Tuesday, March 27, 2012
We Are a Tactile Bunch
but you won't have the sum
You can strike up the march,
there is no drum
Every heart, every heart
to love will come
but like a refugee.
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in."
--Leonard Cohen, "Anthem"
A friend of mine wrote, years ago:
"Pastor [Steve, of Metro] mentioned that this is exactly what we are, and when we are with Christ we are still a broken pot, yet filled with the Spirit. Because we are broken, we leak. When we are without Christ what is noticed about the pot are all the big ugly cracks, but with Christ the Spirit is what leaks through and thus HE gets the attention. The cracks are forgotten. HIS strength is our weakness. He is glorified! Larry, spirit is busting out of you all over the place!!! Liquid light. Beautiful. His work in you is inspiring."
A couple of weeks after she wrote that, she and her husband were with me on the beach as I was making a sculpture that was supposed to be a physical representation of what she'd mentioned: light coming through cracks. Light from the setting sun would enter a big opening on the west side, and shine through narrow slits. Would the sculpture have worked? I don't know, because the slits, representing cracks, became too literal and the sculpture fell apart.
I am made of fragments. Whenever I hit a bump of some kind, the shards jab painfully into each other, so it's no wonder that I try to avoid bumps and stress. I'm tired of pain. Don't need any more of that. My solution, however, is to put each piece in a tiny straitjacket: if they can't move, they can't hurt. It's a simple and effective solution to the problem of pain, in its most narrow definition, but causes problems for what might be a broader interpretation of living. Life could be defined as movement.
Endless pain tends to reduce life to mere avoidance. I've seen it in myself, I've seen it in others. It's all well to talk of adventure, but adventure usually adds to pain, so why bother? God supposedly cracks his whip, demanding that one cast off the safety, throw oneself into adventure, and I have at times attempted to obey, dutifully. Pain eventually swamps the effort. The shards are already antagonistic, and attempting to force them to perform just raises the general ire level.
It doesn't work. Repeated iterations prove it. There must be a better way, and why not go radical? If what I'm doing, according to known rules, isn't working it's time to chuck the rule book. God says "Be prepared for the truth." The truth is even simpler than the tiny straitjackets: holding.
A friend of mine was honest enough to seek what he really wanted: being held, by friends. In this world that's a death sentence in m ore ways that one. Being held by God? Who is better qualified? A friend of mine was feeling bad, tired, stressed. I didn't know the details, so as I walked along the beach yesterday I asked God to simply hold her and protect her. It may not be that simple an act.
What I'm finding, as I allow God to hold me, is that his touch is healing. I used to expect him to bring the shards together and knit the cracks together. The soul must be whole, I thought. Well, the soul is whole, but he does something in the cracks to keep sharp pieces from stabbing others. The cracks are still there, as they are needed for flexibility and growth, and the shards still move, but they seem to be designed parts, kind of like puzzle pieces, but with spaces between that are needed. God's hands, his will, surround each fragile piece to touch, guide, hold against the inevitable backlash, and heal. Stuff of the Holy Spirit, I guess, and it's luminous in addition to being healing.
If you'd like to see this idea from other perspectives, here are some other stories, positive proof that years pass but problems remain similar. Lu, if you see this... send me an Email or something, would you please? Same address.
Sheep No. 103
Lu's "God's Chew Toy"