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Just off the Port Bow—a place of uncertainty, adventure, and insight. Thank you for your ears, eyes and hearts. I hope to bring compassion, grace and beauty to your day.

The Eighth Day (a lot happened)

The days of the week mostly serve as placeholders for me, marking progress through my regular schedule of events. I need to know when it is Friday, as that is the morning I get up early to drive to my men's group in Latham. It could just as easily be Tuesday.

In my journal, however, in a feeble effort to keep up my Hebrew language skills, I denote each day with its Hebrew name. There is no subtle bowing to the god Thor, or Weden in Judaism. The days are simply denominated by their order, The First Day, The Second Day, etc.; until you get to Shabbat. Saturday is the only day with a name. This is the one day which is virtually deified....though it would be more accurate to say that the day is reified. She is referred to as Queen Sabbath; the queen of all days.

I recently reread a book by Thornton Wilder, entitled The Eighth Day. Wilder wrote this book over the course of two years near the very end of his life (followed by Theophilus North). It is the story of a small town murder, a small town "trial", and two families. Looking through the large end of the literary telescope Wilder dissects the intricate dynamics of the various heroes, anti-heroes and heroines of the story. From the other end of the telescope he expatiates on the human condition.

I am not enough of a philosopher or analyst to write a thoughtful review for the New York Times Book Review Magazine. Not even close. I am nearsighted. I can really only see what is closest to me. As one of Wilder's characters puts it, the only life I know is the life I live.

It is the book's title, The Eighth Day, which has me intrigued and pondering.

By his own admission Wilder is picking up a torch once carried by Pere Teilhard de Chardin, namely the idea of evolving, progressing humanity. The Eighth Day breaks us out of a seven day lock. Originally he was going call the book, Make Straight in the Desert. (Out of exile, and returning to the Promised Land, led by a Saviour?!) "Man evolving and individuals evolving." One of his characters is referred to as a "child of the Eighth Day".

Why is this intriguing?

The first thing that hooked me was the idea of The Eighth Day. The universe was created in the First Six; God rested on The Seventh, and now....?

My initial thinking took me back to Genesis, and the events immediately following God's Rest. You have: The Fall, Curse, and Expulsion from Eden. Then Cain and Abel. Wilder's book pivots around the alleged murder of one man by his closest friend. In the end we discover...well, I won't spoil it for you.

If we are children of the Eighth Day, we are well described. This is the cloudy, brooding sky under which we live, move and have our being. Redemption, in whatever form it takes, must be a liberation from this darkness.

The dreams which shape and recall my fears reflect Eighth Day living. Am I Cain? Or Abel being pursued? Is the Expulsion permanent? And, where did Cain's wife come from?

This thinking is a lot of head stuff; and my thinking drifts from side to side, like a boat loosely tied to its mooring line.

I start thinking on those Hebrew day names.

If Christians are called "Sunday People" are we also Eighth Day people? (But, then, Sunday is really Yom Rishon, or, The First Day.)

In church renewal terms we are called Fourth Day people (if, that is, you have attended something like Cursillo).

And, the Bible is filled with references to "on The Third Day", and "after Three Days". This particular reference is loaded. A quick word search yields a gold mine of rich nuggets. People in Israel still get married and Bar/Bat Mitzvah-ed on the Third Day (Tuesday).

The point of this blog is for me to be personal, not analytical. Day names are just placeholders, after all.

Here's Wilder reflecting on his novel: "There's a good deal of painful matter in the book - it's about how we variously confront, endure, assimilate, evade, or accept the tragic circumstances in life."

My own eighth day living is an evolution of sorts, a new start at something that ran out of steam at the end of too many Seventh Days. Wilder's characters evolve in actual nature amidst the tragedy they find themselves in. I have only recently become aware of such an evolution in my own nature. I'm not as clear minded as Roger Ashley, nor as hot-headed as George Lansing. I still recognize myself, but what I see in the mirror is changing; not unlike the Picture of Dorian Gray.

I do come back again and again to George Lansing's Battle Royal with the double-headed monster of Justice/Injustice. George could not get out of his own way. Not until the end, that is. My own life has not had to endure the brutal slings and arrows such as those born by George. Yet, I feel much of what he felt; so there is some bond. And, I don't have a need to climb under the belly of a freight car, and ride to the West Coast, in order to escape from or ultimately come to grips with the feelings surrounding justice and injustice.

Today is Yom Sheni, the Second Day, Monday. (It is, also, the eighth day.) I'm sitting, reclining really, on our couch, trying to work up a head of steam which will inspire some fresh writing in my novel. Bright warm sunshine is rising through the snow frosted trees, and will soon be pouring into the large plate glass windows of our living room. We received three or four inches of new light snow last evening, and I have already been out shoveling. Mary is off to Pine Cobble School for her morning of music with the children.

We spoke briefly over breakfast about some mild cussing I did at dinner with friends last night. Is this what evolving feels like?



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The Feeling of Sailing - from Summer 2013

Anytime at all (The Beatles)