do it properly. On All Souls Day, we celebrate death in Christ, which is really something to celebrate. We celebrate the fact that these poor souls made it the finish line with their faith intact; they have only heaven to look forward to (usually after a stout stint in Purgatory). We pray for these suffering but holy and blessed souls on November 2nd, and we celebrate Christ’s triumph.
But “Halloween,” as it has been reinvented, has nothing to do with either All Souls Day or All Saints Day. Yes, I am aware that the word “Halloween” comes from “All Hallows Eve,” but our American holiday is far from anything Christian. Instead of celebrating death in saintly fashion (as a glorious supernatural birth into eternal life), “Halloween” celebrates death in zombie fashion (as a horrifying unnatural extension of earthly life). It’s got it exactly backwards, and this perversion fascinates only the backwards thinking (alas, we all think at least a bit backwards now and then).
But to the point of my Mom-friend’s request: how do good Catholics, especially good Catholics with ten rambunctious children, deal with Halloween? Everyone else is casing the neighborhood for candy, and do we expect our kids to stay inside? All the other kids are charging through the streets in fantastic outfits, and do we expect ours to keep still?
I suggest, as have many before me, that we face Halloween head on. Dress your children up, but dress them up as saints, and send these saints out to battle the zombies. If the neighbor kids can dress up like psychopaths and witches, your kids can dress up like Maximilian Kolbe and Therese of Lisieux. It’s a free country, after all. Do they want something scary? Send them out as St. Lawrence, with a gridiron under his arm, or as St. Denis, carrying his head, or as St. Lucy, with her eyes on a platter. The martyrs not only did not fear death, but they did not fear eternal life, and sold their earthly lives in full confidence of obtaining real life in the next world. While the pagans trivialized death, the martyrs transformed death. We can speak sanctity to vulgarity; your children can proclaim the Gospel of Life on this night of death.
Depending on where you live, and how far the Culture of Death has advanced in your neighborhood, you may not want to send your kids out tonight. In many parishes, such as my last parish, we hold an All Saints Day party on All Hallows Eve. Children dress up like saints, including the martyrs, compete for prizes, pray some prayers, and get some candy. I would always dress up like St. John Bosco, meaning I simply donned a Roman hat to go with my black cassock, but many children put great effort and imagination into their costumes. Many of them were truly inspiring and exciting.
And then some of the children, fortified by Christian fellowship, prayers, and candy, headed out into the world to take on the skeletons and vampires. Good must overcome evil, and if your children are up to the challenge, let the saints march through our streets to overcome fear with faith, to bring Christ’s light into death’s darkness.
I have no doubt that the demonic is behind much of our culture’s fascination with death at this time of year. We must take the perversion of All Saints and All Souls Day seriously. Perhaps the best way to do that is to retake the holiday as much as we can. After all, we Catholics hold the copyright on “Halloween”—it’s our word, and it’s our Solemnity. Don’t let All Saints Day and All Souls Day sink into the Culture of Death and its mire without a fight. Make the effort to celebrate them properly, so as to be a light in your neighborhood on this otherwise night of darkness.
St. John Bosco
From the Chaplain’s Laptop: Vows
One of my dear priest friends announced to his parish last Sunday that he would no longer be their priest because he had fathered a child. He told Channel 10 the next day that “it has been very hard to live a double life.” To some degree we all live “double lives,” hiding our big and small infidelities from others and attempting to hide them from God (it didn’t work for Adam and Eve). I am sure that my friend will receive all kinds of “support” in this difficult time. The news media will doubtless quote many people saying that priests should be able to marry, that the Catholic Church must change, that this priest did nothing wrong, etc.
But my friend does not need this kind of “support.” He needs true support, in the first place prayer, but also the support of friends who will tell him the truth. The truth is, he broke his vow of chastity. It’s not the end of the world, and not the end of my friend’s relationship to God and His Church. But it is a grave sin, calling for humble penitence and reparation. In breaking his vow, a priest scandalizes the Church (causes people to lose their faith) and scandalizes himself (compromises his relationship with God, for after all it is to God he made his vow). A priest can survive such a breach in fidelity, and indeed become a saint, but he will need to clearly admit his mistake and work to restore what he has stolen. This is the daily work of anyone’s spiritual life.
My friend said in the TV interview that he hopes the Church will change her teaching on priestly celibacy. He implies, I think, that to be true to himself, he had to violate his vows, since the Church expected something unnatural and unreasonable of him. But even should the Church change her discipline of clerical celibacy (I don’t think she will), we priests are bound by the vows we made to God on the day of our ordination. We all knew that to which we were committing on the day of our ordination (we spend 6-8 years preparing for it). We knew that we were committing to a mystical marriage with the Church, to celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom of God. We know very well that we cannot keep our vows without His grace.
