Thursday, May 05, 2005

God Damned Circle of Life

We really have Disneyminds. The Turtle was so… cute. It was moseying across the parking lot, obviously an orphan, and we adopted it. It turns out it was a water turtle. And we have a pond. Our pond has Disney fish in it. When I walk to the edge of the pond, 15 fish dart toward me and their mouths start kissing the surface. I throw fish food flakes into the water and they frolic, gobbling the sinking flakes, like giggling children catching huge snowflakes on their tongues. For a few minutes each morning I communed with my 15 best friends.

I should have known. The last couple mornings they didn’t come to the edge, there was no greeting, no joy. They laid still, stiff as fish sticks, at the bottom of the pond. The pet store kid said it wasn’t the pond water, they weren't sick. It was a reaction to a predator. The fear of death had paralyzed them. But the turtle was so… cute. We put "feeder fish" in the pond. The others were big fish now, too big for the turtle to eat. They'd get used to it.

This morning I go to the pond and I find 5 fish floating. Bitten in half. Disemboweled. The head of one is at the bottom of the pond. Several more are missing. My Disney Pond stewn with corpses. Disney lied. The Circle of Life isn’t The Lion King and Fantasia, the Fish and Turtle dancing like Hippopotami and Crocodiles in tutus and ballet slippers, it isn’t wildebeests and lions and snakes and elephants dancing on each other’s heads singing show tunes. The Circle of Life is death. The Circle of Life is randomly, wantonly having your life cut off. The Circle of Life is making a mangled carcass out of what was a graceful, feathery creature that only God on a good day could have imagined creating. The Turtle was just being a turtle in the fallen world. The Reptile Store Kid said, "Yeah, its a male. They are bad. They kill just to kill." The Fish were just victims of its Turtleness…and my Disneymindedness. Ever since Adam ate the fruit, nothing fasts. The lion lies down with the lamb but only after it breaks its neck and disembowels it. This is the Circle of Life: everything dies, and if our prayers are answered it might be painless. But mostly it is wracked with suffering, sometimes inflicted by someone else. Intentionally or not, our lives are often taken from us. And we live paralyzed by fear of death. We cannot move toward joy, toward the One who feeds us, toward each other, toward our Life, our Sun, our True Food. The fear of death turns us wooden, we become mere images of the reality of our true selves. We are stiff, lifeless, unconnected, motionless…dead yet living. St. Paul says the sting of death is sin, falling short of our real life, our true self, our fullness of being. The fear of death paralyzes, we live in constant dread of the Circle of Life because we know life is not a Disney cartoon, but a pond with beautiful, rotting corpses floating on its surface while certain death lies camoflaged, waiting on the bottom to ravage us as we drift by. (Hebrews 2:14-15).

And yet…Christ is risen from the dead, damning death by death and to those in the tombs bestowing life.

Yes… God damned the Circle of Life. He entered the circle and broke it. By death He rendered powerless him who had the power of death and delivered those who were held in slavery to the fear of death, St. Paul says. Satan is cast down and he and this fallen existence will gasp their last rotting breath some day when death and Satan are cast into the lake of the second death, and in the power of the Resurrection, Life will reign triumphant and eternal. (Rev. 20:14) The lion will lay with the lamb, not because the lion has become a lamb but because Life reigns.The Turtle will swim with the fish, not as a fish but in all its Turtleness because Life reigns in it. And we will live in true communion, the image of God fulfilled in us, swimming in joy because of Him who damned death by His death. God damned the Circle of Life, Mr. Disney. It is in Christ that your cartoon life is fulfilled and takes on reality. Until that day when Life embraces creation and all is transformed, I wait, like all creation waits in hope, groaning and weeping at the fallen Circle that encompasses all that is beautiful and joyful in this world. (Rom. 8:19)

By the way. We excommunicated the Turtle. Its still alive, but not in our Pond Fellowship any longer. The Reptile Store Kid took him.

Its Friday afternoon:
I took one of our remaining 5 fish to the pet store for a diagnosis this morning. Its eyes were clouded over. It was lethargic. We looked in the disease book. It said the introduction of a predatory or aggressive fish to the environment will cause fish to die. There are latent diseases that stress will cause to flare up and it will kill them. The Pet Store Kid gave me some antibiotic. 5 hours later we have one fish left. Hebrews 2 says we are held in bondage to the fear of death. So are fish. Damn it. We buried our Fish in the corner of the yard with our Dog and Hamsters and Rats.


Unknown said...

An interesting thing happened s-p. I saw the pond picture and posted a comment, one with exhuberance. THEN I read the post about the turtle, which made me look at the pond differently. I wonder what I would have posted had I read the turtle story first THEN looked at the pond.

Steve Robinson said...

That is an interesting comment. I'm sure I could wax philosophical about it...heck, why not....
Yes, the world is still beautiful. Paradise was lost but not obliterated. But death lurks beneath the surface of it all. All that is beautiful fades, rots and turns to dust. We can and should be exuberant about what beauty there is in our fallen world. God is therein. But we should also not chose Disney as our framework for reality. Until and unless we come face to face with death and its reality, and the reality of the hope of the Resurrection, we are living in a cartoon world. Christianity breaks the chain of the "circle of life". Only in Christ do we have hope for not just ourselves but for our fish, turtles, dogs, lions, lambs and yeah...even cats.... :)

Mary Brigid said...

Obviously I'm a little behind the times here....

The goldfish and us are not all that different. My eyes sort of glaze over and I feel like going toes up when I'm on the receiving end of predatory behavior. Whether it's the 20 year old who snarls "I don't have to do what you want, I'll do what I please" or the 16 year old who (I am not making this up) yells at me for not blocking Instant Messaging on his phone after telling him not to IM anymore (it's MY fault, you see, that he Stress like that is a killer to us too.

Anonymous said...


I´ve had enough of well-stoked fear:
Disaster may before me lie,
But I´ll not listen more, you hear,
Because the threat--even sincere--
Perturbs too much, when I might die.

One death were not the worst of it,
I do believe. I've had my fill
Of pondering with my brows knit
On matters that have yet to hit,
Nor know not will come well or ill.

I do my best to be prepared--
That´s prudent, not one to indulge
My lusts or luxuries. If scared
Regardless I have always dared,
Yet fear needs not to over-bulge.

Atop a striving toward restraint,
Detachment in adversity
And times of favor equal, saint
Nor sinner overmuch, from taint
Of soul´s dishonor I would flee.

By keeping honest, and in terms
Forthright with heaven, to what purpose
Harboring fear? We are not worms,
Our chance less than a single sperm´s
To start with--who had mothers burp us.

All wends to death, come late or soon;
Therefore no matter what the time is,
Receive the blessing as high noon:
To harbingers of fear attune
Not soul which ready for a climb is.