Here are a couple snapshots from the summer that I started to write but never finished. This summer has been amazing. Lots of long walks, bike rides, playground visits, late nights and afternoon naps. It's also produced its fair share of sore muscles, sweat, blood and tears. This is how it looked:
Yesterday I filled my coffee mug too full and spilled all over the cupboards, counter top and the front of my shorts. Fortunately, it had cooled down a little before I poured it and did not soak all the way to my skin. I got lucky.
A family member of mine who shall remain nameless suffered a similarly embarrassing (but more amusing) moment. An abundance of day-old Panera bread rained on us like manna this past Sunday evening. We (my wife, family member and me) were enjoying the spoils of this manna and an interesting conversation about the Virgin Mary. This was all happening as we cleaned the house, sweeping and wiping down counter tops. Needless to say, my wife was not too thrilled about the crumbs produced by said flour-based edibles and had given my family member a large plate to catch any stray morsels. Even so, my family member (we’ll call him or her Cheechakos for the sake of this story), continued to spill tidbits of baked goodness on the kitchen floor. One large chunk of the sourdough loaf Cheechakos was enjoying tumbled from his or her hand to the edge of the stove and thudded quietly on the linoleum. Cheechakos set the plate with the larger portion of the loaf on top of the stove and proceeded to pick up the lesser (but still substantial) piece from the ground. As Cheechakos bent at the waist and slightly at the knees, his or her midriff grazed the edge of the plate and knocked the remainder of the loaf off of its resting spot on the cool surface of the front burner onto our poor protagonist’s back and then onto the floor.
We all mess up sometimes.
After a walk to the playground this week with my wife’s family, we ran into some friends from my brother-in-law’s church. We all gathered in a circle around my daughter in her stroller holding a small purple flower and an orange lily. We talked for a while, and then my daughter did something that really struck me. She started to hold her flowers out to each person individually so that they could smell the sweetness she had latched onto. She wasn’t shy about it at all. These little flowers she had crushed in her hands were drooping and wilted, but she held them out like they were the sweetest spices or perfume.
Is this not what we ought to do with our prayers and our lives unto God? Is this not how I ought to behave with my family, friends, co-workers, church members, and even enemies? An unabashed yet humble offering of myself, vulnerability. My life has been bruised and crushed. Some of these bruises are self-inflicted. I’m afraid of dying, but even more afraid of living.
In the words of a song I love, the singer asks with a downtrodden tone, “Grape on the vine, why not be crushed to make wine?” This calls to mind the Gospel reading where Christ says when a crowd has gathered around him and more are looking for him, “…unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
Why not admit our brokenness and with a humble, confessing heart offer it up with boldness? There is nothing so sad as loneliness, especially in a world so full of people, in a world that I think seems to be filled with the glory of God, albeit with a heavy dose of evil. So, why be an island in this vast, fertile prairie? Why give in to the temptation to withdraw from people, from God. We all need healthy doses of silence sometimes, but depression and solitude need not accompany them.