Monday, February 11, 2008

Everything Falls Apart

"Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him." (Ps. 2)


I thought about this psalm, which I had read before leaving for work this morning, while reading about a fire in Seoul that recently destroyed South Korea's "No. 1 national treasure," the Namdaemun, the southern gate of the wall which had been surrounding the city since the 1300's. Maybe they will build condos there now. In any case, what was there can never be replaced. Cry if you want to.

I was a very untrusting boy growing up. Although I did not know an alternative, I felt that "people, places, and things"--how we learned to define a noun at that age--were shaky investments, at best.

When we would go on vacations, I was ill-at-ease with the fact that our minivan could break down at any moment...and I would not have the slightest idea how to fix it. As far as I was concerned, I had two options. In the interest of self-preservation, I would have to learn how to learn and do everything there is to do and learn, from knowing how to build a nuclear reactor to how to drive a car. The second option was not to trust or rely on anything. Realizing the weight of the first was realistically too much for my tiny frame to bear, I would have to defer to the second.

I did not take for granted that the world was not going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, I was pretty convinced it was just a matter of time before the Apocolypse came crashing upon us like a tsunami, wiping out all the pillars of certainty that we put our chips on. In a sense, this is the "age-within-an-age" of post-structualism/post-modernity that we are presently living in.

I 'practiced' for this new age of destruction by hitchiking--throughout the States and abroad--, whittling down my material possessions so they could fit in a rucksack, and spending training time in the wilderness, not tracking animals and identifying edible roots, but learning to be alone.

It was in fact during a time spent in this very wilderness where what was written was fulfilled: "He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly." My valiant attempts at stoicism were rendered into quivering puddles of embarrasement and shame as the sight of His mighty arm descending upon me from the sky blinded my sight and engulfed my ego in flames. I became like a piece of ore burning in a kiln, a burning bush, burned but not consumed as the layers of insulating fat melted and dripped down my back, crackling like bacon in the pan. When His fury relented and my 'I' had been fully consumed, there remained nothing but a charred skeleton lying on the blackened bed of leaves and pine needles, cooly smoking under the wetness of my tears. He relaxed His arm and like a mother hen, gathered me into the cup of His hand. He reattached my broken bones, formed a new heart from the mud I lay in, stitched together a fresh blanket of skin. With His mouth he breathed new life into my lungs and sent fresh blood coarsing through my veins. When I awoke I was alone in the forest again, the canopy of leaves gently swaying above me. It was morning, and the world as I knew it had ended after all.

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