Every once and a while I dump whatever bag I am carrying at the time and imagine what story the contents might tell someone about who I am…
SparkCharts Advanced Spanish vocabulary/Idioms; orange Rhodia notebook/journal; My Life with the Saints by James Martin; second notebook full of notes and copied out Spanish vocabulary; new pair of shoes, purchased today; rain coat; Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone…in Spanish; Mary Oliver’s House of Light; three pens–shades of blue, all fine point; my father’s hanky folded into a neat square; spearmint gum; three bandaids; small pouch of change; wallet; keys; brochure from yesterday’s trip to the WTC museum; chapstick; a small piece of hematite; a postcard from a friend; eyedrops; ibuprofen; a twisty; a straw; a napkin; a ziploc with some pretzels; the draft of a friend’s children’s book.
Nothing out of the ordinary, but all uniquely significant to me. That’s the way it is, isn’t it? Seemingly common place elements that combine to represent ME. I look at it all making a picture together and can say yep, that’s me-stuff. That combination is a bit of revelation about who I am in the universe…and therefore too, a window into a unique aspect of God. I would know if something is out of place…heels, for example, or a pack of cigarettes. Those who know me would recognize that too. I find that rather comforting.
It reminds me of a story from earlier this year. Once, two kids who were working on the Middle School newspaper came up to me asking for a unique skill or ability or experience I had that would surprise other students. They were asking a group of us and setting up a guess who matching game in part of the paper. As I stood there and thought, one of them said “You know, you’re going to be easy…anything you’d say would fit you and it would be easy to see because you…well, you’re so YOU.” “I’m predictable, then?” “No…,” she said, “We’d know what you didn’t do but nothing you did do would surprise us!”
My fervent wish is that they come to hear and experience more stories of the beautiful ordinary of people’s lives and begin to say the same about God. “We’d know what you didn’t do…”–discernment— “But nothing you did do would surprise us”–with God, all things are possible.