My Conversion Story

To read my conversion story, I have posted it in .pdf format available for download.

Monday, October 11, 2010

English: A beautiful language

Lately I’ve been reading a book by one of my new favorite authors, Michael D. O’Brien. It is called, “Saint and Sojourners,” the second installment in the Children of the Last Days series. O’Brien is one of the best authors I’ve seen in a long time. Not only are his stories engaging, but his poetic style of prose is stunningly beautiful. Authors like this remind us that English is truly a lovely and lyrical language. When used properly.

Here is an example. Just to give a little background—it takes place in about 1920. The young man in the story is struggling with the remembrance of the death of his father, an Irish revolutionary, killed by the English, and his subsequent hatred of all things English. It has not yet been revealed in the story, but I suspect that he ends up fighting in skirmishes with the British, or kills the one responsible for his father’s death. He is now essentially an hermit fur-trader in British Columbia. He has had a near-death experience and has been nursed back to health by an Englishwoman. This is causing him to reflect on his hatred.  In this scene he has just chased away a bear near his front door. He didn’t want to shoot it. Being so close, he didn’t want to injure it and make it angry:

"The man exhaled a long stream of breath and sank to the porch to rest his quaking muscles. He understood then what bear it would be his lot to wrestle with. Not blacks or grizzlies. But the one that struggled for mastery within his own being and had already been identified for him: fear.

He stood into the shaft of the rising sun, the shivering lord of creation. Then he went down the footpath to the edge of the river, where he might complete those small tasks that reassured him the order of existence. He drew in the net slowly as if he were not performing the visible act but had deciphered in the simple, hand-over-hand motions the knowledge of cosmic order. He untangled the gills of a grayling and two whitefish, tossing them up flapping onto the snow. Later, he cooked and ate them.

The man slept early that night. He did not dream of bear or war but was pulled by a tide into an ocean upon which he miraculously floated.

Beside the sea a noble man with silver hair, wearing a rough-spun woolen cloak of burgundy and green, turned and looked into Stiofan’s eyes. The seagulls cried, Malachi, Malachi, who art holy upon the waters!

Do you see this ocean Stiofan? said the man, pointing at the surf with his shepherd’s crook.

Yes. I see.

It is the ocean of God’s mercy.

But the boy Stiofan covered his face with his hands, and his hands were red with blood, and he ran, he ran from the sea.

In his sleep he sang, as the soul will sometimes release at the deepest level of being the music of a dirge that the ancient ones had keened in the cottages of his childhood:

You have taken the east from me, and west,
You have taken sun and moon from me,
You have taken love from me,
And my great fear,
And my great fear,
That you have taken God
From me.

He sang in longing notes, which no one heard."

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