As Rakka’s arc comes to an end and Reki’s just begins, these transitional episodes help bring home some important truths of Christianity and open up questions that might affect us in our walks as well.
“In the world but not of it.” That’s a phrase that’s tossed around a lot in the church, but is it true? It is, but it’s a simplification of a greater truth given in the scripture from whence it came:
I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.
– John 17:14-19
Notice that Jesus notes that he does not ask God to “take [us] out of the world,” even though we’re not of it. We are sent into the world. And for what reason? To do what God would have us to do – to love him and to love others, becoming what we were meant to be. And we love others by reaching out to them and caring for their needs, especially and more significantly their need for Christ. Media, just as everything we’re given – our talents, experiences, finances, situations – can be used to reach the world. We’ll dive more into that next week.
Summaries (taken from Wikipedia)
The Haibane leave Old Home in search for Rakka, who realizes that the crow that died in the well represents someone who cared about her in her old life. The Toga find and rescue her from the well, but they do not know what has happened to Kuu and refuse to speak, much to her dismay. She believes she heard Kuu’s voice behind the cold wall, but the Communicator catches her touching it. Now having a sprained ankle, the Communicator leads her home. The Communicator says that the crow had finished its purpose before dying, but Rakka sympathizes for this crow showing what her dream meant. The Communicator also remarks how she is sin-bound due to her black-spotted wings that she tried to hide. He then gives a riddle, which he calls the Circle of Sin, stating that to recognize sin is to have no sin. Rakka wonders that if by saying she has no sin she becomes a sinner. The Communicator notes the paradox and that it might be what it means to be sin-bound. As the Communicator departs, Reki and the others find her. However, Reki realizes that Rakka has touched the wall, feeling her cold body. Rakka becomes ill and Reki takes her home to take care of her. It is hinted that Reki may have been in a similar situation in the past. She laments that she is always alone.
In a flashback, Kuramori and Remu witnessed Reki being born with black-spotted wings. Kuramori promised Reki that she would stay by her side forever. Kuramori takes Reki to see the Communicator, who gives Reki her name and shows Kuramori how to prepare the special medicine. One day, Kuramori falls ill due to her poor health, and Reki and Nemu cook breakfast for her overnight. The next morning, Kuramori lets Reki live in the guest room to take on the responsibility to take care of any newborn Haibane. In the present, Reki goes to the Communicator to ask for help for the ailing Rakka, so he tells her that Rakka is no longer sin-bound. He also says that Nemu always worries about her. Rakka feels better after Reki gives her the special medicine. As punishment for touching the wall, Rakka is given her own job within the wall around the city, as she is to gather light leaves to make halos and to purify the rusted name tags. Hyoko and Midori offer a tentatively friendly gesture from Abandoned Factory to Old Home. Reki tells Nemu not to think of her as a burden for worrying about her so much.
We noted a lot of interesting elements in these episodes, though one item we kept returning to was the wall. What does it represent from a Christian perspective? One thought is that it’s the law, showing our separation from God and also leading to punishment because of sin. It might also represent simply the division between heaven and earth and, as Daniel Cronquist notes, the protective gate discussed in the parable of the sheep.
Another important symbol is the “circle of sin.” This is probably more of a Buddhist concept, but there’s strong implications from a Christian perspective. Remember that this riddle says that “to recognize one’s sin is to have no sin.” What can we say about this from a Christian perspective? It takes the humility of knowing you’re a sinner to be able to start the process of forgiveness. Rakka has now been forgiven (by the bird who came to get her) – she needed to 1) understand she needed forgiveness and 2) accept the grace given her.
Finally, we start to dig into Reki’s issues. She is filled with anger and bitterness and now jealousy as well. Reki won’t be able to accept forgiveness in this state and feels she doesn’t need it.
Additional Questions (taken from Set Apart)
- Just as for Rakka and the Samaritan woman, how can past pain and brokenness lead to restoration and healing?
- Why are there walls around Guri? What walls, if any, are present in our lives?
featured art by yasu | reprinted w/permission