Thursday, July 07, 2005

Not an apologia but the only sense I can find tonight....

From "Peter Abelard: a novel"
By Helen Waddell

From somewhere near them in the words a cry rose, a thin cry, of such intolerable anguish that Abelard turned dizzy on his feet, and caught at the wall of the hut. "It's a child's voice," he said.
Thibault had gone outside. The cry came again. "A rabbit," said Thibault. He listened. "It'll be in a trap. Hugh told me he was putting them down."
"O God," Abelard muttered. "Let it die quickly."
But the cry came yet again. He plunged through a thicket of hornbeam. "Watch out," said Thibault, thrusting past him. "The trap might take the hand off you."

The rabbit stopped shrieking when they stooped over it, either from exhaustion, or in some last extremity of fear. Thibault held the teeth of the trap apart, and Abelard gathered up the little creature in his hands. It lay for a moment breathing quickly, then in some blind recognition of the kindness that had met it at the last, the small head thrust and nestled against his arm, and it died.
It was that last confiding thrust that broke Abelard's heart. He looked down at the little draggled body, his mouth shaking. "Thibault," he said, "do you think there is a God at all? Whatever has come to me, I earned it. But what did this one do?"
Thibault nodded.
"I know," he said. "Only, I think God is in it too."
Abelard looked up sharply.
"In it? Do you mean that it makes him suffer, the way it does us?"
Again Thibault nodded.
"Then why doesn't he stop it?"
"I don't know," said Thibault. "Unless it's like the prodigal son. I suppose the father could have kept him at home against his will. But what would have been the use? All this," he stroked the limp body, "is because of us. But all the time God suffers. More than we do."
Abelard looked at him, perplexed. "Thibault, do you mean Calvary?"
Thibault shook his head. "That was only a piece of it--the piece that we saw--in time. Like that." He pointed to a fallen tree beside them, sawn through the middle. "That dark ring there, it goes up and down the whole length of the tree. But you only see it where it is cut across. That is what Christ's life was; the bit of God that we saw. And we think God is like that, because Christ was like that, kind, and forgiving sins and healing people. We think God is like that forever, because it happened once, with Christ. But not the pain. Not the agony at the last. We think that stopped."
Abelard looked at him, the blunt nose and the wide mouth, the honest troubled eyes. He could have knelt before him.
"Then, Thibault," he said slowly, "you think that all this," he looked down at the little quiet body in his arms, "all the pain of the world, was Christ's cross?"
"God's cross," said Thibault. "And it goes on."

5 comments:

Anna said...

Kathryn, are you going to make me cry with every single one of your entries?! This made more heart-sense than anything else I've read today.

Many prayers to all tonight who are frightened, who are hurting, who have died. It seems like such a little thing to offer. It's all I can do.

Caroline said...

i remember the first time that you brought this fable into my conciousness - my ability to recall stories is limited but when you mentioned this last night even i rembemered the story. that can only mean that the story affects me far more deeply than i'd imagine. Thank you for bringing it back now, it still doesnt make sense, but it does touch a truth I can't quite reach.

John said...

Thanks for that, Kathryn.

pax et bonum

Mark said...

Thank you - so right for now.

Lorna said...

beautiful post. thank you