A friend recently wrote:
Of anything I’ve ever read, it’s the para below that I’ve found most profoundly affecting. Intensely beautiful. The context is a world, literally, in ashes
‘Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains. You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the flow. They smelled of moss in your hand. Polished and muscular and torsional. On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery.’from Cormac McCarthy’s novel ‘The Road’
I thought I’d share my response as its an area at the heart of what it means to be fully human, ie made in Christ’s image.
The passage is both beautiful and profound, and speaks of the depth and longing that I believe exists in each one of us, if we but give it the space in our spirits to unfurl, even just a little, as you clearly have.
For me, it is precisely this mystery of beauty and depth, of stillness and otherness, of the before and pureness, that I find invited into in the Creator’s gift of himself to us. It is like a homecoming, which, far from offering resolution, instead offers the invitation, not just to explore and breathe unfathomable depths, but to re-become part of.
It is here that we start to walk on holy ground, for the offer is the discovery that all this mystery is, in a sense, meant to reside in us, who are of the soil, living and breathing earth. This is the gift and offer of Christ’s redemption, of his holy blood seeping into the soil beneath the Cross, of broken bread offered to us in sacrament. Our delight in this depth of otherness and ‘friendship’ and care towards all creation is, and was always meant to be, our offering back to the Creator.
But it is the nature of our fallenness (‘sin’ – with that ‘I’ at its centre) that clogs and cloys, that darkens and destroys. It is the forgiveness of the Creator, and his gift of a new becoming, his Holy Spirit, that cleanses us to begin anew each day. Stillness in his presence becomes openness to his creation. This is the nature of prayer.
There is a poem by CS Lewis, who, as in his Narnia Chronicles (remember the thrill of that whisper, “Aslan is on the move”?), invites us to re-discover exactly this deep sense of intended ‘being’ with the rest of creation. It is called ‘The Adam At Night’.
Except at the making of Eve Adam slept Not at all (as men now sleep) before the Fall; Sin yet unborn, he was free from that dominion Of the blind brother of death who occults the mind. Instead, when stars and twilight had him to bed And the dutiful owl, whirring over Eden, had hooted A warning to the other beasts to be hushed till morning And curbed their plays that the Man should be undisturbed, He would lie, relaxed, enormous, under a sky Starry as never since; he would set ajar The door of his mind. Into him thoughts would pour Other than day’s. He rejoined Earth, his mother. He melted into her nature. Gradually he felt As though through his own flesh the elusive growth, The hardening and spreading of roots in the deep garden; In his veins, the wells filling with the silver rains, And, thrusting down far under his rock-crust, Finger-like, rays from the heavens that probed, bringing To bloom the gold and diamond in his dark womb. The seething, central fires moved with his breathing. He guided his globe smoothly in the heaven, riding At one with his planetary peers around the Sun; Courteously he saluted the hard virtue of Mars And Venus’ liquid glory as he spun between them. Over Man and his mate the Hours like water ran Till darkness thinned in the east. The treble lark, Carolling, awoke the common people of Paradise To yawn and stretch, to bleat and whinny, in the dawn. Collected now in themselves, human and erect, Lord and Lady walked on the dabbled sward, As if two trees should arise dreadfully gifted With speech and motion. The Earth's strength was in each.
The artwork at the top is based on sculptures by Dellamorte & Co