Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed,
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand . . .
The animals were talking about taking a trip. The holidays were over. They had eaten their treats and chewed up their toys. A kind of malaise had settled over them. “Is this all there is,” they wondered, “an empty bag of kitty treats and a few shreds of raw hide doggie chews?”
Ahs, the collie dog, stretched and yawned. A few months back he lost his best friend, Amos Moses Wigglesworth. The exuberant pup gave Ahs a new lease on life. The two wrestled and tore about the yard, chewing up flower pots and dragging tools from the garage. Then one night while chasing rabbits Amos found an opening in the woods and followed the scent to the highway where he was killed chasing cars.
Seal, the grey cat, said, “I told you he was dumb as a stump.”
Her son Gavin, who avoided the ill-mannered canine as much as possible, came out of the woods, “Whatever. It was all so random. A dog comes. A dog goes. Hey, would you like to see my new tattoo? I’m thinking about getting my nose pierced too.” His mother sighed and wondered why he couldn’t be happy just catching mice like cats did when she was young.
Unlike Gavin, the black rabbit, Captain Midnight missed the dog. He shared his food with Amos, who had a taste for alfalfa, and Captain got a kick out of watching him chase the possum.
“Do you think I will ever see Amos again?” Ahs asked Captain Midnight. There had been altogether too many deaths and departures in the household for Ahs’ taste. Captain’s sister, beautiful Isabella Hepzibah died barely two years before of a virus. The girl who fed Ahs left last fall and didn’t come back for months. Creatures, coming and going all the time, who ought to stay put in the fold, were making him cranky. How could he keep track of things? And now there was a new dog, a big nosy golden retriever named Gregorian Chance, who wanted to be the lead dog.
That was how the idea of a trip came into his head. Maybe I just need to get away. Maybe I can find Amos. Then the star came out. After that it wasn’t hard to convince the others to go with him. A star tossed into the heavens like an enormous twinkling ball shone brighter than the full moon. Gregorian Chance said right away they should go fetch it. Captain Midnight said they should just follow it and see where it led them.
Gavin said, “Whatever.”
Seal said they had all that they needed right here and everyone would feel better, if they just had a little tuna fish and took a nap.
The season following Epiphany (January 6) to Ash Wednesday, the beginning of lent, moves us from the intimate scene of Jesus’ birth toward the task of sharing a personal truth with the rest of the world.
The lectionary scriptures for these Sundays emphasize that in God’s sight there are no distinctions that make some people clean and others unclean, nor differences that leave some people outside the embrace of God’s care. The focus is that Jesus came for all people.
The challenge today as well as in the first century is that Jesus is a gift many have no desire to receive or see any use for. Theologian Marva Dawn writes that “the major characteristic of the postmodern condition is the repudiation of any truth that claims to be absolute or truly true. ‘Christianity might be true for you, but not for me,’ our children used to say with modernist relativity – but now they are learning in their schools and from the media that any claim to truth is merely a means of hiding an oppressive will to power. The result is the malaise of meaninglessness, the inability to trust anything or anyone, the loss of any reference point or ‘web of reality’ by which to construct one’s life.”
Little appears in our postmodern culture to hold the human family together in a shared focus of purpose and meaning beyond the latest escape into entertainment or sensationalized news event.
Dawn says that the effects of postmodern life “on young people seem more like catastrophe, confusion and chaos.” She notes along with other scholars that “postmodernism has moved young people from the alienation of the 1960s to the schizophrenia or mutiphrenia (a legion of selves with no constant core of character) of the 1990s and 2000s. Having no point of reference, no overarching story, no master narrative, people don’t know who they are.”
Then the star came out. Of course it had to be something like that – something bigger than they, beyond their ken. It needed to be something they couldn’t chew up, pee on, or hide in the hay.
What they were looking for was something worthy of their faith, worthy of making the trip – worth the courage and energy it would require. They were looking for something to kneel before. Was there anything in the world to lay out their passion for like that? Was there anything commensurate with the largeness of their souls, anything worth being valiant and noble for?
Hearts are made for giving away, yet it seemed every time they did, something bad would happen. Usually it meant one of them would get lost or die or be betrayed. They were seeking one true thing – but they were afraid that the only true thing might be that there was no true thing.
The star glimmered in the bitter air. “That is so random,” said Gregorian Chance.
“Whatever,” said Gavin.
Would they hear the voice of the falconer?
Would they risk getting hurt again? Would they make the trip?
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