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  • Writer's pictureDenise Tolan

The Daily Dick: Musing in a Time of Angst

From The Pulpit

"Father Mapple was in the hardy winter of a healthy old age; that sort of old age which seems merging into a second flowering youth, for among all the fissures of his wrinkles, there shone certain mild gleams of a newly developing bloom—the spring verdure peeping forth even beneath February’s snow."


Musing: I am rereading Moby-Dick sequentially, today I happened to read "The Pulpit." Ah Father Mapple. I can see Gregory Peck with his black eyebrows, white hair and chiseled cheeks, holding his arms out wide and preaching hard.

I read and I thought of another older person I had seen preaching just today. Justice Breyer. At 83, there seems to shine “certain mild gleams of a newly developing bloom” in his eyes and in his words. Today he warned us, that “we are now engaged in a great civil war to determine whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. [ . . .] And I say, I want you — and I'm talking to the students now — I say, I want you to pick just this up. It's an experiment that's still going on. And I'll tell you something: you know who will see whether that experiment works? It's you, my friend. It's you mister high school student. It's you, mister college student, it's you mister law school students. It's us, but it's you. It's that next generation and the one after that. My grandchildren and their children. They'll determine whether the experiment still works. And of course, I am an optimist, and I'm pretty sure it will.”

Melville’s Mapple and Justice Breyer are great reminders for us to listen to the knowledge that comes from age. And the older I get, the more I’ll preach that as well!

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