My 2006 NaNoWriMo novel. Woo! Note: since I am posting as I go along, the storyline is backwards. To read this, start from the oldest post and read to the newest.

My Photo
Location: Los Angeles, United States

I am an awkward, stubborn, slightly insane woman who would rather talk Plato than Prada, rather watch Frank Capra than Carrie Bradshaw, and rather listen to Norse myths sung in Icelandic than anything currently on the radio. Yeah. Told you I was weird.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Chapter 4

To: Jason Slocum
From Angie Parr
Subject: trip this weekend?
Hey! This weekend I'd like to take you to see something again. It's not as far of a trip as last time; in fact, it's sort of on the way back from church. Are you able to come to mass this Saturday?
"Play the man, Master Ridley, and we shall, by God's grace, light such a fire in England this day as, I trust, shall never be put out." Hugh Latimer on the occasion of his martyrdom by fire.

To: Angie Parr
From: Jason Slocum
Subject: Re: trip this weekend?

Sure, sounds good. The usual place and time, I assume, unless I hear differently.
"I can't see where you're leading me, unless you've lead me here, to where I'm lost enough to let myself be led."
"Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."
"So, are you going to tell me where we're off to today?" I buckled my seat as I slid into Angie's car.
"Have I ever?" Angie turned the key in the ignition, then put the car into drive.
"I didn't think you would, just thought I'd try." As we turned onto Kraemer, I looked down the road. It was amazing how few people were out and about at 8:30 on a Saturday morning. It was a fine time of day; I'd gotten used to getting up on Saturdays, and was surprised at how much time I had before the cafeteria opened at 10:30.
"How'd your Bible class go the other day?" Angie asked, fiddling with the radio dial.
"Oh, it went ok. Kinda tense, for the first part. I don't think they expected what I had to say."
"And what was it you chose to say?"
"Essentially, nothing."
"Yeah, that'd be a surprise to me, too!" She laughed, and poked my shoulder. "No, sorry, just kidding. You really didn't say anything?"
"Well, I wasn't silent, but I didn't say much. Just agreed with what someone else had said."
"Oh, ok."
She turned the car onto Bastanchury; I was grateful to be heading west, since the sunshades in the car didn't fall low enough to block the rays of the morning sun.
"So, Angie..."
"Hmm?" She tapped her fingers on the steering wheel in time to a song on the radio.
I looked out the window; to my right, I could see the 'Kingdom of Heaven,' and through the windsheild you could just make out the Los Angeles skyline through a pink haze. "Why did you come to LA?"
"Well, partly for school, of course. I loved the campus and the programs, and it seemed like a good fit. But also..." She paused for a moment, and glanced at my face, considering her next words. "Hmm. Yeah, ok, I guess I can tell you that. See, I really wanted to come to the 'Big City.' A lot of people told me I'd be corrupted there, that big cities are terrible places. Are they are, to some extent. But I realized that a City was also a good place for making saints. Ok, so are deserts and monasteries, but still. In the City, you have to learn about people, and you see great good and great evil, often side by side. A lot of the real battle occurs in the Cities, and just by sheer presence of numbers, there are a lot of saints already in the City."
Glancing over her shoulder, she moved the car into the right lane and turned onto Euclid, but didn't take the immediate left onto Rosecrans, as I had expected.
"So you did come to the city to make it big, didn't you?" Angie looked a little puzzled, but before she had time to respond, I continued. "You want to be a saint, don't you Angie?"
She didn't respond for a long time. In fact, it wasn't until we'd gotten close to Imperial Highway that she began to speak again. "Yes. Yes, I do want to become a saint. I don't think it's something I'm being forced into, or something that I'm being pushed to do...I'm not on a special mission from God or anything. It's something I chose to do. Something I want to be."
The car rattled slightly in the dip as we went across Imperial; Angie signaled and moved into the left lane. "So yeah, maybe that makes me crazy. It's not something you're supposed to even consider nowadays, we're all so enlightened and rational. Despite the fact that given the premises of Christianity, a saint is really the main thing to be. I think that's one reason I love going to Our Lady church, it's part of their mission statement."
We sat in silence for a moment, then I cracked up laughing. "What? What's so funny?" Angie asked.
"Oh, the just the juxtaposition of a 'mission statement,' and being a saint. It's funny to me."
"Yeah, well-"
"No, no, no, I don't mean that in a bad or sarcastic way. I literally mean it's funny. I keep seeing businessmen with halos."
"Ha! Ok, yeah, that's kinda funny." We turned left onto La Habra Boulevard; the neighboorhood was mostly business oriented, though most of them were pretty run down. There were liquor stores on almost every corner, and multiple thrift stores. What was there to see here?
"Ok, Monte Vista, we're getting close. Watch out the left window."
"For what?"
"You'll know it when you see it."
All I could see ahead to the left was another corner strip mall, and a large beige building. Nothing remarkable. Then we passed the building, and Angie slowed down. The front of the building, which was hidden until you were right across from it, was covered with a huge mosaic of the Virgin, tiled in blue, and highlighted in gold.
"What....why is this here?" I twisted in my seat, trying to keep the mosaic in view.
"Relax, I'm gonna turn around and park."
After a quick u-turn, we parked in front of the church and got out of the car. The building had two columns on the extreme edges of the front, which supported a roof over the mosaic. This had the effect of making the mosaic appear both suspended in midair and coming out of the actual building.
"I repeat, why is this here? I mean, I'd expect it at the cathedral, or really anywhere in the City. But in the suburbs? And not even the nice suburbs at that."
"Don't you know? She was always humble, always content to be with the poor. She didn't shun the stable, or the hill of the crucified. She didn't even compain at being a stranger in Egypt, unknown and with no-one but her husband and child. This is where she'd choose to be, not with the powerful or the rich, but here."
We leaned against the car, gazing at the mosaic, which glowed and sparkled in the diffuse light of the morning. I was glad that the church seemed to be deserted for the moment; we did look a little odd, just standing there staring.
"Do people come here often?" I shouted a little to speak over the rush of cars on the street.
"Well, I've never seen anyone else stop and look, but I'm sure people see it, and there are people who go to church here."
I stood in silence for a while, looking at the Lady in blue robes depicted on the buidling. Why were people so drawn to this humble carpenter's wife, who'd never written a book, or left any philosophy behind, who had been dead for nearly two thousand years? One of the gospels, the only real information anyone had about her, didn't even call her by name
"You know, growing up I never heard much about her. A mention or two at Christmas time, and maybe one at Easter, maybe. But not the rest of the year. Now I attended a church that bears her title, and I'm standing in front of a giant mosaic of her. Why? I would have call this idolatry a year ago, you know."
Angie nodded. "Yes, I know what you mean. But you know, she won't really let you look just at her for long. Look at the traditional icons; her hand is always pointing to her Son, directing your eyes towards Him. She simply won't let you focus on her; she's the greatest idoloclast there is."
Another pause.
"Idoloclast, Angie? I don't think that's a word."
"Yeah well, idol smasher, whatever. If there are iconoclasts, there should be idoloclasts." She turned to open her car door. "Ready to head back?"
"Yeah, I guess so." I stepped into the car, and shut the door. As we pulled away from the curb, I leaned back for one last look, but the mosaic was already hidden from sight.
To: James Peyton
From: Jason Slocum
Subject: Hey
Hey James, hadn't talked to you in a while. How're thing going?
Well, enough of the chit-chat; I'm not any good at it these days, and I think you see right through it anyway.
I've been thinking a lot about what you said at the park last semester, especially the part about needing to join the human race. I'm still not entirely sure what you meant by that, or how I'm supposed to do it, but I think I want to, now. Or at least, I want to want it. That counts as progress, right?
I've been talking to Angie a lot lately (but I guess you knew that, I think you two are pretty good friends, right?) and been thinking a lot. I still think a lot of her ideas are too na•ve, and don't really work in the real world, but I'm having a hard time finding any logical flaws, either.
So, here're the questions I've been mulling over lately; any light you can shed on them would be terrific.
First of all, what does it mean to be holy? Can people achieve it? If so, how?
Secondly, why bother?
"I can't see where you're leading me unless you've led me here, to where I'm lost enough to let myself be led."