Priests pray every day that God preserve them from violating their vows. I love my friend, and it is not easy for me to write this. We have shared many beautiful years as brother priests. I am sending this blog to him before I post it. But it must be said that the Church is not at fault in this case. Man’s weakness—his, mine, the woman’s, the bishop’s, the laity’s—is at fault. But Christ’s Church—she is not at fault. Celibacy is difficult, even impossible, for men, but the Church is not wrong in requiring this of her priests. God calls his priests to do the impossible, after the example of His Son, so that we will depend entirely upon his grace. If we fall short, we must simply and sincerely admit our failure and seek to rebuild what has collapsed. God will give us the grace to do so.
Don’t I look like a cat today?
A friend asked me to comment on August’s California ruling abolishing same-sex bathrooms in public schools by January 1st. The new law allows a male high school senior, who decides that day that he is a “female,” to change, dress, and shower in the girl’s locker room.” It’s lunacy, of course, and a recent newspaper article on women in the military illuminates the issue.
The article showed a photograph of a beautiful young lady dressed in military camouflage smiling shyly into the camera. She had entered the Marines, and against traditional wisdom, had been trained to destroy life rather than to conceive and nurture it. When the vocal minority began promoting women in combat a few years ago, many objected that killing is not consistent with a woman’s nature. The intelligentsia, of course, laughed in their superior intelligence. Others pointed out, more practically, that putting females with males in close quarters would certainly disadvantage the females. Again, the elites scoffed, insisting that if a modern woman wants sex, she gets it, and if she doesn’t want it, she refuses it.
And so, the title of last week’s article, buried on page 13A: “Female Veterans: Sexual Trauma haunts 1 in 5.” They are getting raped, and they don’t want to talk about it. The solution to this explosion of military rape couldn’t be simpler (separate the women from the men), but it will escape the grasp of most policymakers. That’s because the elites didn’t read the memo on Original Sin. They insist that “I’m OK, You’re OK.” They blithely maintain that hawks will always treat doves with respect and dignity. They imagine that their petty “sexual revolution” has liberated man’s nature, which has remained bound to cruel lust these last 5000 years. Or perhaps, these policymakers know well what is in the heart of man, but wish to take advantage of the naïve.
And now to California schools’ co-ed bathrooms: the elites in California have recently exercised their power over another set of simple and innocent doves: schoolgirls and schoolboys. Governor Jerry Brown signed the law for all public schools, effective Jan 1. What do we expect will happen? Do we imagine that high school students, glutted with sexual stimulation from the time they could talk, will respect each other’s dignity? Do we think that 16-year-old public school students will modestly avert their eyes and their comments? What do we think will happen when an overweight and insecure girl squeezes into the stall behind the row of urinals on a crowded school day? What will happen, I wonder, when three beefy high school seniors declare they are “female” and demand entrance into the girls’ showers after a game?
What I expect is that in a few years, or a few months, we will see an article on page 13A of the local newspaper: “Teens Traumatized in School Bathrooms.” Who will be the loser? Governor Brown? I expect he has his own private bathroom in Sacramento.
Yesterday was Mother Teresa’s Day. Since she has not been canonized, she is not yet on the liturgical calendar, but she died—or was born into eternal life—on September 5, 1997. I spent most of April that year in Calcutta and saw her almost every day, and saw Jesus every day in the poorest of the poor. Mother taught me, and the many volunteers who came to Calcutta, to see Jesus in every person. One morning I was carrying a dying man back to his bed in Mother Teresa’s home for the dying destitutes. Like a thunderbolt striking me, I realized with absolute conviction that I held Jesus in my arms. I’ve struggled over the years to maintain that conviction, but it dims and fades with time and trouble. But yesterday, Mother Teresa’s Day, I saw Him again.
It was my day off, so after Mass I stuffed some books in a lawn chair and headed for the beach. Many Americans these days flaunt tattoos, body piercings, and shock-jock hair. I passed many such people on the way to the sands, and it irritated and depressed me. What do they think they are communicating with these “body statements?” Can’t they see they only ape the thoughtless barbarism everyone sees on Television? When is America going to grow up?
Such were my grumblings as I made my way to the ocean. Since it was hot, I stopped in one of those gas station mini-marts for a bottle of cold tea. I got in line with all the other barbarians to pay and saw that the young lady at the counter had two cheek piercings and purple hair. “That will be $1.04,” she said with a radiant smile. “Hmmm, not the usual pasted-on smile at the cash register,” I mused (another thing: salespeople almost never even look at you when they take your money these days). I gave her a dollar and four pennies, trying to limit personal interaction. “Thank you for exact change,” she said, looking at me with joy. “You’re welcome” I mumbled, and headed off. “Have a wonderful day,” she called after me, and I turned to look at her. She was positively beaming. Her purple hair and twittering cheek piercings faded beneath this angelic radiance. “Thank you,” I smiled. She gave a little wave and turned to the next customer.
