Day Twenty Seven

Kneeler 98

Psalm 34

18 The Lord is close to those who are broken hearted:
and the crushed in spirit he saves.

19 The trials of the righteous are many:
but our God delivers us from them all.

20 He guards all our bones:
so that not one is broken.

In a chapter called "God in the Doorways", Annie Dillard tells this story from her childhood: Earlier, Santa Claus had come and stood in the doorway. It was a neighbour, Miss White, but little Annie had run away from Santa and the cold wind came in from the door.

"I liked her. She meant no harm on earth, and yet half a year after her failed visit as Santa Claus, I ran from her again.

That day, a day of the following summer, Miss White and I knelt in her yard while she showed me a magnifying glass. It was a large, strong hand lens. She lifted my hand and, holding it very still, focused a dab of sunshine on my palm. The glowing crescent wobbled, spread, and finally contracted to a point. It burned; I was burned; I ripped my hand away and ran home crying. Miss White called after me, sorry, explaining, but I didn't look back.

Even now I wonder: if I meet God, will he take and hold my bare hand in his, and focus his eye on my palm and kindle that spot and let me burn?

But no. It is I who misunderstood everything and let everybody down. Miss White, God, I am sorry I ran from you. I am still running, running from that knowledge, that eye, that love from which there is no refuge. For you meant only love, and love, and I felt only fear, and pain. So once in Israel love came to us incarnate, stood in the doorway between two worlds, and we were all afraid."

Annie Dillard: Teaching a Stone to Talk Pan Books, 1984, p 141