John Updike: Redemption

I’m reading John Updike’s Self-Consciousness. He is a poetic writer. I have to share one paragraph. This is his autobiography, so he is telling his own story. He suffered terribly from psoriasis and it seemed to take a big part of his energy to fight the disease. In those days, the sun was the best treatment. Living in New England, the winters were brutal to his skin, so he started to take weeks or months in the Caribbean to find relief. I wanted to share this paragraph from chapter two, At War with my Skin.


To be forgiven, by God: this notion, so commonly mouthed in shadowy churches, was for me a tactile actuality as I lay in my loathed hide under that high hard pellet, that suspended white explosion, of a topical sun. And the sun’s weight on my skin always meant this to me: I was being redeemed, hauled back into mankind, back from deformity and shame. The sun was like God not only in His power but also in the way He allowed Himself to be shut out, to be evaded. Yet if one were receptive, He could find you even at the bottom of a well; one could board a plane in a blizzard, bounce for a few hours in the fuselage’s pasted tunnel, slide far down the lines of longitude, and get out, and He would be there, waiting.


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