A couple of weeks ago, I commented on how St. Gregory the Great’s Book of Pastoral Rule begins. (Something about the care of souls being “the art of arts.”) That silver-tongued fellow does something just as artistic at the end of his opus:
“Alas, I am like a poor painter who tries to paint the ideal man. [Again], I am trying to point others to the shore of perfection, as I am tossed back and forth by the waves of sin. But in the shipwreck of this life, I beg you to sustain me with the plank of your prayers, so that your merit-filled hands might lift me up, since my own weight causes me to sink.”
He refers to his own failings “in the shipwreck of this life.” As I read that, a song that has received plenty of airplay on alt-rock stations came to mind. Florence and the Machines’ “Ship to Wreck” deals with self-destructive tendencies—something that our friend Gregory might also ponder. “Did I drink too much? Am I losing touch? Did I build this ship to wreck?” (Who knows how much of that stuff Gregory would identify with?)
In recent months, I’ve been working through issues that might be considered “shipwrecks.” Sometimes what appear to be dreamboats reveal themselves as shipwrecks! It’s fascinating how much stuff can be jettisoned when your ship is taking on water.