Sunday, May 13, 2007
I remember when I was in theological College the first piece of writing I was asked to accomplish was my testimony. I remember the fall-out from fellow students who couldn't believe they had been graded so low, because of the 'Damascas Road' conversion they had experienced...it was only when it was pointed out that to us that it wasn't our stories that were being assessed but rather how our stories were being told...
Brennan Manning suggests ‘The question for all of us is what we will really aim at next. If all we are going for is placid decency, routine prayer, well-behaved worship, and comfortable compassion, then we have effectively parted company with the shipwrecked and have no fellowship with the pearl-finder.’
'I didn't go to the flea market the week of my abortion. I stayed home, and smoked dope and got drunk, and tried to write a little, and went for slow walks along the salt marsh with Pammy. On the seventh night, though, very drunk and just about to taking a sleeping pill, I discovered that I was bleeding heavily. It did not stop over the next hour. i was going through a pad every fifteen minutes, and I thought i should call a doctor or Pammy, but I was so disgusted that I had gotten so drunk one week after an abortion that I just couldn't wake someone up and ask for help. I kept changing Kotex, and got very sober very quickly.
Several hours later, the blood stopped flowing, and I got in bed, shaky and sad and too wild to have another drink or take a sleeping pill. I had a cigarette and turned off the light. After a while, as I lay there, I became aware of someone with me, hunkered down in the corner, and I just assumed it was my father, whose presence I had felt over the years when I was frightened and alone. The feeling was so strong that I actually turned on the light for a moment to make sure no one was there - of course, there wasn't. But after a while, in the dark again, I knew beyond a doubt that it was Jesus. I felt him surely as I feel my dog lying nearby as I write this.
And I was appalled. I thought about my life and my brilliant hilarious progressive friends, I thought about what everyone would think of me if I became a Christian, and it seemed an utterly impossible thing that simply could not be allowed to happen. I turned to the wall and said out loud, "I would rather die."
I felt him sitting there on his haunches in the corner of my sleeping loft, watching me with patience and love, and I squinched my eyes shut, but that didn't help because that's not what I was seeing him with.
Finally I fell asleep, and in the morning, he was gone.
This experience spooked me badly, but I thought it was just an apparition, born of fear and self-loathing and booze and loss of blood. But everywhere I went, I had the feeling that a little cat was following me, wanting me to reach down and pick it up, wanting me to open the door and let it in. But I knew what would happen: you let a cat in one time, give it a little milk, and then it stays forever. So I tried to keep one step ahead of it, slamming my houseboat door when I entered or left.
And one week later, when I went back to church, I was so hungover that I couldn't stand up for the songs, and this time I stayed for the sermon, which i just thought was so ridiculous, like someone trying to convince me of the existence of extraterrestrials, but the last song was so deep and raw and pure that I could not escape. It was as if people were singing in between the notes, weeping and joyful at the same time, and I felt like their voices or 'something' was rocking me in its bosom, holding me like a scared kid, and I opened up to that feeling - and it washed over me.
I began to cry amd left before the benediction, and I raced home and felt the little cat running along at my heels, and I walked down the dock past dozens of potted flowers inder a sky as blue as one of God's own dreams, and I opened the door to my boathouse, and I stood there a minute, and then I hung my head and said, "Fuck it: I quit." I took a long deep breath and said out loud, "All right. You can come in."
So this was my beautiful moment of conversion.'
(Anne Lamott: Travelling Mercies - Some Thoughts On Faith)