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A Prayer for Sea and Sucre

July 15, 2016
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Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

Where there is darkness, let me sow light.

Where there is sorrow, joy.

Grant that I should never seek

so much to be consoled as to console.

I realize that I probably need to hold up my end of the bargain and all. A lot of the time, I feel like I have no idea how to do this.

But the English word “essay” comes from the French infinitive “essayer,” which means “to try.”

So I will try to tell you about the time I was in Nice and I drank black tea sweetened by a crystalline cube that seemed like it had been wrapped in crinkle-gossamer wax paper by fairy hands. The thing was almost too beautiful to unfold.

Before that, sugar came from a bowl or a packet. And I drank a lot of tea with cream and sugar. But I could have been drinking tea with cream and sucre. Who knew?

***

Dear Mr. Nadeau:

As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.

Sailors have an expression about the weather: they say, the weather is a great bluffer. I guess the same is true of our human society — things can look dark, then a break shows in the clouds, and all is changed, sometimes rather suddenly. It is quite obvious that the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet. But as a people we probably harbor seeds of goodness that have lain for a long time waiting to sprout when the conditions are right. Man’s curiosity, his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity have led him into deep trouble. We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out.

Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.

Sincerely,

E. B. White

from Letters of Note: Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience

***

The paper was rose-colored, I think.

Or maybe it was cyan, but I don’t know for sure, because at the time my body and soul were processing a new definition of the color blue.

O Divine Master,

Grant that I may always remember

the first time I saw the Mediterranean.

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