Light Beyond Ashes

I recently finished reading the novel “Blood Meridian Or the Evening Redness in the West” by Cormac McCarthy and closed the back cover with a sense of great sadness. Odd that my eyes and heart would be traveling through a story fraught with so much violence as our nation reels with the latest tragedies of the past weeks. This book is an eloquently written portrayal of conquest in its most bestial forms as it pertains to western expansion and manifest destiny along the Texas and Mexico borderlands in the mid-nineteenth century. It follows an adolescent boy under the tutelage of an amoral, heinous leader and a gang of mercenary scalp-hunters who massacre tribal peoples and any other living soul or creature they deem death-worthy. The atrocities are exchanged by a cast of diverse ethnic groups in this book. Indeed, McCarthy holds up a looking glass of brutality and ambivalence that reveals humanity’s tragic and raw depravity. The images, though superbly written, are extraordinarily difficult to read.

But human sacrilege is nothing new after all. World history shows us the tremulous and dauntless acts of good and evil, and the possibilities and dire impacts that result from those choices.

Each of us has the ability to choose good over evil in the way we think and act.

…the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
—Auschwitz survivor, Viktor E. Frankl, “Man’s Search for Meaning”

I’ve thought a lot about racism and the abuse of power lately and tried to look into myself to evaluate my own perceptions and misconceptions about people and things. I am human and I am flawed. I see things imperfectly. My experience is limited and therefore lacking. All the more reason to learn about otherness. All the more reason to consider the unique essence of another.

Here are a few quotations I take to heart:

You never really understand a person until you consider things from their point of view—until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.
—(Atticus Finch) Harper Lee, “To Kill a Mockingbird”


…to be given dominion over another is a hard thing; to wrest dominion over another is a wrong thing; to give dominion of yourself to another is a wicked thing.
—(Floren’s mother) Toni Morrison, “A Mercy”


Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction … The chain reaction of evil – hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars – must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.
—Martin Luther King, Jr. (1963)


Every time we turn our heads the other way when we see the law flouted, when we tolerate what we know to be wrong, when we close our eyes and ears to the corrupt because we are too busy or too frightened, when we fail to speak up and speak out, we strike a blow against freedom and decency and justice.
—Robert F. Kennedy  (1961)


I’m proud of the protests but I’m not proud of the destruction. My brother wasn’t about that. … Power to the people. Not just my people. Not just your people. Not just the people they think is important or whatever. I’m talking about power to the people. All of us.
—Terrence Floyd, Memorial for George Floyd, Brooklyn Cadman Plaza, June 4, 2020


I hope that no more groans of wounded men and women will ever go to the ear of the Great Spirit Chief above, and that all people may be one people.
—Chief Joseph, Lincoln Hall Speech, Washington D.C., January 1879

The groaning eclipses time and space. If we could only understand and love better: human to human, human to animal, human to environment, and human to God. If only more compassion and mercy. The apostle Paul spoke about prayer and the Spirit of God groaning in intercession for all humanity and creation.

The Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we don’t know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.
—Romans 8:26

Light in the darkness.
Let us behold the beauty in each other.

Thanks for stopping by.