On Reading Thomas

Thomas is always a joy to read. An ordering of the mind. A judicious approach, multifaceted and subtle yet not tangled and unruly.

Now and again, one tastes a bit of the angelic. Things in the world recede in their tumbling chaos. Not, mind you, to the loss of their detail. But their real being, their weight, and their true finality appears through the din of what would otherwise, deafening me, make lame my mind’s eye so that I could not feel all their stuff. Now and again, one of Thomas’s insights gathers one on high to taste this angelic stance, at once very human.

So it was, this morning, in reading his ‘On Judgment.’ Who would have thought, before turning these pages, that judgment is an act of justice? Not I. Often, Thomas is intuitive. Not this time. At any rate, he goes on to cite Aristotle: People seek refuge in a judge, as in a sort of living justice. (And so, this time, the insight is Aristotle’s. But who owns an idea anyway? We are all in the school. It is habits of mind, not ownership; truth, not persons, for which we are most eager.)

Reading this peculiar passage brought a recollection of things past: children’s voices raised in animosity. A dispute. An argument. Recourse! Recourse to whom? To a third party. To Mom or Dad. All those times that seemed so wearisome, so bothersome, …. All these now gathered together in the insight: people seek refuge in a judge. Why? They want a right saying. How consoling to read the Master and to have meaning found where one saw only chaos.