Sunday, August 12, 2012

Ah, Schucks

August 12, 2012

Dear friends,

H-m-m. Now what to say?

After reading Lori’s guest blog, I was, as she anticipated, embarrassed. More seriously, in this culture of political bombast and calculated exaggeration, I was concerned that you might view this exchange writing as an obvious bid on my part to elicit kind things from Lori so that I might do an artful “Ah, shucks,” and further burnish my ‘humble’ image.

However, my sense of humor promptly rescued me from any serious worry about the issue. Anyone who knows me personally and has risked relationship with me knows all too well the limitations with which I live. The ashes of my mistakes and failures, to borrow Lori’s fine phrase, have blown all too frequently into everyone’s eyes for anyone to have illusions of anything other than the flawed ordinary humanness that lies at the core of my unspectacular life.

But the way in which Lori reports the good things that have emerged from our years-long relationship raises an important question. How is it that the plain ordinary practice of simple relational skills has yielded such rich dividends?

I never tire of the story of the little boy who brought his lunch to Jesus—five little barley loaves and two small fish. Such an ordinary lunch—barley loaves paired with two ordinary fish.

In “Just a Housewife” the boy’s mother wonders about that lunch:

           I packed five cakes of bread and two small fishes,
           Sent him off, my youngest lad,
          To take his father’s dinner to the field.

          Came back alone he did, all goggle-eyed.

          My fresh-baked bread that varmint gave away
          To some young travelling preacher out of Galilee.

          It fed five thousand people.
          What a tale!

         It can’t be true. . . but if it is,
        What kind of dough did these hands knead
        This morning?

                                         -Cordelia Baker-Pearce

It was, of course, plain ordinary dough, no magic yeast.

But—and this is the point, that, like the boy’s mother, we often confuse—plain dough placed in His hands was more than enough—five thousand fed, and a great amount left over.

I am deeply blessed, friend Lori, to know that our relationship over the years has blessed you. It has, and continues, to bless me deeply as well.

But I am thinking tonight about the quiet miracle we share. We each bring plain bread that is transformed into more than enough by something other than human skill.

See you next week.


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