The Keepers

Excerpt Four:

Every evening, every night arrived as another threat of the Enemy.  Chauntecleer wrestled the darkness.

And every morning the prayer of the Rooster was the same:  “Why?”

Why is Wyrm?  …

Mighty God, you talk to us!  Tell us:  Why does Wyrm exist?

He killed peace.

He killed their deeper trust and sweet security; Hens had rather more suspicious eyes than ever they did in the past.  Chauntecleer’s Canonical Crows were more needful than ever before, more necessary than the rising of the sun; nonetheless, ironically, they were less believed than ever before; because of the war which came in spite of them.  Because of Wyrm.

Oh, Chauntecleer crowed crows nearly baroque for subtlety, intelligence, and beauty; he went extraordinary lengths to make each Crow a something, a memorable blessing each in itself, all tender to the Chickens; but sometimes he wondered whether those lengths didn’t measure a personal doubt.  And could it be that the grander, more wonderful the Crow on its outside, the emptier it was at its core?

Mighty God, please talk to us.  Explain it, explain —

Why is Wyrm?

It is recorded with no surprise, that the Animals under Chauntecleer’s protection–even the children hatched after the war–lived grimly, chilly toward the world, spare regarding their own needs, and of no particular hope in the future.  Warm had murdered cheer.  Cold realists were these Animals of the experienced eye:  as fearful of believing as they were of creeds themselves, when the object of either was invisible.

On the other hand, their tenderness toward one another grew intense.  How they loved each other, when suddenly the life in the other seemed so precarious, so rare, so precious.  How solicitous they were for the sick one’s health, and how glad at his healing, for it was something of themselves had healed.  One was in all, and all were joined to one.  Well, all had the same transfiguring memory, hadn’t they?  And all the same enemy, and he was great and they were few.  Aye, sorrow binds poor hearts, and weakness isn’t ashamed to hide in the binding.  They loved each other.  It was nearly painful how much they loved each other:  grim to the world, watchful of a Fox’s convalescence–

And here is an irony certainly:  what kept Wyrm within his prison (this by the comic ordination of the Lord God) was precisely this union of the Animals.  They were his Keepers.  They were themselves the spiritual netting which, when it remained a woven whole, denied him freedom in the universe.  Not any individual Animal did this thing, but the dear love among all  the Animals:  community, that was warp and woof!  Therefore, Wyrm’s bloody bid for freedom had, for him, the final effect of cinching the net the tighter around himself, for they loved one another the more, and in loving are the weakest strongest.

[The Book of Sorrows, Walter Wangerin, Jr., pg. 17-20]

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