Monday, March 20, 2017

Lent: Afraid

There are racoons who live in the storm sewers around here. I saw one jump into a tree once at night, as I pulled up in my car. It was a big thing, the size of a large dog.

I'm not afraid of the racoons, but the idea of something that large living in the sewer does strike an eerie chord, like the legends of the alligators that live in the sewers of New York, where they supposedly feed on rats and derelicts. In some ways it's reminiscent of the monsters that ancient heroes like Aeneas, Orpheus and Odysseus had to pass on their way out of the sunlight and into the Underworld.

God knows there's enough to be afraid of, without appealing to half-remembered monsters from the id. It's impossible to read the news without encountering some new outrage against immigrants and citizens whose appearance, religion or language makes them stand out. We also have a presidential administration that spreads falsehood and stokes those fears, rather than appealing for or working toward civility. And these are just the fears our nation has inflicted upon itself.

The monsters are no longer due on Maple Street. We've arrived, and we're all afraid.

I don't intend to descend into the sewers any time soon to meet the racoons, but I do remember one thing from reading "The Odyssey" and "The Aeneid," along with those other Greek myths. The heroes also found it terrifying when they began their journey into the unknown, but when they faced their fears, they found there was nothing to worry about.

Aeneas even found that the time he spent with those shades was the best part of his journey, and they gave him what he needed to see it through to the end.

Copyright © 2017 by David Learn. Used with permission.

No comments: