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Today is the anniversary of the birth of the Cavalier Poet Robert Herrick in 1591.  While one person in fifty probably could not identify him by name anymore, the opening line of his poem “To the Virgins, To Make Much of Time” still rings the collective bell:

GATHER ye rosebuds while ye may,
    Old time is still a-flying :
And this same flower that smiles to-day
    To-morrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
    The higher he’s a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
    And nearer he’s to setting.

That age is best which is the first,
    When youth and blood are warmer ;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
    Times still succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time,
    And while ye may go marry :
For having lost but once your prime
    You may for ever tarry.

 It strikes me that these poet Johnnies know a thing or two.

“The Awakening of Adonis” by John William Waterhouse.  (No doubt the young lady is one of those whose virtue Mrs. P is so concerned to protect by shooting fellahs in greatcoats at dawn.)

I have been horribly remiss in not posting sooner the fact that my dear pal Kathy the Cake-Eater is on her annual drive to raise some coin for her nephew James and his battle against Type-1 Diabetes. Consider going on over and helping Kathy & James out.  Although her post has been up for a while, it’s not too late to chip in.

Now, while on the subject of Kathy, I am going to tell you a little story which centers on this:

This is a little pocket-cross that Kathy sent to me when I swam the Tiber this past spring.  With it went a story of a very good deed Kathy had done for her sister for which she, Kathy, had originally received the cross, so I was particularly touched to receive it from Kathy in my turn.

Well, since that time this cross has spent most of its existence in my pocket.  Indeed, it has become downright talismanic to me:  Whenever I find myself stressed or aimless, or when my mind wanders off into places where it ought not to go, I have developed a habit of reaching into my pocket and fiddling with it.  Coupled with a few Ave, Marias, I have found this habit to be most refreshing and strengthening from a spiritual standpoint.  (Not that I really believe the thing has any kind of mystical “powers” in and of itself. But it has become a focal point for my own feeble efforts at piety.)

It happens that Mrs. Robbo has noticed this habit of mine.  Indeed, since the spring, Mrs. Robbo has been paying a considerable amount of attention to my religious practices and has begun to feel the urge to probe spiritual matters much more deeply herself.  To this end, a few weeks back she asked me for a good, solid book to really explain the fundamentals of Christian belief.  I immediately recommended C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity.  Mrs. R has not been able to put it down since and we have had some very good conversations.

So getting back to this cross: While we were on hols in Maine last week, I managed to lose the thing.  I searched high and I searched low.  I wracked my brains for every place I could have left it.  I offered a sizeable bounty to the gels to hunt it up.  But no luck.  Although terribly disappointed, after a couple days I began to resign myself to the idea that it was gone for good.

Came the last morning and we were just loading up the car in preparation to leaving when suddenly Mrs. R appeared and asked me to close my eyes and hold out my hand.   And damme if she did not drop this cross into it.  It turned out that I had left it in some pants that went into the wash.  And although I had checked both washer and dryer, I had not thought to fish through the basket of clean laundry.  It was there among some towels that Mrs. R discovered it while putting them away.

Now for the point of all this:  Mrs. R told me afterward that when she gave the cross back to me, she felt a kind of spiritual tingle, knowing what the it meant to me.  (I must say that I felt it, too.)  Somehow, I just can’t help feeling that some of the Faith that I have now more fully embraced, and that is represented physically in things like Kathy’s gift to me, is beginning to rub off on Mrs. R as well.   And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is a truly gratifying thought.

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