Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Image of my Father

I like to make things. I enjoy losing myself in the creation of something, impractical or practical, well-crafted or shoddy. I just want to make.

I sat down at the sewing machine yesterday and made a bag for my little one. The dishes were piled up, I was feeling under the weather, she has bags aplenty...the reasons why I shouldn't be sewing were sitting right there beside me, shaking their heads, their lips pressed thin with a justifiably disappointed air. But, in the midst of those unhappy reasons was sitting another character. He grinned at me. He clapped his hands with glee when I ripped up a sheet and sent it flying under the needle. He about lost his mind with mirth when I whipped around, triumphantly swinging this little bag from my hand to present it to my daughter. And when we went to the kitchen table, painted the bag and added her name, it was he alone who accompanied us.

I truly believe that my Maker delights in my crafting, that He thrills when I allow myself to be carried beyond this world on the wings of creation, and forget for a moment the earthly reasons why I shouldn't be crafting. While those unhappy reasons that keep me from making things all hours of the day are often valid, often just as important for my spiritual well-being, there is a piece of my soul that is only settled and content when something is being created by my own hands; be it frivolous or practical, edible or simply ornamental. 

The singer/songwriter, artist and author Andrew Peterson wrote something that caught my heart and held it for a moment, riveted with that sense of "Oh, you too?" that one gets when reading truly gifted storytellers. 

"I bear the Maker’s image, and one of the ways that plays out is that I delight in making."

While I had always recognized and even cultivated that facet of myself that delights in making, I had never properly understood that it was the slightest reflection of the God who made me, the God who has proven Himself time and time again to be a creative God, the God who is the ultimate source of all the wonder and beauty that anyone who dabbles in the arts tries to capture. In those tiny moments of creation, I am experiencing Him in me, and am exhilarated. 

So, I'll keep on makin'. It will be another way in which I can grow a little closer to my Father, one of the myriad windows He's given me to see into His perfection. 

Then perhaps I'll do the dishes. 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Fireflies and Songs

There is a song that I've been enjoying, "Fireflies and Songs" by Sara Groves. It's one of those that confound me, and I find that sometimes I like being "right merrily flummoxed" by things of beauty. However, in teasing out the meaning of the lyrics as they pertain to my life (because I can't begin to guess what Ms. Groves meant for her life...), some cool thoughts wound their way into my mind, and that, I believe, is truly a mark of a good song.

We're looking for the music
In the music box
Tearing it to pieces
Trying to find a song.

Cool, right?

One of the problems I've had at times with (some) Christians is their tendency to think rather poorly of their fellow humans. And not just "that person" or "that person", but the human race in general. There is a paradigm that sets man up as being stumbling, bumbling, ne'er do well buffoons, and it makes my heart ache when people subscribe to the idea that their fellow man is well and truly without any redemptive qualities. The biblical basis for this is sound; humans have been screwing it up from the beginning, and we needed our Father to sacrifice that which was most dear to Him in order to redeem us from our truly despicable ways.

But my struggling, troubled little heart still clings desperately to the idea that mankind is really good, that my fellow humans are truly beautiful. However, I am beginning to bridge that seemingly giant chasm between my desire to believe the best in people and the solid biblical truth that people are sinful. Hang on, follow me here...

I can appreciate the beauty of (most) sculpture. I can stand and look at the Pieta (or, since I'm not in Europe, I can look at a picture of it) and begin to barely guess at the care and love that went into forming its curves, and the knowledge it took to bring Mary's face to life from the marble. In a sense, I can feel thismuch closer to Michelangelo by seeing his creation, and that is what really makes the Pieta beautiful. It evokes emotion, it reminds us of the power of the moment of Christ's death, it moves us in a myriad of different ways, not the least being in awe of Michelangelo's gift. I daresay there are no arguments when I state that it is a masterpiece, beautifully wrought.

Humans are like that sculpture. No one would think to take a hammer and chisel to the statue, breaking it to pieces in order to find what makes it lovely. It's understood that the magic of the piece does not come from the stone out of which it was carved. It was created by an artist, a master of his craft, and only through his working did it become something worthwhile.

(Oh my lovely reader...do you see where we are going with this??) Human beings are the music boxes. We were made of common Earthly parts, quite un-extraordinary taken apart, but we were made by the Creator Himself (pffft, Michelangelo had nothin' on Him). We were made to create a music more beautiful than any other creature set on this Earth. But it is folly to think that we should expect a person to resonate that music without the working of the Artist. Our song is not something that comes from within us, just as the beauty of the Pieta is not something that came from the marble. Our Song is sung to us everyday from a magnificent Father, who calls us His most beloved creation. Like a broken music box, we wouldn't expect a person who is removed from God's love to play beautiful music. A heartening thing, however, is that the potential for beautiful music is always there.

A music box is a wondrous thing for its ability to play music, just as humans are astounding creatures in our ability to do truly glorious things. We can all think of examples of mankind's compassion, honor and love. History is full of people who wrought wondrous things (with His help, whether they realized it or not). So, fellow people-lovers, be confident in knowing that human beings are truly worth loving; and if people disappoint us, we should be certain we are not "looking for the music in the music box".