Once, twice, a fourth time the bell sounded. It skipped right over the third ring and made the fourth ring louder than ever. Eyes shot heavenward to see if the bell was right. Eyes shot up, eyes came down. Eyes closed and deep breaths came in...deep breaths went out. It was the fourth sounding.
The man down the road who kept pigs in his backyard “lifted a finger,” but not to help. The man (he was a priest, but not the typical kind) made a motion. A gesture. A sign. He lifted his finger, so that no one could say “he didn't even lift a finger,” but it made no difference whatever the case. Sometimes you have been on the right side of a thing like that, sometimes on the wrong side. Sometimes it makes a difference, sometimes it doesn't. The best part is when the person (the man with the pigs in this case) offers you something really fun to eat.
Consider the fun things you may have eaten when you were a child. You may have been given all sorts of sweet things and precious crumb-cakes. I might as well have called this clappy-doodle tale a “precious crumb-cake,” for I love the tale with the same affection I pour out of my very soul for that wondrous baked good. Don't you? The fun things you ate as a child might even come back to haunt you, for just last week I was visited in my dreams by a horrendous meatloaf. I loved meatloaf, and I still do, especially such as my mother made, complete with a hard-cooked egg in the middle. My mother always said there was a “surprise” in the meatloaf, but I knew better. I knew it was just a hard-cooked egg.
But in my dreams it was a horrendous meatloaf that came to me. I struggled to wake up, and I tried calling out. While I thought I was screaming, when I began to come to consciousness I realized I was making only a quiet “engh, engh, engh” sound (as in “what sound does a turtle make, Timmy?”). The meatloaf in my dream was not, in and of itself, horrendous, but rather it was the spectre that carried it that was so horrendous. I cast my mental gaze upon him, and did not even ask why he was carrying a meatloaf. I just tried to move, to scream, to flee. For there are awful things that a spectre with a meatloaf can do to you in your dreams. Don't even ask me to elaborate.
And so he made no sign, he lifted not a finger. It was just as it always had been. I was on the right side, but I noticed that no finger was lifted. And the bell sounded again – a fifth time, a sixth time, a seventh time. It fell silent, never to ring again.
And the man down the road, the man who kept the pigs, he said the same thing. The same thing that always gets said. By someone. Anyone. The same thing I have told you all a thousand times if I told you but once. The same six words that make me want to break into a wander. That make me break and wander. That make or break a wander. A breakwander. Breakwander.
I told you once before to go and consider what this means, and nothing changes. You know that.
“I desire mercy and not sacrifice.”