Saturday, September 06, 2008

Sunday Scribbling #127: Miracle: The Constant Burglar

(A piece I submitted for our church newsletter this month.)

She’s a burglar

She broke into my mind

She’s a burglar

She took everything she could find—

(Freddie King, singing Jerry Ragovoy’s She’s a Burglar)

One of my favorite of Robert’s recurring metaphors is the “scandal of the incarnation,” which he extends into the notion of the Holy Spirit, like a burglar, breaking and entering into our lives. Writer Annie Lamott builds on this sacred impropriety with her story of Jesus as a nagging, cat-like presence that stalked her on a walk home one day: she is in a foul mood, full of despair and irritation at the tenacity of her stalker. When she reaches her front door, she turns in exasperation and essentially says to Jesus, “Oh, what the hell. Just come on in.” As I recall, her “invitation” is even cruder than that, but I will spare the tender ears of our readership.

I don’t think Jerry Ragovoy had the Holy Spirit in mind when he penned his wonderful blues classic, but ever since I first heard Robert invoke the notion of scandal, it has replayed in my mind to the soundtrack of Freddie King’s rough growl and stinging guitar licks.

Why scandal and why burglary? Many reasons, I’m sure, but one of them is because we get comfortable in our lives, comfortable at times even in our miseries, comfortable because even as miseries they are known, old friends. As Matt reminded us in an early sermon of his, we need never pray for God to show up in our lives; our prayer is that we will show up, offering our hearts up to be cracked by the Master Safecrackers.

In my many years of exile from a church community, I found myself still lured in by the spirit of Christmas, my soul quietly hungry for and waiting for the season’s in-breaking of the light lurking for all of us, whether in or outside a sacred haven. Invariably, there was always some small miracle of love that turned the dial on my heart’s lock into place, and voila!—light without pouring in, as light from within poured out.

I now look for burglary on a weekly basis, during what Art Ramseur lovingly calls the “performance art” of our Sunday liturgy. I come some Sundays stoked and ready for the cat burglars; other Sundays, it’s a growling Freddie King spirit that I bring through the doors. It doesn’t matter. It’s not about me. The cat burglars will have their way with us, whatever the offering, be it in the readings, the songs, the wisdom of the urchins at Robert’s feet during the children’s sermon, during the “adult” sermon, the passing of the peace, Stewart’s stewardship of us all, standing in to receive the blessings for all those who cannot come to the rail, or the light breaking in through the windows of our glorious sanctuary. God’s light, our light, is always lurking.

And just like that

My heart was gone

She put it in her pocket—

Welcome to the Burglar’s House.

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Blogger b said...

This so beautifully written and thought provoking. There should 100 comments on this blog!


12:44 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Thank you, b. It was definitely fun and a joy to write.

3:13 PM  
Blogger Linda Jacobs said...

Thanks for the music! Very interesting post!

6:14 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

You are welcome, Linda: it's a great song.

6:33 PM  
Blogger Tammie Lee said...

Wonderful post! You may be the most creative word craftsman I know. Always stretching beyond most minds.

the holy spirit like a burglar...
such an interesting perspective.
when love is pure it does have a way with us!

9:11 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Tammie: Thank you for your words and support. Coming from someone with your exquisite vision, it is sweet praise indeed.

10:46 PM  
Blogger susan said...

Really, really enjoyed this. Solid writing. And it's my first visit. What a first impression. Thanks for the read.

12:29 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

I miss ya'll...

wonderful images of burguling spirits....

the rock has been moved by images of it's old home..

6:20 AM  
Blogger jsd said...

sitting in the round, light framing our backs - holy, holy, holy - and twist in she breaks...since you've moved the other rock - you've made this doubter smile :)

9:26 AM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Thanks for the props, First Time Visiting Susan. Please come again.

9:41 AM  
Blogger murat11 said...

What a wonderful Sunday morning surprise, Ms Amy. You and yours are assuredly deeply missed. Revel in your fall (autumn, not that questionably biblical thing) for all of us. Love to you all: paschal.

9:43 AM  
Blogger murat11 said...

jsd: Y'all bloggin' in church? Boy, you Yankees is plenty advanced!

Love hearing from you and the Wonder One, all of a bright Sunday morn. I'm bein' burglarized at home.

Love you: paschal.

10:09 AM  
Blogger alister said...

This piece is what it says. It’s as slick and structured for success as everything about the honey-growl and twang of She’s a Burgler…and therefore capable of a bit of thievery of its own. It woulda stole my miseries if I hadn’t got home in time. I know I should let it… Although you make church sound good, you and Marilynne Robinson, who goes to church to experience “moments that do not occur in other settings,” it’ll probably be when I’m at the grocery store :-)

10:58 AM  
Blogger Devil Mood said...

That is definitely a definition of incarnation and the light of God that I never encountered in my life before! :)

12:32 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Lady A: Now, chica, I would never say, with Ms Robinson, that church is the only place for epiphanous burglary: in my daze of exile, I used to find my best access to Mother Yemaya, of all places, pumping gas at the Shell station in Austin, at the intersection of South Congress and Riverside. And no, it were NOT the fumes...

HEB or whatever northern cousin you frequent for "makin' groceries" as a place for sublime breaking and entering? You bet.

12:58 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Devilish One: Such is the theology of port-filled Episcopalians. :-D

1:00 PM  
Blogger San said...

This meditation "stole" my attention, Paschal. A thief in the night--yes, grace sneaks up and pilfers our soul in surprising ways, rearranges the silverware tray, mingles the salad forks with the tablespoons.

I'm off to re-read that passage in my Lamott.

Beautiful, beautiful writing.

4:30 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

San: Thank you, as always. I didn't get to the iglesia yesterday: was home tending to mijo's cold: I better check the silverware drawer for pilfering.Ciao.

5:52 PM  
Blogger rebecca said...

Welcome to the Burglar's House. I like that. Thought-provoking as always. I've veered away a bit from the House these past few years, but it never fails that when I visit, I am filled with a sense of peace and calm like none other.

So very eloquently put.

8:35 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Rebecca: From what I can tell, the burglars are well-ensconced in your heart. Thank you for your words.

10:34 PM  

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