Friday, April 30, 2010

Easter Road

Cormac McCarthy has written several novels and that traffic the reader through the inhumanly brutal and darkly violent. His last book, The Road, was published to critical acclaim. It has already been mentioned as an early entry for one of the best novels of this yet adolescent century.

The novel is as dark as those that preceded it. A global holocaust has taken place. Life as we know it is gone. There is not a single mention of color in the book. The only characters are small groups of savage like people who resort to anything, even cannibalism, to survive. There are a few wandering individuals who appear and then disappear in the book. No character has a name. The two main characters in the book are a father and his little boy who are making their way to whatever is left of the coast. There is no sense of direction in the book, only the slow movement of the father and son. The father pushes a grocery cart in which their few belongings are kept, including bits of food and scraps of clothing taken from the ruins of cities and houses. They confront one life threatening horde after another, and from luck or chance they manage to keep moving.

McCarthy goes to great lengths to remove all comforts from the road the two must walk. Desperation, desolation, and lifelessness mark each page. It is a novel that does not back off stripping the reader of every and any illusion as to what we might possibly become, because of what we have made We have made a world that looks so comfortable and advanced, at least for some, and yet which hangs over an abyss of our own making.
At the end of the book there is a beginning. The last pages are like a fresh buds growing from sand. The book closes with a hint that there is salvation, that life will go on, that there is something good burning within us that will light our way, make us do wondrous things, help us become who we really are when we have lost everything and everyone and have to know love in the darkness of our own doing. All during our life and death in this world, there is another world within it, awaiting a word to rise.

Easter is bright. Churches are filled with the color and aromas of flowers. Everyone has hoped for a sunny day, a day with no rain.

But the only way we got here is through yesterday and the two days before. Jesus knew abandonment, desolation, agony and a sense that even his god had left him. And there is the absence that was yesterday, when the creator has taken leave of the universe and it is not known where he went, or if he can or will come back. For he has gone to the non-place of death.

And he has risen from that place, and because of that, death is a place of new life and this life is, as the abbot mentioned early this morning, a passage, a road on which we learn to love.

Perhaps we cannot know that until all our attempts at making this world unto our own style and fancy have hit a wall. Perhaps it is when we can no longer hope from our own resources that something remarkable and miraculous happens. The light that is within us burns and shines, revealing its power to obliterate death and finality. It is place God will bring each of us when he places us on a road that is not of our own making, a road called Passion that is the only sure direction to a place called Easter.

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