Many of us are making our pilgrimage through fasting, praying and almsgiving – three spiritual pillars common to many religions. In these challenging times, we may pray more, fast more – though not necessarily by choice – and offer more kindness and understanding to our brothers and sisters than we have at other times.
“Easter will be different this year,” my neighbor Rebecca says. She is correct.
While it occurs to me that store shelves reserved for chocolate bunnies are as empty as shelves intended for paper products, my personal goal is to preserve the truth of Easter, the celebration of death and subsequent new life. It is not as mystical as some would lead us to believe.
Since I first stepped out of the real world many years ago, I’ve kept a list of story ideas. Some are more developed than others. The title “Sunwatcher” appeared on the list a decade ago. Even as a boy – and more so now – I was fascinated with Stonehenge and similar structures ancient forefathers built for astronomical observation. I deduced that to build a stone circle aligned in a way to predict solar solstices and equinoxes, someone would have to sit very still in the same place and watch the sun and the moon for a very long time.
The sun cycle lasts one year comprised of 364 days and 6 hours, hence the leap year every four years. The lunar cycle extends over 18 years. Therefore, it would take an observer 18 years to complete his observation of the lunar and solar cycles. During that time, he would come to understand the repetitive nature of the solar cycle as it relates to the moon and vice versa. I concluded that the observer would at some point go blind from his solar observations, from staring at the sun.
After much thought on the movement of heavenly bodies, I concluded that truth is universal. While you might consider some truths relative, others are undeniably universal.
In 2012, I wrote the first words to a story with that conviction at its core, universal truth.
“They say I am a wise man. I will not claim the title for myself, but I will not deny that I know many things, things from the past, things of the present and sometimes I even see things in the future. You may call me wise or you may call me crazy. The choice is yours and I hold no grudge against you whichever you choose.
“I have been to the land of morning and to the land of night. Be patient with me, and you may find value in the tale I have to tell…”
“Sunwatcher” evolved into Gaspar, Another Tale of the Christ. At 138,000 words, it is my longest work.
All writers of fiction – historical or otherwise – practice some form of Ignatian spirituality, that is, they mentally experience the things of which they write, the sights, the sounds, the tastes, the smells… That is what I do when I move my stories from my mind to paper.
Yes, Rebecca, Easter will be different this year. Marshmallow chicks hatched from chocolate eggs have threatened to hijack it in recent decades. I prefer to keep the message alive. The challenge the human race faces together this year makes Easter as important as ever.
As the week of passion, death and re-birth approaches, I invite you to read two sequences from Gaspar, Another Tale of the Christ that detail what I experienced as the story took shape. Your vision may be different, but the story is the same, and by recalling it now, you keep the message alive.
Click on the cover to open the pdf