Monday, July 29, 2013

cussing at clergy, and other blasphemous bemusements


Wanting change but loving her just as she lies
Is the burden of a man who's built his life on love
You told me life was long but now that it's gone
You find yourself on top as the leader of the flock
Called to be a rock for those below
--Mumford & Sons


Paul sat on the front porch, not-talking with Peter, lost in his own thoughts as he stared out into the Corinthian sunset.

Peter was sitting in his favorite rocking-chair, reading the new Gospel that Luke had just sent out to all the Apostles for review in between sips of his post-dinner glass of merlot.
A bit long, thought Peter, as he cautiously underlined a section he thought could probably be reduced in half. I thought Mark's was much more to-the-point. He remembered and loved Christ's little homily about the lilies of the field and God clothing the grass, etc., etc. but he thought it was all rather superfluous.
He would suggest that Luke cut right to the part he remember had smote his deepest soul of souls: "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."
Reading these words put down on paper that had only before existed in his ears, and repeatedly meditated over and over again in his heart, Peter was touched by a miraculous brand of magic and his eyes welled up with joyful tears, which he quickly wiped away before they fell on the scroll. Luke was a fastidious young man and would most likely not appreciate water stains on his manuscript. Peter personally thought Luke's medicinal profession was no excuse for his almost debilitating germophobia. "Cleanliness is next to Godliness," Luke would always say, ad nauseum. It was rather insufferable.
But Peter wiped these annoyances away with his tears. He read his favorite line again, and for a brief moment was transported back to a summer day in Galilee, as all of the twelve of them sat with Him, eating their small portion of daily bread for lunch. He heard the sweet remonstrance to "fear not" and his heart was filled with a warmth that even the richest merlot could never give.
He collected himself and turned back a page to the story about Lazarus' sisters.
His brow crinkled into a frown, as he read and re-read the passage. He thought the Mary and Martha story had confusing imagery. He made a note in the margins: "symbolism of physical presence confusing/potentially obfuscating." It was Martha's birthday today he recalled.
I ought to send her something, he thought absentmindedly, and made a mental note to tell Timothy to send her a basket of the figs that were just at the peak of ripeness in the backyard.

Peter, said Paul, interrupting the evening's tranquil quiet, you have a problem.
Taken aback, but not unduly surprised by Paul's irrepressible candor, Peter took a longer sip of his merlot, counted to eser, and turned to Paul.
To which problem exactly are you referring? he responded. He found with Paul that slightly wry humor would always win him brownie points. Lighthearted wit was the Epistle-maker's weakness.

Paul looked Peter straight in the eye and said: You read too much into everything.
What can you possibly mean by that? asked Peter, without a hint of irony.
Paul chuckled and said: You goon. Have you gotten to the part where Mary keeps all these things, pondering in them in her heart silently? I think that's my favorite part of the piece. Some things cannot be spoken about, or adequately expressed through words. Some mysteries can only be held in one's heart.
Peter snorted, because if there was one thing Paul loved, it was words. He wondered if Paul had actually ever pondered anything in his heart that hadn't flown out of his mouth two seconds later. He refrained from speaking, however, and just took another (long) sip of the merlot.

Then, without explanation, Paul changed the subject.
(Peter was getting a headache.)
Last night I dreamed, said Paul, of sitting in a large white room with large windows, whose trims were painted a glossy brown color. I sat under one of these windows. The fresh sunlight streamed through the foliage outside, the leaves filtered the muddy city light into something radiant and clean, crisp and new. I watched the cold stone floor in front of me become bathed in waves and waves of radiant light. Something supernatural was in that light, for it washed my soul in the same waves, and I was choked on an indescribable and glorious Joy. I was pierced with an aching longing, for the North, for the utter East, for something beyond the limits of the world, that that light had brought into the world. What I longed for was right in front of me, and yet I longed for it.
In front of me, the bread and wine were changing. And in that moment, I felt the joy of all moments--of the past, but mostly of the future. I fell in love with all the memories that were on the verge of being made. And in that moment, I offered my broken offering of thanksgiving for each one.
And I knew, beyond reason and beyond doubt, that all future moments of joy would contain traces of that moment. 


Peter yawned. He hadn't slept very well the night before.
As he got up, he remembered one of his many mental notes:
Timothy just received a letter from Phillipi. I think he wants your help crafting a response.
Paul nodded, and got up as well, and collected the dirty dishes and wine glasses to bring back to the kitchen.
He then followed Peter into the house, where the sweet sounds of their brethren beginning to chant evening prayer wafted out of the upper room.



"You are suffering much, dear Brother Edvin," said Kristin sorrowfully.
"It seems so to me now. But I know 'tis but that God has made me a little child again, and is tossing me about, up and down...But now, 'tis all over, little Kristin; I will home now to my house."
--Kristin Lavransdatter, Part III, Chpt. 6


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