Friday, August 27, 2010

Grace. In the Aftermath of Susie Salmon

August 24th there was a lovely full Moon in a cloudless sky, illuminating far more than the green grass that grows just beyond my windows. Day and evening had merged with the business of bringing a new addition to the gemstone and perhaps more than ever before, I was feeling rushed to align the unfolding story with the heavens above. As the clock ticked and the night progressed, the details and depth of the story were expanding in exponential proportions.

Then a thought came to me… if it was the full Moon that I was trying to connect with, I should spend a moment or two face-to-face with it. So I went outside and followed a path, stopping at a spot where the trees didn’t block my view or intercept moonbeams. The air was cool, mixed with a hint of the changing seasons, all of which served as a reminder of how far the story has traveled—it’s been a doozie of a summer

Eight days earlier I’d gotten an email from a friend in which she mentioned having watched The Lovely Bones—novel by Alice Sebold, screenplay by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and Peter Jackson. The tagline for both the book and the movie is, “The story of a life and everything that came after…” There was nothing in my friend’s correspondence—which was more about keeping children safe from sexual predators—that would have steered me towards this movie. Anyone familiar with this blog knows my interest is most often captured by stories that involve the giving of a ring, especially if its emerald or has ties to Ireland… and that I lean toward romantic comedies, passionate love stories, and the occasional adventure highlighted by code-breaking. To be honest, I can’t recall what it was that led me to drive to the local Red Box and rent The Lovely Bones. The next day I purchased my own copy of the DVD. And the day following I went looking for the novel.

The Lovely Bones is about a 14 year-old girl named Susie Salmon who is murdered and observes her family and her killer from the "in-between," a realm that's part heaven and Earth. In the movie, Susie shares a memory from her life in which she counted a boy’s eyelashes during library time while he was reading Abelard and Heloise, in her words “the most seriously tragic love story ever.” In "her heaven" the first person Susie meets is an Asian girl who has borrowed the name Holly Golightly. In a different memory, Susie’s first kiss with Ray, the one with the eyelashes, is interrupted when a teacher scolds another student for “unnecessary anatomical additions.” Ruth included the outlines of breasts in a drawing of a wooden model; the artwork got the Ellis boy overexcited and he created a stir throughout the entire school. Susie has a friend named Clarissa. (A maiden named Clarissant lived in the Wondrous Palace in The Story of the Grail and was the recipient of an emerald ring, given as a token of love at a point in the story when there are only 224 lines remaining.) Susie was given a camera for her birthday and decided she wanted to become a wildlife photographer when she grew up, but the closest she got was snapping photos of Grace Tarking who lived across the street.

I couldn't possibly walk away from these names.

If you recall from my blog, “Oracles, Omens, and the World Cup,” Alex from the movie Hitch asks “When is Grace due?” The thread meandered toward the revelation that the Lion has arrived to lay with the Lamb.

In the larger spectrum, Grace is understood to be something that is “God given.” In the New Testament the Greek word for Grace is Charis. Strong’s concordance describes it as, “the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life." The Greek word charis is related to two other Greek/English words: charisma, which reflects a special spiritual endowment or influence and character as in an engraving, stamp or mark indicating the genuineness of something. Grace is given by God in reference to developing characteristics in harmony with God’s character. An alternative perspective is that grace is given to enable such character changes to be realized. (Wikipedia)

The dictionary adds "Grace is 'the glory hereafter to be revealed'” (1 Peter 1:13).

By the time Tuesday, August 24th, rolled around, I had put ink on every page of the novel. I also revisited Breakfast at Tiffany’s and was beginning to feel the true weight of this story narrated by an imaginary ghost. When I stepped out beneath the cloudless sky, into the light of the full Moon with Miss Golightly on my mind, I found myself ever so softly serenading the night…

Moon River, wider than a mile…
I'm crossing you in style some day.
Oh, dream maker, you heart breaker,
wherever you're going I'm going your way.
Two drifters off to see the world.
There's such a lot of world to see.
We're after the same rainbow's end—
waiting 'round the bend,
my huckleberry friend,
Moon River and me.

