Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Forming and Shaping

I realized when I posted yesterday's entry that I had ended it, but not finished it. But I wasn't sure at the time what it was that I had left to say, to finish the thought. Thankfully, God gave us SLEEP, blessed wonderful sleep, and this morning I knew what the last thought was. It had to do with being formed and shaped by the obstacles in our lives, and most especially as a friend pointed out, but how we choose to react to those obstacles.

Those of you who encountered me in a previous incarnation know of an image that has been very crucial in my spiritual life. Water plays a huge role in our mythology as Christians, and the words in the blessing over the water used in baptism always make me close my eyes and rest in the rich images:

We thank you, Almighty God, for the gift of water. Over it the Holy Spirit moved in the beginning of creation. Through it you led the children of Israel out of their bondage in Egypt into the land of promise. In it your Son Jesus received the baptism of John and was anointed by the Holy Spirit as the Messiah, the Christ, to lead us, through his death and resurrection, from the bondage of sin into everlasting life.

The encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well created a spark within me, from which a new image of myself grew. I saw the Holy Spirit as a river of this living water, and I saw myself as a stone in that river. River stones are not flashy, glamorous gems; they are gray and brown and tan. They do not have straight lines and regular facets, but are round and lumpy and bumpy. The water of the Spirit, and all of the things that it carries along with it, shapes the stones in the river. The stone may rests on the river's bottom for a time, only to be picked back up by the current and carried downstream. Over many years, its rough edges become smooth, and its corners become round. And when you hold a river stone, it feels soft and round and comfortable; it feels good and right in your hand.

So when I say that I will be a new person in a few years, shaped by the obstacles ahead of me, that is true. But I will still be the stone in the river of the Holy Spirit, washed and sculpted and formed by the God in whom I place myself.