Friday, March 21, 2008

We call this Friday Good

This amazing painting by Salvador Dalí tells us what this day is about. Good Friday - if you have grown up in a Christian culture, it is hard not to be touched by this most central story to our culture; The Passion of Christ. These still, silent days in my city (Oslo, Norway), are a perfect frame for the deep, grave sincerity of this story and what it has meant, and means, for our culture.

In these secular times, referring to Christ is often frowned upon here in my country, and in Scandinavia in general. But one does not have to be a Christian to be moved by this tale, by this destiny, by this stirring of the water whose ripplets founded a whole spiritual tradition that is most alive 2000 years after the man himself walked around, all flesh and blood - and light.

His act of compassion, his whole mindset and heartful understading of life, of Being, is what reverberates in this last tale from his earthly life that we know of.

The following stanzas stem from T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets, from the fourth section of the second quartet called "East Coker", and touch upon the Easter topos:

The wounded surgeon plies the steel
That questions the distempered part;
Beneath the bleeding hands we feel
The sharp compassion of the healer's art
Resolving the enigma of the fever chart.

Our only health is the disease
If we obey the dying nurse
Whose constant care is not to please
But to remind of our, and Adam's curse,
And that, to be restored, our sickness must grow worse.

The whole earth is our hospital
Endowed by the ruined millionaire,
Wherein, if we do well, we shall
Die of the absolute paternal care
That will not leave us, but prevents us everywhere.

The chill ascends from feet to knees,
The fever sings in mental wires.
If to be warmed, then I must freeze
And quake in frigid purgatorial fires
Of which the flame is roses, and the smoke is briars.

The dripping blood our only drink,
The bloody flesh our only food:
In spite of which we like to think
That we are sound, substantial flesh and blood—
Again, in spite of that, we call this Friday good.
T.S. Eliot

No comments: