Saturday, April 05, 2014

Published 7:24 AM by with 0 comment

Griffin and Sabine

Several years ago my good friend Heather asked me if I'd heard of a trilogy of books about two characters called Griffin and Sabine. I had never seen them before, but was instantly intrigued as I began to research them online. They seemed to be surrounded by an air of mystery. Are they art? Are they letters? What does the symbolism mean? And most of all... what happened at the end of the story? 

Shortly afterwards, while visiting Heather in Arkansas, I found the trilogy in a used-book store. It took me an hour to devour my way through the beautiful pages. I can easily say that the combined works make one of the most incredible, complex, imaginative stories I've ever known. It is a romance, a mystery, an exploration of love, a melding of nature's opposites, a fantasy world, a travel through history, an exploration of dreams, a hint of alchemy and Yeats, and a search for what it means to be complete. The words in the books flow like honey, creating the invisible characters of Griffin and Sabine through the course of their developing relationship in postcards, letters, dreams, symbols, imagery, and visions. 

The ending is deliberately open-ended. There are several tiny but very important details that affect how the reader might interpret the finale. As an optimist who finds connections and meaning in everything, I found satisfaction and a positive end to Griffin and Sabine's quest for each other. Someone who views the world through a darker lens may end up feeling confusion, uncertainty, or even dissatisfaction with the end. I believe that each person's individual interpretation of the fate of these two characters says something about the way they process reality. Is the glass half empty or half full? 

Then I found that an entire second trilogy had been written as a sequel to the first! The story was just as intricately beautiful, the characters equally complex as before. Many of my questions about the first trilogy were answered in the most satisfyingly fantastic way, yet I was still left with the air of mystery that first made me interested in Griffin and Sabine at the very beginning. 

Even more than reveling in the story itself, these books continue to help me come to terms with the fact  that I Cannot Explain Everything in Life. This is a big one for me. I like to know Things. I like to feel secure in having the Answers. Yet there are situations and circumstances that I've seen and experienced which I can't explain. There are personal stories here that I'm not ready to share, but briefly, let me say that "truth is indeed stranger than fiction". Some things are black and white. Others.... I'm not sure. For me, the practice of sitting patiently with mystery is aided by the engagement of the imagination. 

I came away from the six-book-long tale with a renewed sense of the absolute wonder of the world. Life is more colorful day by day, if we can only see the magic everywhere, in the mundane and the mysterious. Love is possible... more than possible, it is the only way to salvation and redemption and wholeness. The eternal balance of good and evil, dark and light, yin and yang, male and female, sea and land, fire and water, death and life... all these things are part of the Great Story. 

...I dropped a monstrous conch on my foot. I howled with pain, and a tree ahead of us exploded with blue and yellow macaws. My father, who could see that I didn't know whether to attend to my toe or the feathered fireworks, laughed and whispered, "Pain and beauty, our constant bedfellows." Young as I was, I understood. ~ Sabine feet took me to Paolo Uccello's 'George and the Dragon'. Do you know it? I'd been standing in front of it for a while, my mind like a vacuum, when I had one of those moments of profoundly shocking insight. There was my life laid out before me: I charge around on a toy white horse, lance in hand, wearing funny shining armor that wouldn't protect me from a cigarette lighter, let alone a dragon's breath. I attack these pet dragons, in order to release beautiful maidens who will, I assume, reward me. They, however, are utterly indifferent. They don't care to be released, and I've been fooling myself with a fake sense of purpose. Like George, my back is turned to an infinite sky filled with violent spirals of silver clouds. ~ Griffin

You cannot turn me into a phantom because you are frightened. You do not dismiss a muse at whim. ~ Sabine

I love you unconditionally. Do you hear me, Griffin? Do you see that I cherish you beyond question, that you have nothing to prove to me? You are making your journey to secure yourself. I am already tethered to your side. If you can love yourself as I love you there will be no dislocation- you will be whole. ~ Sabine

Picture from one of the books, copyright Nick Bantock