Proper 24, Year C
In Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1979 film Stalker there is a room in the middle of a mysterious place called the “Zone.” It is a place where life on earth was interupted by an alien force and it has become dangerous to anyone who moves through it without care–the landscape always shifting, the wreckage of civilization overgrown by the wild. Stalkers are the people who are able to travel through the Zone, they know the way to the room. In the film two men, named simply “Writer” and “Professor,” hire a character named, keeping to the theme, “Stalker,” to take them to the room. Their motives vary, but they are attracted there by its magic–the room is a place that will give you your heart’s deepest desire.
It would seem that this is a wonderful thing, but as Stalker relates early in the film, this can be a dangerous proposition. Stalker was taught the way to navigate the Zone by a man named Porcupine. Porcupine brought others to the Zone without entering the room. One time, however, he went in. When he left the Zone he found that he was suddenly fantastically wealthy. The room had fulfilled its function and granted the deepest desire of his heart. Porcupine then committed suicide, disgusted at what lay at the center of his soul. Sometimes our deepest desires are not clear to us and we take a risk in having them exposed and fulfilled.
Tarkovsky’s Stalker names a tension that I think is at the center of our readings this week. In Jeremiah and Luke we read of the heart and its desires, of prayer and its fulfillment, and in all of this we must recognize that we are not in the simple territory of a God who hears, but also in the difficult territory of claims for justice and calls for help that might just as well reflect the waywardness of our hearts as the truth of our cause. Read more