When I came back inside and returned to the task at hand, my expectations for the night had shifted. This new addition to the gemstone moves with leaps and bounds; it was wholly unrealistic to think I could do it justice before the clock struck midnight. And the more I thought about it, this idea that the clock wasn’t the measure of time—particularly not the “time” I was working with—also conformed to a word that recently found its way into my vocabulary.

Kairos was introduced via a link in an email from another person; the writer had herself discovered the word in someone else’s writing and was inspired to research its meaning. She introduced kairos as “God’s time.” The time not measured by a clock, that God has chosen as “the right moment” or the “opportune time.”

And like Luke’s discussion of the lamp on the table and Ronald Reagan’s reference to the city on the hill, her links provided a simple explanation in one writing and referred to a second writing that went into greater detail of what kairos means depending on who’s using the word.

To ancient and modern Greeks kairos can pertain to weather or describe a period of time. Wikipedia further distinguishes this "time" as either chronos or kairos. Chronos pertains to chronological or sequential time while kairos refers to a moment of indeterminate length in which something special happens. It represents a supreme moment. Historians and psychologists describe kairos as “a paradigm shift.” It’s perceived as a time of crisis that involves both danger and opportunity. For Aristotle it was the time in which the proof would be delivered, with “the Audience” identified as those who would receive the proof. Kairos is the bridge between old and new; the chance to participate in a “New Creation.” “It’s a moment of undetermined length when God breaks into the temporal, shattering and transforming it, preparing the temporal to receive the eternal.” “It’s the time when one needs to seek out the golden thread.” In the New Testament kairos means “the appointed time in the purpose of God,” the time when God acts as referenced in Mark 1:15, “the kairos is fulfilled.”

To an archer kairos refers to an opening or opportunity and more precisely refers to the path through which the archer’s arrow must pass; the archer’s arrow must not only be fired correctly, but with enough power to penetrate.

As an aside, a term called "the archer’s paradox" takes into consideration the influence of the human touch on the string of the bow. The archer aims the arrow slightly off from the desired target and... somehow the arrow knows how to correct its way and get onto the proper path. Eleanor of Aquitaine had a passion for this sport and I suspect was particularly adept at it. Interestingly there is an arrow or "arrows flying" in nearly every scene within The Story of the Grail, as if the story were being shot like an arrow destined to travel through time. She ingeniously knew the appropriate strength of the bow and spine of the arrow needed for it to be carried through the confluence of thought that traveled up and over the ramparts of Troyes to a predetermined target.

They say when an arrow first takes to flight, it oscillates until it finds its balance … and the longer it stays in flight the less wild movement there is along the path. But, surely there must have been a power of Nature or a flock of angels to hold this story in flight for over eight hundred years.

In Greek mythology, Kairos was the god of the fleeting moment, “a favorable opportunity opposing the fate of man.” This fleeting moment was often personified and identified by a tuft of hair on the forehead combined with a bald head behind, implying one had to grasp the opportunity "by the hair" on its presentation... else the moment would be gone forever.

The Ugly Maiden who crashed the party at King Arthur’s castle in The Story of the Grail was familiar with this god of the fleeting moment; she called it Fortune:

Upon her tawny mule’s back, seated,
she said, “Oh Perceval, you’ll find
that Fortune’s head is bald behind,
although a forelock hangs before.
A curse on him who greets you or
who hopes you’re well or any better;
you’d not seized Fortune when you met her.
You went inside the dwelling place
of the Fisher King; before your face
the bleeding lance came passing by.
You found it was too hard to try
to open up your mouth and speak.
You could not ask why, from the peak
of the white lance’s point, that drop
of blood came springing from its top, and
when you saw the grail, in turn,
you did not ask or try to learn
what nobleman was being served.

Fortune, written with an uppercase “F”, is defined as “a personified force or power that favorably or unfavorably governs the events of one’s life.” When spelled with all lowercase letters, fortune pertains to a chance happening of events, success at least partially attributed to luck. It's also one’s standing in life measured by an excess in wealth or material possessions, fate or destiny, or the foretelling of one’s destiny—tarot cards—as is often attributed to gypsies.

And any gypsy that engages in fortune telling is wise to authenticate his/her words by providing a glimpse of events that have already happened before providing a list of events that belong to one’s future—a spin on “you can’t tell where you’re going until you know where you’ve been.” Because if they don’t know what has already transpired, they’re only guessing at what might happen in the future.

