Living in the Layers

I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray.
When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon

Yet I turn, I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.

“Live in the layers,
not on the litter.”

I am not done with my changes.

~Stanley Kunitz from “The Layers”

…we become whole by having the courage to revisit and embrace all the layers of our lives, denying none of them, so that we’re finally able to say, “Yes, all of this is me, and all of this has helped make me who I am.”

When we get to that point, amazingly, we can look at all the layers together and see the beauty of the whole.
~Parker Palmer from “Embracing All the Layers of Your Life” in On Being

photo by Joel deWaard

My favorite scenes are ones where there are several “layers” to study, whether it is a still life of petals or a deep landscape with a foreground, middle and backdrop. The challenge is to decide where to look first, what to draw into sharp focus, or whether to absorb it all as a whole. In fact, if I only see one aspect, I miss the entire point of the composition. It is wonderfully multi-faceted and multi-layered because that is how life is – complex with subtle nuance and shadings.

If I try to suppress some darker part of my own life I wish to forget and blur out, I ignore the beauty of the contrast with the light that illuminates the rest.

The layers reflect who I was created to be as an image-bearer – complex, nuanced, illuminated in the presence of dark.

Beautifully composed.

Lenten Reflection–Better to be Broken

photo by Josh Scholten

God uses broken things.
It takes broken soil to produce a crop,
broken clouds to give rain,
broken grain to give bread,
broken bread to give strength.
It is the broken alabaster box
that gives forth perfume.
It is Peter,
weeping bitterly,
who returns to
greater power than ever.
Vance Havner

We yearn for perfection,
for flawless and faultless,
unblemished,
aiming for symmetry,
straight and smooth.

Life serves up something
far different
and our eye searches
to find the cracks,
scratches and damage,
whether it is in
a master’s still life portrait
replete with crawling flying insects
and broken blossoms,
or in the not so still life
of our next door neighbor.

In the beginning we were created
unblemished,
image bearers of perfection.
No longer.
We bear witness to brokenness
with shattered lives,
fragile minds and weakening bodies.
It is our leaks and warts
that stand out now.

To restore
the lost relationship with Him,
God provides the glue
needed to heal the broken.

He broke Himself
to mend us,
binding us to Him
forever.

Still Life With Flowers--Jan Huysum

photo by Josh Scholten