Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The end is (always) near

There is more than a hint of apocalypse in the air these days.
Both Legion and The Book of Eli cinematically evoke the end times, loosely translating the Book of Revelation into an emerging genre that could be called Christian horror. In Avatar people from our world leave a dead planet behind to spread environmental depredation to greener more harmonious worlds. Prophetic warnings sound from the right and the left, the religious and the political. After Scott Brown’s senatorial victory in Massachusetts, the end of meaningful healthcare reform seems nigh. And with the Supreme Court ruling that corporations are persons, many wonder if democracy will survive. Then there is Port au Prince, which has literally collapsed. And, as adherents of the Mayan calendar keep telling us, we still have 2012 to look forward to when we will be spiritually transformed—or doomed.

Last week I got an email from someone I didn’t know who said he’d read an article by me I didn’t remember writing. He wanted to tell someone how terrible the coming times would be, how waiting for this cosmic shoe to drop was so unbearable, disaster might almost be a relief. Get ready, he urged repeatedly. I pondered the email for a couple of days and then wrote back: “I hear you. I often feel the same way. Great courage and compassion will be required of us…I don't doubt we will have to face adversity. I hope we will meet it bravely.”

The word apocalypse does not actually mean the end time or disaster but revelation. It comes from the Greek apokaluptein, to uncover. As a storyteller, I can relate. The end of the story is when all is revealed. As a reader, I confess, I often sneak a peek at the last page. As a human being living out her life, I can’t know my own end. Yet, like everyone, I have faced many endings. Throughout history to this day whole cultures and civilizations have ended and are ending through war, famine, plague, holocaust, natural disaster. There is no need to strain our ears for the pounding of apocalyptic hooves. The end is always here. The time for compassion bravery, and resourcefulness is always now.

Today I visited Olga, my 97-year-old mother-in-law who has Alzheimer’s. She spoke slowly from a waking dream state. “Actually,” she said, beginning her sentence over and over, “Actually what we need to do is find out is how much time there is.” I do not know if she meant how much time she has or how much time we all have. But I was struck by her willingness to launch an inquiry, her leadership, her lack of fear. Olga’s favorite expression is “So, all is well.” Her end is near. May her apocalypse—and ours—surprise us with its beauty.


  1. Maeve here as promised. Elizabeth just sent off "The end is (always) near" to Huffington Post. She will keep you posted abt posting. Right now, I am here to tell you, she is a nervous wreck, and sending a zip attachment just about did her in.

    As for me, I am disappointed that she did not mention yhe apocalyptic challenges my daughters and I are facing in the first century. Talk about the end of a world. I lived it and she's going to have to freakin write about it--if she doesn't un out of time! I think Olga's question was a good one.

    She also didn't get to tell you that when she explained she was going to spend the afternoon writing sentences that made sense, Olga asked, but will the sentences be fun? Personally, I hope they will be more fun next time! -Maeve

  2. Clocks are made to go round and round endless, just like we assume time is. But i think that actually we ourselves are one of the biggest influences on "how much time there is". We have to be consious of what we do to this world... We cannot change how people act, but we can change how we act ourselves.

    Next to that we are all dependent on how nature will respond in it's biologically, physically and even chemical way. And then we will just see when we are there whether we can survive in that...

  3. Nothing is promised the end can always be near, but it further makes on live a little more for the moment, and enjoy the now. Worrying about the future and how it can happen instead of doing your best to try to live and fufill dreams and or goals can be conflicting. The end of something, death, is to me the ultimate metamorphasis. I believe the saying is to be "absent in the flesh is to be closer to God" closer to spirit that intuitive energy made guide that lives in us all. I dont fear death, I fear not living now.

  4. As always, a post of great --and not surprising--beauty.

  5. As Elizabeth points out, apocalypse doesn't have to be the end so much as the revelation of what people can do--to heal the planet for one thing.

    Instead of fighting each other, instead of acting out social Darwinism, humans can also cooperate, help each other. Both impulses are present in Haiti right now; there are community groups that help each other survive, and their are criminal elements who snatch food from those weaker than they.

    Which impulse is going to prevail in this weary world of ours: cooperation, or deadly competition?

    If the latter, then surely we are on the precipice of some kind of awful end times, when the climate will render most parts of the globe uninhabitable: brown, like the planet the humans left to take over the minerals of Pandora.

    But it doesn't have to be that way.

  6. the apocolyptic moments are often the new beginnings - if the planet shrugs us off to start again i can't say i blame her... but still i would prefer for it to be averted... for us to pull together and use love and Sovereignty to save us .... big things to be thinking about as my children squeal with joy on the trampoline!