Light in the Dark
Written September 14, 2001, my attempt to find a foothold after the events of those then recent days was done through the pen. This was originally a post to several e-mail groups and lists of friends as a response to a fake Nostradamus prophecy that floated around the web soon after the towers fell. Whoever wrote it wished to play maniacally with the need we all had at the time to know why such a thing could happen. Their desire was destructive. In my own limited way, I wanted to thwart this desire. I don't know if it helped anyone but myself. I'd like to hope that it did and still may.
...We were all still in the throes of confusion, fear, and stifled information both intended and otherwise. I felt compelled to capture some sense of balance through writing, and the following came to be. This was originally posted to several e-mail groups and lists of friends. We all needed to connect, and this was my attempt.
In light of current events, I ask your forgiveness for the indulgence below. The quote sent attributed to Nostradamus raised deep and strangely topical thoughts within me. I apologize for using this forum for such a tangent and promise to not make a habit of it. Still, these thoughts came, the keyboard beckoned, and the words flowed.
Having been raised in a religion riddled with apocalyptic visions, I spent much of my youth pouring over various predictions and the words of a variety of prophets including Nostradamus. I recently went through my own copy of his predictions to find the exact quote sent out to the Chicagoland Ghost Group.
"In the City of God there will be a great thunder, Two brothers torn apart by
Chaos, while the fortress endures, the great leader will succumb" , "The
third big war will begin when the big city is burning" - Nostradamus
Although I had my doubts as to whether this was derived in any way from the works of Nostradamus, I have found one verse that may have been misquoted and resulted in the above.
"Earth shaking fire from the center of the earth will cause tremors around the new city. Two great rocks will war for a long time, then Arethusa will redden a new river."
Nostradamus; i. 87
In fact there are several mentions of "new city" throughout his prophecies. One involves the poisoning of the water supply for New York (x. 49). He also talks of a great war between the East and West in which the West wins by sea power but is weakened by the battle (viii. 59). However, several things must be kept in mind. His prophecies were not in any strict chronological order. He also focused strongly from a Franco-centric world view. Most of his predictions were centered around and pertained to the future of France. Secondly, although his words have been sometimes interpreted as signaling the end of the world, I myself have not found a single reference to such an event. He talks of wars, long wars to be sure, but never of an apocolyptical end of things. His last exact point of chronological reference is 1999 where he merely states that war will be ongoing, and that it will continue into the next millennium. Similarly, other prophecies indicate that there will be war during this period, but that after this, a long period of peace would ensue. Only the Mayan predictions indicate an end of humanity in 2013.
Every millennial turn, even the end of each century has been commonly viewed as a point of great change often not for the best. It must be kept in mind that this may be a result of the import placed upon what is in all likelihood nothing more than an arbitrary choice in the continual stream of time.
I have also studied deep into the major religions upon which the current world societies are based and have come to the following conclusion regarding the Judeo-Christian-Islamic society (and yes, that is singular). By all practical purposes, the Muslim, the Christian and the Jew all bow to the same god, developed out of the ancient worship of the desert demon Azazel out of fear of his malevolence. The resulting religions carried much of the sentiment of the harsh environment from which they sprung. The result, not even like children fighting on the playground over who has the better imaginary friend. It goes deeper than that. They have the same imaginary friend, and they are fighting over whom this friend likes best. (This from a variety of sources, most notably Dr. Paul Carus' The History of the Devil and the Idea of Evil, 1899.)
The visions of a Armageddon still perpetuate the violent urge to throw one self and soul into the abyss that is this god of "vengeance" (Deut. 32:35 and many others). The god of love is not seen till much later in the New Testament and is there soon lost in the anarchy of Revelations. It is therefore not difficult to assume that societies based upon this warmongering spiritual basis would themselves exhibit these attributes. Along with this, their respective prophecies were saturated with the blood of their intended enemies and the divine right by which this bloodshed was justified.
So where is the comfort in prophecy? The possibility never mentioned in light of prophecies and the one which gives me the greatest hope is that they really didn't know. That these prophets were just as scared and human as we are and looking for sure answers no matter how dark the answers were just as those reading them do. It is clear that age does not necessarily breed wisdom, and we rarely apply the lessons of history. Time itself leads us away from the pain we choose to inflict on each other towards the healing of forgetfulness. I personally found the greatest comfort in my decision to let it go, and instead choose to place, if not faith, then a personal investment in a wonderfully unsure future. A future both deeply bright and dark in it's potentials. I choose to live in spite of dark visions as if the world will someday be a better place. Not in the Pollyanna daydream of a desired Utopia, but in the positive endeavor towards a better world, towards a more educated time. As a country and as a culture, we are budding in youth. The depth of ages tracing back to first footsteps along the Alaskan Archipelago still pales when in the comparison of the most ancient Sumerian ancestry. If history is an indicator, we have much yet to do for good AND ill. It will be an experience truly awful in both senses of the word: one filling us with awe and one both destructive and creative in its magnitude. There will be war, but there also will be peace. There will be hate, but there also will be love. As my uncle Richard Thieme, an ex-minister and motivational speaker, has said, "yes, I do believe god exists, but that does not mean that things are not as bad as they seem." We are entering into a dark and troubled time the likes of which we have not seen since the middle of this past century. It is a period which will mean death and pain to many. Still there is a part within me that sees this not only as a point of great destruction, but also as a point of rebirth. Another point of evolutionary change in the course of humanity that if survived will bring us to new and powerful wonders, and again, truly awful. I think this may have been what Nostradamus saw deep in the flame beneath his tripod, and it was the thing which he could not find even the most cryptic words to write of.
There are points of pride and regret in any national sentiment. There is pride in the spirit of humanity that pervades this America. Like all of us, I listen in somber silence to the stories of heroism and pain that continue to pour into the media. I smile at my six-month-old daughter to perpetuate a single cell of love and happiness in which she can thrive despite the times. I wish the course of events had taken a different path. As they have not, I have no choice but to feel a sense of comfort in the fact that there is a national strength that may keep my baby from harm. And as always, I hold a deep and sincere appreciation for the basic freedoms I was born into. At the same time, there is regret at the course of events by which this society came into a position where such freedoms could be sustained. Still, we are hard pressed to find a society born of peace and tolerance. The pilgrims landed in the new world for religious freedom only to subjugate according to their own interpretation. The nation of India wrestled its freedom through nonviolence only to turn to militant and religious dogma in recent years. These examples are not condemnations. No one is innocent, but we are only as guilty as the morality placed upon us. We (and I mean all humanity) are only as strong as our love and only as weak as our fear. This time is dark, but never have there not been dark times. Through those times individuals carried torches and candles in memory of those dear and in hope of a better world. By this dim light they scrawled onto paper the deep desire to see a better tomorrow even if this vision was tainted with the fear of their era.
It is time to bear candles in the dark, and by this light, write of better worlds, of peace, of endurance. It is time to shut the books of prophecy, and live as if there is a tomorrow.
My prayers for us all to whatever loves us best.