February 26, 2010 § 2 Comments
I have a pen pal in Texas. She’s 76 years old and works two days a week in the Watters & Watters swatch department. Somehow, through a jumbled correspondence born of wordy swatch requests and handwritten post-it replies, Onsei and I have become the sort of friends who exchange photographs, cards, encouragement, and prayers. She writes in hesitant English, I pepper my notes with emoticons, and somehow, we connect. Our friendship is one of my very favorite things.
When Vanessa, a member of the Watters design team, was in our store last weekend, she knew all about my pen palling ways. She was also surprised to learn that I had no idea that Onsei was mother to the owner of the company. Turns out I have a pen pal in high places. I told her that I never read a note from Onsei without getting all teary, that I look forward to getting swatches like a kid waits for Christmas, that Onsei is a huge inspiration for me. She laughed and told me they love her too.
We live in a funny world, a world that is sometimes cold, often lonely, and usually rather obviously beyond our control. We can do only the smallest things, in our bumbling little ways, and watch for the magic to happen. But sometimes we can send love via fax and have it return to us on a post-it. Sometimes the tiniest points of light can be linked together and something unexpected and beautiful becomes visible. I love that. It breaks my heart.
February 17, 2010 § 2 Comments
I think when I left church this evening, it was probably with the same neat little cross of ash I saw on the foreheads of everyone else in the room. However, by the time I made it home, I’d managed to smear that tiny cross into an ugly black mess, one that invaded the borders of my hairline and dusted the end of my eyebrow. I caught my reflection in the mirror and was genuinely startled by my appearance.
Kyle and I had the privilege of having “dinner” tonight with Lena, who is fairly new to our home community. We initiated her, in our subtle little way, by telling her the no-holds-barred gorymessysinful stories of our lives. To her credit, she didn’t even flinch, despite the fact that Kyle and I can both be uncomfortably transparent about our sordid pasts. She’s a keeper, that one.
It certainly wasn’t the first time I’d told my story to someone who is practically a stranger, but it was the first time I’d told it on Ash Wednesday, with a physical mark on my face to remind me of my sin. When I got home and caught sight of myself in the mirror, it occurred to me that I often feel like this is what God should see when He looks at me: a fairly normal girl with a giant black smudge on her forehead, marking her squarely and publicly with darkness, with failure, with regret. As I washed off the mark and the makeup, I thought about how even without that mark, I was still seeing and judging my whole life when I considered my face. I look in the mirror and see acne scars, or the beginnings of wrinkles, or the circles under my eyes. I find the flaws and imperfections and I fixate on them. I convince myself that they are all anyone can see.
Here’s the point: I’m an idiot. Because when God looks at me, considers me, He doesn’t see black marks or sin or scars or circles. When God looks at me, what He sees is Jesus. He sees me forgiven, and holy, and whole, because He sent His son to bridge the gap, reverse the ugly, and take my place. No matter how many times I’m reminded, I forget it over and over and over again. He sees Jesus. Isn’t that the most beautiful thing you’ve ever heard?
And now this old chorus is stuck in my head:
White as snow, white as snow
Though my sins were as scarlet
Lord I know, Lord I know
That I’m clean and forgiven
Through the power of your blood
Through the wonder of your love
Through faith in you I know that I can be
White as snow