Sunday, January 02, 2005

Why "Little Gidding"?

"The hamlet of Little Gidding (in England) centres on the
church and, until recently, a religious community lived in the farmhouse and
neighbouring buildings. A community was established in 1636 by the Ferrar
family. The founder, Nicholas Ferrar was inspired both by the Catholic and
Protestant teachings of the time - but wanted to create a community where the
best of both could be used in harmony. He also wanted a community in which
married people with children could live alongside those committed to the single
life - each feeding and balancing the other. " (from the community's web
site, above)

T. S. Eliot visited the community of Little Gidding in 1936, and then used it as the setting and title for the fourth and final "Quartet", his master work and the last large serious poem he would publish. These poems (the Four Quartets) together with the book of Ecclesiastes express most completely my deepest sense of the sense of the world and our lives in it. (For an extended discussion of one aspect of these works, see my essay "Time and the Present in Eliot and Ecclesiastes" ) The poem "Little Gidding", while not my favorite among the Quartets (that honor would go to either East Coker or Dry Salvages), is the culmination of Eliot's consideration of the mysteries of life.

As I grow older, "the world becomes stranger". While more certain about a few things (I am indeed a sinner, Jesus is indeed my Saviour, the Bible is indeed the book of Life) yet the tidy understandings I enjoyed as a young man have mostly been rearranged and many of them pitched out as unusable because too neat. The list of things I certainly do not know has grown ever so much longer than the list of things I know, no matter my continued learning. This experience is beautifully validated as normal by the Preacher of Ecclesiastes and by Eliot.

So, I am an older man, and "old men ought to be explorers; here and there does not matter." I have raised my family and have a wife, four beautiful children and a son-in-law with whom I am well pleased. I have made my fortune to the extent that I may devote more time to those pursuits that do not produce an income. I am pursuing a master's degree at St. John's College in Annapolis, reading through the classics that constitute the canon of western thought. When the wind is fair, I sail the Chesapeake Bay out of Spa Creek. Life is good.

In this blog, I hope to grapple with those Questions that continue to press upon me. In so far as I share my nature and many of my experiences with the rest of humanity, I trust that some of these musings will resonate with others who may comment upon them, critique them, and, I hope, move them toward wisdom and truth.

PS: Note that though this site is called "Little Gidding", that Blogspot is already in use by a gentleman affiliated with the Anglican church. This site can be accessed as


  1. You're at St. Johns!? That is on the short list of colleges my daughters are interested in, for a few years from now. Their only regret being that it is not in New York.

  2. Anonymous9:06 PM

    You may enjoy this piece: