Yesterday on my afternoon walk, I saw that the city came through and cut down all the trees along Main Street that I had only noticed two days ago were "marked." They'd already chipped most of the wood, but lying by a stump was a little piece they'd missed - flat on two sides where it was cut, beautiful bark left intact on the third side that sort of slants up toward the top. The face is an elongated half-circle with these beautiful tree rings, orange accents, and a slightly uneven surface where the saw left little lines of varying depths.
It's an artist's dream to find such a piece of wood, so yes. I picked it up. Unsure what to do with it, but picked it up nonetheless. Two weeks ago, I watched the trash truck in front of me put an old rocking chair in its back end that I KNEW I could have done something with if I'd only been in FRONT of the truck instead of behind it. I wasn't going to let that happen with this piece of wood.
So I'm walking home holding this, and my mother looks at it and says, "What are you gonna do?" I don't know, I told her. For now, just hold it. "It would make a really cool clock."
She's right. It would. And I might.
But later that evening...
She changed her mind. "You know what would look really awesome? Just do a simple wood cross and attach it to the front there. You know, just a basic cross. It would look really sharp."
Ok. Now, I am the only church-going Christian in my family, though other members have dabbled at times or another and consider themselves at varying levels of the faith ladder. But for the most part, they also try to be supportive of me in my endeavors. Christ is good in me; I think they see that. However, this doesn't mean that they really understand Christ or my faith or anything that goes along with it. If they were more interested in hearing, I'd try to talk it out, but they are supportive of this idea they think I have of this idea of God, and that's a victory. Trust me.
(Do I need to tell the story of my late father getting me kicked out of the only two church services I convinced him to take me to as a child?)
They just don't get it. So they think that everything I have and everything I do and everything I buy should be a cross. Last fall, I looked at my mother and told her I was heading to the mall to shop for a necklace. I had an idea of my God in my head and the precious jewels of a Father, and He was putting it on my heart to hang a necklace around me. A special something between me and Him. But I wanted to make sure I got the right one, that it fit what God was putting in me. Mom, on the other hand, spent weeks pointing out only the cross necklaces. This one's pretty. Oooh, look at this one. That is a beautiful cross. I kept telling her, yes it is, but I do not want a cross. She was dumbfounded. Flabbergasted. Completely lost. And then proceeded to hound me with questions about why I wouldn't want a cross (I hadn't told her why I wanted a necklace in this first place; the jewelry in itself was a development. I'm kind of a simple girl.). She just kept looking at me like I was losing my faith.
Christ in me, though...He goes beyond the cross. It's easy to get caught in the crosshairs. To get cross fever, if you will. I went through that phase. The cross, though - it's just an icon. The love is what's got hold of me. The thing is...if you surround yourself with icons, even in the most noble or most devout religious sense, those icons can become your idol. Then you're worshiping the cross and forgetting to live for and with the Man who died on it.
A cross here or there; it reminds me. It points me toward my Father, not toward the cross. And there are times, yes, it means indescribably more to me than I could ever come close to explaining. But I will not use the cross to define me as a Christian, to show the world that I'm a believer, to wear my Christian-ness. It doesn't have to be everything I do.
Because let's not forget this: the cross doesn't tell you one thing about me or my faith or my relationship with my God. It tells you entirely about God's sacrifice, which is so far beyond me. What I can do that shows you Christ is to live Him. So I'm doing that.
And I may turn that hunk of wood into a clock after all. I've been wanting a shelf clock for awhile...