Today, I picked up a forgotten, bookshelved-book and read a very moving love story that needs to be shared. Read it, every word, and fix your mind on the furious power and healing love of Jesus. Here's an excerpt from Brennan Manning's The Furious Longing of God from his chapter on Healing:
"If you're not familiar with the story [of Don Quixote], Aldonsa is a trollop. She's slept with every man in the prison, sometimes for money, sometimes just for sheer pleasure. As a result, she's lost every trace of self-respect. She's filled with overwhelming guilt and self-hatred because of her promiscuous sexual life.
And then one day along comes Don Quixote, striding utterly unselfishly into her life. He befriends her and begins to woo her by infusing into her life a sense of dignity, worth, and purpose. All his efforts are in vain. She rebuffs him at every turn. Still he pursues, calling her by the Latin Dulcinea, meaning my sweet little one. At other times, he calls her My Lady, to give her a sense of aristocratic bearing.
Don Quixote describes her appearance in the following terms:
...her name is Dulcinea, her country El Toboso, a village of La Mancha, her rank must be at least that of a princess, since she is my queen and lady, and her beauty superhuman, since all the impossible and fanciful attributes of beauty which the poets apply to their ladies are verified in her; for her hairs are gold, her forehead Elysian Fields, her eyebrows rainbows, her eyes suns, her cheeks roses, her lips coral, her teeth pearls, her neck alabaster, her bosom marble, her hands ivory, her fairness snow, and what modesty conceals from sight such, I think and imagine, as rational reflection can only extol, not compare.
One day he calls out both names: "Dulcinea, My Lady!" She takes off her apron and comes storming into the room, seething with contempt. She then begins her litany of self-hatred, a once-and-for-all attempt to distance herself from any notion of lady. I'll paraphrase her speech:
She was abandoned by her mother after a less than desirable birth. If she'd had a lady's sense, she would have given up and died right there in the ditch. But she didn't.
A lady would gladly point to her father, but with a sweeping arm of shame, she'd have to include the men of an entire regiment. Ladies see themselves in their father's eyes. She sees nothing.
A delicate birth could have dictated an upright life. But much of her life is spent flat on her back; the kitchen-whore men casually use then discard.
She rails at Don Quixote to see her as she really is, not the lady of his dreams. She has learned to live a life of harsh realities, life as it is; she survives by taking and then dishing it back. His eyes clouded with could-be drive her to despair.
Blows and abuse I can take and give back again, but tenderness I cannot bear.
Her speech concludes with her vision of herself: "I'm just a whore."
But again and again, Don Quixote returns. And in spite of all appearances to the contrary, he sees what is true, good, and beautiful in Aldonsa. And slowly, from the way she sees herself reflected in the eyes of the old knight, she begins to remember.
And slowly that other Don Quixote, Jesus the Christ, begins to stride before her eyes, saying:
The past is over and done.
We all stumble on the way to maturity.
We all look for love in the wrong arms, happiness in the wrong places.
But out of it, you've become real.
You've got a heart of immense compassion for the brokenness of others.
You are utterly incapable of hypocrisy, and I am deeply in love with you.
In the musical version, a most powerful moment comes when Aldonsa leaves the stage and walks down into the first row of the audience and proudly announces:
"From this day forward my name is no longer Aldonsa. I am Dulcinea."
For Zion's sake I will not keep silent And for Jerusalem's sake I will not keep quiet,Until her righteousness goes forth like brightness,And her salvation like a torch that is burning. The nations will see your righteousness, And all kings your glory; and you will be called a new name,Which the mouth of the Lord will designate. Isaiah 62: 1-2
Fellow believers and strivers toward love, let's never stop looking for the Gospel everywhere we go. The past is over and done; we all stumble on the road to maturity. But love heals. There is furious love and deep grace in the darkest of places. Look for it--look hard--and then tell people when you find it.
Love heals. Love heals.