11:20 am, June 9, 2009
I got up this morning just in time for breakfast. In the main dining area, they play tapes of sermons and book readings. I chose to eat in the side dining room by myself in silence. As I sat there, a monk, (I presume to be the chaplain), approached me and asked if I was Jonathan. â€œNo,â€ I answered, and he went on his way.
I suppose a better answer would have been, â€œNo, and I never will be.â€ I will never be my brother Jonathan, who mirrored my dad in uncanny ways. I will never be the compassionate evangelist. I will never be liked when people meet me for the first time. Jonathanâ€™s strengths are many of my weaknesses. But I have strengths too. And I must learn to be content with my strengths. Content in not being my brother. Content in not being my father. And I think for the most part, I am. I think I have turned a corner in accepting myself and appreciating myself for who God has made me to be. The more I understand myself, the more I begin to understand what the hell God was thinking when he made me.
I was very encouraged a few weeks ago when God had me reading in Acts 15. Paul and Barnabas were sent from the Council at Jerusalem to deliver a letter to the Gentiles telling them that they did not need to be circumcised. Good news indeed. Along with them, Judas and Silas were sent from Jerusalem to verify the letter and encourage the church. Verse 32 in NET reads, â€œBoth Judas and Silas, who were prophets themselves, encouraged and strengthened the brothers with a long speech.â€
Judas and Silas were men that could be trusted. They were men of truth. They were reliable. And the way that they encouraged and strengthened their brothers wasnâ€™t through hugs and warm words, it was through presence and prose. I read this, and it gives me hope. Hope and comfort that there is a place for me in the body of Christ. That I can be myself and it can actually be beneficial to the body. The best version of myself can reveal hidden compassion and deep inspiration. I find security in this knowledge, and want to continue to explore and hone my strengths and continue to discover how to best use them for Godâ€™s love being made known.
You know… I’ve been thinking more and more about the “be who you are” conversation we’ve had recently. The more I think about it, the more I liken human personalities to the Japanese art of the bonsai tree.
The goal of the gardener/artist is not to create a tree that conforms to his vision. It is the gardener’s goal to allow the tree to take it’s own true form. His only role in the process is to trim away superfluous shoots that detract from what the tree is meant to be.
When I think about that role, as a gardener, I have a hard time really understanding it. How can I know what is not needed if I don’t have a clear picture of what the end goal is supposed to look like? That’s where the art and patience and discipline comes in. I have to learn, not how to bend nature to MY will, but rather how to see what nature’s will is.
The anti-bonsai example would be the Mickey Mouse-shaped topiaries all over Disneyworld.
Enjoy the break!