Wednesday, September 17, 2008

a shocking revelation

i picked up a book last week that i had been in search of for quite some time. I had read a quote in brennan manning's 'the ragamuffin gospel' and ever since had been keeping my eyes peeled for flannery o'connor.
i finished reading her short story revelation as was once again moved by the shocking grace of god.
i feel that those of us who would consider ourselves 'respectable' christians will be a little shocked at the procession we find at the pearly gates. we may also be shocked by the place of prominence that those who are less 'respectable' find themselves in.
in the story the main character, mrs. turpin, is a good, white, southern, upper class christian. she has people work in her cotton fields. those people may not be slaves, but they sure are close.
she thanks god that he did not make her "white trash" or a "(n-word)".
in her revelation however, her world is turned upside down.
'a visionary light settled in on her eyes. she saw the streak as a vast swinging bridge extending upward from the earth through a field of living fire. upon it a vast horde of souls were rumbling toward heaven. there were whole companies of white-trash, clean for the first time in their lives, and bands of black (n-word) white robes, and battalions of freaks and lunatics shouting and clapping and leaping like frogs. and bringing up the end of the procession was a tribe of people whom she recognized at once as those who, like herself and claud, had always has a little of everything and the god-given wit to use it right. she leaned forward to observe them closer. they were marching behind the others with great dignity, accountable as they had always been for good order and common sense and respectable behavior. they alone were on key. yet she could see by their shocked and altered faces that even their virtues were being burned away. she lowered her hands and gripped the rail of the hog pen, her eyes small but fixed unblinkingly on what lay ahead. in a moment the vision faded but she remained where she was, immobile.
at length she got down and turned off the faucet and made her slow way on the darkening path to the house. in the woods around her the invisible cricket choruses had struck up, but what she heard were the voices of the souls climbing upward into the starry field and shouting hallelujah." flannery o'connor - revelation
now this story was written about a time when racism was common even among those who would call themselves lovers of god. mrs. turpin's vision it was a shocking revelation.
what about us? what about our city? who would you be shocked to see entering the procession before you?
the truth is; god's grace and mercy are much bigger than we could ever imagine.
we just might be shocked by the people who enter the kingdom before us.
peace to you,