It could be easy to look at one’s own life and wonder if it is making much of a difference. The things we feel are important are important to us and perhaps to a few others. The great humans we know like Gandhi, Saint Francis, and Dag Hammarskjöld ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dag_Hammarskj%C3%B6ld ) were all great because it was evident that they were just trying to do the right thing within the power which their own integrity and personal power were able to provide. And yet we know that Gandhi destroyed his marriage and many family relationships believing that his mission was more important than his friendships and Saint Francis was, well, a little kinda crazy. Wonderful but eccentric would not begin to describe the real man. And Dag, my personal hero led a terribly solitary life as did Merton, my other hero because the people around them were such @^&^%&&#%#s.
It seems to me that one of the great things about how God has designed this life is that no matter how talented or lacking in talent, how hard working or how lazy and narcissistic, how passionate or how dull, how gifted or how simple we happen to become in life, the great goodness of the design seems to be in how we are set off by what is around us.
This bowl of flowers in my favorite massage center is one by which I pass frequently – because I very much like and benefit from massage. I find it an essential part of my spiritual life and far more effective than the average psalm.
The flowers are not that great. They are white and little more than over-sized carnations. But someone – some magical, wonderful, artistic human saint – a janitor it turns out – has chosen to place them in this pottery bowl with the glaze’s hues of celadon greens and bits of red which come from the glaze’s copper and a very hot kiln. And both are set on a silk runner of brown and teal which go so well together. And all of that is set on wood which sets it all off in the most perfect combination of hard and soft, rough and smooth, shiny and mat.
These flowers give me hope. They remind me that it’s not about me and it’s not about those around me either. It’s about us all being here at one time and about how wonderful God must find that combination. Sometimes I wish that I was more than I am or, when i travel outside our island of competence,that the church and its leaders are more than they are able or are willing to be. But in the end, I get comfort in the knowledge that I will rise, work hard, love deeply and make some bit of beauty and then I will go to sleep and that will have been enough.