Saturday, January 15, 2011

my life as merlin


i am, both blessed and a bit cursed to be a historian. i keep looking back. so far i haven't noticeably turn to a pillar of salt, but it could happen. i have been reading books about merlin lately. the most interesting ones i have found so far are the works of nikolai tolstoy. he suggests that merlin is best understood as a sort of type for the life of a prophet or druid or fool. what i found particularly fascinating about his portrayal of merlin, particularly in the return of the king. first was his voyage as an infant in a skin bag. my introduction to my current life as a fool started in a trip in a skin boat, and i was certainly a neophyte as i began.
next merlin spent a period as a wild man living in rags at the edge of society: my wild old man naked in the woods stage.

and now i find myself living in a glass observatory, which was the description of merlin's final state, in some legends. whether it was entirely his choice or ot is debatable, and i am often anxious for one of my previous statess, especially wandering at the edge of the sea and land in my skin kayak.
but of course it is possible, if this is merely a typical life, to make adjustments and to go around the cycle again.

but this week, as aelred's feast came around, i was challenged by his description of "a three-fold meditation," in which he encourages us towards a particular way of considering the past, the present, and the future, in terms of the past as the life of christ, the present in terms of the gifts we have received, and the future as the end of time, the last judgment. and, he encourages us to model our lives after christ's.

tolstoy sees merlin, most importantly, as a prophetic image of christ, so he and aelred are close in their encouragements. so, i'm wondering what the next exciting trip around will be. but also conscious of how very unconscious i have been and continue to be of this very precious gift that is a human life.