12:12:09 AM EDT
Morality without a sense of paradox is mean.
Friedrich Von Schlegel
I have always loved paradoxes, those things that can't be but are, the wrong way of doing something that somehow works, the unchangeable fact that sometimes changes, the sign that reads "this lane must turn right" over a sign that reads "no turns." Finding my lost journal entries after having been assured with no doubt by the experts and authorities that it was impossible and that they were gone for good.
One of the first paradoxes I remember was of an actress who was auditioning for a musical. She sang an upbeat number and was quite good. The director asked if she had a sad ballad. So quietly, very slowly and with an innocent pleading quality in her voice she sang "Take me out to the ball game," (this was a girl who never has a date) "take me out with the crowd," (she just wanted to be with people) "buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks," (it was heart rending) "I don't care if I never come back," (bless her).
I used to do summer theatre in Provincetown, Massachusetts, which is out at the end of Cape Cod. Provincetown is many things. There's an artists community, a gay community, some old time Yankees and the hundreds of tourists who visit every summer. But what it actually is year round is a Portuguese-American fishing village.
One summer I had a unit in a motel owned by a very nice couple. She took care of the motel and he was co-owner of a fishing boat. It was early summer and time for the Blessing of the Fleet. He invited me to come out on his boat for it, which I was eager to do. We circled around the bay with all the boats in a parade. When we approached the pier there was the Bishop of Fall River or New Bedford (I never knew which) and the local priest. The Provincetown priest was named Duarte and people used to call him Our Father Duarte in Heaven. While the Bishop said the prayer, Father Duarte flung the holy water on us. Then we all went out to the ocean for a while.
But the most paradoxical blessing I ever saw was a video of the Blessing of the Fleet on Kodiak Island, Alaska. It being Alaska, the clergy were of the Russian Orthodox branch of Christianity. The Bishop and local Priest were there, bearded, and in colorful robes. People were holding banners and icons and everyone had big smiles. They were having a joyous time. But there was a steep drop from where the priests were to the boats below, a bit too far to fling the water. So while the Bishop was saying the prayers the priest had a white plastic squeeze bottle in his hand with black letters that read HOLY WATER. I thought it was a hoot. Squirt the captain in the face if you have to but get the blessed water on the boat!
DB - The Vagabond