My Lenten Journey with Dante, Augustine, and Samwise

David Russell Mosley

botticelli-augustine

Lent
24 February 2016
The Edge of Elfland
Hudson, New Hampshire

Dear Friends and Family,

It’s been a while since I’ve written, I apologize. Early in January I got asked to teach an extra class for Johnson University, one developed by someone else, and I’ve been snowed in by homework ever since. I have finally caught up, however, and am now waiting for my students to turn in their final projects, a research paper on the Apostles’ Creed, this Sunday. While I probably should be working on my conference paper for the NEMAAR in April, or either of the two books I have coming out, I thought I would stop to write a little something about Lent.

A little over a month ago I wrote about trying to return to a life of pilgrimage. While Lent is an excellent time to engage in the journeying nature of the faith, I admit to having struggled with it a bit. My Lenten fasts have been going OK, but I have this sense that this Lent could be particularly transformative for me, if I only allow it. It was, therefore, rather providential that I came across “First Steps, Brancaster” by poet Malcolm Guite. Guite’s poem, while set in Winter, hit me on day when the weather was warm and I was sitting outside. Sadly, it has gotten colder again, it even snowed last night. Nevertheless, read this stanza:

This is the day to leave the dark behind you

Take the adventure, step beyond the hearth,

Shake off at last the shackles that confined you,

And find the courage for the forward path.

You yearned for freedom through the long night watches,

The day has come and you are free to choose,

Now is your time and season.

Companioned still by your familiar crutches,

And leaning on the props you hope to lose,

You step outside and widen your horizon.

This season, Lent, this day, is when I begin the first steps of my journey. I am moving forward, limping, but heading forward nevertheless. I have not only my crutches but my guides. This Lent I am reading several books that I think will help me as they are themselves stories of journeys, quests, and pilgrimages. As I wrote to you in my letter on pilgrimage, I am still reading Dante’s Divine Comedy. Just yesterday I left the ante-room of Purgatory with Virgil and the Pilgrim. Later today I will enter the garden of Eden with them working my way ever closer to the Beatific Vision, or at least whatever glimpses I can get of it this side of the parousia. I am also reading Augustine’s Confessions journeying with him into the depths of my soul, into the depths of my sin, so I can come out of the muck and mire of my sinfulness and reach up and be raised up to the Trinity. Lastly, I’m re-reading The Lord of the Rings, which I read every year. I am joining Frodo, Sam, and the others on a journey to see new beauties and face new horrors in the hope that when I return home, should I return home, I will not return the same.

I hope this Lent will be transformative for me, but even more, I hope it will be transformative for you.

Sincerely,

David

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A Day in the Life of PhD in Theology

Dear Friends and Family,

It had been on my mind for a while to do a post on what a day usually looks like for me and then just yesterday a gentleman named Nic told me he would be interested in hearing about my daily schedule. Well, here it is:

05:00

My alarm goes off, I role out of bed, wash my face and hair, shave, wax my moustache, and get dressed.

I always lay out my clothes the night before.

I always lay out my clothes the night before.

Beard and Moustache Station

Beard and Moustache Station

Getting Dressed Part 1

Getting Dressed Part 1

05:30

I then head into the Study to do my morning reading. I begin by reading Scripture and Praying (using the Church of England’s Website to help guide my prayers). After I’ve read and prayed, I move from my desk to my armchair and do the rest of my morning reading and journaling. Sometimes, I start with a selection from a spiritual master. Right now, I’m reading through Augustine’s Sermons for Liturgical Seasons. Then I write in my journal, usually a prayer or just some thoughts I have. After journaling, I pull out one of my research books and my research journal and read a chapter or so out of it. Then, if there’s time, I read a little something for fun. Lately that has been a Father Brown Story from G. K. Chesterton and a chapter or two from the Lord of the Rings.

Books and Journals from Last Friday

Books and Journals from Last Friday

07:00

Once I’ve finished my reading, Lauren usually gets up and starts making breakfast while I finish getting dressed. Then we sit down, eat, and usually watch part of a show together.

Getting Dressed Part 2

Getting Dressed Part 2

Breakfast

Breakfast

07:30-07:45

After breakfast, I finish packing up my things and head out to the office.

Heading to the Office

Heading to the Office

08:00

Once I get to the office I set up my desk and begin working. Usually, I read and take notes for a few hours until lunchtime. My reading during this time is more of what I was reading in the morning and then, sometimes, chapters out of books I’m not going to read in full or journal articles.

Work Station

Work Station

Reading
Reading

Writing

Writing

12:00

Then I eat lunch and usually watch a video from the department’s Why Study Series: (which usually ends up leading to a post on here).

12:30 or 13:00

After lunch I do a bit more reading. Right now, I’ve been reading some poetry from Pope John Paul II before getting back into my research. I try to read as broadly as I can, I find that it really helps when I write that I’ve read such a diversity of genre. Also, sometimes, after lunch I go for a walk around the lake.

Contemplation and Pipe Smoking Go Well Together

Contemplation and Pipe Smoking Go Well Together

After my walk, I come back, do more reading, and sometimes some heavy writing. I try to write something most days. Sometimes, like today, it’s a blog post, other times it’s a couple hundred words on the chapter I’m writing.

15:00

By the late afternoon, if I don’t have a seminar to attend or a class I’m sitting in on, I pack up my things and head home. Once I get home, I usually change into some workout clothes and do my afternoon exercises. (Sorry, I’ve not got any pictures of me in workout clothes, you’ll just have to imagine it.) After I work out, I grab and shower and then go back into the study to read some more fiction before dinner.

18:00

Once dinner’s ready Lauren and I either sit down at the dinner table and eat and chat or we sit down at the coffee table and eat, chat, and watch a show/movie. Lately, we’ve been watching the Vampire Diaries, an interesting, albeit girl-oriented, show about vampires (we were both suckers for Buffy and Angel back in the day).

20:30-21:00

As we wind down our day, Lauren and I get ready for bed. Since Lauren’s never read the Chronicles of Narnia before, we’re currently reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe together. After we’ve read a chapter or two of it, Lauren roles over and goes to sleep. If I have any energy left, I usually grab whatever fiction book I’m reading (The Two Towers at the moment) and read until I’m too tired to carry on.

22:00

By no later to ten, it’s lights out for me and to sleep before another day of reading and writing.

Well, that’s a pretty general day in my life. Perhaps not overly exciting, but it suits me well enough. Hopefully, in the near future, things like gardening and more walks will make their way into my routine. For now, we’re still stuck with snow and ice.

I hope you’re all well.

Yours,
David