In The Story of the Grail, Perceval’s destiny was tied to the two questions that Fortune spoke of. And before this story ends, he must name who is served by the grail and answer why the white lance always has a drop of blood forming at its tip.

The Holy Hermit of the forest provided the only clue to fulfill half of this destiny:

You were a foolish man to fail
to learn whom they serve from the grail.
The man they serve is my own brother;
my sister, and his, was your mother;
and also the rich Fisherman
is that king’s son, son of the man
who has himself served with the grail.
Now do not let the thought prevail
that from the grail he takes food like
a salmon, lamprey, or a pike,
because from it the king obtains
one mass wafer, and it sustains
his life, borne in the grail they bring;
the grail is such a holy thing.

To truly know the king’s identity, we had to be familiar with the correspondence between Abelard and Heloise… specifically, the writings other than their love letters. Heloise was the abbess of the Paraclete and she would send questions that arose in the women's study of the Bible to Abelard. The ladies were curious about why only the beasts and the birds were described in Genesis 2:20, as being led to Adam to be named. Why not the reptiles of the land or the fish in the water? Abelard's response was that reptiles and fish are not able to raise themselves up, they are like reprobates. And for this reason, it wasn't permitted to offer fish as a sacrifice to God...certainly one would never serve fish to God.

The grail itself, made of the purest gold set with a manifold of jewels, delivers a single mass wafer. Their combined image is symbolic of a unified spirit that is free of sin. Repeating what I’ve written in prior posts, the grail is not a chalice, or a platter, or person… it represents the culmination of a journey and embodies an entire population.

In The Story of the Grail the salmon not only reveals the identity of the king who is served, it's used as a metaphor for people. Abelard’s use of fish as a metaphor for sinners wasn't an accurate depiction of the way it is in reality and we know this because in Forrest Gump “the fish are jumping.” If fish can raise themselves, surely reprobates can do the same.

Despite the fact that Abelard’s understanding on this subject was wrong, the logic behind his answer still works to reveal the true identity of the one who is served by the grail. With consideration given to all the influences that delivered the tale to the 12th century, if the audience of Troyes should not have for one moment considered salmon, lamprey, or pike as being served by the grail to the king in the small room at the Fisher King's manor house, then the king must be God.

God is served by the grail.

Using Seemingly Unrelated Sources to expand Our Understanding

Grasping hold of "salmon" guides our story in a new direction. Salmon are born in fresh water and migrate to the ocean where they become sexually mature. They return to the exact spot where they were born in order to spawn, often making amazing journeys, traveling hundreds of miles, swimming upstream against strong currents and rapids that defy the abilities of most human beings. They do this to lay the foundation of the next generation. The female uses her tail to create a low-pressure zone, lifting gravel to be swept downstream, excavating a shallow depression called a redd. The redd may contain 5,000 eggs and cover 30 square feet. The momma salmon covers the eggs by disturbing the gravel upstream and moves on to make another redd… making as many as seven redds before her egg supply is exhausted.

