Thursday, June 6, 2013

The onion and the wicked woman. Reading Dorothy Day

On one of his writings Dorothy Day recalls a story that Grushenka tells in the Brothers Kamarazov.  The story goes like this:

Once upon a time there was a peasant woman, and a very wicked woman she was. And she died and did not leave a single good deed behind. The devils caught her and plunger here into the lake of fire. So her guardian angel stood and wondered what good deed of hers he could remember to tell god. 'She once pulled up an onion in her garden,' said he, 'and gave it to a beggar woman.' And God answered: 'You take that onion then, hold it out to her in the lake, and let her take hold and be pulled out. And if you pull her out of the lake, let  her come to Paradise, but if the onion breaks, then the woman must stay where she is.' The angel ran to the woman and held out the onion to her. 'Come,' said he, 'cath hold, and I'll pull you out.' And he began cautiously pulling her out. He had just pulled her out when the other sinner sin the lake, seeing how she was being drawn out, began catching hold of her so as to be pulled out with her. But she was a very wicked woman and she began kicking them. 'I'm to be pulled out, not you. It's my onion, not yours'. As soon as she said that, the onion broke. And the woman fell into the lake and she is burning there to this day. So the angel wept and went away.  

Pause here for a minute. Maybe some lessons can be learned by meditating on this short story.

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As for Dorothy Day. She saw herself wondering if God's goodness to her was because she once gave away an onion. Dorothy loved the poor, and them taught her to know God.

I think that if she is to be compared to the woman it is because many poor people caught hold of her, and in this way God show them mercy.

 * Dorothy Day selected writings p 6

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