Sunday, July 29, 2012

I am the Clay

Some days, I don't want to be the clay. The clay gets pinched. The clay gets squeezed. The clay gets molded, and even sometimes cut. I've heard for years, that as the body of Christ, we are called to be His hands and feet, to allow Him to live His life through us, and that we are called to yield to the process of being transformed into the image and likeness of Christ. Sometimes I approach this process with great passion. Sometimes I want to run in the opposite direction. And then sometimes, I want to flop down on the floor like a stubborn child, poke my lip out and say "no." Sometimes I don't want to be clay. Sometimes I don't want to be Jesus with skin on, His hands and feet... Sometimes I don't want to think one more thought about poverty, racism, or any of the other "isms" our society is infected with. Sometimes I don’t want to think about anything more serious than whether to cut my sandwich on the diagonal or straight across.

We talk about being transformed into the image and likeness of Christ. But which image are we speaking of? Is it the image of a son so submitted to the will of His father that he was willing to become a helpless infant in the hands of strangers? Or is it the bruised and battered Jesus, spit on, despised and rejected of men? What about the victorious Jesus, returning on a white horse? How about the image of Jesus kneeling in agonized prayer in the garden asking, “Father if..,” Can we choose which Jesus we become? I suspect that just as all of these images and so many others are all parts of the whole, we have to experience all of these aspects of Jesus as parts of our whole experience of being transformed into His image and likeness. And when I go through my “garden” experiences in the process of transformation, I am so glad that the Bible doesn’t try to clean up the story for the more “sensitive viewing audience.” I’m glad that it records that Jesus whispered an “if”. I’m glad that it tells the truth that there were moments when Jesus didn’t want to be the clay.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


Can you see yourself crossing it?
The finish line?

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
2 Timothy 4:7

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Boat People

Today was one of the those days - the kind I hate, where I wake up on the wrong side of the world and just want to go back to sleep, dream of something pleasant, and try waking up all over again. But through sheer force of will, I got up and went out to the forest preserve to walk. It is beautiful, and there is one trail in particular that is very isolated and private. I chose that trail, because I needed to talk to God, and I did not feel like being quiet about it. I needed some answers, dang it.

I told God, "I don't understand this strange existence you have given us. We are spiritual beings, housed in these temporal, fragile, broken jars of clay. We are placed here to live out our lives in this spiritual universe, in the midst of a relentless battle - caught between heaven and earth. And we seem so clueless, fickle and tossed. It seems crazy to me." 

And I felt God speak to me, "But I have given you all the power."

I don't pretend to be a saint. I don't see people that way. And I feel God is much more likely to hear the sincere prayer of the non-churched, than the self- righteous prayer of the religious. We are all pilgrims, boat people, trying to reach the other shore. Some days we swim against the current, other days it carries us. But we have the power to help each other, to encourage one another, to keep one another afloat. One day you are strong - the next day I am. Let's get there together.

Friday, July 13, 2012


One of my favorite memories of childhood on the farm was an event that took place every spring. My father would plow and then til the fields for planting. The plow dug deep and turned the earth in big long furrows. After this he would till it. This process broke up the furrows, and evened and flattened them out. When the soil was newly turned, I would take off my shoes and walk in it. It was unbelievably soft, almost like baby powder. I am as convinced now, as I was then, that there was no feeling like it on earth. It was ecstasy.

The exposure of the topsoil to the elements of this world made the soil hard. Much too hard to receive new seed, so it was very necessary, this plowing and tilling. And I find that in my own life now, I'm still reaping spiritual lessons from those memories of my life on the farm. It didn't take long for the newly turned soil to get hardened. I remember my disappointment the next morning after plowing when I would go out and take off my shoes only to be met with hardened clods of soil. Oh well. Fortunately, seasons changed, and I knew that in another year spring would come again, and I would once again experience the delight of bare feet in freshly plowed soil.