Salmon play important roles in mythology (Wikipedia):
  • In Irish mythology, a creature called the Salmon of Wisdom plays a key role in the tale known as The Boyhood Deeds of Fionn. In this story, the Salmon grants powers of knowledge to whoever eats it. Finn Eces is a poet within the tale who has sought after the Salmon for seven years. When he finally catches the fish, he gives it to his young pupil Fionn mac Cumhaill to prepare it for eating. However, Fionn burns his thumb on the salmon’s juices, and instinctively puts his thumb in his mouth, inadvertently acquiring the Salmon’s wisdom.
  • Elsewhere in Irish mythology, Finn McCool is the young man who lives with an elderly poet named Finegas. Finegas catches the Salmon of Wisdom and asks Finn to cook it while he fetches more wood for the fire. Finn burns his thumb when he moves the fish on the spit. Instinctively he puts his thumb in his mouth to quell the pain and all of the Salmon's wisdom is transferred to him. On his return, Finegas notices a change has come about Finn and asks if he ate any of the fish. When Finn explains what happened, Finegas tells him to eat the fish in full as he must be the one professed to receive the knowledge. From that time forward, whenever Finn needed to know what the future would bring or needed to consider a difficult decision, he merely had to place his thumb at his lips and the answer would come to him.
  • In Welsh mythology the Salmon of Llyn Llyw is the oldest animal in Britain and the only creature who knows the location of Mabon ap Modron. After speaking to a string of other ancient animals who do not know Mabon’s whereabouts, King Arthur’s men Cai and Bedwyr are led to the Salmon of Llyn Llyw who allows them to ride on his back to the walls of the prison in Gloucester where Mabon can be found.
  • In Norse mythology, after Loki tricks the blind god Höðr into killing his brother Baldr, Loki jumps into a river and transforms himself into a salmon in order to escape punishment from the other gods. When they try to trap him with a net, he leaps over it but is caught by Thor, who grabs him by the tail with his hand… and this is why the salmon’s tail is tapered.
  • Salmon are central to Native American mythology on the Pacific coast.
  • Celtic animal symbolism attributes mystical powers to the salmon. In the legends of Fionn, the salmon lives in a fathomless well of wisdom where it swirls up ripples of knowledge from which the righteous may drink. (From )
The Salmon Family
In the screen adaptation of The Lovely Bones, the young narrator tells us, “My name is Salmon. Like the fish. First name, Susie. I was murdered on December 6th, 1973.” Toward the end, Holly tells Susie that she’s free; she can progress toward heaven. But Susie stops and says “Almost. Not quite.” She has something she wants to do in "this life"—or moment in time as she calls it—before she joins the others.

In the novel, the young narrator tells us, “My name was Salmon. Like the fish. First name, Susie…” When the novel ends, her charm bracelet, minus the engraved Pennsylvania keystone that Mr. Harvey kept as a token of the crime, has been discovered in an old industrial park that was being bulldozed. Later, the man holds the bracelet in his hands for his wife to see.

The wife says, "This little girl’s all grown up by now.”

Susie, commenting from the in-between: "Almost. Not quite."

The audience is placed as close as is possible to Susie, privy to her thoughts and able to observe the utter heartbreak of a family, falling with them into a pit that feels as bottomless as the sinkhole chosen to swallow the remains of Susie’s flesh and bones. The fine line that separates heaven and Earth, aside from having flesh and bone, is one's ability to experience and control the outcome of what's happening. With this particular story, we also witness the family's heroic climb out of the pit, one by one, and see how they come together in the end.

As far as the Salmon family is concerned, Abigail Salmon—Susie’s mother—is called Ocean Eyes by her husband. Susie's little brother Buckley, who is four, sucks his thumb… like Fionn, and is wise beyond his years when it comes to understanding where it is that Susie has gone. Younger sister Lindsey races past Susie… into the ocean of sexual maturity.

Imaginary Details Traverse the Boundary into Our Reality

In truth, all of Nature has risen to the purpose of the unfolding story. In the prior blog Oracles, Omens, and the World Cup, Paul the Octopus made an appearance and accurately predicted the outcome of 8 consecutive games during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. On the heels of Paul's fame an octopus named Loki appeared on the scene in Minnesota. Loki, who resides inside a tank at the Mall of America, predicted that Brett Favre would retire from a different kind of football.

Like Abelard, Loki was wrong. While two wrongs don't make a right, for our purposes two wrongs serve as authentication. What this means to our story is it confirms Paul's rightful place in history... but I'm no longer referring to the octopus.

A Preview of Coming Attractions

The movie The Lovely Bones merely skims the surface of the story told within the novel. However rather than seeing it as being “watered-down” the truth of the matter is that the movie provides instruction and guidance for the audience.

If we skim the surface of Breakfast at Tiffany’s we would discover that Paul (Varjak) has just returned from Rome. He’s a writer who's finished one book titled Nine Lives, although few people have ever read it. While visiting someone in prison, he’s given an “accounting” that documents everything and is told, “Someday Paul, take this and turn it into a book… fill in the details.” He’s working on a new project… and informs Holly there'll be no more little stuff; he’s holding all of his novel ideas for "the big one." He has a ring, originally found by Holly's first husband in a box of Cracker Jacks, engraved at Tiffany’s, and gives it to her as a token of his own love. The pair arrives at a library where they have a copy of Nine Lives retrieved by the librarian. He attempts to autograph it, much to the agitation of the librarian. Holly assures the woman, “He’s really the author." "She doesn't believe me." "Cross my heart and kiss my elbow.” (An elbow was the only portion of Susie Salmon's body that was ever recovered in the novel.) Paul and Holly Golightly both get arrested for their involvement with the person they’d visited in prison. Paul is released. When he returns for Holly to take her into seclusion, he tells her, “I have a message for you.”

