Monday, June 3, 2013

Musings: Ode to the Desert Plant Lady

As I was praying today my eyes were drawn to this small olive wood statue that sits on my desk, and my thoughts went to how Mary nurtured Jesus as a baby. That led me down a path of reflection on the holy things that we should nurture in our lives, which ended in contemplating how some of our relationships have a special quality about them that one could call "holy" even if the friendship isn't based on a common belief in God.

I'm not talking about people that we know well - family members, people we've known forever, etc. Those are by nature "holy": special, deep, complex. The relationships that my thoughts led to are those with people that we really don't know that well, but that we feel a special bond with. We want to seek them out; we want to NURTURE the relationship rather than letting it drift away.

One such person recently emailed me after reading my blog. She is someone who I've only spent a total of maybe 10 hours with, but oddly, I had been thinking a lot about her and her husband in the past several months. They lived in our town when we first moved here, and then moved to Chile fairly soon after (not exactly a quick drive away!).

I might think that this relationship is special to me because she and I both love desert plants, but I know other people who do and I have no sense of wanting to nurture my relationships with them. I might think that it's because we both came from rural areas in California, but again, I know many people with that same background whom I wouldn't seek out. Who knows what the mystery ingredient is....but the key word is "mystery". That's a fundamental characteristic of holiness (at least from my perspective). God is mysterious, and all that is touched by Him has some of that mystery embedded in it, that element that you can't access through your head, only through your heart.

The goal is to have a heart sensitive to those gentle tuggings, those calls to nurture the less obvious things, the seemingly small things. Mary nurtured Jesus when he was a newborn, when he was a toddler - when he was small and unremarkable in the eyes of others, easily dismissed as "just another baby". What must it have been like for her to look at him and know that God The Creator had taken on flesh in the form of her son - this helpless baby in her arms.

As C.S. Lewis reminded us in "The Weight of Glory", if we could see each other as the immortal creatures that we truly are, we would be tempted to fall down and worship each other. What splendor is veiled in ordinary things! And this goes for certain relationships - ones that have in some way been touched by the God of mystery for our benefit. Let us not fail to nurture the treasures that have been granted us.

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