Sunday, April 20, 2014

a rim of scarlet turned to gold

'Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things--trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones.'
--The Silver Chair, C.S. Lewis

There is no stranger feeling than after saying goodbye to someone.
You're sort of lonely, but sort of glad, too.
Visitors have to go home at some point, and it's not that you're glad to see them go, it's just that those we love can't always stay with us.

It is one of those few times we are allowed to feel how incomplete we are on our own. If you've spent your weekend surrounded by a soft cushion of your loved ones, it is rather harsh to have that pulled away and you realize that you can often live through a day not-missing the people you love, simply because you don't think about them.
But right after they leave you, you go back to 'normal,' but 'normal' feels a bit empty and sad without them.
You feel sort of desolate and aimless--you can't sit still, but you have no where to go really.
This is sort of a blessing.
Because we live most of our lives in a state of not-remembering.
We are able to not have panic attacks on airplanes because we can not-remember  that we are flying at some sort of ghastly mortally high altitude at an unbelievable rate over lands and oceans.
Over oceans, friends.
The only thing between you and the cold air that lives in that cold atmosphere over the ocean is this relatively thin floor beneath your feet. If you realize that there's nothing underneath the floor, your feet begin to sweat, and if you don't have a movie or a book or some other form of curiositas to distract you, then it's hard to tell your mind to stop panicking about the fact that nothing's holding up the floor, because your mind is like: Hey, BRO. I know you're all enlightened and intellectual or whatever, and you're all about this whole 'trusting the floor to stay put beneath your feet or something' dealio, but I'm a little bit nervous about this whole situation because laws of nature and oh wait yes gravity.
And if you don't find a way to stop listening to your mind, you will have to concede he's got a pretty convincing argument.

Easter-- Holy Week--the Triduum is a rite of memory a moment in time when we can combat our constant non-remembering.

It is hard to really truly grasp what it means for God-to-become-Man, so Christmas is certainly an unfathomable mystery. But the narrative of Christ's Passion is even more implausible, improbable, and altogether absurd. It is so unlikely. And yet, I think we believe it because we've never heard anything more likely.
What we celebrate over these three days is something we live out the rest of the year. And that's what makes today itself all the more mysterious. Of all the days of the year, it is the most wonderful and yet incomprehensible. It is also very simple.
There is not much to it, besides the sunshine and the birds singing above the green grass.
But you know that the sleepy exterior belies some deeper magic inside.
How has the torment of the past few days resolved itself so seamlessly and mellifluously into one golden burst of sunshine?
I think today mystifies me, because it is not complex.
I mean, put into basic English, it looks very easily digestible:
Death has been overcome by life.
But any sensible person should puzzle over that sentence and find themselves asking the very sensible question:
how?
The only answer to that question is an empty tomb.

Usually, we have a healthy sense of self-awareness and have honed the fine art of ironic distance, so when someone murmurs a shy mutter about life after death or (even more superstitious and unenlightened sounding still) the afterlife, or a better place, we all nod our heads and say of course, of course, and our hearts think: well, yes maybe. Probably. I do hope so. Because, at the end of the day--and the beginning of the day, too--one has to be pragmatic, and whether or not there is life after death, we are going to live with all the virtue we can muster, because well, it's what one ought to do. We are rational enough to see that when we act with virtue, we act as a human really ought to act. We feel that bent part inside of us stand a little more upright as we grow in virtue. So, we stand beside staunch Puddleglum and repeat his promise to live like a Narnian, whether or not our homeland is just a figment of our imaginations.
Which is commendable behavior, without a doubt, and often more than I can muster.
But that is not what today is about, and maybe that is why today is such a mystery.

Love, I think, is the answer to the question. Of "How?"
We don't even understand what we mean when we say the word love.
For how many of us can understand a force beyond, above, beneath, around all of nature that is stronger even than death, than time.
But that single word is what today is about.
It is a force I cannot understand.

We are so disenchanted.
But today beckons us become disenchanted of our disenchantment.
It woos us, entices us to fall out of love with our own ability at living without remembering.
Today reverses the wager of Puddleglum; it says, there is a Narnia, even if you do not live like a Narnian.

And so the last few golden hours of today ought to, surely, be about trying to remember this feeling: what it feels like when one has ceased to not-remember.
To remember what the world feels like when one is not always forgetting the mystery at its center.
It's not very comfortable.
But if you think the ultimate sign of love is a scourged and broken man whose hands are stuck to a splinter-y piece of wood with jumbo-size nails, then I hardly think comfort can really be high on the list of your expectations from reality.
Which is why we generally seek to not-remember. It's more comfortable that way.
But a bit more sad. And definitely more of that aimless feeling you feel when your family has left.
I guess the promise of the man whose hands are stuck to a splinter-y piece of wood with jumbo-size nails is that if you don't run away, if you reach out to embrace the very uncomfortable and messy and altogether painful reality, then you'll find something altogether more ancient and beautiful on the other side.
A life full of beauty, a new life full of light.
Even though the holes from the nails will still be there, their sting would be consumed by a balm much sweeter.

So I sit on my own little tree-lined corner of the sun-soaked quad listening to strains of music whose drumbeat shakes me out of my non-remembering, reminding me that death is not the end.

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