Thursday, March 02, 2017

"A Wider-World Romance" by Peter A. Black

Today I share a modified edition of an article from my column, P-Pep! The original was published February 23, 2017, in The Standard Guide Advocate, a newspaper serving a number of communities in Lambton County, Ontario.
As I write, with tired eyes and my head in a whirl, I feel the pressure of someone who should be closing things down for the night. But, several minutes ago I inhaled a second wind.

Among the hundreds of volumes on my disorganized, overflowing bookshelves sit two books
that I first read forty years ago. They aren’t buried behind double-banked volumes like so many others, for I can spot them when I make a 180 degree turn on my computer chair. Tonight they caught my eye—again. They patiently await that second reading.

One is titled Great Possessions. The other is a three-books-in-one volume, collectively titled Adventures of David Grayson. They were originally published separately as: Adventures in Contentment, Adventures in Friendship, and The Friendly Road

I’m convinced that Ray Stannard Baker, who wrote those books under the pen name of David Grayson, was a romantic in a wider, less limited sense of the term. Generalising, here’s what I reckon fits that wider sense:

Romantics are possessed of a healthy curiosity, and so they enjoy discovery and pursue adventure, seeking to expand their horizons of knowledge and understanding of their world and of the human condition. They love life and are most often lovers of people, and they care about relationships and value friendship.

That is the essence of Grayson’s first-person voice in the series, as I recall from those four decades ago. And that for me betokens the nature of a ‘wider-world romantic.’ 

The wider-world romantic individual romances life itself. 

I pecked away at this article the day news broke of the death of Stuart McLean, OC – one of Canada’s true romantics. McLean – humorist and well-loved storyteller, emeritus journalism professor at Toronto’s Ryerson University and the host of CBC radio’s The Vinyl Café – was a recipient of multiple awards.  

My wife and I will miss his intensely engaging and hilariously funny stories about the fictitious family of Dave and Morley and their kids – Stephanie and Sam, and also the family’s friends and neighbours.

Tributes have been pouring in from Stuart’s colleagues and fans. These repeatedly speak of his ability to listen to people, even strangers, and how his stories connect with everyday folk and unite Canadians across the country. His warm sense of humanity resonated in the hearts of his concert and radio audiences.

Gender, sexuality and sex generally fulfil a necessary role in the propagation of species in the biological realm, yet I maintain that romance exists apart from them. The biblical account of God’s bringing the universe into existence, and in particular, the earth and the world in which we live, speaks to me of romance in the broader sense.

Many segments of the Christian community observe Lent—the six-week period of heart preparation and personal reflection culminating in Good Friday and Easter (Resurrection Sunday).

Lent provides a focus point for consideration and appreciation of “The Divine Romance.” This romance, in which the Almighty Creator’s self-assumed desire for relationship and fellowship with human beings through redemption, is very much the story of the Bible.

 It is clearly encapsulated and expressed in the narratives of Jesus’ birth, His life, compassion and love, and His sacrificial death and resurrection.
The Divine Romance in a nutshell:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes  in [trusts and relies upon] him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16-17 NIV).
That’s the ‘wider-world romance’!

Peter A. Black lives in Southwestern Ontario. He writes a weekly inspirational newspaper column, P-Pep! and is author of Raise Your Gaze ... Mindful Musings of a Grateful Heart, and Parables from the Pond. ~~+~~


Eleanor Shepherd said...

Thank you, Peter, for these thoughts. I am so sorry that I did not read and respond to your note immediately. Glen and I and our kids all appreciated Stuart McLean as well, especially since he grew up in a part of the world that is so dear to us. We miss him, especially on Saturday mornings. Warm regards. Eleanor

Peter Black said...

Thanks Eleanor. The Dave and Morley stories, with Sam and Murphey and Stephanie and the gaggle of friends and neighbours, with their contrasting personalities, made for great radio. Our #3 son Jerome had, over time, provided us a collection of Vinyl Café books and CDs of Stuart's wonderful story-telling. They'll be even more of a treasure now that he (Stuart) has passed on.~~+~~

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