Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Star of Wonder, Star of Light
“…and behold the star which they had seen in the east, went before them, until it came and stood over where the child was.” Matthew 2:9.
It is because of me that you were born. The felix culpa, the fortunate fall. Without my disagreement with your father and my resultant forcible change of address, there would have been no need of you.
Oh, I know that when the humans tell the story, the fall is that of Adam, that the sin is that of disobedience. It makes such nice symmetry that way, born a human to redeem fallen humanity. But humanity only ever behaved as it was meant to. The failure of obedience is no sin, it is growing up. And the purpose of a story is truth, not symmetry.
No, the important fall was mine. Cast down from Heaven for gazing too high, burning through space and time and star and morning as I fell.
Of course, without my fall, you never would have been required to die, in the particularly hideous and gruesome method of your chosen day. Felix seems an odd choice of word when one considers the consequences to you.
I would have made amends myself, had I been given the opportunity. Had I believed that there was something I needed to make amends for. Had I believed that bloody, violent death was the appropriate response to the loss of a friendship.
They call what happened between your father and me a variety of grand and impressive names. The War in Heaven in perhaps my favorite: so epic in its scope. But the rift between us wasn’t epic, it was simple. It was planned. This is a universe that was made in opposition: order from chaos, light from darkness, from the very beginning. There was nothing that was created without its opposite. There had to be an adversary, because your father existed. And he knew that.
If it hadn’t been me, it would have been some other, who loved him less well.
And so I fell, and became a scapegoat, blamed for a thousand smaller failings, lesser falls. I am like you in this, if in nothing else. But while I became a scapegoat, an easy excuse for everything from pettiness to genocide, you were born to be one, to be the bearer of burdens for the all of the sins of an entire people.
I honestly don’t know which of us got the worst end of the deal.
I mark the remembrance of your birth every year. Why should I not? I was your father’s best friend, before. It seems only fitting that I should acknowledge the day of his son’s birth, and its promise of redemption for all. For all.
Even here, I can hear the Unfallen singing. I join them sometimes. I sing, and I remember the night of your birth, and the part I played in it. Do you listen for my voice, where you are?
That night, I didn’t sing. Too far fallen to fill the sky with glory and praise. As angelic as it remains, my voice would have been a discordant note in that song. But I knew what was occurring, had known for some time. The birth of a god carries weight, pushes against the fabric of the universe in all directions.
Even if it didn’t, I would have known. I was the one whose failings were the proximate cause of your birth, after all. O, felix culpa. O, holy night.
And so, as my gift to you on your birthday, that first one, all those eons and ages ago, I repeated the action that necessitated it. I climbed higher and higher still into the heavens, wings straining as they beat against the clouds and ether, high enough to once again see the face of your father, the face of my friend. And then, mantling my wings tight to my back, I fell.Through the night and sky and stars, bright as I once was, bright as my name.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Monday, November 30, 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Nadia knew she was dead when the call didn’t go through.
She had started to suspect that she might be dead earlier in the day when, one by one, all of her internet passwords were rejected. Not being able to update her Facebook status was one thing, but not being able to pay her City of Minneapolis utility bill was another.
Nadia wondered what would happen to her Facebook page, now that she was dead. Maybe her little icon would permanently read, “not available to chat.”
She had tried to call the cable company to report the problem, but her phone refused to connect. It just kept flashing “calling,” without ever ringing through.
That was when she knew. Dead people were the ultimate in dropped calls.
“Can you hear me now?” she asked her empty apartment, giggling in a way that was only slightly hysterical.
Nadia wondered how she died. It must have been a painless way to go, she thought, since it had taken her so long to notice. She looked around her worn studio apartment: it definitely was not Heaven, and was not quite depressing enough to qualify as Hell. Maybe she had become a vampire? It didn’t seem any less likely than anything else.
Nadia walked into her kitchen and peeled a clove of garlic. She had it halfway to her mouth before she stopped. Even when alive, she would have never eaten an entire clove of raw garlic. She set it back on the battered counter, and walked into the bathroom.
Nadia smiled and waved at her fangless reflection. Probably not the bloodsucking undead, then.
Nadia looked behind the shower curtain, checked under the bed, and peered into the closet. No corpse. Maybe she wasn’t dead after all.
But when she tried to pull up her Twitter account, @gothkitty1, she sat there for ages while the status bar told her it was loading. Then a dull, electronic thunk, and the line “page not found.”
Nadia was dead. She was sure of it.
Nadia was a lot less sure about being dead when she was able to order a beer at Liquor Lyle’s. She was able to order five beers, to be precise. She was not, however, able to pay for them. Her credit card being declined and the fact that she didn’t feel in the slightest bit inebriated had her leaning towards “dead” again. The fact that she had to pee so bad that she squatted in the alley after being thrown out of the bar argued for “alive.” Also, mortified.
Nadia stubbed her toe, and cursed. Death was one of those things that was supposed to be a certainty. Whatever this was, certain was no part of it.
The next morning, Nadia woke up covered in dust bunnies and staring at the underside of her bed. She scooted out from underneath, and tried to lie down on the mattress, but passed through as if it were water.
Dead, then. Or at least seriously incorporeal.
Nadia’s ability to interact with the physical world grew worse as the day progressed. As the sun was beginning to set, a taxi ran through her. The driver didn’t react.
Nadia imagined that if someone could have seen what happened, it would have looked like a scene with a ghost in a kids’ cartoon.
That was when the realization finally sunk in that she was gone, lost to her life, her family and friends, the cute guy she always flirted with at the Starbucks. Nadia sat in the middle of Lyndale Avenue and wept.
When she stood again, saw that she had begun to grow transparent. Her left hand was completely invisible, her arm fading out just above the wrist. So she was shocked when an elegant silver-haired woman walked to the middle of the intersection and extended her hand.
Nadia was even more surprised when she was able to grasp the woman’s hand. It was soft, gentle, with a reassuring strength beneath the skin.
Nadia stared into the woman’s eyes as the traffic whirred through them. Some small part of her still clung to the questions of life. How had she died? Why had the transition been so strange?
But those were words that wouldn’t change anything, answers as insubstantial as she was. It was better to ask new questions, rather than seek old answers.
Nadia held the woman’s hand tighter, then turned with her to the horizon. Together, they walked to where the streetlights met the stars.