In reality, Paul was specially chosen to deliver this message--but I'm no longer referring to Paul Varjak.

Another Map of Where the Story Goes from Here

The film adaptation of The Lovely Bones tells us what to expect; it fine tunes some of the details found in the novel and sheds light on avenues we can explore within what's been provided.

Tucked within each story are Divinely given statements that reveal truths and serve our best interests in how we should proceed from this point forward.

With Forrest Gump we learned how important it was to follow up on the titles of other books mentioned in the story. In The Lovely Bones, Abigail Salmon is shown reading a book by Camus… but we have to search all of his titles to determine which book it might be, and perhaps each and every one of his works bring something to the gemstone. Albert Camus was a philosopher whose literary writing generally required the reader to seek out the meaning of life.

At the top of Abigail’s pile of books next to her bed, sits Virginia Wolf’s To the Lighthouse. The description given for this work suggests it will supplement and/or complement Camus' contribution while providing its own insight into how we're to use The Lovely Bones... for philosophical introspection. Wolf's novel is similar as it presents a story with little dialogue, driven mostly by thoughts and observations. Meaning comes not only by way of words but with images; a lighthouse appears throughout The Lovely Bones as if it provides the guiding light in the midst of the storm.

“Murder changes everything.”

While browsing a bookstore at the mall with Susie, Grandma Lynn picks up a copy of The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer. The main thesis of the book is that the "traditional" suburban, consumerist, nuclear family represses women's sexually, and that this devitalizes them, rendering them eunuchs. Grandma Lynn notices Ray watching Susie from the record store, which leads to a discussion of “first kisses.” Susie later shares how she’d counted his eyelashes as he read Abelard and Heloise, however no mention is made that in reality, Abelard was in fact a eunuch. It was a condition brought on by an event that permanently destroyed both his and Heloise's ability to reach "sexual maturity," catapulting the tragic lovers into a spiral descent. But if they had lived happily-ever-after, they might not have had reason to correspond in writing... and the seed sown into The Story of the Grail would never have been provided. Susie Salmon quite likely might never have been born in Alice Sebold's imagination. And we wouldn't have this opportunity to be graced by the glory hereafter which is revealed in her narration.

It’s up to the audience to make connections between details and become familiar with the stories that exist behind each story.

Susie describes her father as a “closet scale modeler.” Likewise, the big picture of life is shrunken, like the photo she takes of herself and says "I was here for a moment." The smaller scale view allows us to "wrap our heads around it" making it easier to embrace and understand.

Ideas presented in one story are authenticated by another.

Like the real life Paul, the imaginary Jack Salmon is a messenger: “Susie, hobbies are healthy. They teach you things.” “Like if you start something, you finish it. You don’t stop until you get it right and you keep going as long as you have to. That’s the way it is. That’s what you do. It’s perfectly normal. You know, Grampy taught me to do this, and now I’m teaching you. We’re creating something here. Something special.”

Even the bad guys provide useful tips: “You’re gonna’ have to be more observant Susie.”

The terrain through The Lovely Bones is more difficult, but all the richer for its complexity.

Jack Salmon tells the police working the case, “You need to look at it from a different angle. Work backwards. Look into people’s past." "It’s been 11 months.”

In the opening pages of the novel, U.S. News and World Report is quoted as saying, "The Lovely Bones is a story you'll want to pretend was written for yourself alone."

I hope each of us can come to believe that it was written for all of humanity. But I must say it does speak to me on a very personal level. I was 14 in 1973; the same age as Susie. When I was 15, a boy named Daniel Stoner, who I had a crush on, committed suicide. Like Ray in the movie, Dan was a senior in high school. He'd asked me if I would go on a date the day before he killed himself. I never gave him an answer. After he died, when the snow started falling in the winter I used to think that he was freezing in his grave because they’d buried him without a coat.

