Something Beautiful

Someone famous once said, “If you don’t bend, you will break.” I could be paraphrasing. It would have had to come from someone famous because us normals don’t get quoted. It was probably someone who is also dead because getting famous for something you say usually doesn’t happen until after you’ve moved on and someone else finally understands what you were talking about and tells everyone else.

This place… this… repository of words and thoughts, fears, feelings and forgettings, rememberings, searchings, findings and losings is devoted to the quest; to the process and journey to discover the opposite of breaking. My son solved the puzzle for me of what the opposite of breaking is, but knowing what it is, is only half the battle. Some say the other half is red and blue lasers. Technically that’s true — the firing of lasers indicates action. The other half of the battle is putting what you know into action. The other day (or today, or whenever) I was only half of what I should have been. I was, er… am, quite the opposite of bending.

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A few Fridays ago at The Trail (a men’s short-term morning bible study at our church) I listened to my friend Dan talk about breaking. Well, indirectly at least…

All we are is messengers, errand runners from Jesus for you. It started when God said, “Light up the darkness!” and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful.

If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. reference

This version of these verses from The Message are more poetic than most. Other translations refer to us, our lives, our hearts as “jars of clay” and the treasure is God’s light and power hidden in us, in plain sight. The best place to hide something valuable is in worthless junk in plain sight.

Dan continued his lecture. Uncovering some clay pots, one at a time, on stage explaining that as we go through life we incur cracks and chips in our clay pots. Our experiences or decisions and circumstances in which we find ourselves — either by our own doing or as a result of other people’s choices — take a toll on us. They break us. Sometimes in a big way, sometimes in barely noticeable ways (at least on the outside). And no two people break the same way, or have the same set of chips and fractures. He had the lights turned down in the room and I could see light coming out from inside the clay pots; through the holes and the cracks. His message ended with the notion that the more broken we are, the more people can see God shining out from inside us.

I couldn’t stop there. Because if that’s the end: to be all busted up and fractured, I don’t want that. At what point is the last crack going to happen and everything comes crashing down? When is the bottom going to fall off? Fear set in and I became afraid of this final moment hanging out there somewhere in the timeline of my life waiting for me to finally give in and give up and smash. I’ve seen it before. I’ve been close before. I remember watching my dad on the kitchen floor rolling around, crying, out of his mind. We see movies all the time where people just snap and go nuts. Somedays I feel I’m standing on that line and all it will take is a simple push in the wrong direction and I’ll be done.

And then it hit me.

Maybe Dan was trying to get here, or maybe he wasn’t. I don’t know, but it hit me. Hard. That light? The light of God seeping through the cracks of those of us that have him in our hearts? That light is glue. His light is the resin that holds everything together. That light is stronger than my clay. In fact, the clayness of my heart, the parts made of dirt and mud and impurities, just get in the way and if I’m really honest with myself… if I step back from my own selfishness and my own moping and my sick sense of self-importance, then I can see the way the light bends through and around the cracks. In some parts it is thicker and more brilliant than others and it makes me wish I was all glue and no clay.

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