My grocery store is fond of reminding me, and the grandmother price-comparing mayonnaise, and the nice man carefully selecting just the right avocados, that “every single one of us has the devil inside.”
While this is a worthy avenue of theological discussion, it’s also frankly not true.
With all apologies to both INXS and the Giant Food Store managers who delight in playing their song every other time I buy apples (I have heard “The Devil Inside” at this particular Giant no fewer than twenty times, no I am not making this up), there are exceptions to this diabolical declaration.
The very existence of Mary Rosenberg is proof that true and uncorrupted goodness exists on this earth. I’m convinced to my marrow that she was not the first, last, or only one of her kind.
I’m also convinced that even the more, shall we say, mischievous or Mephistopholean or Machiavellian among us are not necessarily under the sway of the Big Darkness.
Consider Tabby’s Place’s most complex divinity: Divya.
For twelve years, Divya has minced across this earth with ever-growing heft, confidence, and what some might call a devilish grin. I’m not having it. Divya is no more devilish than Devil’s Food Cake (which, itself, is further evidence that uncorrupted goodness exists on this earth, but I digress).
For what feels like twelve hundred years, Divya has ruled the Tabby’s Place reception desk with bottomless hunger (“BRING FORTH MY PIGEON PIES, MISCREANTS!”) and peckish affection. Her approximately sixty pounds of perfection will slam into you with the force of life’s greatest love. You will rhapsodize of all things good and holy while she’s purring against you, and together you will talk of saints and angels and salamis.
Then her whapwhapwhap will beat you back into reality.
And you will laugh.
Because reality is far more often ridiculous than it ever is evil.
Even in the genuine darkness — and Heaven knows we’ve had seven hundred fair shares of that — Divya has the grace-gift of getting real. You cannot gnaw on your own despair for long when one black-and-white bombadier the size of an aircraft carrier is shouting at you for slop. You cannot become entirely curved in on yourself and your sadness, pecked to pieces by self-pity, when one divine feline General Patton is barking and biting orders.
You cannot forget that you are spirit and flesh, good and bad, here for the long haul, blessed beyond your own comprehension, when Divya is doing what Divya does. And what Divya does is anything but devilish.
As you read these words, the Christian tradition is barreling into the back end of Lent. It’s a penitential season when you’re called to surf into the scarier parts of your own soul, only to find that you’re already seen and known and still loved. Somehow it’s the forgiveness, not the fear, that makes you better. And little by little, Lent by Lent, if you let yourself be swaddled tightly enough by mercy, you come to look more and more like Love. The devil inside never stood a chance.
Divya may not be in the business of permitting you to swaddle her (I would highly discourage this, since I like you and I like your face without puncture wounds). But she is entirely in the business of bettering every beast she meets.
This is goodness. This is feistiness writ sacred. This is the kind of love that makes you brave enough to look all the way inside.
Inaccessible to our understanding? You bet.
Divine? No other word would suffice.
Inscrutable? Much like Divya’s years-long wait for an adopter.
But bad things un-happen every day, and good ones show up, all glamorous and right-timed after all.
Divya got adopted.
You and I get a second chance every single hour.
Every single one of us has the divine inside.