Yesterday, Mother Teresa’s Day, I saw Jesus again, beneath his distressing disguise. Certainly the barbarism of our time—the spiritual poverty of the West— is senseless, as senseless as the poverty of Calcutta. But beneath even this disguise, Jesus smiles at us. Thank you, Mother Teresa, for showing me Jesus again. Thanks Mom!
The Obama Administration is seeking congressional support for a military strike against Syria. President Obama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, has said that America’s “credibility” is on the line if we do not attack Syria. But what “credibility” does America have among thoughtful people of good will? I asked some locals in Venezuela last month (definitely not “Chavistas”) how they see America. They spoke of our country in two terms: its invincible military and its global-dominating economy, both of which promote simple American self-interest. America takes what it wants from the world, they seemed to say. The Obama Administration insists it wants to strike Syria in the interest of world peace, but who can believe that?
Virtually every non-political organization in the Middle East is pleading against military intervention. The Orthodox Patriarch of Damascus, the Jesuits in Syria, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, and Melkite Patriarch in Syria, the Copts (who are facing extermination in Egypt from US-supported regime change), and the Armenians are all saying to President Obama “do not send attack missiles into our country.” In a magazine interview, Trappist nuns in Aleppo describe the real situation in their country: “All has been destroyed: a nation destroyed, generations of young people exterminated, children growing up wielding weapons, women winding up alone and targeted by various types of violence. The people are straining their eyes and ears in front of the television: all they’re waiting for is a word from Obama! … Will they make us breathe the toxic gases of the depots they hit, tomorrow, so as to punish us for the gases we have already breathed in? …It has become too easy to pass lies off as noble gestures, to pass ruthless self-interest off as a search for justice, to pass the need to appear [strong] and to wield power off as a “moral responsibility not to look away…”
Has our military intervention in the Middle East ever
yielded any measure of peace proportionate to the chaos and destruction, and the long-term political instability, of war? I was talking to a group of US Marines on Sunday, who shook their heads when I asked what they thought of a military attack on Syria. “Let’s just hope Congress persuades him against it,” one said.
Few understand the local people and politics better than non-governmental aid agencies, and few have as much experience and credibility as Caritas International. “Scaling up military intervention by foreign powers will simply widen the war and increase the suffering,” Caritas Secretary General Michel Roy recently said. “The last decade bears witness to the tragic consequences of military intervention in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. Caritas believes that the only humanitarian solution is a negotiated one.”
Pope Francis agrees, and himself is pleading with President Obama to negotiate with rather than to bomb Syria. He has asked us all to fast on Saturday, with heartfelt prayers to God, that our government does the right thing. The American Bishops’ Conference (on their website) has given more specific guidance on Saturday’s day of prayer for peace in Syria.
Must we attack in order to preserve our “credibility?” President Obama said we must attack Syria in response to the Sarin gas attack that killed hundreds of Syrian children. If he were truly concerned about the lives of children, he would sign an executive order tomorrow banning abortion in this country. Then, perhaps, America would begin to regain some of the credibility we once had before God and men.
A new student greets College President Dr. Michael
McLean and Bishop Kevin Vann at the opening of
the academic year.
On Monday our College President opened the new academic year, presiding over the entire student body with full faculty and staff. Academic regalia fluttered from the shoulders of the assembled faculty, and a robust wooden mace resting before the President’s podium lent the proper gravity. The teachers at Thomas Aquinas College refer to themselves as “tutors” rather than professors, more in the way of “coaches” rather than perfect athletes. They thus declare that everyone in this academic community is a lifelong student exercising the gift for wonder, aspiring to rather than possessing Truth and Beauty.
One hundred and three freshmen sat facing us. In their demeanor, their dress, and their speech, they seemed truly la crème de la crème of Catholic college students. How blessed are the parents of such children! Yet their parents have entrusted them and their formation to Thomas Aquinas College. If they are Catholics, they have particularly entrusted them to the four priests of the College. Facing such an array of eager, intelligent, and potentially excellent young people, we rejoiced in the privilege of contributing to their intellectual and spiritual development.
