Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

Frank William Boreham 1871-1959
A photo F W Boreham took of himself in 1911

Monday, January 15, 2007

Boreham on the Ordinary Becoming Sacramental

Ordinary Becoming Sacramental
The overflowing of the human soul into ordinary things was to F W Boreham, one of the ways an ordinary object became sacramental. This could be achieved at a personal level, as Boreham “invested his chairs with spiritual significance and voices”,[1] but many of his editorials were intended to cultivate a corporate sense of the sacramental.

Hallowed by Heroic Memories
Boreham recognized the power of shared experiences and memories in achieving this purpose, when writing, “Life becomes wonderfully sacramental when it is hallowed by such beautiful heroic memories”.[2] Examples of editorials written in this vein were those composed for national and international anniversaries. Boreham saw in Anzac Day[3] and Armistice Day[4] “a sacrament of memories”, in which the shared act of remembering touched life “with finer issues”.

Sanctity of the Road
Similarly, Boreham hailed Australia Day as an opportunity to rediscover deep significance. In an editorial commemorating nationhood, Boreham wrote of the sanctity that might be attributed to an ordinary Australian road.[5] Recognizing the ‘sanctifying’ role of memory, he wrote, “On every day of the year, but especially on Australia Day, we hear the voices of the pioneers calling to us from the very dust of the road”. This awareness dawns, said Boreham, when people realize that roads are “invested with a sacramental solemnity by the deaths of men like Burke and Wills, and Gray and Poole, and Baxter and Leichhardt, and a hundred others no less brave”. Pointing beyond the pioneers, Boreham openly declared the supreme source and influence upon matters prosaic, when he stated:

"But whence originated the sanctity of the road? It derives from the fountain-head of all real sanctities. In the beginning, when God created the heaven and the earth ... the word “scatter!” became the mandate and the manifesto of the road. The slogan of all civilisation, it imparted a divine significance to all our tracks and paths and thoroughfares. The call of the Road is mightier than the call of the Rooftree simply because the Voice of the Highway is essentially the call of the Highest."

Geoff Pound

Image: ‘The Call of the Road’

[1] F W Boreham, Mercury, 13 June 1942.
[2] Boreham, My pilgrimage, 133.
[3] Boreham, Mercury, 21 April 1956.
[4] Boreham, Mercury, 9 November 1946.
[5] Boreham, Mercury, 30 January 1954.