Thursday, April 30, 2009
About the Roadside Beggar
Annie Dillard writes, in Holy The Firm:
His disciples asked Christ about a roadside beggar who had been blind from birth, " Who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" And Christ, who spat on the ground, made a mud of his spittle and clay, plastered the mud over the man's eyes, and gave him sight , answered, "Neither this man has sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest to him." Really? If we take this answer to refer to the affliction itself--and not the subsequent cure--as "God's work made manifest,"then we have, along with "Not as the world gives do I give unto you," two meager, baffling and infuriating answers to one of the few questions worth asking, to wit, What in Sam Hill is going on here?
The works of God made manifest? Do we really need more victims to remind us that we are all vitims ? Is this some sort of parade for which a conquering army shines up its terrible guns and rolls them up and down the street for people to see? Do we needs blind men stumbling about, and little flame faced children, to remind us what God can--and will--do?
...Yes in fact, we do. We do need reminding, not of what God can do, but of what he cannot do, or will not, which is to catch time in its free fall and stick a nickel's worth of sense into our days. And we need reminding of what time can do, must only do: churn out enormity at random and beat it, with God's blessing, into our heads: that we are created, created, sojourners in a land we did not make, a land with no meaning of itself and no meaning we can make for it alone. Who are we to demand explanations of God ? ( And what monsters of perfections should we be if we did not?). We forget ourselves, picnicking; we forget where we are. There is no such thing as a freak accident. "God is at home," says Meister Eckhart, "We are in the far country."