There was once a man who died, and rose again to life.
He had been a suburban man. He remembered trudging through the open fields, a Saturday in the country. Had he been struck by lightning? Had a bull charged him? He recalled a streak of horror coming through broken fences, crowned with daisies, demonic and bloodshot. His groin felt as though it had been ripped into by a scythe.
He stood up. No fields, no space, no landmarks. A city street. Cold. A musty doorway. His coat and face and hands covered with a dust of snow. Dazed and drunk, two legs under him like sticks of wood.
It was a city street, night, and infernal cold. The neon went off and on down the canyon, a bleary charade of eyes.
He shook like a dog, and took a few steps. The plate glass of a bar window drew him. He looked, and looked again. What was it, what face looked back? Black face? His mouth froze in a scream, his voice stuck in his throat. The neon winked him off and on, made and destroyed him, the ugliest joke of all creation. A black face held him; it said like a bad joke, like a truthful ad; don't buy me. Danger. I'm poison. I don't beautify. Beware. No one recommends me, no family sings for me. Beware.
His hands went to his throat. A string of cheap beads. To his chest; two breasts. A whore's careless dress, a sack of anguish. A woman? Who died there? What arose there?
And then the neon took voice, the night erupted. A band of herald angels rose from the sewers, from the skies, sang this birth. "Welcome, sister, to a new skin. Welcome to the other side. Why, you're now two-thirds of all of us; black. The other half of us, woman. Black woman. What piety, what merits won this rebirth?" For country acres, for country matters, for wise polity, for good acts and good investments, this reward. For that I was hungry and you knew me not, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink. Welcome. Not to punishment, not to hell. To a new chance. To a new body, to the new city.
Now, at length, I love you. Now I choose you. Welcome, outcast, reject, welcome to cold and fear and exhaustion and the dead end of corrupt hope. I anoint you and summon you, I kiss you with the kiss of my lips. Arise my love, my dove, my beautiful one.
Love, love at the end by Daniel Berrigan, S.J. (pp. 23-24)
Friday, December 28, 2012
Daniel Berrigan S.J., is a Catholic priest, peace activist, and poet. This story from his book, Love, love at the end ties in well with the themes of this site: