Sunday, October 28, 2012

do you have any faith in me at all?

I have come to believe and am convinced that the Hero of the Some Nights song cycle is Bartimeus. Bar-timeus, the blind beggar of today's Gospel. 

 A name is an insight into a person's soul. That's why all our names have meanings: Anastasia means Resurrection, Mara is bitter, Renée means born again. 
Poor Bartimaeus, his name means nothing: it just means son of Timaeus, and Mark tells us that he's the son of Timaeus in the same breath that he gives us his name. So we don't know anything about Bartimaeus through his name. And neither does Bartimaeus. Bartimaeus could sing along with the nameless hero of Some Nights: "Who am I?" Both heros are seeking an identity. 
And both of them find it when they decide to make the leap of faith to stand for something. 

When Bartimaeus casts aside his cloak, he literally stands up and sheds his protective covering, standing before Christ, completely vulnerable. The Hero of Some Nights's journey parallels Bartimaeus' struggle to stand up. Our Some Nights Hero sings that he is "waiting for a catastrophe to change him to whatever it is he is changing into." He's waiting for something to jolt him out of his blind dark night and reveal to him who he is. He, like Bartimaeus is blind and alone. And nameless. But then in that "have you listened to me lately? I've been going crazy" he realizes that the catastrophe is taking place inside of him. His own weakness and uncertainty is the catastrophe. There are two different meanings for the word catastrophe. One of them is the way that we usually think of it: a momentous tragic event ranging from extreme misfortune to utter overthrow or ruin. Our hero is waiting for something gigantic to shock him out of this dark night. 

But here's the second meaning of catastrophe: the final event of the dramatic action especially of a tragedy. Catastrophe can mean the denouement: the climax, the sticking-point. The point where you can't waffle back and forth, you have to choose where you stand. You have encountered something big, and you have to decide what to do about it. 

 Some Nights--the original song--is about the battle for faith. But in order to engage in that battle, we have to confront ourselves. The Intro is the battle that takes place prior to the battle for faith: which is the battle for identity. We have to confront ourselves. 
And that's something so many people are, like the Some Nights hero, so afraid to do. It's much easier to let ourselves slide away in the world of tea parties and twitter. Or maybe in relationships. 

Sometimes, in getting to know other people, we can forget to know ourselves. If you always have a woman/martyr in your bed, you will never encounter that terrifying silence of the night. You will stilfe the sound of your bones crying out: who am I? Perhaps the woman/martyr is a distraction from the battle. 
But she's a distraction because she's the ultimate end of the battle. 
Once the war is over, the soldier has to have someone to come home to. We have to confront ourselves and grow to know ourselves, because we are fundamentally oriented towards the other. We are longing, yearning, running to give ourselves away. 

Because it feels so right, because giving ourself to another is what we're called to, it stops us from wondering who we are. Because we've lighted on a truth about our selves: we were made for others, we can so easily skip the step of learning our true selves. 
 First, we must find ourselves to give ourselves away. 

 In story-telling, there are three parts: the build-up, the denouement and the resolution. It's in that crucial ground between the denouement and the resolution where you fight the battle of belief, where you decide who you are and what you stand for. Christ asks Bartimaeus: "why did you stand up? What did you stand for? What do you want me to do?" 
Those questions are the refrain that pounds throughout the Some Nights Intro and Song: what do I want? What do I stand for? And at the root of it: what is my name? Who am I? 

You are the one who decides how the drama will end. When you face something like the arrival of Christ, what will you do? 

 Will the hero hang back in the suffocating crowd of tea parties and twitter, will the hero push him away, will the hero keep the insanity you see in yourself from reaching out to the Someone who will save us. Will the bitterness keep the Hero from looking upward? 
Or will the Some Nights Hero cast aside his cloak and engage in Christ's question: "What do you want me to do for you? Why am I standing and what do I stand for?" 

 We're never going to answer that question sitting blind at the edge of the road. We have to leap up, cast off our protective cloak, admit our blindness and weakness our ignorance and our bitterness, and engage in the battle. Admit to the Christ: I am blind. And I want to see.

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