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A Five Part Lenten Reflection
Part 3: Disenchanted
By Dick Donnenwirth

My journey continued. With me I took the memories of experiences that were past. For instance, there was the house into which I blindly stumbled, out of whose security I gained sight and sound of the personal. This experience of the "religious" and of the "sacred" was to become even more meaningful in my present journey. Then there was the new enchantment of recognizing myself as fully human by participating for a moment in the house of humanity whose walls responded to the noise of play, work, and creation. The memory of this house of feeling, in particular, was sharp and sweet in me as I responded to the call to continue my journey. One of the similarities of the two previous experiences, which struck me as curious, what that, however dissimilar, they were both houses. There was still the security of walls, the security of the protection of external limits, the security of a recognizable inclusion. I seemed to sense that the present part of the journey would not lead to a house--that I must experience in the open and perhaps alone.
I felt pretty good about life as I walked along. The surroundings were pleasant enough. When I wished, I could shut out the present by recalling meaningful memories; but not for long.
Suddenly out of the bushes came a band of little people. They joined hands and danced around me in a circle. They were singing or chanting or something. I could only pick up a phrase repeated over and over again. It sounded like "lame duck." The little people disappeared as quickly as they came. But I would never forget them. And I limped more noticeably for awhile after that. Truly I was a cripple and I felt cheated.

Then I knew hunger as I had never known it before. I was starved for meat--the lean, red meat of the strong. I came upon a dead lion, the king of beasts. Knowing I would not find the satisfaction of freshly killed meat here, nevertheless I knelt down. My mind recalled the first house and the table and the inherent promises. I felt I would at least find honey, for had it not been said, "out of the eater came something to eat; out of the strong came something sweet." But that which I put in my mouth had only the acrid taste of rotten flesh and I vomited. When the retching passed, I saw that the lion had turned into a grinning jackass.

Somehow I managed to continue the now wearying journey until I came to a lake. With new strength, new hope, new expectation I cast my net into the water, seeing the fish were plentiful and lively. I remembered being told to "cast out into the deep." Only my net ripped. I repaired it. It ripped again. Time after time until I threw it down in disgust. Hurt, disappointment, and frustration from these experiences brought anger. Yes, I felt angry.

So angry was I that when a figure stood on the path in front of me--I believe it was feminine--I pointed my finger and said, "Drop dead!" And she did. In the guilt and grief that followed I realized that a person can get too angry. Violence is always a possibility. I longed for someone to talk to--to share my anger with. 

This was not to be. Instead the ultimate in frustration was yet to come. The final disenchantment was just ahead. Up to this point, while beyond the security of house and walls, the surroundings were still recognizable. That is, I could count of using my past experiences, my education, my training, my reason to analyze the new and make decision. I could still count on a sense of the familiar in the background at least, if not in the foreground. Then, all changed. Light turned to dark, solid to slime, and breath to cough. Direction was gone. I was lost and alone and very much afraid. There flashed through my consciousness those who had said, "At least you have a good mind. No one can take that away from you." But my mind was of no value in this situation. Or so I felt. I recognized only that I had one choice--to lie down and die or jump ahead, at least in relation to myself. I decided to leap. The decision itself brought the change of eliminating that which would now never be and the opening of new possibilities. The leap was self-affirming and life-giving.

(June 1968)


Click Here to Read Part 1




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