Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Holes in my T-shirt

Recently I read a blog (http://vivmabuni.wordpress.com/2011/09/12/naming-t-shirts/) about what she calls ‘quirky’ and what I call ‘ingenious’ idea of giving people ‘soul’ T-shirts, with inscriptions that capture that person’s personality trait or life situation. Of course, unlike Viv, the kindhearted person that she is, most of us wouldn’t even dream of posting on a public blog some of the things spelled out on the soul T-shirts we give out to other people (and this - not saying it - is a good thing!) . The idea of giving away the soul T-shirts, practiced by many whether we acknowledge it or not, jump-started me into thinking about what kind of soul T-shirt do I wear. In my characteristically modest way, I would say that on the front of my shirt, in bold ALL CAPS cool font, a single word is spelled out:

HUMBLE

The back of the shirt would sport all lowercase, less conspicuous

brag

The Humble Brag.

I’ve stolen the nifty descriptive phrase from the Urban Dictionary. The reason why it caught my attention was that I was seeing the wide-spread epidemic of the defined behavior all around me – on FB, on blogs, in the paper… Finally, in the spirit of the speck and the log (check out Matthew 7:3) it dawned on me that the whole world couldn’t be going crazy – it must be ME! And, sure enough, so it was! What a relief!

I was quite amazed by how easy it was for me to spell out what my soul T-shirt says on the outside. But, then, I sensed that there was a message on the inside of my soul T-shirt, written with the invisible ink, that nobody can see…. So, as is my habit, I started a dialogue with the Nobody….

So, whatcha think…. What does the INSIDE of my soul T-shirt say?

You know it…

I do???

A-ha…

Really? You kiddin’ me… I have no clue…

Sure you do. It’s scribbled all over, right next to those moth-eaten holes that Nobody sees….

Moth-eaten holes… this is going too far! My soul doesn’t have any moth-eaten holes!!!

….

Or… does it?


So, while Nobody is looking, I flip my soul T-shirt inside out and to my amazement, I see, with my own handwriting, messages that Nobody can see.

You are not enough… You are not enough… You are not enough… You are not enough….
The ‘You’ clearly referring to Nobody.

And next to the words, for the first time in my life I see some huge, some tiny holes… each one bearing the shape of particular discontentment with life and circumstances, my family and myself… The times when my situation seemed either too big or too small for God to care about and consequently just having Him in my life simply wasn’t good enough… Having Him wasn’t quite sufficient, for it was OBVIOUS that I MUST have this thing or that, approval from this one, and a FB like from another, a perfectly harmonious marriage, and equally perfectly respectful kids ALL THE TIME. The times when my intense desire, my craving – my coveting - for something notably beautiful, and good, and right punctured a hole on the inside of my soul’s T-shirt and made me forget who it is that made me, who counts the bones in my body, the freckles on my face and the hairs on my head.

A single peek on the inside and I am sobered by the fact that what really matters in my soul’s T-shirt is what Nobody sees.


And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. Hebrews 4:13

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Meet Gorge

It wouldn’t have been as much of a surprise, if for the past five years my children haven’t been listening to my daily mantra,

We need to simplify! And …

Less is more! And …

The more you own, the more it owns you!
, and so on and so forth.

Mission Simplify affected every area of our lives. Every new acquiring of possessions carefully evaluated, every new commitment brutally examined. I became a Don Quixote battling the tidal wave of physical as well as mental clutter and distractions.

So, when I learned that a friend is looking for a new home to their guinea pig, I was the one most surprised to even crack the door of consideration open. I know that owning an animal is a responsibility and represents dedicating extra time and work to their care. Even our children know this and consequently haven’t pushed the pet issue too much. Our daughter’s insatiable need for nurturing critters has been satisfied through occasional dog-sitting opportunities and by adopting lizards, frogs and snails in our back yard.

When I tentatively mentioned the guinea pig to my husband, his immediate response was,

Are you crazy?!!!

I saw no need for him to bring up the fact already agreed upon by everyone that knows me. However, I took it as a cue and I decided not to raise the subject of the guinea pig again.

In the days and weeks that followed I resisted the nagging thoughts about the rodent as temptations to sidetrack me from what I really need to do – get rid of more stuff, not add to the pile. I argued with myself that if he had a tail, I would call an exterminator. If I lived in Peru, I would serve him to my children for supper in a stew. No need to get all misty-eyed and emotional.

Then, after several weeks have gone by, I learned that George is still waiting for a new family to adopt him. And, it just so happened that I needed to go to George’s family home one day that week. Of course, being under the same roof, I had to ask if I could see him.

I never should have asked, for the moment I saw him, I fell in love with him. I knew he belonged to us.

After spending a sleepless night, I piled up the kids into the car the next morning and drove to pick him up. The kids couldn’t believe it. They still can’t believe we have a pet of our own. A new member of our family. The youngest, as our daughter likes to emphasize, member of the family. She walks around the house, talking to herself, asking her brother,

Can you believe that we have our own pet?!!! And he is soooo cute!

After a few days of sheer wonder, she finally broke down under the weight of the paradoxical nature of her mother’s recent actions and asked,

Mom… Why did you decide to adopt Gorge? Why did you choose to bring him home?


I mulled the question over for a while. I thought about how bringing a new living creature under your roof is work, and a responsibility, and a mess, and an expense, and an adjustment of schedules and priorities. We even had to rearrange the furniture in several rooms in our house, in order to accommodate Gorge’s cage.

But, it is also a way, small as it may be, to affirm life in the world where evening news are dominated by stories of death; to celebrate joy in the world overwhelmed by narrative of gloom and depression… A seemingly insignificant, yet living way to feel and touch and hold God’s love towards His creation embodied in the furry ball called Gorge.

Hon, I … I just wanted you… I wanted US,
I corrected myself, I wanted us to get to experience God’s love for us… in a way we never could have… without bringing Gorge into our family.