Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Annie Dillard’s theology, part 3: the victim apologizes

In the last post I quoted a passage wherein Annie Dillard put a few words in God’s mouth. Today she meets up with him.

Dillard remembers as a child a supposedly kindly neighbor once “showed me a magnifying glass. It was a large, strong hand lens. She lifted my hand and, holding it very still, focused a dab of sunshine on my palm.” SHE DID WHAT? Let’s read that again. “She lifted my hand and, holding it very still, focused a dab of sunshine on my palm. The glowing crescent wobbled, spread, and finally contracted to a point.” I bet it did. “It burned.” Yeah? “I was burned; I ripped my hand away and ran home crying.” Did you now? “Miss White called after me, sorry, explaining …” Here, see this shiny needle? Now I jab you with it! Wait, don’t run away, I just meant to show you the pretty bead of blood!

Dillard, now all grown up, says she wonders: “If I meet God, will he take and hold my bare hand in his, and focus his eye on my palm and kindle that spot and let me burn?” Then she apologizes to the sweet, kindly neighbor lady who knew exactly what she was doing, burning the skin of a child who had no idea this nice lady who gave her cookies and lemonade was about to burn her flesh. “I am sorry I ran from you,” Dillard gushes. “I am still running, running from that knowledge, that eye, that love from which there is no refuge. For you meant only love, and love, and I felt only fear, and pain.” Then she invokes Jesus: “Once in Israel love came to us incarnate, stood in the doorway between two worlds, and we were all afraid.”

I’m sorry, is there anything about this metaphor that works for you?

source: Teaching a Stone to Talk, by Annie Dillard

No comments: