Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Beneath the Beauty

We have a rule in our home, made by my husband that says the animals are not allowed on the furniture.




In Psalm 11 we read, "The Lord probes the righteous and the wicked, and the lover of havoc, He utterly hates." Utterly hates? By His essential being, He hates the lover of havoc? I do not consider myself a lover of havoc but sadly, often feel like I am a prisoner to it...or so I think. There are times when I come close to ordering my life, but somehow it always seems to be beyond my reach. I manage to sabotage my plans by swerving off course, ever so slightly; by stopping to rest when it is not time; by becoming distracted by the many things that fascinate me along the way, rather than staying my course. You can talk all you want, walk many places, understand it all so well; yet if you do not go far enough, it will bring you to naught...and that is havoc.

Looking around us and within, there is no doubt that we have a God "whose interest in beauty and detail must be unquestioned." I love Franky Schaeffer's words:

"We could live in a flat uninteresting world, one that had the bare minimum of gray ingredients to support life, one whose diversity was only enough to provide minimum existence. Instead, we live in a riotous explosion of diversity and beauty. We live in a world full of "useless" beauty, we live in a world of millions of species, we live in a world peopled by individuals of infinite variety, talents, abilities, and this is only on our own planet. When one looks heavenward and sees the complexity of the reaches of space above, the mind boggles at the creativity of our God." (Addicted to Mediocrity)

What can we possess so that we might stay our course and not be distraced in these "riotous explosions of diversity and beauty."

Look deeper. Behind the beauty we see a world of perfect order. Who knows but the weaver herself of the patterns of textures and colours, woven into her cloth, patterns woven with much labour and knowing...knowing of each individual fibre selected. Each fibre must be carefully selected and spun with the appropriate method to be of value in the weaving process or one can easily obliterate its inherent characteristics. A lofty wool waiting to be fluffed out does not want to be beaten into submission into a functional rug on the loom.

I grew up in a most ordered home. Our meals were punctual at precisely the same time each day. Sunday breakfast was fried eggs and bacon; Sunday lunch was always homemade soup; Sunday supper was always roast beef and yorkshire pudding; Monday supper was roast beef warmed up with gravy; Tuesday was cold roast beef. And so the meals presented themselves throughout the week with great predictability. There were few family outings except our weekly trip to town on a Friday evening to grocery shop and visit the laundry mat. Without question, Sundays always found us sitting in the same seats, in the same pew in church and we all knew not to forget where we sat. Nothing could disturb my little child's heart more than for someone to accidentally or unknowingly sit in our seats. In our home, books were never left out to tempt or tease; unfinished laundry piles...well there never were unfinished laundry piles; dust was never left to gather in the corners or on the ledges. It was a life of dreariness (or so I thought) where adults were obsessed with the mundane things of life and I was determined to seek out a different path to wander.

Fondly I remember how every Saturday evening without fail, my father would gather up every shoe and boot in the house to polish them. And each Sunday morning, our boots and shoes would be lined up at the top of the stairs, so neatly and perfectly polished, for us to wear to church. What one might be tempted to think was a boring unimportant task, remains a beautiful image in my mind some forty years image of a simple act of duty carried out with joy and faithfulness, and an image that I cannot claim for my life, no matter how hard I try.

Oh...I practice at daily and weekly routines. I have my favourite cups that I sip tea out of and my favourite seats to read and knit and write. I have my favourite bible books and commentaries which I read in no certain order but grab up as I feel inspired or led to. I generally claim the morning with its brightness to enjoy my favourite tasks and what you all do so well, overwhelms me because I lack order in my life.