One emotionally spent night, Daniel Stoner visited me—in a dream that wasn’t a dream. Seeing him changed everything. It was like he opened a door to a whole new way of viewing death...that completely altered my perception of life.

Alice Sebold incorporated a "full-blown stoner" who Susie Salmon knew always left a door at the back of the school theater open for others. Which connected to another detail of my life. My mother was a drama teacher who I once described as someone who helped young people “bloom” on stage. She directed plays and musicals and I used to love to carry the box of roses she received at the end of a final performance.

I moved a distance from home when I got married and wasn't near when she was later diagnosed with cancer. While she was sick, she had my father ship me a box of flower bulbs that had arrived at their home as a gift. She inquired about them in every phone conversation that we had, wanting to know whether they had started growing. She died the day after I told her the leaves of the bulbs had finally poked through the soil

Then something happened in the time I was away for her funeral. The anemones were in full bloom when I returned home, providing a sign that didn't escape me twenty years before Susie Salmon wishes the hedge flower to bloom in the movie to provide a sign for her father.

At some point my mother had purchased an emerald ring for herself which my father gave me as a token to remember her by. I’d forgotten I had it. But I came upon it's small box during the time while I was writing about Anna and Declan, simultaneous to Declan reclaiming his mother's ring in Dublin in the movie Leap Year. And just like Cinderella's glass shoe slipped upon her foot, my mother's emerald ring was a perfect fit for my ring finger which—like Anna's—no longer had a diamond ring upon it.

The Lovely Bones joins the gemstone exactly 11 months after I introduced Winston Groom’s novel Forrest Gump as the map that identified the path the legend of the grail would follow.

With a gift comparable to a skilled gypsy who understands the art of foretelling, Alice Sebold manages to incorporate all of the strategies used by the spectral genius working behind the scenes within her novel. Even though it was originally published 8 years ago, she includes details that connect her contribution to each and every place the gemstone has journeyed... and not only touching upon works of fiction. She weaves in details connected to events that have happened and are happening at this very moment in reality, while providing a window that allows a glimpse into the future.

Just like Winston Groom's Forrest Gump, Sebold’s novel and the associated screenplay incorporate details and threads linking to a number of other works that I haven't yet named that are part of the gemstone.

The distinguishing characteristic is that Forrest Gump included details of novels that had NOT YET BEEN WRITTEN, while The Lovely Bones includes threads ONLY to stories that are, at this moment, catalogued in existing libraries of books and Hollywood movies.

The significance of weaving together works of fiction is that opinions offered as "truths" captured in non-fiction are changing all of the time. But with a work of fiction nobody can write and distribute something later, or revise and re-release the story with an altered meaning, nor claim a long lost manuscript exists that didn't get woven into the original telling.

If a work of fiction hasn't been completed at the time God chooses to provide the proof to the audience, it can't be utilized. No author can rewrite Winston Groom's Forrest Gump two hundred years from now and slip in other details that offer a different map for the audience to follow.

This time, the path is etched in stone.

The Lovely Bones Reveals Why All This is Happening
In an interview with David Mehegan of the Boston Globe, Alice Sebold described how she was working on a different book that she didn’t find compelling. “I went and read some poems and came back to the desk and wrote the first chapter in one sitting. So Susie came upon me more than me deciding, ‘I’m going to write about a teenager, she’ll be dead, and speaking from heaven.’”

In five lines of conversation contained in Chapter Four, Alice Sebold captures the intent behind the entire gemstone. Keep in mind that the inspired writings that created the Bible were authenticated by a mathematical code incorporated into the Hebrew alphabet. Once again, the spectral genius aligns himself with Mr. Harvey, employing the scene in which he disposes of Susie’s body to explain why all of this was necessary. When asked what he wants to bury in the landfill...

Mr. Harvey: “Old safe of my father’s, finally got it out here,” he said. “Been wanting to do it for years. No one remembers the combination.”

Mrs. Flanagan: Anything in it?

Mr. Harvey: Stale air.

Mrs. Flanagan: Back her up then. You need help?

Mr. Harvey: That would be lovely.

The Flanagans never connected news headlines over the course of a year to what was inside the safe that was pushed over the edge and swallowed by the earth.

