Friday, December 5, 2008

The Graven Images

My soul is full of graven images:

My brother's face as he carried my bleeding four year old body across the street to the waiting ambulance.

My pastor's face the first time I FINALLY called him dad.

My ex-boyfriend's face the first time I kissed him.

My mother's face over and over seeking to understand that part in me she cannot quite get.

My grandfather's face as he blessed me on the day of my Confirmation.

Mt.Rainier on a sunny day, when I know it will rain the next.

The Simpson Skyline at sunset.

The Portland skyline at night.

The Seattle Skyline in the morning.

Julie. Tim. Wedding.

Jonathan VanSchenck as he rode his bike next to my car the day I moved out, screaming as he went, "I LOVE YOU BECCA!"

I hold fast to these images of love. I have been thinking lately, how very much I need the outward signs of love, in order to aptly remember God. I KNOW HE DIED TO SAVE MY SOUL... but... that's so ordinary some days. It is never ordinary, but there are days when my heart so needs to be tangibly touch, sought, filled that I crave these more ordinary moments of beauty. I don't think this makes me weak or spoiled or sinful. I hope it just makes me human as God created me to be.

There was a time in my life, when I could not find these graven images. I could not find them anywhere, and so I could not remember the love of God. I could not figure if he actually loved me. I thought he must not. Then I taught preschool. Lately I have craved the love I found there. Children are the best place to find ordinary extraordinary love.

Again I find myself in a place that could easily be the unloved place. This time though, I know better. I don't have my preschoolers to fill me up, but I have my graven images. Graven images of Christ's love. They keep me warm, but they must not be enough... the only way for me to continue in community and not let these images be sin is to share them... and continue them. Otherwise they become something religion only inside of me.

I have been reading the autobiography of a man named Dwite Brown. He is the father of the priest from Redding who so inspired me. Today I read this, "...modern people think that religion is an inner experience, but not an outer reality. The effect of this idea is to move God inside each person, and to make God's traditional outer position as King of Creation something old-fashioned or poetic. In the older Christian idea, a person could learn what God wanted, from the Bible or the teaching of the church. But in the modern idea, the only way to know what God wants is to look within oneself, and whatever one finds in there, is only for oneself."

I am so guilty of this. Guilt Guilt Guilt. Outward religion is not just poetry, not just something nice to look at. Not merely a graven image. NO. It is sustenance, breath, love. Oh yes. Not only outward and physical... oh how that haunts protestants... neither though can it be inward only. Balance is key again. Bringing balance is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. But Balance is what I want.

1 comment:

Iscah Mara said...

i dig your icons.

i can see how you're relating outward religion to graven images, but "learn what God wanted" is a phrase I cannot abide. There is no mystery to his will. Abide. Rest. Be loved.

There is no room for guilt in that sequence. This is new for me, but I feel sure of its peace in my life.

My graven images:

*a yellow warbler at eye level*the top of my love's curly black and gray hair as he rest on my shoulder*a freshly poured glass of wine*my mother clutching my face*bloody, withered feet*my brother's limp hand in mine*