Once upon a time, my friend who we’ll call Julian after Julian of Norwich…who totally rocked, by the way, just like my friend who’s name isn’t Julian…except that my friend hasn’t had herself bricked-and-mortared into an unheated cell where she plans to spend the rest of her days entertaining pilgrims from all over the country…was driving down the road minding her own business. A beat up old pickup changed lanes in front of her and she noticed a bumper sticker on its tailgate reading, “Born Broken. Watch for Finger.”
We’ve just come to the end of an intense Lenten season, so Jules had brokenness on the brain despite a truly rousing resurrection rendition of “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” on Easter Sunday, replete with trumpets and timpani and choir and about six hundred people we haven’t seen in the sanctuary since Christmas. So when Jules saw that bumper sticker, she thought, “Wow. That’s so true. We are all born broken.”
The bit about the finger puzzled her, though. By the time she and the pickup driver came to a red light, she had something like this in mind:
When she got close enough to really look at the bumper sticker, however, she realized that it actually said, “HORN Broken. Watch for Finger.”
I won’t illustrate that one for you.
Suffice to say, Jules got a good laugh out of it and I got the idea for this week’s blog. Thank you, Jules – you know who you are!
In matters of faith, as in other parts of our lives, we often get out of it what we put into it. This is probably why last Easter when I was wallowing in paroxysms of work despair, “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” annoyed the hell out of me, but this year it reduced me to tears. (Of course, that could also be attributable to the three term papers that were due shortly after Easter weekend.)
And while I don’t mean to suggest that we’re redeemed by works and not by divine grace, I do think a certain attitudinal orientation helps as we navigate the rocky shoals of faith and religious practice. I can’t think of a better way to describe this attitude than “Watch for Finger.”
God’s signature is all around us. I won’t bore you with a litany of where you can read it – although if you’re having trouble, I advise you to park your butt somewhere with trees and grass, turn off your iPhone, and listen to the birds for twenty minutes. What I will say is that God’s hands are all over the natural world, and within the weather, and in inspired works of art and music and literature, and upon marvels of science and medicine. For me, these are the “no duhs” of God’s presence. But, if we really want to appreciate the omnipresence of God, we need to learn to see where God leaves fingerprints.
I’m not even talking about life’s happy little surprises, like finding a quarter in the parking lot or having just enough fumes in your gas tank to lurch up to the pump. No, what I’m thinking of are things that are so much a part of our everyday lives, we don’t pay them any attention at all, let alone consider them “blessings.” Lunch time. Hot water on demand. Funny messages on Facebook. High-speed Internet access. Wrinkle-free fabrics. Climate-controlled office buildings.
I’m certainly not saying we should all go around hollering “Praise you Jesus!” every time the lights come on when we hit the switch or when we score a two-for-one on Red Bull at 7-11. What I am talking about cultivating a mindful approach to the daily, the ordinary, the boring blessings that, cumulatively, could be the spiritual equivalent of the Butterfly Effect.
Good ol’ Julian of Norwich, the late medieval English mystic and eternal optimist, gets the last word this week:
“See that I am God. See that I am in everything. See that I do everything. See that I have never stopped ordering my works, nor ever shall, eternally. See that I lead everything on to the conclusion I ordained for it before time began, by the same power, wisdom and love with which I made it. How can anything be amiss?”
Don’t worry about being born broken. Get out of life what you put in. Wear your seatbelt and signal when you turn. Watch for the finger. All will be well.
© Marian the Seminarian, 2012