Am I to be continually "off to the hills like a bird," escaping the dreariness of life, off on some adventure. I do love adventures, but no....I will keep trying to stay my course as best I can, remembering the tasks that God has whispered to me to do because just maybe in time, I may touch someone's life for Him. There is nothing mere chance or accidental about the beautiful things of this world. They were created on the foundations of time, the passing of days, months and years- walking with God. You might at times feel things are not right or that you are in need of a vision but know that behind it all runs a thread which takes us to our final destination. Our failures and disappointments are woven into the fabric of our lives and make it beautiful. The weaving will take its form from the presence of Christ in our lives. We have nothing to lose by trying. We are all His tapestries. Let us keep our hearts tender and let Him order our steps.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

We Call It Creativity

On Sunday, February 9, 1868, the poet, Emily Dickinson made the following entry in her diary.

Winter will not relinquish its crown. Snow hides the earth and-in the bitter air- the trees stand stiff. A pale sun appeared this afternoon but soon ceded its position. Yet inside jessamine and crocus- fearless- smile, while purple blossoms make a bold display. Life blooms undeterred though it glimpse Death through the window. I find peace in this indoor garden. My flowers- Nature's emissaries- nod approvingly as my pen moves- and knowing that- it moves more quickly!

Emily's diary was discovered in the conservatory on the east side of the homestead, one of her favourite spots. Her niece, Martha Bianchi, described it as a "fairyland" at all seasons, a tiny glass room with white shelves on one wall, on which grew ferns, heliotrope, jasmine, and other varieties of exotic plants. We know from reading the local paper that the reported temperature was fourteen to twenty degrees below zero that week as Emily gazed out the window while writing in her diary.

Life is a balance of sweetness and bitterness, of that which inspires, exhilarates us and that which limits us, demands so much of us. We find ourselves rushing back to the places in our lives, in our homes, where the canvases of God and His colours are seen. It is at these alters that we learn of the things of God through human expression. We are inspired to express Him through ourselves. Sometimes the expression is subtle and other times, it is profound. Through this human expression, the mysteries of God, things that we do not know, are thought, word, song and poetry of life. And as we continue to express who we are, God continues to create. But it doesn't end there as our expressions inspire others, each in turn, revealing God as they are true to themselves.

We call this creativity.

Friday, February 6, 2009

"I Am A Rainbow"

A person can only giggle so long...

There are days when I feel unsure of myself as a mother, wife, shepherd, fibre person and even as a child of God. A struggle with just one of these will cast a shadow on all. For the past week, I have struggled with all. So yesterday, feeling the sun's encouragement, I headed off into town to visit with Tonya, my Ukrainian friend. Tonya moved to Canada from the Ukraine, hoping for a new and better life. She lives in a very small apartment where she cooks and sells traditional Ukrainian food. Arriving there, she offers, "You want pierogies and coffee." I did not want pierogies but settled for a bowl of Ukrainian cabbage soup, some pampushry (Ukrainian donuts) and a cup of strong coffee. In broken English, Tonya talks about her home in the Ukraine as I sip my soup. Although I don't always understand her, I smile enthusiastically to encourage her and share in our conversation. I learn of strength, resilience, and courage as I watch and listen to her.

After our coffee, we admire the golds, reds, oranges, blues, purples, greens in her embroidery work. On the wall, hangs a picture of a field of bright golden sunflowers which reminds her of the fields of sunflowers back in the Ukraine, fields that stretch for miles. Tonya says that it is a miracle how the rows upon rows of sunflowers turn their heads in unison to follow the sun's rise in the sky. During the fifteen years she has lived in Canada, she has held onto that colourful image in her mind. We are to hold onto the colours; they are like jewels in our days. We so desperately need them. They bring encouragement and cheer. They engage us by telling stories. In doing so, they mark the passage of time. And in our hands, we are compelled to do the same as weavers, knitters, embroiderers, painters, gardeners...


As I gather my things to return home, I feel challenged by my friend's life. It is so important to God that we see the colours in our days, the richness in our lives. There is a depth to our lives that God is waiting to show us. We become involved in the process as we wait for Him to reveal more, like an idea that runs into a flow of ideas. The master creator teaches us. And we learn to express this very personal and intimate experience in colours. It is really God's love that we are expressing in colours. God says, " I am a rainbow...colour me."