[Rough Draft]

A weblog about god, doubt, insomnia, culture, baseball

4.20.2004

spring cleaning

back after our weekend away, all safe and snug in our little apartment in oxpatch. mobile was surprisingly wonderful -- w/in 10 minutes of our arrival @ the b&b, we discovered that the father of our caretaker was a retired episcopal priest and the yard-man was quoting scripture to me from a tattered copy of the bible he kept in the front pocket of his jeans, making an allusion of sorts to rev. 19.16 or some other such passage, i believe. the first night we had a crawfish boil right there in the backyard attended by, in no particular order, a novelist and veteran of james meredith's "battle of oxford" in 1962, a 32-year veteran of the n.y. times editorial board, and a multitude of episcopalians w/ whom we swapped stories and shared vittles. all the while, ellie grace slept the sleep of the innocent @ grandma & paw-paw's (i don't even think she realized we were ever out of the next room).

now that i'm back, though, i'm face-to-face w/ the monster that is my in-box. and, more importantly, i'm face-to-face w/ the monsters and demons to whom i have been a sort of "walking b&b" for years, cloistering off little rooms where they happily sleep, watch cable and munch crackers in bed. in other words, i'm face-to-face w/ the sins that have been w/ me so long that they're as much a part of the family as scully the wondercat, only slightly less fuzzy and w/ bigger teeth. so i set about some spring cleaning, and it's not @ all comfortable, to tell you the truth. if i think having the sneezes after sweeping the pollen off the porch is bad, then wanting to retch after opening those long-closed doors on the rooms in my heart is infinitely worse.

a new friend gave me a verse to think about today -- zeph. 3.17:
The LORD your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing.

he said i'd find hope in this, and he asked me to pray every day this week for (a) insight into those rooms whose inhabitants growl @ me when i pass, and (b) grace to change my will so i'll truly want to kick the inhabitants out forthwith. this i will pray, and i trust that god is faithful and will answer those prayers.

tonight, however, as the monsters howl and scratch to get out (some are, alas, already loose), i'm encouraged by the testimony of my new friend and many old ones (you know who you are). i keep company w/ brennan manning, himself an alcoholic, who writes: "aristotle said I am a rational animal; i say i am an angel w/ an incredible capacity for beer." likewise, i walk w/ anne lamott, she of the funky christianity and frizzy do, who admits to thinking "such awful thoughts that i cannot even say them out loud b/c they would make jesus want to drink gin straight out of the cat dish." we are, all of us, broken, i no more or no less than you or augustine or bonhoeffer or, do tell, saddam hussein (i never know how to spell his name . . . is it i before e except in the case of a dictator bastard? something like that). but there is, indeed, grace. @ the end of the day, only grace. lamott reminds me of words by eugene o'neill, a man whose life was riddled w/ tragedy but whose writing, to me, strangely radiates some hopefulness: "man is born broken. he lives by mending. the grace of god is glue."

oh, for your glue, god! i need a'mending.

(quotes are from brennan manning, the ragamuffin gospel (sisters, ore.: multnomah, 2000), 26; and anne lamott, traveling mercies: some thoughts on faith (new york: anchor, 2000) ,112, 131).

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