Archive for April 17th, 2005

Sunday Thoughts

April 17, 2005

by Al Sturgeon
(found every Sunday in Desperate Houseflies)


In her short story, “The Crop,” Flannery O’Connor introduces us to Miss Willerton, a lady in her mid-forties who escapes her proper (yet mundane) life through writing. In the story, “Willy” sits down at her typewriter, reaches into that wonderful world of make-believe, and chooses a sharecropper as her subject. Willy secretly enjoys the earthy, improper lives she suspects sharecroppers live, and before long she has written herself into this “fully alive” fantasy world. She enjoys it so much that she writes the wife right out of Lot Motun’s life and writes herself right in. Her world in the story is alive with passion: concerns over her pregnancy, their poverty, the oncoming rains and their need to get the crop in. She is totally lost in this fantasy world when suddenly…

Willy is interrupted.

She is needed to go to the grocery store. Willy takes a break and heads into town where she snaps at people and wonders why others are so annoying. Then, surprisingly, Willy comes face to face with a real-life Lot Motun and his wife. They disgust her. When she arrives home, she throws away her story to begin another.

And all of us feel ashamed.

I value coming to church greatly, but it is quite a difficult matter to bridge the gap we encounter between the pew and the grocery store. It is one thing to talk of love for our enemies, of serving the poor, of spreading the gospel, and of loving our neighbors. It is quite another to transform the talk into a real world of real people.

Jesus, of course, did this naturally. In addition to his stories of victims on the side of the road, he lived this message in encounters with despised tax collectors, with guilty adulterers, with contagious lepers, with the mentally unstable, and even the pious Pharisees. He dealt with real people, not attractive concepts of real people.

Soren Kierkegaard once told a “duck” parable. These religious ducks attended a duck church where they listened to their duck preacher and quacked “Amen!” to his duck sermons. Their duck preacher told them one Sunday, “You don’t have to waddle ducks. You can fly! Fly, ducks, fly!” They quacked their amens perfectly on cue. Then, they got up and waddled home.

Jesus calls followers to relationships with real people. In particular it seems, with dispossessed, unwanted, left-out people. How many do you and I know?

And if we really do get up from our typewriters long enough for the encounters – to open our eyes and see, the question becomes our reaction: will it be disgust, or will it be love?