Monday, October 19, 2015

There are two similar tales from the past that I think of now and then. Lot is a figure in the Old Testament of the Bible. He and his wife are escaping a city that is burning. They are not supposed to look back, but his wife can't resist turning for one last glance as they depart. Woof! She freezes and turns into a pillar of salt. Her family must go on without her.

The other is an ancient Greek story about Orpheus, a fellow known for the music he plays on his flute. The melodies entrance the creatures of the forests; friends and strangers; gods and mortals. His beloved wife ends up in the land of Hades (the Greek version of hell). He misses her so much he tries again and again to retrieve her. Finally, he strikes a deal with Hades, who rules the domain below. She may follow her husband out of her prison, but he must not help her along the way or look back at her as ahe follows. Much relieved, the two exit the infernal gates and start along the rugged trail back home. Orpheus leads the way. His wife becomes winded, and it takes more and more effort for her to follow him. When she stumbles on rocks and cries out, he reflexively whirls around to help. Their eyes meet, and at that instant, she shrinks away into a breath of air and disappears.

Neither story is happy with such cruel outcomes, but both cling to mind.

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