A Summer Series post.
William Stringfellow on his life and common commitments with his partner Anthony Towne (the term “partner” here is anachronistic, they didn’t use it, or “lover,” or “companion” in those days – they just lived together. Towne was a writer and poet. He and Stringfellow lived for some years on Block Island. Before that, of course, Stringfellow was in New York City for quite a while, practicing law in Harlem but also staying in touch with life downtown.) This is from an essay written after Towne’s death, published in Stringfellow’s book Simplicity in Faith.*
* Also found in the Wylie Kellerman anthology.
*****" Immigrating to Block Island became a turning point in [Anthony Towne's] story as a human being. Creatively, the city had been both stimulant and affront; the ethos and environment of the island offered nurture and husbandry for his gifts. I do not mean that Anthony romanticized the place, as some do, but that the pace and sounds, the style and sights, the austerity and beauty of the island consoled him and suited his vocation.
*****His vocation – as that may be distinguished from his occupation – was, in principle, monastic, as is my own. (That is the explanation of our relationship.) That is, he and I have understood that we had been called to a life of prayer and that the practice of prayer is essentially political –a matter of attention to events and of intercession and advocacy for the needs of human life and of the life of the whole of creation. Prayer, in this sense, is not pietistic but, on the contrary, radical involvement in the world as it is prompted in the Word of God. So coming to this island to live and work had no connotation of withdrawal or escapism or default for the two of us or either one of us but, rather, a paradoxical meaning. "