To: Jason Slocum
From: James Peyton
Subject: re: Hey
Hey Jason! Not much going on except the usual insanity of classes. Next year will probably be worse though, so I'm doing all the goofing off that I can possibly squeeze into the semester.
As to your questions, I don't really have many answers, but I'll tell you what I think. I don't know if it's true, but I obviously think it is: if I didn't think so, Id change my mind.
1. What does it mean to be holy? That's a good one. I know you can tell holiness when you see it, but trying to describe it abstractly is pretty tough. Set-apart, I think, but that doesn't really tell you much. I think holiness may be a special kind of power, but I'm not yet sure why that sounds right to me. I'll have to keep thinking about that one.
2. Can people achieve it? Well, there are large numbers of people reputed to be holy, even in our times. Look at Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul II, or even Billy Graham. So it doesn't seem to be terribly doubtful that it's possible, at least to some extent. How they accquire it may be up for debate, but most of them say the same things: read Scripture, pray as often as possible, worship with a community.
3. I think this is the main question for you, personally. I'm also guessing that Angie's not going to be too much of a help with this one, because it seems axiomatic to her by now, though I don't think it always was. But it's a little different for you, and me, I admit. We're different from Angie, and from each other. My answer would be something like: I should become a saint because it's commanded. It will help those around me to become better, and will better glorify God. I know, it seems like a very cold answer, and I'll confess that my heart isn't in it...yet. But slowly. I have a cold heart, and it takes a roaring fire to warm it, but most of the ice has already thawed. I may even be able to sense my heart moving in a new direction soon!
I know this is a long response to some very short questions, and I don't know if it helps at all. But remember, you asked for it!
P.S. Pizza night again next Monday, you coming? We're watching The Mummy.
"All that I have written is but straw." Thomas Aquinas, after a mystical experience
"Ancoro Imparo (I am still learning)" Michelangelo
To: Jason Slocum
From: Stephanie Fletcher
I wanted to let you know that I did get the apology you sent me. I'm sorry it's taken me so long to write back to you, but I just couldn't bear to do it for awhile.
Thank you for the apology; you really did hurt me, and I guess I'm still kinda upset about it. I know you've been going through a hard time lately, after Hannah died. I'll be praying for you, and good luck in your classes! :)
P.S. Katie told me that you stood up for her in class the other day. That was really cool. She really appreciated it!
"Friends are friend forever, if the Lord's the lord of them."


Post a Comment

<< Home