Sunday, April 14, 2013

the habemus period

In which we find, unexpectedly, that the weekend jaunt to lake country serves as a hermeneutic for Pride & Prejudice, this Sunday's passage from John's Gospel, and Lord of the Rings, among others.

"You are charmingly group'd, and appear to uncommon advantage. The picturesque would be spoilt by admitting a fourth."
--Elizabeth Bennet, sometime demi-goddess, expert on picturesque landscapes, and the most accomplished and charming of fictional women.

Roads go ever ever on,
Over rock and under tree,
By caves where never sun has shone,
By streams that never find the sea;
Over snow by winter sown,
And through the merry flowers of June,
Over grass and over stone,
And under mountains in the moon.
--J.R.R. Tolkein

Peter was distressed that Jesus had said to him a third time,
“Do you love me?” and he said to Him,
“Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.
--John 21

Just do it, Peter. Feed the sheep. It's easy--I fed the sheep some crusty old bread.
It wasn't rocket science. Just feed the sheep, Peter.

"Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger,
you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted;
but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands,
and someone else will dress you
and lead you where you do not want to go.”
--John 21

 Sometimes, you are not in the mood to climb a fell. 
But sometimes that's the only way to get home. So you adjust your backpack, eat some fortifying fudge or flapjacks and soldier forth.

“It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule.” 
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

as garn yam

One time, over tea, sandwiches, and scones, we took my poor dear friend to task for her habit of reading the ending of books.
As literary types, born and bred, and great believers in the Power & Importance of Literature, we upbraided her passionately for spoiling the book by reading the ending.
But, in terms of The Story, I realized, we all know the ending anyways. 
We've all had a peek at that closing chapter, and we know what's in store at the end.
As we set out on all our journeys, bear all our daily toils, and undergo all our deaths, we already have read what the story ends with: 
And they all lived happily ever after.


One month ago [as of yesterday, to be absolutely precise], I stood in St. Peter's Square, and watched a curl of white smoke announce the election of Papa Francesco.
The real journey had actually started a month before that, as the news of Pope Benedict's resignation literally floored me.
I sometimes wish I could go back to that still, strange moment of calm, as I laid flat on the floor of my flat, my head reeling from the news, and my heart racing with excitement.
How was I, prostrate on the parquet floor, to know that a month later I would be under a rainforest canopy of umbrellas in St. Peter's square, watching a new Peter approach his flock?
If only my overly-excited self had known exactly where that road would have taken me.

You know your destination, which is either Heaven, Rome or Coniston Water (and Coniston Water looks suspiciously similar to the first on that list).
You can read the signs, which announce that you are (due to some great miracle) still on the right path, and only several miles from Coniston. Or alert you that you've taken a wrong turn, and have tragically ended up only 1 and a quarter miles from Chapel Stile, which sounds lovely, but isn't even on your map, and really doesn't interest you in the least, due to the fact that it is not the way to Coniston Water.
So you re-route yourself.
And, if you are as willfully prone to striking out on your own, and ignoring the signs pointing the way down the beaten trail, you will often have to re-route yourself several times.
You wander through the becks and hows; and stumble through gills and thwaites, you know that eventually you'll make it to Coniston.
Because that's the way the story was written, and you've caught a glimpse of the ending.
Spoiler Alert: We call that Easter.

“Home is behind, the world ahead,
and there are many paths to tread.” 
― J.R.R. Tolkien, 

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