We all feel it: The magnetic, magnificence of Beauty. Whether in sunsets, ocean surfs, newborn infants or soaring orchestral chorus, our hearts soar, are lifted up in what feels like an echo of something so yearned for that we cannot express it.
During the many years I considered myself an atheist, agnostic or another label that felt fitting, a sunrise or operatic aria could drop me to my knees figuatively or literally. I feel confident that even those most immersed in our woke culture are goaded by the irresistible essence of divinity.
Now that we have moved from our former place of refuge to the Central California coast, the dogs and I walk the beach frequently.
I had told my friend Elizabeth that I wasn’t at all sure how well Shadow would do, as the last couple of days had been tough for him. But after more than ninety minutes of walking along this stunning ocean beach we all headed back. Shadow was not only unphased by all that walking, but energized.
When Shadow stopped in front of the person sitting cross-legged on a blanket to look at him with that unique wisdom of the world expression of his, the fellow smiled wistfully. Sadness radiating about him.
Elizabeth and I started to go on past, but Shadow “planted” and returned to the lost-looking young man. I saw the tears in his eyes when he stopped hugging Shadow to look up at us, and then at the two women busily snapping pictures of him and Shadow.
Was that divinity-The irresistible essence of divinity?
Indeed it was! For His Goodness still reigns in His creatures, all of them. Those He made to till His Garden, Humanity, are more resistant. We have His blessing and burden of free will.
I ponder those last days in Jerusalem. The people who recognized who He was. So many people witnessed the miracles, saw Lazarus dead and then alive. Last Sunday, when we celebrated His Passion, we joined them. The jublilance, Hosannahs and the joy; we could not resist what was so palpable, could not deny the reality of the Presence.
And I think about Pontius Pilate. Again.
The book, I Claudia was the first of this new genre of historical fiction. And, like most of my books, was not my idea. But I understand why I was to write it.
It’s because the man Pontius Pilate has always drawn me. Ever since I learned to pray the Rosary, listen to the Gospel passages of these holiest of days in the Christian liturgy, Pilate was someone I recognized. A man I was familiar with, lived with, much more than the name in the creed.
stayed with me long after I read it. In his brilliant meditation of Jesus, he writes about what it had to have been like on that day. Lyrically, powerfully, his words grabbing and clutching our hearts.
In an article I wrote on the book several years ago, I said this:
And once we consider that shift from thinking there was not just one fall of man, but two, Palm Sunday becomes far more than palms and donkeys. Guardini writes of the very air as being saturated with divinity. The phrase explains Christ’s reply to the Pharisees attempting to quiet the jubilant throng of inspired people. “I tell you,” He answered, “if they remain silent, the very stones will cry out.”The Lord by Romano Guardini
Pilate, I knew had to be affected by Him. It was impossible that he was impervious. Each time, I heard or read that Pilate’s rhetorical comment, “What is truth?” was sophistry, my inner reply was “No, it wasn’t.”
I wrote Pilate out among the throngs because, of course, he had to have been.
As I watched, the crowd threw palm fronds and poplar branches onto the street in front of them, as if to form a carpet. As Longinus and I walked cautiously into the throng, no one even noticed us—we were invisible. Everyone’s attention was on a figure approaching on a horse. No, not a horse—something smaller.
As the figure and beast grew closer, I could see that this was Jesus, the man about whom Caiaphas and Annas had been increasingly frantic. Before I could get a clear view of him, he turned his mount left toward the temple. Without thinking, I started to follow, until Longinus put his hand on my arm. He and I locked eyes for a moment as I marveled at the energy in the air; it fairly crackled as the throng breathed out audibly, as one. Their awe and joy were tangible as if they were connected in some mysterious way to the man who I now saw was riding a donkey colt!
Amidst the cacophony of languages, I could hear alleluias and the hosannas, as if this man was a god. Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, The King of Israel! They were calling him King, Lord…but what kind of god chooses a young donkey upon which to make his triumphal entry? It was all so strange…and yet, I could not deny the yearning I felt, deep within. There was no other word for the feeling but yearning. It was a hunger for something I hadn’t known I lacked.I Claudia