Thoreau #5 (final)...

I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.  For most men, it appears to me, are in a strange uncertainty about it, whether it is of the devil or of God, and have somewhat hastily concluded that it is the chief end of man here to 'glorify God and enjoy Him forever.'"

To suck the marrow out of life is quite the word picture, indeed.  Imagine gnawing through our rubber-like covering--some call it skin, others epidermis—and then through the fatty tissue underneath shrouding muscle and sinew which provides a protective armor for the base skeletal structure that holds us together…bones.  Imagine then, with blood and flesh spattered all over your face, most dark red around your mouth, chewing through a bone, crushing it with your molars and exposing the purplish-red middle.  And then, with barbaric and cannibalistic mirth, wrapping your lips around the fractured bone and sucking with all your might, vacuuming out every last morsel of marrow that is the deepest representation of our flesh.  There is nothing deeper, nothing.  There is nothing richer, nothing.  It is the core, the crux.  This is the marrow of our very life.

To live deep is to go to the top…but it is also to drill to the bottom.  It is to plow below the surface of things, penetrating layers and layers that cover the great deep…the hidden recesses…the dark caverns of life that are reserved for those who press through the superficial to what lies beneath.

To live sturdily and Spartan-like is to fight off all that counterfeits life.   All that seeks to dilute and pollute, all that tries to make sport of living.  To be a soldier for life, to be a guardian of life…a keeper of the flame.  To be vigilant in my protection of my story.  I want to kill all that is not life, to rout it---to the death if needs be. 

This, I know, will take all the effort I can muster.  I will become weary in well doing, as the Bible puts it.  Paul said that he did not want to lose heart.  That is another great description of this fight…this life support.  Losing heart and losing life are one in the same.  And it can happen overnight if you’re not careful.  If you’re careless.

And this carelessness is killing us, we humans are rotting away, marrowless—meaningless.  Who will plunge past the silky skin of appearance, past the fatty tissue of the trivial, past the muscle of meaningless movement, past the last line of defense…the brazen bone, and dive into the marrow of life’s meaning.  Who will care about that unseen reservoir of real life?  Who will look to the marrow within me?  Who will be unsatisfied enough, unsettled enough to press beyond all appearances to the rich resources within…the marrow of Jason. 

It is this bloodthirsty longing for life’s marrow that invites me onward…inward.  As C.S. Lewis said, “Further up…further in”.  Amen. 


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