Here is the mystery, the secret, one might almost say the cunning, of the deep love of God: that it is bound to draw on to itself the hatred and pain and shame and anger and bitterness and rejection of the world, but to draw all those things on to itself is precisely the means, chosen from all eternity by the generous, loving God, by which to rid his world of the evils which have resulted from human abuse of God-given freedom.
~N.T. Wright from The Crown and the Fire
Inundated by overwhelmingly bad news of the world,
blasted 24/7 from cable TV,
highlighted in rapidly changing headlines online,
tweeted real time to our pocket phones from every nook and cranny~
We cling to the mystery of His magnetism for our weaknesses and flaws.
He willingly pulls our evil onto Himself and out of us.
Hatred and pain and shame and anger and bitterness
disappear into the vortex of His love and beauty,
the dusty corners of our hearts vacuumed spotless.
We are let in on a secret, the mystery revealed:
He is not sullied by absorbing the dirty messes of our lives.
Instead, once we are safely within His depths, He washes us forever clean.
With what deep thirst
we quicken our desires
to that rank odor of a passing springtime!
Must you taste everything? Must you know everything?
Must you have a part in everything?
~William Carlos Williams from “Smell”
I realize I am not so different than my dogs rolling happily in the stinkiest thing they can find – I want to taste and know and be part of everything whether it is good or not:
I tend to douse myself with whatever I wish to carry with me through the rest of my days, even if smelling like something just died repels others.
Maybe, like my dogs, it is to conceal who I really am.
Maybe, like my dogs, I would rather fit in with the barnyard than a palace.
Or maybe, just like my dogs, I simply like getting down and dirty and too proud of it.
Human nature being what it is — the desire to blend in with the world’s sordid and sin-ridden surroundings — this is why I, like my dogs, am in constant need of a good bathing.
It would be best to smell like that rank odor of too-swiftly passing springtimes – we all need a renewal and reminder of our rebirth rather than immersion in the stench of death.
May I, like my dogs,
recognize I must be cleansed –
again and again and again.
We do not want merely to see beauty…
we want something else which can hardly be put into words-
to be united with the beauty we see,
to pass into it,
to receive it into ourselves,
to bathe in it,
to become part of it.
~C.S. Lewis from The Weight of Glory
Each day brings headlines that tear at us, pull us down and rub us into the mud. We are grimy by association, sullied and smeared.
Yet in our state of disgrace, Beauty is offered up to us.
In His last act with those He loved, Jesus shared Himself through a communal meal,
then washed and toweled their dirty feet clean, immersing them, despite their protests, in all that is beautiful and clean.
He took on and wore their grime.
It is now our turn to wash away the dirt from whoever is in need. He showed us how.
You can change the world with a hot bath,
if you sink into it from a place of knowing
you are worth profound care,
even when you are dirty and rattled.
~Anne Lamott from Small Victories