Mel's Healing Pilgrimage 2016

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Monday, November 2, 2015

Footsteps of the Flies

Some times of our lives or of the year, we seemingly seem to be bumped by death from the left and by the dying from the right. We hear our mortality creeping up behind us, and we see tears and pain in front of us.

It's easy to let loose, go full on emo and drown ourselves in the sorrows of nihilism and fate. We drift alone on an island, fearful of what life has in store for us next.

Last Friday I saw the staged version of Lord of the Flies for the first time. My niece performed in an all-girl production, where they changed the characters from Ralph, Simon, Jack, and Piggy to Rachel, Simone, Jackie, and Piggy. It added a new dimension to see young girls in a classic modern story.

The broad themes stayed the same: the natural tendency for order and rules vs the natural tendency for tribalism and war, the Christ-like lover of peace being misunderstood by all, the innate criminality in some, the futility of intellectual blindness. But the use of girls ensured that these themes were understood to be truly across the human race, and not just among men. The cast was not allowed to lean on a simplistic boys-will-be-boys crutch. And the emotions felt ever more raw.

I bring it up because this show preceded a weekend that also included a memorial for a family member who passed on. That loss of innocence described in the book often times accompanies the departure of a friend or relative. It's part of our nature to question life and our natural place in it.

Lord of the Flies as a title arises literally from Beelzebub, or Baal-ze-bub. That deity is now viewed as a demon or devil. It's as though the devil arises when we're adrift on an island alone. The book implies that the devil is in us, and we hear the footsteps of the devil when left to our own devices.

But we aren't alone on an island. We have each other and most importantly, we have those who brought us here. Unlike the story, we weren't left here by accident. Our ancestors and friends paved a way for us in ways small and large.

Which brings me to this All Saints and All Souls day prayer that I've been saying for the past few years. It's obviously a slight reworking of Hebrews 12 and the prayer attributed to Saint Francis. But it merges them into a journey of hope.

We aren't adrift on an island, cast away to fend for ourselves. We have footprints in the sand that we can follow. And we can lay a path for those who come after us. So yes, like the beast in Lord of the Flies lurking in the shadows of our darkest night, we may find ourselves crawling in fear. At first. For now.

And then we can awake to a dawn, strengthened by the sunlight, supported by those clouds of relationships new and old, walking on the paths that were paved to bring us to this place of beauty. We may not be on this earth for very long, but we are not alone. That sound we hear is not the Lord of the Flies buzzing out of death. It's the prayer of hope that willed us into being. We exist because the love of others brought us here and we too can bring life to those who follow.

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