Thursday, June 01, 2006


One of my favorite radio shows comes on each weekday afternoon at five minutes ‘till four, John Lienhard’s Engine’s of Our Ingenuity. Today’s show, CRYPTA NAPOLETANA, caught my attention as the subject of ancient tunnels and the imagery links them with dark subjects, the netherworld and the Devil. I’ve linked to the episode (via the title bar) which will also permit you to listen to the five minute reading.

At the end of the short presentation was something which I had not expected, even more riveting than all that had been brought out before:

“Whether we explore a cave or catch a subway train, we never do quite shut out the memory of Orpheus, or of the Sybil telling Aeneas,”

... The way to Avernus is easy;

Night and day lie open the gates of death's dark kingdom:
But to retrace your steps, to find the way back to daylight --
That is the task, the hard thing.

The poem written in ancient times is as true today as it ever was. While we are yet alive so many folks wonder about the state which must come to all mortals, death and the unknown land below the surface. There are those, in times past, who built coffins with a string attached to a bell above the ground, just in case they’d been buried alive or had come back to life, so they could alert those passing by of the situation; “to find the way back to daylight”.

How much different is that than those who have lost their way, spiritually? Those wretched souls who wander about, still living and yet emotionally dead, having lost a hope in themselves for having transgressed the laws of God, believing that they can in no wise be redeemed from their sins.

The Gospel teaches that Jesus Christ was the ultimate sacrifice, that he took upon himself the sins of the world and that if we will repent of our sins, that they will be washed away as if they had never happened, permitting us to return to our Father in Heaven, “to find the way back. . . That is the task, the hard thing”.

A special thanks to John Lienhard at the University of Houston for being interested in the way inventive minds work. It is my hope that those who are struggling with their demons, large or small, will find encouragement in these words, enough that they too may find the way back.

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