I have, in the past, written some on exile, particularly as our (by our, I mean “God’s called people”) permanent condition, or at least our indefinite condition inbetwixt Eden and the Eschaton. I like the metaphor as a way of explaining the human condition, our lost-ness in the world, our journey to wherever. I know that some Jewish thinkers following the end of the Babylonian exile decided that exile never really ended, that we as God’s people remain estranged from God and the promise.
And yet the promise from God, although unrealized in a material way, is still real and still fulfilled.
Anyway, I cam across this wonderful bit on exile in Marc Ellis’ memoir of his time living and working in the Catholic Worker community in Manhattan, A Year at the Catholic Worker:
In the deepest reaches of man’s psyche, in the beginning of humankind’s mythical history, lies exile. With exile comes the definition of what it means to be human. Exile, in the expulsion of Adam, signals the beginning of time, of division, of multiple levels of reality. Exile is the end of infinity, the inheritance of moment. It is the loss of innocence. In exile we perceive our nakedness. Exile, too, is the tasting of death, the severed connection between humankind and God, and so becomes the essence of fear. Exile is the loss of home, and security, and place. It is the beginning of the perpetual wandering.
Exile is the expulsion of Eve, the appearance of pain and of condemnation. It is the perception of otherness, of separation, and distrust. Exile, at its very roots, becomes a struggle for physical and psychic survival and thus demands a distinction between human and nature. Its hand is in the beginning of the desire to conquer and the terror of risk. Exile spells the end of illusion and omnipotence. It is the tossing out into a world of uncertainty and danger and darkness. And when even the sworded cherubim disappears, exile is the beginning of loneliness.
I won’t add much to this, ‘cept that it’s beautiful.