Sunday, August 13, 2017

August 13: "Dunkirk," Charlottesville, Classic Saint Marty, "One Small Step"

I took my daughter and her boyfriend to see the film Dunkirk this afternoon.  It's a great movie about the triumph of the human will in the face of tremendous darkness.  It's the second time that I've seen it.  However, today--after the events in Virginia yesterday--I found the entire experience much more immediate.  As we were leaving the theater, I turned to my daughter and said, "Remember, the world fought a war against Nazis.  The world won.  Those people in Virginia can't say they're fighting for America.  White supremacists and Nazis aren't Americans.  They're terrorists."

I try to avoid those kind of sledge hammer lessons with my kids.  However, I want my daughter to know that the United States is better than this.  Donald Trump is not making America great.  And this weekend has just enforced that fact for me.

There are a lot of people mourning today.  I prayed for them in church this morning.  I've been thinking about them all day.  I firmly believe that goodness always defeats evil.  That light will extinguish darkness.  That is my hope this afternoon.  Goodness.  Light.  Peace.

An episode of Classic Saint Marty from a couple years ago . . .

August 13, 2015:  Michael David Madonick, "Iris," King Kong, Terrible Darkness


by:  Michael David Madonick

About the lip
there is an edge.  More
to the point, an edginess,
not so nervous as to be
construed as shy, but an
inclination, nevertheless,
toward the ascetic.  The clam
belly's undulant scallop, or
Jessica Lange that instant before
Kong came raging
through the wood.  Tied up
in beauty and in rope, it never
wants to give what it seems
to show.  And he, however
soft his hairy hand, is bound
by her music, to fall
asleep, then

Yes, I'm changing things up a little bit.  I wanted to start with Mike Madonick's poem, simply because it sort of captures the kind of day I've had.  The poem is about being on the edge.  The trees of the jungle trembling, hiding the giant ape about to burst through.  The lip of the flower hiding something pink and beautiful.  Or deadly.

Tonight, I went to the funeral home to make some preliminary arrangements for my sister's funeral.  It wasn't half as difficult as I anticipated.  The two sisters who accompanied me actually stuck to the plan we decided upon last night.  There wasn't bickering, raised voices, or name calling.  It took about 45 minutes.

Back at my parents' house, our parish priest came.  Father Larry brought a stole used by Frederic Baraga, first bishop of Marquette, who died in 1868.  Bishop Baraga is on the road to sainthood.  Currently, he has been given the title "Venerable," which is the first step toward canonization.

Father Larry wrapped Bishop Baraga's stole around my sister's head and chest.  We prayed over her.  Every person in the room (12 in all) laid hands on her.  Then Father Larry anointed her with chrism.  Finally, we recited a rosary. When I looked over at my dad, he was weeping.  It broke my heart to see him.

It was strange to go from planning my sister's funeral to praying for her recovery.  Like in Mike Madonick's poem, I feel like something's approaching.  Something huge.  But I can't see it in the trees.  It might be a miracle--my sister sitting up in her bed and saying that she's hungry.  Or it might be death--a phone ringing in the middle of the night in a dark room.

Ives and Annie experience something similar the night that their son dies:

As they happily walked to the subway, they were looking forward to spending a lot of time together at home during the holiday, in the company of family and friends.  Ives and Annie had stopped to peer into a window display of French linen when, just like that, a terrible darkness entered them, and they could not move and stood looking at one another stupidly, on the crowded and busy sidewalk.

Ives and Annie have no idea what the darkness means.  One minute, they're doing a little Christmas window shopping.  The next, they're filled with inexplicable dread.  Something big is approaching, and the trees are shaking.

Saint Marty is praying for a miracle, but he's preparing for something darker.  Heavier. King Kong-sized.

I think I'll end with something a little more hopeful.  Something I wrote for my son quite a few years ago:

One Small Step

by:  Martin Achatz

I think of Armstrong’s track.   Still perfect, forty years later.  Ribbed, full of shadow and lunar dust.  I think of him on that July day, on the ladder, as he practiced in his head what he would say as his foot descended.  Mouthing the words over and over until they seemed as natural as bats chasing mosquitoes.  Mist at Niagara.  Yesterday, as I drove home, I stared at the knuckle of moon.  Half in shadow.  I wondered if that giant leap was in darkness.  Or if it blazed under the sun’s light, the way my son’s hand print blazed on my windshield when headlights struck the glass.  Thumb.  Index.  Middle.  Ring.  Pinky.  Palm.  A smudge he made one night when he tried to scoop the moon from the heavens.  I hope he keeps reaching, leaves constellations of himself across the sky.  Small boot prints on the cosmos.

No comments:

Post a Comment