I read the first chapter and I cry. I marvel at the beauty of such ugliness. Streaming uncontrollable tears and sobbing aloud, I cry harder than I have cried in years. I am glad that it is early, before anyone else in the house is up, because how could I explain this rampant grief at someone else’s life…someone who I have never even met? I melt into a puddle of hurting for all the hard things that she has lived. And I cry in guilt at how easy my life has been when there are so many deeply hurting people in this world.
I read the second chapter and I wonder, not for the first time, whether anything in my life is truly real. I read of her humanness, her deep soul searching and the exquisitely painful price of feeling. I wonder whether I really want to live that nakedly.
I begin the third chapter and find myself ashamed…ashamed at my ingratitude, at my thoughtlessness, at my careless attitude toward my Abba, who gives me all things to enjoy.
I am struck by this passage on page 53.
Now, in the Bible a name…reveals the very essence of a thing, or rather its essence as God’s gift… To name a thing is to manifest the meaning and value God gave it, to know it as coming from God and to know its place and function within the cosmos created by God. To name a thing, in other words, is to bless God for it and in it.
And I remember the conversation earlier this week with my children about naming, the fact that naming something shows ownership. God had Adam name the animals, which established order, placing the man above the animals. But it also had the effect of making Adam look closely at each animal with its particular traits, finding a name that suited it. And in the process, surely he must have been awed at the diversity, the sheer genius of God in creating each of them.
My thoughts tumble over each other, yipping like puppies in a basket, as I consider all the different facets of this idea of naming.
There were ten lepers in Luke 17, and Jesus healed all of them of their leprosy. But only one of the men bothered to give thanks to the One who healed. Those who thoughtlessly went their way, without naming the source of their blessing, probably still had clear healthy skin, but I think the one who returned to Jesus may have received much more. I wonder if, after that, there was a contrast between his life and those of the other nine? In verse 19, Jesus tells him, “Your faith has made you whole.” I wonder if the other nine were ever whole, or if their unblemished skin only covered the same niggardly, shriveled spirits that they had always had. Notice that Jesus didn’t heal them until they had started on their way. They had to turn back to him in order to name him as their Healer. Do return to Him in thanks for all my many gifts?
To name a thing is bless God for it and in it… But I ask myself as I ponder the triviality of my little gifts, the mundane everydayness of them…is it too banal to focus on these seemingly inconsequential things–these tiny shards of light that lift my days–while children are starving and families are homeless, when earthquakes shatter and waves pour through city streets?
And yet I know that I want to be WHOLE. I want to fully appreciate His gifts, and to express that appreciation. I pray for the lost, for the fearful, for the hurting, but that only makes me realize once again how very much I have to be thankful for. And I know how miserably I have failed at gratitude. I need practice.
I purpose in myself to try again. And I realize that it doesn’t matter how insignificant those small things may be to others. I am not listing them for others…I am listing them for me. Because the naming of them defines them, makes me look more closely at them, and marvel at the perfect genius of my Creator. And I wonder, as I name my gifts, if they are somehow changed by the naming? Perhaps not, but unquestionably, -I- am changed.
gifts # 457-471
see other gifts here
fresh laundry folded by my daughter and laying on my bed
scrubbing grungy corners and making them clean
red chili peppers on a yellow plate
that giddy feeling when you look down a stairwell…a LONG way down
my childhood Teddy bear and Raggedy Andy sitting in the corner of our bedroom
the rows of books on my shelves…so many friends waiting for me to come and play
teaching my daughter to sew
playing Chinese Checkers on my grandma’s old board
drawing plans for yet another dream house 🙂
Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee…I am so thankful that Ludwig van Beethoven wrote that beautiful music and that Henry van Dyke added such glorious words
Joyful music leads us sunward
In the triumph song of life.