Where the Gemstone's Headed, A Look Into the Future...
Chapter Eight of The Lovely Bones isn’t the end of the novel, but it does project an image of where the gemstone is heading. It’s a short chapter, even shorter than Chapter VI: "A Visit to Box Five" in the The Phantom of the Opera, which, you may recall provides the image of the crumbling big-bellied cliffs and an ocean in turmoil.

In The Lovely Bones this short chapter is given to Mr. Harvey—Susie's murderer. The first paragraph shares a glimpse into his night time dreams, including the dream he has on the night of December 6th, 1973.

The date he raped and murdered Susie Salmon he dreamed of the Church of the Transfiguration.

This chapter ends with a family dispute in a place called Truth or Consequences. Sandwiched in between is a scene resembling an event that winds through the movie The Last Song in which a father works with his son to recreate the stained glass windows for the old church in town that was destroyed by a fire. 

A Story Connected With the Heavens, the Sabian Symbols of August’s full Moon

August 24th, 2010 the Sun was positioned on Virgo 2. The Sabian Symbol, or energy influencing the day was “A Large White Cross, Dominating the Landscape, Stands Alone on the Top of a High Hill “

The full Moon was positioned on Pisces 2: "A Squirrel Hiding from Hunters"

Venus, on Libra 18: "Two Men Placed Under Arrest Give an Accounting for Their Acts Before the Tribunal of Society."

Mars on Libra 17: "A Retired Sea Captain Watches Ships Entering and Leaving the Harbor"

Saturn on Libra 4: "A Group of Young People Sit in Spiritual Communion Around a Campfire"

Pluto on Capricorn 3: "The Human Soul, In Its Eagerness for New Experiences, Seeks Embodiment"

Mercury, retrograde on Virgo 19: "A Swimming Race"

True node on Cancer 11: "A Clown is Caricaturing Well-Known Personalities"

Jupiter on Aries 2: "A Comedian Entertaining A Group of Friends"

Where Are We In This Journey? 
  • Since our very big day of July 11th, news headlines introduced the first female Venetian gondolier to the world. 
  • On the heels of the requiem for 109 geese in Bend, Oregon, which were to be killed in an effort to reduce goose droppings in a public park, an article appeared describing New York City’s plan to euthanize 250,000 geese in an effort to keep the airspace clear. 
  • Just as anticipated, the write-up captioned “No More Crying Over Spilled Coffee: ‘Hate it when the party's spoiled by a spill. Well stop that fussing...’” had everything to do with the BP oil spill which was sealed shortly thereafter.
  • Today as I write, a storm named “Danielle” is moving through the Atlantic as a Category 4 hurricane with a storm named Earl following on its heels. 
  • In the U.S., half a billion eggs have been recalled after determining they posed a potential hazard to the well being of the population. 
  • Epic flooding that began in a place called Swat Valley has forced millions of Pakistanis from their homes, many of whom have been described in news articles as "living and defecating on the roads." More than once in recent writings, the people of Pakistan have been called a population “marooned.” One news article hit on the idea that they have been “cowed” by the Taliban.
  • On August 8th, Patricia Neal died. Ms. Neil played the role of the wealthy matron named Emily Eustace Failenson, also known as “2E" in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The article that announced her death and celebrated her accomplishments in life listed other roles and movies she was known for including The Subject Was Roses, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and her Academy Award winning performance in Hud, for which she was honored as Best Actress. Her consideration in the category of Best Actress rather than Best Supporting Actress was a last minute surprise decision as her role as the middle-aged housekeeper, Alma Brown, wasn't a leading character.
Susie Salmon dreamed of inexplicably winning an Oscar for Best Actress during her junior year in high school.

Of Patricia Neal's other movies, the first two titles sound as if they'd be obvious shoe-ins for the gemstone. I didn't originally think it was worthwhile to research Hud. But just as The Lovely Bones proved to be a significant contributor, I discovered details in Hud that caught me by surprise. The movie is about an old cattle-rancher who makes the tough choice to destroy his herd after the most recent additions were found to be infected with foot and mouth disease.

