Friday, November 5, 2021

Dead Ends become Open Doors: Paradox is the Rule of Life

There is something resplendent in the dark and cold. 

It's like a cold winter night. The snow muffles all sound, so an incredible silence takes over. It should be dark but it isn't, not really.

There is a pale orange light that shines across the horizon, all night and into the morning. 

There is something bizarrely paradoxical about dead ends. 

There was a dead end behind my house growing up. I would walk back there at night, through the woods, pushing wet branches aside, to the road running behind our house. And I would stop and stare into the darkness, at the dead end. 

The road came to an end, old house to the left, old farm to the right. Mass of trees at the turn around, dead end. But if you walked back into the trees, there was a series of trails beyond the dead end, that led to a frozen pond. 

I remember in front of my house, growing up, there was a big farmers field where my sister and I would fly kites in the summer. At the edge of the field was a great forest. I used to imagine that I would walk into that forest in the depth of night, and discover a vast wonderland between the trunks.  

One thing is common in life, dry, dark, dead ends. Empty places. Moments where everything seems lost. It feels through and through at that moment, that nothing could ever possibly change the situation. 

By all appearances, it's impossible. And time and again, just as consistently as I meet those empty places, fight against them, try every single thing to escape them, they are not what they appear.

Solid, they are not. But they seem unbreakable. So I set up camp, build my tent out of branches, and live there. Yet just as consistently as I meet them, they are not as they appear! 

They are a lie, you might say. Or at least, as permanent and powerful as they seem, there are doors that lead through them. But I don't sense that at the time. 

So I build a house, set up a fortress, prepare my one man grave yard.  I dig the pit, shovel full of mud, one after another, weeping cold tears, preparing my eulogy. I lay down flat in the grave, well prepared, and invite God to throw the dirt upon me.

As I lay dying in the pit, and I've given up all hope, and I've resigned myself to forever sleep, then a shimmering light grows from the darkness. By then I wish it wouldn't. The light is an intrusion to my well prepared sermon. 

Yet it keeps growing, a splinter in my fetter. If I close my eyes, maybe it will go away. But it blazes behind my eyelids, refusing to be ignored. The impossible becomes possible. The unshakable rules of reality are summarily countermanded. I can't explain it. I don't believe it. I think to myself, I must be dreaming. This can't be real. 

Never-the-less a repair team gathers to restore me. Medics gather around me patching up my wounds, a real cutting edge team, go to work. The dead end collapses in a pile of trunks, dirt, and branches, washed away by a mighty flood, and an open path, bright golden green and dry cuts through, and I walk into a new day, bright and radiant as could be this side of heaven. 

This is the rule of reality this side of heaven. Dead ends break forth to open roads. Graves are trap doors to underground monasteries. Death is the road to awe. Paradox is the rule. Trust no dead end. They are not real, a lie, or at least, there is a power beyond us, God, who breaks the rules of reality, and turns dead ends into open doors.