Faith Matters

More saints than we can know

On the feast of St. Paul's conversion, Google kept reminding me that it was also Virginia Woolf's birthday.

Several weeks ago, I was about to search the Internet for some stray bit of information when I saw a portrait of the novelist Virginia Woolf inside the second o of Google. It was her birthday, January 25, and Google was honoring her in its logo. I study Woolf, so all day long friends sent me screenshots from Google. “Did you see the Google doodle?” my students asked excitedly when I ran into them around campus. The world having been reminded of her birthday, my Twitter feed filled with delicious passages from Woolf’s novels and essays, her stories and diaries and letters.

It was an ordinary Thursday, full of the usual meetings and appointments. But it was also a day of unexpected connections, a birthday party, a feast of words.

What would Virginia Woolf have thought of having her image yoked to a powerful corporate brand? I’m afraid she wouldn’t have loved it. But I have to admit (forgive me, Virginia!) that I loved finding her there. Every time I needed Google (and I need it often, apparently), there she was, reminding me to go beyond whatever random fact I sought. Woolf would have looked for its hidden connections to other facts and so shaped a new perspective capable of searching depths Google can’t reach. “There is always more to be understood,” Woolf writes in her novel The Waves.