Like many, I passed this spring through Lent. It felt longer than in past years, because there has been a kind of Lenten work being done within me, it seems, since last fall. Nothing terrible, nothing traumatic, just a gradual scraping away of the soul’s fat, like miserable Eustace when Aslan sinks his claws into that dragon skin he’s acquired. Sometimes in my scraping it feels like he hits a bone, and I think there’s nothing left to scrape, until I look down and see the scraping’s only just begun; there’s layers and layers of dark and bloody dragon fat still clinging to my shivering soul, and somewhere within that, presumably, a light that wants shining.
So I wrote something about some of that, kind of sideways because you know that’s my specialty. It ended up being two parts, for which I apologize or accept praise, depending on your inclination. Here’s a bit from the first:
“Christ is risen from the dead,” we sing, “trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.”
Over the centuries, this resurrection faith has been the defense offered to those—be they pagans, rationalists, theologians, or that hybrid of the three whose natural habitat is the school of divinity—who accuse us of idol worship and necromancy. We reverence icons and ask saints to pray for us because our faith—once shared by all of Christendom—is that they aren’t dead.
And here’s a snippet from the second:
I found myself in a monastery, where a priest said something in the course of a lecture that rattled me. I don’t recall his exact words; they amounted to what any Sunday schoolboy knows, which is that we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses.
I sought him out later. I could scarcely contain my trembling. I explained to him that my daughter had died a few years prior. “What you said before,” I asked him, “does it mean that she’s seen all the things I’ve done?”
Imagine your worst sins. Imagine your three-year-old child watching you commit them. Do you understand my fear?