Monday, September 27, 2010

What does it mean?

Things are moving this week. I'm going to stuff my excitement for a couple more days and withhold the exact details, but my support letter for Japan is nearly finished, so many of you will be hearing from me (maybe for the first time) very soon. In light of this, I'd like to write a bit about the concept behind this page.

Cormac McCarthy (Thanks to
What do I mean when I say "carrying the fire?" To be truthful, this is a reference to a book called The Road, by Cormac McCarthy, which I recently finished reading. McCarthy is also famous for No Country for Old Men (2005) and All the Pretty Horses (1992). The Road (2007) was quickly followed by a movie version in 2009. The Road is a sparsely written tale about a post-apocalyptic world, in which a man (Viggo Mortenson) and his son are meandering through the wasteland, trying to reach the ocean. The background on this website is a screen shot from the movie.

The story is altogether depressing. The prose is filled with unexplained desolation in a world where all the plants and animals have died, laying now beneath a darkened sky, as if some mysterious vandal had taken a sledgehammer to our life cycle for no good reason. The aptly depicted movie, even more so than the book, is both visually stunning and devastating. A hopeless and dying world brings days filled with only hunger, cold, and fear. Many of the people left living have turned to desperate and dehumanized measures in order to survive.. cannibalism not excepted. The greatest danger in this world is not dying, but being taken captive by the "bad guys."

The man and the boy trudge slowly toward the ocean, hoping feebly to find a place where things are different, where the scorched earth still struggles to live. Neither of them knows why they are walking. They wrestle with questions of their own purpose, surrounded by death, knowing that their own ends are not far away. The man tries to encourage the boy, even though he has no hope in his heart. Indeed, his only hope is the boy. They are the "good guys." They are "carrying the fire" together.

carrying the fire
I've been overwhelmed with the paucity of hope flickering in the middle of barren emptiness. I find this a relevant corollary for my faith. I find that in the midst of doubt, trial, and injustice in this life, not knowing my path but sensing a direction I should be traveling, faith is often small, even wavering. But it is furiously and even senselessly stubborn. I do not envision my faith as a brilliant bon fire, but as a Zippo lighter, barely making enough light or warmth even for me to trudge a days march in the right direction. And I'll scavenge for fuel where I can. carry the fire.

Perhaps the fire is in the very struggle itself?

My thoughts also turn to my journey to Japan. It is a foreign road to me, where my challenges will be unknown and my limits will be tested. If I brave the darkness with my lighter, will my light increase, or will the confronting darkness close in, striving doubly to snuff me out? Nonetheless, I will continue in the direction that has been laid out for me. I believe a way has been made, though I don't understand how. carry the fire.

If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend reading The Road. It is both poignant and beautiful, while concurrently somber and sparse. Cormac McCarthy, in few words, has shown much insight into the human spirit.

At any rate, now you know where I am in my thoughts.

Stay tuned..


More about The Road:

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