Friday, March 9, 2012

A Broken Vessel--Magnificent!

The cupboards were bare this week. With the arrival of my paycheck, we can fill the pantry and fridge again.

After staring at the mostly-empty fridge, I decided to make oatmeal for lunch.

I pulled out the Irish Oatmeal, the honey, the walnuts, the measuring scoop, a spoon, the small saucepan, and one of the large soup bowls.

Then I noticed the bowl...and the chips along the edge of the bowl.

Sighing, I scooped the half cup of oats into the saucepan, added three half-cup measures of water, and placed the pan on the stove to heat. While I waited for the distinctive burbling sound of simmering oatmeal, I broke the walnuts into small pieces and found the bag of craisins in the back pantry.

While I waited for the oatmeal to boil, I examined the bowl again. We had four of these bowls when we first bought the set at Sears years ago: a red one, an orange one, a green one, and a blue one, each with a different fruit which match our dinner dishes.

But now we have only three bowls; the red one painted with cheerful cherries broke and was reluctantly swept away into the garbage several years ago. 

So without the red one (to match my dinner plate), I am drawn to the blue bowl with grapes on the side. I pick up the bowl and notice the large chip just under the edge.

When one assigns dish duties to boybarians, breakage and crackage happen. It's inevitable.

(They aren't touching my new glass teapot--no way, no how.)

I run my finger over the large chip--actually, it's two large chips, side by side, crevassed one into the other.

But despite the double imperfection, the bowl still fulfills its function: it cradles my oatmeal with walnuts and craisins as I trickle in some rice milk and add a final dollop of butter.

As I consume my delicious lunch of steaming, fragrant oatmeal, I ponder the brokenness, the chips in my armor that show all-too-clearly, even to mere passers-by.

It's hard to not miss such obvious brokenness.

Yet it's in the deeply-hidden broken places that hearts can rupture in pain, souls can scream in agony, minds can whirl with the "what ifs" and "why, God?s."

At least my brokenness is easily to see in cane and wheelchair, trembling hands and dizzy, forgetful mind.

It's the way-down-deep brokenness that can do far more damage than merely chip away at our vanity. This deep separating pulls hearts apart, families apart, friends and colleagues made distant by space and time...and pride.

Why does my brokenness always mask itself behind a child hiding behind an ancient, towering oak during hide-and-seek? 

But, somehow, God sees this broken body, pain-riddled with halting steps. Yet He still fills me with nourishment...with Himself.

And I pray that I can and will share nourishment with others...the nourishment God provides through His holy Word and divine Presence, and everlasting Comfort.

Also I pray that as I speak at the PVBCC tomorrow, leading workshops in journaling and blogging for Week #2 of the Spring Women's Conference, that I speak and share nourishment...the nourishment of His Spirit, the nourishment of His Word, the nourishment of His living in us daily. (To read the text of my workshops, see "On Blogging" and "On Journaling" below the header of this blog.)

As I finish this tonight, the lyrics to U2's "Magnificent" (my phone's ringtone) call to me. "Magnificent" expresses Mary's song of praise (known in liturgical churches as "The Magnificat") in updated language, and doesn't shy away from the big questions that we all want to ask God. He can handle it, after all. And our response is sweet praise....

Oh, oh, magnificent

I was born, I was born
To be with you in this space and time
After that and ever after
I haven't had a clue only to break rhyme
This foolishness can leave a heart black and blue, oh, oh

Only love, only love can leave such a mark
But only love, only love can heal such a scar

I was born, I was born to sing for you
I didn't have a choice but to lift you up
And sing whatever song you wanted me to
I give you back my voice from the womb
My first cry, it was a joyful noise, oh, oh

Only love, only love can leave such a mark
But only love, only love can heal such a scar
Justified, till we die you and I will magnify, oh, oh
Magnificent, magnificent, oh, oh

Only love, only love can leave such a mark
But only love, only love unites our hearts
Justified, till we die you and I will magnify, oh, oh
Magnificent, magnificent, magnificent

So may we, the cracked and chipped and broken, reach out to other cracked and chipped and broken ones in the Love that is manifested in our Magnificent Lord!

Nourish us, O Lord. Despite our obvious brokenness and fragility, the cracks and crazes in our enamel, the chips and gauges from our exteriors, use us for Your glory. May we be even more effective because of our imperfections as You transform our hearts, minds, and souls to walk in the footsteps of Christ our Lord.

Praising as a chipped vessel with cracked voice,

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