04 November 2005

This weekend I re-read a poem by Wendell Berry that I come back round to every so often ... inviting it to “do it's truth” on me in the way only good poetry can.

A Warning To My Readers

From A Part (1980)

Do not think me gentle

because I speak in praise

of gentleness, or elegant

because I honor the grace

that keeps this world. I am

a man crude as any,

gross of speech, intolerant,

stubborn, angry, full

of fits and furies. That I

may have spoken well

at times, is not natural.

A wonder is what it is.

When I read Wendell's words, I see myself. No, I don't think I'm a phony, a poser, or a spiritual chameleon — conveniently changing colors to blend into my circumstances, or nefariously character-shifting to fit whatever the flavor of my current companions.

But I do know that I'm not as consistently Christ-like as I want to be. And I have a feeling that 'fessing up to that reality might be the first step towards greater congruity of where I am and where I want to be.

I've never met Wendell, but I'd like to. He lives on a hillside farm in Henry County, Kentucky, upside the Kentucky River, and he sounds like a man whose human paradoxes are humbly and honestly admitted, not awkwardly and ashamedly hidden.

All of us are in the “process of becoming” and because of this reality, both who and what we are in any one given instant cannot accurately or ultimately define us. But just as an acorn falls from it's parent-branches, nestles into the ground, takes root, pushes up through the soil and reaches its first leaf skyward ... so too, you and I can move from one phase of life to another knowing that as we continue to press into Jesus, we are maturing toward greater Christ-likeness.

And so as we nestle into the ground of whatever "new beginnings" are part of our story, let’s hang into Jesus and take root in the stability of His Word. And as we courageously push up through the soil of suffering and adversity, let’s live into God's dreams for our lives.

That we all can change when partnered with God … it's not natural. A wonder is what it is. Godspeed.



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