A couple of years ago I binge read Flannery O’Connor over Lent.
It was a good Lent. One of the stories, especially, has stuck with me. I’m not sure why its only this one – I’m not a literary genius who understands everything that Flannery O’Connor types down. And yet, for some reason, the bull that gores Mrs. May in Greenleaf has haunted me. Especially these last few weeks it shows up unexpectedly when I close my eyes, or get caught in a daydream staring out my back window.
If there was a “method” to reading O’Connor, it could be said that you just look for the moment of grace. Start there and then you can re-read the rest of the story and really see what she is saying. And yet, the bull haunted me.
Mrs. May confronted grace alright, by the goring of a bull that has pestered her the entire story. But…why? And what else is there that I am missing? Because it feels like the veil is there and I am just seeing the shadow of what truth lies in the Greenleaf Farm.
Today a slight light shown on that ball and I had to chuckle with the irony of it all.
Jesus is bull.
We first meet the bull outside of Mrs. May’s window, “like some patient god come down to woo her.” Interesting little reference to Zeus here, too. When he changes himself into a white cow in order that he might kidnap Europa and take her to Crete.
But Jesus isn’t one for kidnapping. Much better to woo. Much better to choose whether or not you will follow. Mrs. May, for the most part, doesn’t want anything to do with Jesus. Indeed, as she sees it, it’s all bull. Else why think “the word, Jesus, should be kept inside the church building like other words inside the bedroom”? It’s not that Mrs. May wasn’t a good woman. She was. “She was a good Christian woman with a large respect for religion, though she did not, of course, believe any of it was true.”
Survey after survey shows that the people of the United States remain Christian – grouping all denominations here – but I wonder how many of them are May’s? How many think Jesus is bull?
And do I? Do I leave him in church, where he belongs?
How long before the bull comes running, piercing my heart with one horn while the other wraps around and hold “in an unbreakable grip?” At that moment, will my sight be suddenly restored? Will I find the light unbearable?
Yes. Jesus is bull alright.