Isn’t it interesting how I keep getting things reversed?
I’m supposed to be made in the image of God …
But somehow I’ve found a way to make a god that looks like me.
… perhaps ‘interesting’ is not the right word ….
They say I am made in the image of God.
It is true that I do have some beautiful feathers.
There is an iridescence in some of what I bring to the world.
Of course, there is also a strange awkwardness.
The image I present contains only the smallest hint of that Holy Three.
And when I study my own image, even that becomes blurred.
But none of that changes the gift of the creator
Which rests upon my being
And pours itself into the world.
Would that I could celebrate that gift and simply let it flow
Then, perhaps, I could turn my eyes from a static reflection,
Reflecting, instead, on the greater dance of love.
More than my own image is reflected in this pool.
Even looking down, I can see the trees, the sky.
If I look closely, I can see your smile.
[photo used with permission from Mike Bizeau’s beautiful blog – nature has no boss]
To touch the wind
To carry the ocean in a cup
To lift a star from heaven and hold it close
To hold within my soul a whisper of God’s presence
All, so far beyond me
… and yet, my heart does yearn.
The very idea of God
I cannot grasp or define or describe
Words are too small, too constraining
God will not be pigeonholed.
Aslan is no tame lion.
… and yet, the wonder will not let me go.
How I think of God
Makes a difference in the shape of my soul.
If, I think first of ‘God hates sin,’
I find myself the hated one.
If, instead, am formed by ‘God is love…’
… well …
I cannot tell you what it means
For the creator to kiss my face.
I cannot tell you how it feels to be so held
That I come into being.
Could it be … perhaps … oh, my …
… that I am the very idea of God.
(A small talk given during Lent 2012 at FUMC Denton)
The focus of tonight’s gathering – my assigned topic – is ‘Unity with Ourselves.’ When I mentioned that to my husband, he laughed. Isn’t that a given?
Well, for some people, more than others, I think. Less so for me.
I know too well the mess that sits between my ears . . . and more between my head and heart.
I understand too fully Paul’s dilemma, when he says in Romans 7, “I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. In my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.”
Why does that happen? I’m not sure I can answer for Paul, but I have some sense of the seeds of my own predicament. Growing up, I wanted to be the good little girl – and from the outside, I think most folks would say I was . . . That set me up.
The first lie I can remember telling was to my Sunday school teacher. She asked me if I was a ‘daily Bible reader’ that week. I said, ‘yes.’ I told that lie more than once. Good little girls should be able to say yes to that question, I thought. But, I was not a daily Bible reader most weeks, even though I often managed a few days each week.
Had I been honest – there would have been grace. But I wasn’t looking for grace; I was looking for honor. I was trying to hold the ‘goodness’ within myself. That’s not where goodness dwells.
So I began to create a pseudo self. The good girl, the competent one, the righteous one. It reminds me of an essay by Anne Lamott, who talks of her delight that on Halloween we get to see folks as they are – as rascals and heroes and divas and such – instead of all dressed up in the costumes of everyday life – the suits and uniforms that represent the roles we try to play – the power ties and high heels we wear to divert attention from our shaky knees.
You can feel pretty lonely and impotent, trapped behind that everyday cardboard mask. Yet you are afraid to put it down. People might really see you.
Not that they don’t already see you, of course. I’m really the only one fooled by the game. I’m the only one really surprised – and horrified – that I am not perfect – that the good little girl, herself, is a lie. And so I bear my cardboard shield . . . and all it does is keep me hidden from myself.
Well, that’s not actually all it does. It also robs me of the opportunities for grace and connection. By upholding a false sense of my own self-contained wholeness, it keeps me from finding the wholeness that is real – the one that comes through connection – with Christ and with each other.
Paul saw it, too. He says, from the midst of his quandary,
‘Wretched man that I am, who will rescue me?’ and then he answers,
‘Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ, my Lord.’
There is now no condemnation, but deliverance.
No need to stand on my own, but in the spirit.
So, here, during Lent, I find myself before the mirror of God – a mirror that will reflect only the truth.
Join me here, in your imagination, if you will.
We stand before that mirror, and the mask is gone. It’s pretty scary. When we lift our eyes we can see ourselves as we really are – but what we also see – in a way that washes all the fear aside – is the Christ, whose eyes are fixed upon us and filled with deepest love.
The me – the real me – is the one that Christ so loved. There is no ‘good little girl.’ There is, instead, a woman – full of aches and holes – but also gifted. Gifted in just such a way that my part fits with yours. That my words, through grace, might warm your heart and your heart, through grace, might move your hands toward justice – might hold a child, might feed a hungry one, might speak comfort to a friend, might work against the powers that oppress. That your lips might sing out a song of assurance. And when I see your love lived out, it warms my heart in turn, and moves my hands, my lips, as well, and shores up my resolve. There, before the mirror, there is, at last, a wholeness – a wholeness woven through us all by the love and grace of God.
It makes me smile. I don’t really like high heels anyway. Deep down I know that I’d rather be a part of a whole that pulls me into the bigger vision of God, rather than some small complete package on my own – even if that were possible.
So, as we round this corner of the year, as we live the season of Lent, let us look into that mirror. Let us realize that this season is not so much about eliciting some sense of mortification in ourselves – that was already there, behind our masks. It is, instead, about remembering to drop the mask and let the grace of Christ flood in. It’s about embracing the love that makes us part of the greater whole. It’s about the coming power of the resurrection, which, even as it is already here, is growing stronger in us all.
It’s realizing, with Paul, that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ – not even our masks. It’s realizing that the unstoppable power of God is on the rise – and that we are invited to be a part of that whole, wonderful, loving reflection of truth.
Oh Holy One,
I am lost in the wilderness.
I cannot see your hand or sense your presence.
My faith is hanging by a thread.
Yet, I desperately want to believe.
Where is my anchor if you are not there?
Where is my hope?
How can I take even one more step?
I take the next step because of beauty –
How it calls to me when it lines up into a resonant whole;
How the pieces answer one another in harmony,
How its fractal presence unites the big and small.
I take the next step because of love –
Because my heart calls to you and is not satisfied until you answer
Because there is a hole that can be filled with nothing else
And so, I must believe, or else I die.
I take the next step because of hope –
And somehow I know that hope is born of you.
It is your continued call, your whisper of promise,
That urges my soul forward.
And, though I stumble,
Somehow, I fall into your arms.
You came to the wilderness before me
And wait to catch me, even here.