Another cherished memory from the farm was the granary. I remember as I got older I would climb up to the top floor of the granary via a ladder. It was a long narrow room housing nothing but a long conveyor down the center. windows were at the opposite end and they would fill the space with golden sunlight. I would sit in that long silent empty space and and do nothing but think. Even now I crave and cherish those kinds of spaces, naked and peaceful. I've spent countless hours in my church's sanctuary and can't seem to pass a church in Europe without stepping in the door. Maybe it is just my overactive imagination, but in those kinds of spaces it's as if all I can feel is God's kiss on my forehead - his breath on the back of my neck. And in the silence of man, I hear God sing His song.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Uncle Bert (from Unfinished Story)

He called me blondie. I would hide behind the coats in the hall and blush. I remember him crying out when he came in the door, " There she is, Blondie!" I was a cotton top when I was a little girl. That is about all I remember of my Uncle Bert. I know that he lavished attention on me because of my blond hair. I know that my parents had one picture of him as a child. It was a black and white photo of a little boy with a big collar and long golden curls. That was the style for little boys in that era. And I know that he was married to a very good woman, a Roman Catholic, and had a daugher. Even after years of abandonment his wife refused to file for divorce because of her faith.
I also know, that like so many of my Uncles, his life was a tortured one. He was an alcoholic and a nomad. He wandered his whole life.
He finally ended up in New Orleans, and it was there that he fell drunk in the street and was killed by a truck.
What else is there to say?

The Thing about Bees (from Unfinished Story)

When I was in elementary school we had a great science fair program. Every year we would choose a subject then read, cut, draw and stencil letters like petite mad scientist as if our lives depended on it. The science fair wasn't just a big event - it was the event of the school year. Every year we would go through the local competition, the district competition, and then on to state if we were lucky. I chose honey bees for my topic, not out of any true scientific interest. I thought they were cute. And they used flowers to make something sweet - how do you beat that in the mind of an 11 year old girl?

I'm not quite sure how on earth I won a ribbon the second year. My focus was purely on the artistic side of the whole presentation. I had a cute little bee's head peering down over the top of the board. I had drawn colorful presentations on my poster board. I had honey in several forms. But to be quite honest I knew very little else about honey bees other than they collected pollen and made honey and there was a queen and they did a little bee jig to show their peers where the pollen was located.

Nevertheless - I did take home a ribbon. And no one was more pleasantly surprised than I. :)


I've started writing on my blog again because I am tired of quipping for Facebook. But I have no idea why I ever thought it would be a good idea to have two blogs, so I am consolidating them. Whichever post I think are worth saving from Unfinished Story, I will post on Inexpugnable. Trust me on this - there are only a couple.
My family moved frequently when I was a child. I lived in four different states and attended 7 schools between Kindergarten and 12th grade graduation. Perhaps that is why I seem to consistently place myself in the situation of being an outsider. It is all I have ever known - being the new kid on the block, the outsider, the different one, different race, different nationality. My father had the wanderlust, and was not above loading the family up and heading to Florida for the weekend on a whim.
It was actually quite wonderful. We spent many weekends driving to historical homes and museums in the area. And being in the Cumberland Gap area of southeastern Kentucky, there was an abundance of such places to explore and visit. We saw so much. the homesteads of pioneers, war officers and presidents. Indian museums, caves, cliffs, settlements, and Indian Reservation Territory in the Carolina's. Florida Missions, the Smokey Mountains and Gatlinbourg. Niagra Falls, Maine, all the Great Lakes, and even Canada.
Maybe that is where I get it from.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Grandma Clara

My father rarely spoke about his mother. But he carried the pain of her death everyday of his life. A death so tragic, so horrific, the circumstances are not to be repeated except on the rare occasion it is an absolute necessity. Through the years, I have heard bits and pieces of her life. I know she sang like an angel, that she was noted to be the most beautiful woman for miles around, and that her nickname was China Doll. I know that she kept a spotless house while living in abject poverty. I know that after being abandoned by her husband, she would line up her 9 small children and march them down the street to church, for a while . . .

But I don't know the things I want to know. I don't know the sound of her voice. I don't know how she moved across a room, or how she smelled. I don't know if she was gentle, loud or soft. I don't know if she was funny or shy. I don't know the smell of her cooking, or the sound of her footsteps. I don't know her embrace. I don't know her dreams, or her nightmares. I don't know when she lost hope. I don't know what made her so fragile.