Thursday, June 27, 2013

Living a Luminous Life or What I learned from Watching Zombie Movies...

If we want to see darkness, all we need do is turn on the news. Even our entertainment seems to reveal a fascination and awareness that there is a gathering dark.  Our movies are full of monsters and apocalypses, of all that is good and green being destroyed and burned in favor of the uniformity of creatures consumed by the need to consume, stripped all of beauty, all of individuality and capacity for charity.  There are the predators (the destroyers of the world) and the prey (the not yet consumed and ever yet dwindling group of increasingly vulnerable people).

Our entertainment reveals our fears and what our rational minds don't want to deal with directly; that we fear a great damn of restraint somehow bursting onto our domestic tranquility and destroying everything in its wake.  We do not know what holds back that great appetite. We do not name it though we recognize some of its markers in morality and law.

Neither do we recognize the monsters and their origin, though our creations betray that our subconscious knows.  All of our monsters are undead, demonic, soulless.  All of our monsters seek to turn us into undead,animated but not alive, demonic, soulless.  Ergo, we know even if we do not say, where these monsters come from and why we fear them even as we tell ourselves, they aren't real.  We live in a fallen world, and in a fallen world, the only way to salvation, is the cross and the graces that come from embracing said cross. The only way to participate in the cross, is to be like the one who died on the cross to others, to be salt and light in a tasteless and dark world.

How do we do that when so much of our day is spent on things that just eat time, like errands and emails, laundry and dishes, oil changes and bills, phone messages and waiting for repairmen?  We have to be good stewards of all of our gifts, starting with the gift of time.  The first thing the heroes who hope to survive do, is buy some time to think, to plan, to recover and assess.  They shed everything that isn't important or necessary. I need to be a better steward of my time, and to shed what is not important or necessary.

Honoring Sunday is a second task I've decided to take to heart.  It used to be the day I caught up on everything, so every other day could be easier, but that just meant Sunday was harder than every other day. We are called to be joyful witnesses.  It is hard to be joyful if you're exhausted, ergo, Sunday is necessary if we are to live luminous lives.    It is supposed to be a day of rest, so now we are setting into motion the idea of tidying up on Saturday as a family, so that Sunday is only a willed day. We will go to mass, we will do things together, to rest from the week of work.

There comes a point where the hero loses hope if he goes on too long.  He becomes weary and needs to stop.  The oasis point where he discovers he is no longer alone is necessary to gear up for the final battle.  Our culture does not value leisure. It views play as a means to an end (fitness for example).  It is not that fitness is not a good goal, but it is not why one should play, one should play to experience the joy and freedom that is play.  We will cook on the BBQ or garden or read or write or watch baseball or play cards, but we will be playing on Sunday. We will pray and play, allowing ourselves to rest and recoup and thus be a witness of lighter hearts for the world.

It's a dangerous thing going out your door.  We'd all like to think that somehow our corner of the shire, of the world is safe from whatever it is that is outside, that is out there, but the reality in every good horror film, is that the evil that stalks always comes where you think you are finally safe.  This is a theological battle as well, thus you cannot be content to stay where you are, you must always move further in, further on, you must always learn more, pray more, love more, do more and still hold to the gifts of time as precious and prayer, rest, others and play as necessary. To be a hero in these films, you cannot remove yourself from the world, you cannot despair and you cannot succumb, you must rise, you must continue and you must hope that when a new day comes it will shine out the clearer.  You'll appreciate it more, because you know what could have been and what isn't.

Part of why I wrote this post is that I read a piece by Father Dwight Longnecker, Why I'm Scared.  And I thought, he amongst others who are feeling the weight of the world in light of recent events, needed a reminder that being a light to the world, however luminous, is not easy, but it is necessary.  If you're going to be the hero in this movie, you should recognize, you're going to be scared. You're going to be hunted. You're going to need to keep going anyway.  All of these people, even the ones who write wrong and hateful things in the com boxes, they need to be saved from the disease of sin too.  Since he used the story of I am Legend as his example, I could point out, (SPOILER ALERT), in the end, Legend's self sacrifice allows the woman and child to escape to a safe house with the cure that will eventually help restore those possessed by the disease and allow them to reclaim their humanity lost all this time.   Pray. Rest. Play. Plan.  Act.

So be not afraid.  In the end, we win.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of "Leisure, the Basis of Culture."-by Joseph Pieper (sp). It was always one of your Dad's favorite books. I think this is why he was usually home to eat dinner with his family, and why his legal career was never as important as living a Catholic family man.

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