My story begins as I die. Something struck me from behind, struck me hard, forced my breath out. They must be using a heavy stick. I look down and see a broad blade sticking out of my chest. I can see the moon on the metal and the blood on the blade. I am already dead. This knowledge blinds me; it is a bright fire behind my eyes. My life-hope flits out though the hole in my heart like a cloud of bats.
Oh, now comes pain like fiery coals and I am very afraid. The bats turn back on me, they are witches. They cover my mouth and nose; they press on my chest with their fat rumps; they stretch broad rawhide thongs around my stomach; they kick me in the groin. I keep on exhaling, exhaling.
Dying is a big work. Dying is an important thing to do. Dying keeps a man busy. Dying is closer than enemies and revenge.
I hear myself make gurgling sounds. There is now bright red foam on the blade in front of me. And now I’m angry. Who has the medicine to do this to me? Who can have medicine such as this if he has not stolen it from me? I want to see his face. I turn my head back as far as I can. I make out a shape through the flames in my head. The fire is all around me. One of the witches says: "Look at me!"
I turn my head again. It is a woman!
Ehêh, the things a dying man dreams… I shoot up into the night as my body falls on its side and kicks its feet for a little while.
I was weak; now I’m strong. I was killed; now I cannot die. Makaphimo is born.
Character: Modjadji’s high priest / chief witch doctor – lives in the forest.
Here’s the slideshow.
In stead of comparing Godric’s life with my existing notions, I’m learning about a version of Christianity in which Christ is a stern deity on his own, in which the Trinity has not gelled into its present form, in which grace is not taken for granted.
Godric’s Christ is not appeased with tears alone, but with blood and sacrifice. He’s not into the Personal Savior business yet. He enjoys the offering of self-broken bodies and self-broken spirits. While this stern god did die for sinners, he is conscious of them having brought the bitter cup upon him, and they can still sweeten it by their penance, or face his wrath by continuing to sin. The Virgin Mary is a major player in this religion, teaching Godric a song, acting as the PR department of the Holy Quadrinity. And the Reformation is still half a millennium away. What an utterly different world from ours! I think Buechner’s artistry lies in his ability to make this world real.
I am a sucker for Medieval themes. I’ve never seen anybody do it like Frederick Buechner. Got the book on my shelf, wrote a lot of stuff in the margins, enjoyed every word of it. The ending slapped me in the face – it was surprising and insightful and emotional. Godric will probably always be in my top five. Check out Godric at Amazon.com. The paperback currently sells for $10.36 plus shipping.
While writing this I was listening to White Room by Cream – The Cream Of Clapton
First of all the slide show: The Laxness Slide Show.
The picture to the left is of the “fairy goat” staring at the glacier. I guess you had to be there. (I wasn’t; I made the whole thing up in my head) But to me that goat is one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a long time.
When did I snicker for weeks before? I remember one occasion. Unfortunately it’s one that does not translate well. I guess you can say you had to be there.
My friend Werner got us a guest house at the bottom of the Blyde River canyon – sleeps ten, very nice. Werner and I and this character, another friend of Werner’s were sitting in the lounge drinking sherry ’till late. The friend lived in Hazy View, right on the border of the Kruger National Park.
As invariably happens in this type of conversation, the topic moved on to lions. That is when he told us of a big male whose territory came to within a few hundred yards of his back door. “When that bugger barks the cups rattle in the saucers,” he said. (“As daai bliksem blaf rinkel die koppies in hulle pierings.”