[box] “My understanding is not that there’s a devil outside, prowling Pali Park or the Parkade. But that there’s something inside that’s always bored, that beckons us, knowing what it is we each want most desperately. And adolescents have fewer defenses.”
“Do you think that we’re wired this way? With the devil inside?”
“Yeah, in the same way we’re wired for God. But not to the same extent. I think it’s tiny, and insidious. Like hairline cracks that let in the water that shatters the rock.” (From Imperfect Birds by Anne Lamott) [/box]
There is a man, an acquaintance, someone who shared a small (but yet significant) space in our lives for a brief time. After a tough season in his marriage and consequent divorce, perhaps some work concerns and definitely some personal issues, he stood on shaky ground with his immediate family. Rather than hearing he has climbed his way out of a dark place, he seems to instead be burrowing deeper. Most recently his mother died of a terminal illness; while sitting at her bedside he used the opportunity take his sick mother’s phone and send hurtful texts about his ex-wife.
My heart became overwhelmed with one question: How does a person get to that place? One consumed with competition, anger, control, so much that he would miss out on pivotal and significant moments in life in exchange for the brief and fleeting feeling of victory over others (or whatever the drug of choice may be for a particular person).
In our family’s past we’ve dealt with another person, one who seemed to carry a leaking darkness with him through the world. My soul became conflicted on how to feel about the person: on the one hand, he is a child of God, created in His image. On the other hand, my inner spirit could feel something dripping from him that was not of God. I couldn’t put a finger on it, the intangible quality went deeper than the drugs or poor life decisions.
Yet we encounter those other people. The ones you meet at a random gathering and you want to sit at their feet and let their goodness seep into your clothes, hoping to carry home its scent the way Grandma’s soft fragrance of candy and Skin So Soft might stay with you if you hugged her long enough. Our world is equally full of people permeating our atmosphere with the good, the holy, the yes-that’s-it!-ness of life. Let us not be quick to forget that.
I can’t believe that God would make some people, for lack of better words, more virtuous and others, not so much. Something in me wants to believe we all get some semblance of a fair shot. Not equal – many overcome more obstacles in their path – but dark and light can’t be pre-determined in people.
Anne Lamott writes in Imperfect Birds about the devil not being “out there” in the world, an issue for humanity as a whole to overcome, but rather hairline cracks that let in the water that shatters the rock. Is that how it happened with those fellas? As the darkness, the hate, the ugh! of this world slipped in, it created bigger holes. Eventually, often, comes a shattering point.
Perhaps our fragile, imperfect and cracked condition makes it hard to stand up to the darkness. But what if. What IF! What if we filled that vessel of our lives with something else, something good, something stronger than ourselves. The Light on the inside stands up to the pressures of the outside, rejecting the parts and pieces we would rather leave behind.
[box] For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. (2 Corinthians 4:6-9)[/box]
I wonder if every decision we make is a matter of choosing good or evil, light or darkness. When we succumb to the pull of our selfish nature, it widens the cracks. Conversely, when we choose to live by light, it pushes the pressure outward and seals up those cracks and makes it harder for the waters of darkness to flood inward where we might drown.
No one wakes up in the morning determined to live by cruelty and anger. He or she gets there one decision at a time until our vessel shatters.