Monday, August 05, 2019

The Gospel According to Sisyphus: Chapter Two

This is the second installment in a seven-part thought experiment, in which the myth of Sisyphus collides with the gospel of Jesus. Read chapter one, along with an explanation of the project, here. If you find you can't get enough Sisyphus in your life, read my "Triumph of Sisyphus" here.

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I had a lot of coworkers, but not a lot of friends. None of us had much energy to talk, to begin with, and while our work was the same, it didn’t overlap. I saw those other boulder-pushers as competitors for the affection of the overseers and whoever oversaw them: Surely someone out there has the power to release us from this work, to end this torture. Better me than them, I thought.

Then he showed up.

Right there next to me, just the latest sacrificial lamb to the unrelenting work. Turns out he was a little chatty.

“This is not how it’s supposed to be,” he declared. That’s really the only word for it. I don’t know how he mustered up the energy for anything beyond a grunt, but he said it with force, conviction.

“Yeah,” I responded. I didn’t have the energy for more. I was impressed, but I also didn’t want to get distracted. Maybe today would be the day I’d be delivered.

“Work,” he continued—turns out he was just getting warmed up—"is meant to mean something. This work is an exercise in futility. Seems like it’s designed to tear up your soul.”

Seems like I was in a conversation. I slowed my pace a bit so I could engage. All I could manage was, “It certainly tears up your body.”

“Why do you keep doing it?”

That stopped me short. He seemed to think I chose this life. I glared at him and returned to pushing. This conversation, I decided, was over.

“There’s a better life for you. Trust me. I can help you find it.”

I tried pushing harder, moving faster. Why should I trust him? I just met him! He was the competition, and this was the work. I wasn’t going anywhere.

And yet even as I tried to get away from him I kept turning his comment over and over in my mind. What if there was a better life? Should I trust him? Could I trust him? He spoke with such authority—he seemed to have something specific in mind when he talked about a better life.

We reached the top and our boulders slid back down the hill. Given how distracted I’d been, I was surprised we made it to the top. I started off down the hill but he grabbed my arm. “Follow me,” he said.

I surprised myself when I did.

***

Tune in next time for chapter three, wherein we see a movement begin to grow and the powers-that-be begin to act.

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