Friday, January 28, 2011
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
These words that surprise us, that begin their unsettling, stir-the-pot work in us - these are words that ask more of us than to simply smile in recognition, and shake our heads at the vagaries of human willfulness. These words do their work in us when we let the surprise work its way from our heads and hearts to our hands and feet. This is the power of words, of The Word in us - we find ourselves living life differently, living life newly, living life for Jesus' sake. And for that to happen, those words must shinny on down into that place where bone and marrow meet. And there are - of course! - some old-fashioned, often hackneyed words that tell us that part of the story, too. Words like: conversion, repentance, obedience. Because, you see, we are continual works in progress; we are ever pilgrims on the way; we are always “being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory.” (2 Corinthians 3:18) And that remarkable transformation begins with...words...The pictures accompanying this brief essay were selected because of the gift of surprising beauty they represent. It had been a long, tiring day - much of it fun and meaningful - but...tiring, nonetheless. My almost 90-year-old mom is slowly getting smaller and frailer and somehow less of herself and we had spent the day together - eating lunch, redecorating her tiny apartment (at least in our heads!), seeing a remarkable movie ("The King's Speech") and talking about the pain and loss of the last few years since my dad's and brother's deaths. She had given me a gift card for Christmas - to a department store that is near her home, which is 115 miles south of mine. So I stopped there on my way back to see what I could find. It was almost 5:00 p.m and getting dark in the southern California sky and I spent the next 30 minutes finding some t-shirts on sale and one really pretty new skirt. I came out, bag in hand, even more tired than when I went in. And lo and behold - there was this sky. Right there in the middle of rush hour traffic in busy eastern Los Angeles county, surrounded by parking lot lights and screeching cars: glorious, beautiful SURPRISE. I grabbed my Canon 20D and behaved like a 10 year old at the county fair for the next 10 minutes or so. Transformed, you see. Transformed from a tired sixty-something, worried daughter of an aging mother to a jubilant, grateful, worshipful daughter of an Almighty and surprising God. I think that's my word for 2011: surprise! It's a great one!