An Encounter with Divine Beauty
This article is different from all others in this section. It draws from personal experience to resolve the issue of deathbed repentance ~ With thanks to Dr. Rawls for letting me date his drop-dead gorgeous daughter. Also on this site is my description of how Dr. Rawls' theory of justice could solve the problem of divine justice in the afterlife (click here).
An Encounter with Divine Beauty
It was 17 years before receiving the National Humanities Medal from President Clinton when Dr. Rawls ran into me, while I was visiting the President of St. Peters, Dr. Aylmer, for tea. It was after I had broken up Emma Aylmer, the President's adopted, half-Moroccan daughter. But we were still friends. Emma was a ferociously independent girl, much younger than me, expelled from two schools previously, and I had been a good influence on her. Dr. Rawls' youngest daughter was almost as wild as Emma, and much closer to my own age. So Dr. Rawls thought we would be good for each other. He also liked the little Devon town where I was living at the time when not up at Oxford. So he brought her down to meet me during the Trinity break.
Our first date was in a pub, and she enjoyed me, so she invited me to her Chelsea flat on Sloane Street. It took me a year to get there. Then we spent an afternoon together, and she made me laugh for hours. The story I'll never forget was her account of her rushing into the living room, worried about a strange noise that woke her up. She couldn't imagine how she had started a fire with a joint she was smoking, but she couldn't think of another explanation while she was waking up. There in the middle of her living room was a dark silhouette, backlit by the night illumination through the bay windows from a sandwich shop across the street. It was a burglar. He had crawled through her open skylight. He turned to look at her, his head covered with a woolen ski hat, a slit for his eyes. While she was remembering various accounts of sneak thieves in the neighborhood and figuring out how to make a run for the fireplace poker, he pulled off his hat. To her astonishment, she realized he must be at least 70 years old. "Jesus, love," he said, "you gave me one hell of a shock. I think I'm going to poop myself. Please can I use your loo?"
Frankly, the girl was way out of my class. On the second date, I'd been through a rough time, and the carefree humor she had enjoyed was gone. I just sat there boggling at the vivacious spirit of life in her, and her gorgeous eyes, her thin lips, chiseled cheeks, and cascading hair. But she was always still kind to me. One thing I always think of, she is one pretty girl I never need to worry about being in urgent distress. She always handled herself with total and devastating aplomb.
Oh, now you think I am talking about my encounter with divine beauty? But I am not. I am talking about his.
As to what she did, she did tell me eventually, with a little fustration, but I didn't actually want to know. I also knew her father, who has since received a medal from President Clinton for his work on justice and fairness. Some judgments really are better left unsaid, and that for me really is the answer on issues such as 'deathbed repentance.'
Wishing you a beautiful day :)