As I get ready to post this blog, the planet Mercury is sitting on Virgo 18: "Two Girls Playing with A Ouija Board." It is a rather fitting image. There is a flurry of activity with respect to details that originated in the stories that are once again appearing in news articles. Summer is officially over in the coming weeks. Saturn passes through Libra 4:39 on September 5th marking the end of its retrograde cycle, which is like a pregnancy... a detail that could be associated with the question of when Grace is due.

The next new Moon arrives on September 8th. Every new Moon is like a page turned. In her blog Lua Astrology, Leah Whitehorse describes this phase as being when the Moon faces the Sun, absorbing its Divine light, unhindered by human eyes. "The sliver of the crescent Moon when her first light appears is called ‘Diana’s Bow’. This is the moment when Diana takes up her bow and fires an arrow towards us which carries the instruction received..." Read more

This new Moon is also associated with "The Orangutan," a detail which leads us back to Forrest Gump's companion named Sue.

There remains an event that's been described in the gemstone that hasn't yet found its way into reality and The Lovely Bones provides the missing detail. About three-quarters of the way through Chapter Eleven, Susie is observing her father who is..."...slowly fitting something together. It had nothing to do with George Harvey, nothing to do with me." That night, as he had more and more often, my father stayed up by himself in his study. He could not believe the world was falling down around him--how unexpected it all was after the initial blast of my death. 'I feel like I'm standing in the wake of a volcano eruption,' he wrote in his notebook.'"

The words Susie's father writes complete the picture that began to take shape last spring in my blog The Point of No Return. The cliff that could bring about an ocean in turmoil was missing a volcano eruption.
Only the Master Storyteller—God Himself—knows whether, this time, the Cumbre Vieja volcano in the Canary Islands will erupt, or alternately if the Earth will swallow an entire herd... something that would "rock the world" as William Vance said in The Last Templar. Or whether, as in my blogs No Sign will be Given Except the Sign of Jonah and Oracles, Omens, and the World Cup, a warning will suffice to convince people to change their evil and corrupt ways.

In The Lovely Bones, the world changed overnight. It was that simple.

But if something were to happen, the prayer that needs to be said is the Lord's Prayer. And have faith. Because we've been told "a Father is someone you should be able to depend on".

Hallowed be His name. His kingdom come. His Will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.

Looking into the future through the window that's been provided... when Susie Salmon arrived late to school and entered through the door to the theater, she was surprised to discover Ray calling out to her from the scaffold above. He invited her to climb up and join him. This scene in The Lovely Bones is a cross between the scene leading into the hanging of Joseph Buquet in The Phantom of the Opera and the moment when Lyla climbs up to the roof and sits with Louis in the movie August Rush where she is shortly thereafter serenaded with the opening lines of Van Morrison's song Moondance:

Well, it's a marvelous night for a moondance
With the stars up above in your eyes
A fantabulous night to make romance
'Neath the cover of October skies...

                    [This is one song worthy of finishing]

And all the leaves on the trees are fallin'
To the sound of the breezes that blow
An' I'm trying to please to the callin'
Of your heart strings that play soft and low
And all the night's magic seems to whisper and hush
And all the soft moonlight seems to shine in your blush
Can I just have one more moondance with you, my love?
Can I just make some more romance with you, my love?
Well, I wanna make love to you tonight
I can't wait 'til the morning has come
And I know now the time is just right
And straight in to my arms you will run
And when you come, my heart will be waiting
To make sure that you're never alone
There and then, all my dreams will come true, dear
There and then, I will make you my own
And every time I touch you, you just tremble inside
And I know how much you want me that you can't hide
Can I just have one more moondance with you, my love?
Can I just make some more romance with you, my love?
Well, it's a marvelous night for a moondance
With the stars up above in your eyes
A fantabulous night to make romance'
Neath the cover of October skies
And all the leaves on the trees are falling
To the sound of the breezes that blow
And I'm trying to please to the calling
Of your heart strings that play soft and low
And all the nights magic seems to whisper and hush
And all the soft moonlight seems to shine in your blush
Can I just have one more moondance with you, my love?
Can I just make some more romance with you, my love?
One more moon dance with you
In the moon light, on a magic night
All the moon light, on a magic night
Can I just have one more moondance with you, my love?

Photo by Jon Bragg via Used by permission - Creative Commons License. Use does not include endorsement of this blog.