Sunday, August 28, 2011

Cycle of Life

I woke up yesterday rejoicing in my open agenda.  It was the first day all summer that my schedule wasn’t maxed-out to the last minute.  For weeks I’ve been longing to have some time to exercise my creative muscle.  I planned to accomplish this with a long-anticipated writing session—just as soon as I started a load of laundry.

Armed with my laundry basket, my senses were assaulted as I stepped into my basement.  A strong, musty odor about knocked me over.  It seemingly bellowed, You’ve got unwanted water on the premises!

Upon exploration, I quickly discovered I no longer had an open agenda.  I had to deal with rescuing my carpet—and teaching my kids how to feel the burden of responsibility.  I wasn’t in the mood to make things fun for them, so I was just one whip short of being a regular slave-driver.

“Can’t you guys see we’ve got a crisis in the basement?” I hollered.  “Dad is away so I really need your help!” 

My creative juices were simmering while I hauled storage boxes out of the flooded room.  I reflected upon the topic I’ve been wanting to write about, along with how it had a lot to do with the disaster at hand.  My topic: the universal cycle of
“Creation à Fall à Restoration.”    
This cycle began with the dawn of time and has continued on down to the present moment.  I woke up to the middle stroke of the cycle and spent all day dealing with the third.

Creation is the art of crafting something with your resources, made even more joyful when aided by inspiration.  The Fall is the natural deterioration that comes with the mortal experience.  The Restoration has everything to do with God’s power to make things right.  Even with my carpet, I may have cleared the room, but the Lord helped me fix my family relations that went sour when I lost my cool.

My crazy, hectic summer felt like a “Fall” because, with my gazillion responsibilities, I had so many opportunities to mess things up.  I had a painful stretch of time when every single thing I did went wrong.  What, I wondered, am I supposed to learn from all this?

The answer came to me a few weeks ago as I listened to a commentary on Dante’s Divine Comedy.  That’s when I remembered the “Creation, Fall, Restoration” cycle.  This flash of inspiration put my difficulties into perspective and gave me the answer I needed to set things right:  allow the Lord to help me restore my sense of purpose and begin anew to create.

Dante Alighieri
(1265 – 1321)

Dante was a member of Florence, Italy’s “People’s Council” and then was elevated to the office of magistrate in 1300.  It was not a good time to stand at the head of his political party.  In 1302, the opposing party came to power and banished Dante from Florence, with a decree that he would be executed by fire if he should ever return.  So Dante lived the last twenty years of his life in exile.  During these years, he wrote his Divine Comedy, finishing it the year of his death.

He created drama and conflict at the opening of the Inferno, which builds as he descends into the depths of the devil’s domain.  It is a guided tour in which he learns how the seven deadly sins cause despair.

Dante’s tour of the after-life continues as he moves on to Purgatory.  Here he learns that Prudence, Temperance, Fortitude and Justice are the highest ideals mankind can attain without divine revelation.  To move beyond this point into Paradise, he must accept correction and purification through God’s messengers.  By means of his trials and submission to God’s will, Dante grows to become one with God and learns that, ultimately, God is a God of Love.  This lesson was the point of his long and arduous journey.

Dante’s rich poetry and symbolism make it arguably one of the best creative works of all time.  It deserves a closer study which I'll look forward to doing on another post.

Post-Script:  I made that promised post of a closer study on May 28, 2012.