Saturday, 2 March 2013

The grace of confusion

Here is a Pre-Raphaelite mouse - look in the bottom right-hand corner: you may need to click to enlarge the picture - in Millais' Mariana, Or He Cometh Not, She Said (thanks to Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood)

We're definitely having nocturnal visitors. I hate to say this, but we're having to think about Traps - something I've always said I'd never use.  (We've already got those plug-in things that make rodent-deterring sounds: ours couldn't seem to care less) And I sit here blogging piously about the joy of the wild, and conviviality with the non-human. What a hypocrite, my busy little inner critic murmurs gleefully. What would St Francis say? What would St Cuthbert and his otters say? What would Adam, naming the creatures when everything still ate plants, say? What would... well, you get the picture. And what indeed would Jesus, being true to himself and his Father among the wild beasts in the wilderness, say?

As you know, I'm reading Genesis this Lent and I recently got as far as Noah. I was looking forward to the lovely bits about the dove and the rainbow, but you know what I noticed this time? The world may have emerged all bright and shiny after the Flood but it was still broken; still fallen. The first thing Noah does after saving all those animals is to start sacrificing them, clean and unclean. (And where did that come in? Who said some were clean and some unclean? I don't remember God saying that in chapters 1 and 2) But now the Noah family is told they can start eating animals; that all creatures will now (understandably) be filled with dread of us. Not quite how it was in the Garden. Then it hit me - the bleedin' obvious, of course - creation is fallen, and I am part of that. My uneasy relationship with wildlife is simply a sign that this is so. It's taken me until nearly the third Sunday of Lent to realise this, but I suppose that's not bad going for me...

Only this week I was in Oxford talking about the dynamic of the Spiritual Exercises. I spoke about the graces we pray for; and what's the grace of the First Week, the "sin bit" of the Exercises, where we recall our solidarity with groaning creation and need of God's healing love? Shame and confusion... I think I'm receiving that now.  And it is grace.  And I'm thankful.

Oh, and a sympathetic h/t to Greenpatches who has coincidentally been posting about a similar problem!


  1. Or in the words of a certain Mr Rabbie Burns:

    I’m truly sorry man’s dominion,
    Has broken nature’s social union,
    An’ justifies that ill opinion,
    Which makes thee startle
    At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
    An’ fellow-mortal!


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