Saturday, April 6, 2013

It is I

‘Death is a sickness like any other,’ it has been written, but so is sickness a death, and so is death an invasion of privacy and illusion-shatterer like no other. We live our lives peacefully and prosperously in the short spells of quiet that are evacuated between cataclysms, we live as individuals, as societies, even as worlds. Clenched between the jaws of inflexible fate, without daring to delve the depths of the illusion that has captured us and freed us in the vise of time, we wait purposely ignoring the end of all. Like the sudden darkness and violence of a storm that makes our road impassable and causes us to halt, either for an hour or forever, without our foreknowledge or permission, an unwelcome diagnosis of terminal illness, or the death of a child, puts an end to what we were and pushes us into what we must be. Nothing remains the same, if anything remains of us at all.

By whose mercy or caprice, or whether by mindless, existence-taunting chaos, these brief moments of order and reason, that tempt us to hope, open to receive us and feed our illusions, we dare not ask. Swept along with the whole universe, if there be such a place, we cannot keep anything material but wisdom that adheres to the soul, that the soul itself, our souls, are nonetheless real, though everything around us, our implacable enemy, denies what we know to be, crushed by what is not. We do not choose, we realize, and in fact there is no choice. We march because that is what we are, seen between two unseens, without destiny or destination, proof only to ourselves that we exist at all, movements excruciated from primordial clay. Neither yesterday nor tomorrow hold meaning, so we grasp today to convince ourselves that if we can have nothing else, at least we can have that.

God appears, uninvited if not unexpected. The religious delightfully moan in welcome, the illiterate cover themselves with rocks, neither make sense of this or can really distinguish epiphany from mindless fate. Inexorable, impossible of deflection like the high walls of the narrowing chasm inside which we will disappear as we have seen others disappear, we hope we can charm him or her or them or it by clever constructions. Instead, though we fear to admit it, we fail to follow the only avenue that would focus our attention on the opening, as we crumple in self-defeat and congratulate ourselves on having avoided the end one more time. Meanwhile, the Light shines, we do not know from where, and so we shut our eyes, and fight on. This is why we are made, we think that we think, but know that these are just the turnings of immense wheels, and once again swoon to be mashed between their teeth.

In the night, awake, always awake in the night while others sleep, obsessed with the science of unknowing, in the darkness discerning light, out of wandering being delivered to the mark as an arrow takes flight, the archer aiming not at the bird perched on the high branch, seeing not even its head, only its neck, does he pass his test. Always, everywhere, overcome by the terror of the task, thinking it is kill or be killed, we are charioted forward to engage, what is against what is not, and we emerge, as we have been forewarned, almost alone. It seems no one has survived, the world is full of ghosts, but flesh and blood, decapitated, mangled forms fill the field of vision where great deeds were done. This was no mere clashing of worlds. We find no one with whom to share the victory. We return to forgetting all, because all is pain. Then He comes to take us by the hand, and we walk upon the ageless sea.

‘It is I. Do not be afraid.’

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