When you’re dead,
what is everybody else to you but dead.
And you a son, dead to a father who can’t see you anymore,
become a father, dead to a son whom can’t be seen anymore.
What is Christ?
What is Christ in the Parable of the Prodigal Son? Is he the father?
He calls himself or he says about himself that if you have seen him you have seen the father. Or is He that which helps you realize your need for the father, for repentance? Is He that which causes you to repent? In that sense he is neither the father nor the son who stayed home nor the son who went away. He is something else entirely. He is the need.
"Why are we celebrating?"
The servant answers but the father explains: "The celebration IS because the son that was dead is alive. The son that was lost is found."
It seems a strange answer. But actually it's a strange question. And the father sounds a bit stumped by the other son’s asking of it. As if the son had asked why rain falls down instead of up. The father says there really is nothing more to say. It is simply a matter of gravity.
But unlike the way the father talks of the son who was finally found, the way I and my puritan brethren often talk of alive and found, in essence: salvation, is exactly like the son who was never lost. We talk about salvation until it ends in an argument, not a celebration. A puritan hears music and dancing inside where he should be, but never dances, because he doesn’t know how. Somewhere along the way the puritan becomes lost in his own found-ness and dies in the midst of his own life. Somewhere along the way he forgets what found sounds like and stands deadly still in the dance of salvation.
And so the puritan becomes his brother.
Now apostate, the puritan stays in his anger, that place outside of joy, while the father pleads for him to come in.
Those who mourn and repent will be saved. Those who don’t will be destroyed.
Those who mourn and repent for all the detestable things going on inside the temple will be saved.
The one out of seven—the writer—the marker—will mark the foreheads of those who mourn. And they will be spared. The other six are warriors who will pursue and destroy everyone else.
Similar to Cain’s mark, in a way. Tied to Seven and Multiples of seven.
It also connects to Paul’s Road to Damascus/ lightening bolt experience. A question lurks within: Is it a curse or a blessing to be spared? To see. To see your blindness. To be blind. To live knowing of your murderous heart. It is to be Cain. “Why did I live?” It is to be Paul and suddenly know, as if struck in the head with one of Stephen’s stones, of the detestable practices inside your own temple.
It is to be marked in the head with a lightening scar. To be the boy who lived. To be this thing that cannot be killed from the outside. The mark brings with it seven-fold mayhem and seven hoarcruxes of death. The blood soaking in the earth moans and screams in your ears.
What is this mark then?
Is it a mark for life or death?
Both, in a way. The ego, my divine mark, as such, can not be killed from the outside. It may be flattened, squeezed, shattered, shrunk, and kicked; but it cannot be killed. Yet my strange invincibility also chains me to Death; brings death to the world; both the Death I cause and the Death I escape. What to do with this marked thing? This monstrosity of consciousness. Touched by hate, and love and choice. Marked in a place visible to myself in a mirror only. What now? This mark! What to do about it? What now?!
There is only one solution: Death.
Death to the undying ego--death to the undead.
But since the almighty God himself has protected the bearer of this mark, like Job, from outside asphyxiation by Satan, the only possible death left to me is death by oxygenation, conflagration, immolation, and explosion; death by life, death by Christ--a death by my own voluntary choice.
Only by laying down, only in letting go, only by a Way hidden in the pattern of flaming blades swirling over Eden, may the marked one become finally and forever accessible to his Savior—Breaking the chains of death. Bringing Life in the Savior. Bringing life to the world.
What is the mark?
It is a mark for redemption.
The past is a cloud. A memory. A collection of thoughts and ideas as immaterially vast as it is materially insubstantial. An eternal memorial whose sole purpose is to help me live in the present. It is NOT a place I should live or even can live. For who can live in the sky?
My past permeates the heavens, looking down to inform my present; but it is not my present. In the same way my reflection on my experience, is not my experience: it is a reflection.
The “great cloud of witnesses” in the Book of Hebrews is a list of great and awful acts of faith from the past. It is both my personal and collective cloud. An "I" cloud. A storehouse. Not a dead and dusty one. No, it is a living storehouse on whose contents I may gaze and to whose clamor I may listen. But only if I lift my eyes and listen honestly, with the proper attitude--with my feet firmly on the ground of today--does this great cloud of yesterday look down and proclaim, judging each act of my faith. It floats above my ever-present life praising and condemning. This cloud is a thriving witness of my life—not the other way around. I am not to drift upwards and away, bearing witness to yesterday's artifacts while turning my back on today. Otherwise my vast and light cloud condenses and ossifies. Then I become trapped in my cloud-turned-sarcophagus; and together we plunge into the sea.
I am not the past. I am alive.
The most damnable condemnation handed down to me by this immense shouting, screaming, bloody, struggling, joyously cheering cloud of witnesses from the past was this:
That I failed to recognize my present.
I was the brood of vipers to whom Jesus proclaimed: “The Ninevites will condemn this generation!" Jesus stood directly in front of me; but I could not see him.
To live in the past, to be defined by the past, was to become stuck and stagnant—to become memorialized. It was to become incased in stone, instead of contemplating the terrible and marvelous monuments of the past while shouldering the cross in the present.
But miraculously I, a being completely paralyzed in the past, was able to shoulder my mat and walk home. A miracle of strength only made possible by the Forgiveness of Jesus. The man-child fish who swam to the bottom of my soul and set me free.
To the degree that our lives are mundane, useless, slavish and spiteful; we are neither the hero of any story, nor the villain. We are mostly inconsequential. The NPC of a video game who says the same dumb sentence over and over, no matter how many times or under what circumstances he speaks. We are a flying monkey—entranced; following. A background zombie waiting for someone to wake us up.
It parallels the narrative function the Israelite nation serves in the Bible. Always getting trapped, lost, enslaved, becoming useless, turning into a parody of themselves, plugging back in to the matrix, sinking back into unconsciousness watching someone else’s life play out on a movie screen.