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"The only hope, or else despair
Lies in the choice of pyre or pyre –
T.S. Eliot wrote those remarkable words in his poem, The Four Quartets. Brief though they are, they capture an entire anthropology, a spirituality of longing and a theology of Advent.
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Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, as even his critics admit, was a man of hope. Indeed his whole vision of things is generally criticized for being too hopeful. So, in trying to explain hope and advent, allow me a Teilhard story:
In one of her early books, Annie Dillard shares how she once learned a lesson, the hard way, about the importance of waiting. She had been watching a butterfly slowly emerge from its cocoon.
A couple of years ago, Robert Waller published a book that became a runaway bestseller and an immensely popular movie. Entitled The Bridges of Madison County, it stirred the romantic imagination in a way that few other stories have in recent times, especially as it was played out in its film version by Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep. The story runs this way: