Because I was raised Christian, I’ve heard the expression “Road to perdition” all my life. The expression was the title of a book, a movie based on the book, starring Tom Hanks and Paul Newman, and a soundtrack from the movie.
However the roots of perdition extend further into the past. Princeton philologist and historian Elaine Pagels, who has written several books about the origin of certain western religious concepts such as Hell and Satan, says they have ancient roots. Perdition is hell or Hel in her books and its origins extend back to the Chaldeans, Greeks and Romans.
When I awaken at 4:00 AM, this is where my mind wonders. I can’t help it, I am descended from long line of people who wore black. They were Puritans, Calvinists, Mennonites, and Prussian Catholics and they found each other and intermarried producing zealous children, although their various ways of understanding a Higher Power differed significantly. No wonder they left me wondering.
I will never forget wandering into my Mom’s bedroom in the middle of the night following a nocturnal bout of sleeplessness, and finding her sitting in bed holding her ‘glow in the dark’ rosary beads and a lighted cigarette. She was praying and smoking. She couldn’t sleep either and we talked about God. “I don’t believe in your father’s “vengeance is mine” God of fury and retribution she said. (Dad was descended from people who marched to The Battle Hymn of the Republic.)
At the time, I was recovering from a recent nervous breakdown, and found her words comforting. I had come to believe in a God of Love. Heck, it was the 1960s and everyone I knew was into peace and love, except those poor military guys who had been sent to fight our wars.
That was then. Today, I am much more sanguine about my Higher Power. Sanguine, a word whose root refers to blood and connotes optimism, hope, robustness or health. You see venting about politicians now and then is good for the soul.
Although he said he didn’t need my help, I drove David to his physical therapy yesterday. While waiting for him I bought myself a hot chocolate and sat down in the atrium to read my book. The atrium was too bright for my iPad, so I moved to the PT waiting room where a retired military guy was reading a 600 page book on Stonewall Jackson. I don’t know how much he read because idiots all around us were talking on cell phones, the bane of our existence these days.
About then David appeared looking ragged from his PT. He hates his therapist, and says she tortures him. And she makes him use a walker which makes him feel defeated. He will switch to Justin beginning November 1, the therapist we have both used in the past. Our favorite guy.
On the way out of the building, I remembered I had left my hot chocolate on the table where I sat earlier and went to fetch it. A helpful older volunteer with beautiful white hair in a French twist, tried to steer David to a bench while he waited on me, but he pretty much told her to “get lost.” He says all these old ladies “helping” him are driving him crazy. Meanwhile, I think we are on the road to perdition.