I’m being a little facetious, of course. And I tend to think weird (i.e. lofty and true?) thoughts when I’m smoking a cigar, as I am now.
But I’m being a little serious, too. Through my experience, I’ve come to believe that there are certain qualities to a cigar — and to a (moderate) habit to smoking one — that can help us live a better life, and a more Catholic life.
How, you might ask?
Perhaps it’s the way cigars help build friendships. Some of the most memorable and meaningful discussions for me have occurred over a cigar — from personal heart-to-hearts about life and love, struggles and fears; to joint intellectual exploration of important ideas, such as the compatibility of American democracy with Catholic hierarchy. Times such as these are what C.S. Lewis called “the Golden Sessions.”
Perhaps it’s the way cigars help you relax and reflect on life when you’re alone…Those are the moments when you can be with yourself and with God and can say with full honesty and gratitude: “Life is good.”
It might be in the ideas associated with a cigar. Its celebratory connotations remind us that after struggle and work come respite and reward, while its connection to class can inspire a lad towards self-improvement and the life of the Catholic gentleman.
Maybe it’s the way cigars clear the mind and sharpen the senses, making you more aware of (and thankful for) the world’s beauty around you — whether it’s a city’s bright lights and passing cars, or nature’s shining stars and whispering wind. (I recommend an accompanying glass of bourbon or merlot when you’re doing this.)
And maybe it’s simply the way cigars disappear. Smoke fades, the wrapper burns away, and when it’s gone, you’re left contemplating the transient nature of life…and the eternity to be gained beyond it.
Cigars, in short, help you reflect. They loosen the tongue, they clear the mind, and they help you contemplate…and learning how to contemplate is the first step to learning how to pray, and learning how to pray is the first step to meeting God. Above all, cigars can be an aid in making you present to the mystery of the here and now — the mystery of finding the eternal God in the ephemeral moment…or better yet, letting Him find you.
Now I’m not saying that smoking cigars is a moral imperative; there’s no real morality (or immorality) connected with it at all. It’s a luxury, a pleasure that should be enjoyed in moderation. Yet it is a pleasure that can be edifying — not just physically and mentally, but spiritually as well. (Maybe that’s why liberal California tried to pass a law placing an extra tax on tobacco recently…)
What are your guys’ thoughts? Is this too much of a stretch? Maybe I should start being a little more coy about my favorite habits…
a helpful note: To those interested in picking up this venerable habit but are poor college students like me who wince at cigars’ sometimes high prices, might I recommend Trader Jack’s? Tobacco might not be top-notch, and the wrapper is often poor quality. But for the sweet aroma and long ashes, it’s a solid bargain for beginners at $1.50 each.
P.S. I do believe apologies are in order for my lack of activity and failure to pull through with my Catholics in America Series. 9-hour corporate work days plus family cooking responsibilities plus college to prepare for leaves little time for life’s more leisurely pursuits. I do hope to have at least one third of the Catholics in America series done before I return to college in 2 weeks.