As I emerge from Laity Lodge this weekend, I share this with you ... Betty Ann stands before us, congregation of bric-a-brac denomination, she with eighty-three years of stitched together patchwork grace, telling us what it has been to journey a life hid in Christ. She speaks of breaking down dogmatic walls, of stretching, of leaning hard into the God of Mystery. Eventually, she circles around to the entrenched thesis: "A psychiatrist about thirty years ago was up here at the camp. He looked at me and said, 'Betty Ann, someday you're going to be that person you most hope to be all the time.'"
She speaks of seeing herself, a few years later, standing in front of a mirror and liking what she saw. Grace. Wisdom. Gentleness. Now not wish but will, ordinary moments of being.
I drink this in, this sacrament of someday, this promise, because when I hear her speak, I know Betty Ann speaks Christ to me. Someday, I too, someday.
"What is it you want God to answer in the next few days?"
Lauren Winner sits with me in the small room off the side of the library. We have spoken of bread making and table building. We have laughed. She has more than once pointed the convicting knife of the Holy Ghost toward my heart.
"How to be a person." I eventually murmur this, surprised. "Between book, blog, Kickstarter, and all. How do I be a person?"
It comes to me later, hours later, when I'm on my knees in the ceramics studio that only I have opened, cleaning up spilled red water, burnt umber from the young earthenware clay. As I sop up with a sponge the burning flames of burning bush, where Moses asked, "Who am I?" I come circling back to myself and see. I am this person, this person who kneels and sops up spilt clay water. This is me.
I am also snarky. Sarcastic. It is likely that if I love you dearly, I've thought some ugly things about you when you frustrate me. I'm short with my words, have a wit to wound by a half. This is the other pole of who I am, this is the person that I most easily find myself being, though it leaves me exhausted, annoyed, frustrated.
I am also this other person, this person who kneels, this person who found himself saving a spider and in my spirit apologizing to it---ridiculously!---for the Fall of Man that should turn it to biting and stinging and to be killed. I am also this person. I am this person that would, along with Ann Voskamp, hold out an open palm and say, "I am a seed in the hand of God." This is the person that leaves me exhausted from joy, content in ordinary grace. This is the person I want to be more often than not.
But I have let myself slip more away from holding out my hand and seeing myself as seed, because it is easier to sit in the snark, in the sarcasm. I long for earnestness, to show this part of myself that meets God in the kneading of bread. I long for this person to not show in glimpses and moments, but in consistency, in will and not wish.
Someday. This is the sacrament. Someday.
On Sunday, Lauren makes the X over the bread and wine, "unto us the Body and Blood," we cross ourselves, we line ourselves, we wait. When I come forward to receive, it is Betty Ann who holds out the bread as I cross myself, put right hand over left.
"Preston, this is the Body of Christ, broken for you." She places Him into my hand, and I resound, "Amen," again and again throughout my being. Amen, amen, amen. Someday, full of grace consistently; someday. For now, this moment, again, when I take Body broken for me, kneel on the floor of the ceramics studio, apologize to the spider, and await the Bridegroom off in the fields of the gentle labors.
[caption id="attachment_2690" align="aligncenter" width="491" caption="May I brag here? This is how Lauren Winner and I discuss my academic future: on the back of a golf cart, eating pork ribs."][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_2691" align="aligncenter" width="502" caption="And here is what Lauren decided. Apparently, I might be seeing her the year after St. Andrews. (It says, "P.S. See you at Duke")"][/caption]
And this, friends, is simply a bit of imperfect prose.