What strikes one in a Catholic college is the presence of the priest, and we have four of them at TAC. Students turn to their teachers as mentors, as kind and wise aunts and uncles, but they turn unabashedly to their priests as “fathers.” Priests do not find this “spiritual fatherhood” easy (many feel uncomfortable in being called “father” or wearing their priestly garb), but we do find it compelling. I recall the story of Sir Alec Guinness, as recounted in the London Guardian thirteen years ago: “Guinness's conversion to Roman Catholicism followed an episode in France during the 1954 filming of Father Brown, in which he was GK Chesterton's cheery cleric-cum-detective. Walking back in the dark to the station hotel, and still wearing his cassock, his hand was seized by a small boy, a complete stranger, who called him "Mon père" and trotted along beside him, chatting in French.” I myself just spent two weeks in Haiti, where complete strangers greeted me every day with “Bonjour, mon père!” They believe in our fatherhood.
Like most young men, I wanted to get married and have many children. My plan was to be a forest ranger and live in a Little House in the Big Woods with my family (I had read all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books). Now it’s been 22 years since I vowed celibacy “for the sake of the Kingdom.” As we opened the College year on Monday, that Kingdom again opened up before me. A beautiful garden of young people looked at their priests and tutors with expectation. They will call their priests “father.” Dare I call them “children?” Priests used to address their Sunday congregations as “my dearest sons and daughters;” now priests less confidently say only “my brothers and sisters.” At some point in our lives, we priests must begin calling people “my beloved children” without embarrassment. An “elder” can call another man’s son or daughter “his” child, but the tricky thing is that even a 25-year-old man, once ordained, is an “elder” (presbyter in Greek, meaning “old man). At 51, I feel significantly closer to “elder status” than I did at 29. Still, spiritual fatherhood is such a wonderful grace that I can scarcely believe in it. But believe in it I do. May God supply what I lack, that I may be a good father to these students.
Jaques Paul gives the sidewalk at the
MC retreat center in Haiti a
good morning sweep
Reporting from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, from a retreat for about 30 Missionaries of Charity. The sisters run an orphanage for 110 children, which American and European couples adopt on a continuous basis. Last week a husband and wife from Minnesota were finishing up a three-year process to adopt “Evanston,” a boy of about ten, black as coal with a flashing white smile. People drop orphans off at the convent gate all the time, and sometimes just bring their sick children if they can’t find a doctor. Yesterday Sr. Mahrte (a French sister who has been in the Caribbean for 25 years) showed me the orphans, tiny little ones reaching up from their cribs to clutch a finger, and bigger ones who all wanted the big white man (in a black shirt) to hoist them into the air for an airplane ride. The sisters go about the City as well, bringing food, helping the MC Brothers at their home for the dying, picking dead and dying people off the streets, and managing a small hospital of their own. Sr. Joie, another French MC, whose name precisely describes her buoyant spirit, excitedly showed me the little Montessori school for the orphans. They also use the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, with a toy church, altar, sheep pen, and of course a Noah’s Ark. “Oui, mon Pere,” she gesticulated excitedly, “we teach les petits all about La Sainte Messe with pictures, before they can even read!”
The compound is quite large, perched on the edge of a foul stream whose maliferous odors, thanks be to God, never seem to overcome the convent buildings. It is quite a garden inside the convent walls, with abundant banana trees, shady grape arbors, spreading coconut palms, ponderous mangos, fiery acacias, citrus, rhododendron, various flowering shrubs, and luxuriant ferns. A menagerie of domesticated animals wanders the grounds as well: two hounds, about a dozen noisy turkeys, skinny cats beyond number, roosters and hens, clicking-clacking geckos, and bunches of white rabbits (the latter confined to warrens, and taken out occasionally for lunches and dinners). It is quite a little community of flora and fauna!
With so much animal and plant life, and the MC love of order and cleanliness, the sisters and their three or four Haitian helpers sweep down the entire place every day. That means someone is sweeping somewhere at any given time. I wake up at 6am to the sound of the old gardener quietly sweeping the patio outside my room. During Mass at 7am one of the ladies sweeps around the chapel. From where I give my retreat conferences I can see one of the drivers sweeping around the magnolia trees. During holy hour I can hear the sweep sweep coming from somewhere. They always sweep in silence, patiently, almost as an act of prayer.
And you know what I have not heard in Port-au-Prince yet? The garrulous growl of a leaf blower. I suppose they can’t afford them, or don’t like them, or prefer to quietly, methodically sweep sweep away. As I write this I can see the old gardener loping past my window, a broom and basket in hand. This is something I love about Haiti, and most “less developed” cultures. They love cleanliness and order as much as we do, but they enjoy the act cleaning, naturally, the way a cat takes time to lick itself down, or a bird arranges its nest, or a bee colony carefully puts everything in order.
Leaf blowers, as I have always said, are from the devil!