What is that sound high in the air
Murmur of maternal lamentation
Who are those hooded hordes swarming
Over endless plains, stumbling in cracked earth
Ringed by the flat horizon only
(T.S. Eliot, “The Waste Land”)
The great lie of the deceiver is the status quo, the illusion of normalcy. The Stones may have been unintentional prophets like Caiaphas before them, but they are servants of the Most High when they remind us of the impossibility of satisfaction. We were created for the Creator, to long for Him and search Him out. Our deeply satisfied lives in front of the glowing screen laughing at sex jokes and guile, thrilled with balls being thrown and caught by gladiator-sized steroid junkies realize the depth of our scorched souls.
That we appear contented and happy among the idols that give nothing and demand everything is our prison, and as prison, we cannot get out. The walls are too high, the entertainments too severe, the madness suffocating in its pressure to remain in society with the fellow-condemned. That even we hear of the light in Galilee and wonder how it must have been–even skip gaily over the words without the least penetration or fear reveals the abyss of our modern-post-modern-post-post-modern-everything-must-be-labeled-taxonomied-lives.
We need the miracle of the uncreated light, the iron that bursts the prison gates, the light of a million suns to break through the lead covering our eyes to let us see the shackles around our ankles and hearts.
It takes the artist and the prophet and the preachers and sometimes the insane to remind us of the veil under which we live, the despair that our sinful world has deluged us with, of the hope that yet remains in the God-Man Jesus, however impossible it seems.
Thank God for men like Eliot who some, perchance, heard–at least for a moment–and for his enduring witness to this wasteland upon which we all crawl.