on a day crammed into the fourth grade, i offended my friend kari with some opinion or other. back then, much like now, i didn't much care when i offended someone by saying something i sincerely meant. but kari was a loyal, occasionally cute and always eager to please sidekick, so i apologized and tried to make it up to her.
a couple of days later, at one of those tacky school carnivals that are designed to snake money from babes, kari went over to the "jewelry" booth, picked out a lime green foot charm and had the shaky handed merchant engrave "to jeff: the foot in the mouth award," right down the arch. although i was a little shaky on my metaphors at the time, when kari awarded me with the trinket i knew enough to be incredibly embarrassed. with a two dollar shard she cut to my greatest contradiction.
when people read about God's questionable decision to "create man in His own image" i'm sure the story resonates with them in any number of ways. undoubtedly some see this part of the story as a proof text for yet another pro-life pronouncement, others see it as an endowment of rationality, still others consider it the initial spark of our species' creativity. but when i read it, or at least when i've read it lately, i hear in this text a connection between the God who speaks creation into being and my calling to somehow create with the written and spoken word.
some days i believe, sense, suspect that the kol YHWH or breath of God is coursing through me as i encourage a friend, convince a store manager that she can transform a life by offering my client an entry-level job or, in a stammering and stuttering way, attempt to explain to the pixie what her love and partnership means to me. however, on the other days that are most days, i realize that my mouth is a loose canon that has splintered many a foredeck of friend or foe and, far too often, has misfired, malfunctioned and damn near destroyed its operator.
it seems to me that these gifts that we have been given - to create with our words, to shape with our hands, to unravel the infinite mysteries of the cosmos with our minds - are a blessed curse that are more likely to destroy us than they are to inspire our creativity. for this reason, as i ponder the likelihood of becoming a full-time shill for a fragile non-profit and/or an untraceable God, i am terrified. i fear, that at the end of a life invested in such a manner, i will speak more death than life into being and, as a result, will be pinned with a pendant similar in type, if not in gravity, to the one kari awarded so long ago.
and yet, i am determined to stumble forth. for even in the midst of my terror, i have just enough trust in the Spirit and faith in intangible grace, to continue on the path set before me.
A Poem for National Poetry Day
3 weeks ago