Ever so often I stumble upon truth.
I’m surprised when it happens. Even when it comes during my normally prescribed meeting time with God.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. I always expect truth when something of God is let loose in my life. But it’s when truth comes veiled as a ready response to questions I’ve just posed that I grow still with shock, as if I’ve just been caught with my hand in the cookie jar.
Just a few days ago, I wrote of my tendency to focus more of questions of doing. Not being. For “no matter how much time we devote toward self-knowledge, for now, we must be content to scratch the surface…”
What I didn’t know then, was that an answer I wasn’t looking for would come bounding into my world this morning, set loose long ago by Frederick Buechner’s pen, as it scratched out these few words on paper:
“…I believe that in sibilants life is trying to tell us something. The trees, ghosts, dreams, faces, the waking up and eating and working of life, are trying to tell us something, to take us somewhere. If this is above all a Christ-making universe, then the place where we are being taken is the place where the silk purse in finally made out of the sow’s ear, and the word that life is trying to speak to us is that little by little, squealing and snuffling all the way, a pig either starts turning into at least the first primal porcine version of a hero, or else is put out of his piggish misery. At the heart of reality — who would have guessed it?– there is room for dying and being born again.”
It was Buechner’s use of the phrases “sow’s ear “and “silk purses” that first snagged my attention. For as I acknowledged a few days ago, taking on sow’s ear projects with the hope of turning them into a proverbial silk purse has always been part of who I am.
Buechner scratchings invited me to scratch the surface of my own truth, to see that my doings, my deepest desires, reflect what I most long to become myself. It’s not just the untended gardens or untended houses that I wish to make silk purses. Underneath all the doings, it’s me that wishes to become the silk purse. I want the sow’s ear part of me to die. And like the renewal that comes with Spring and Easter, I wish to be born again as a silk purse.
It’s ironic that today’s prescribed med, from Buechner’s Listen to Your Life, was appropriately titled: Trying to Tell Us Something.
Dee @ Red Dirt Ramblings said:
How intriguing. I’ve never read Buechner. Perhaps I shall.~~Dee
Buechner is one of my favorite authors. He takes me places no one else can. If you decide to try one, I recommend Wishful Thinking — it’s lovely.
I never, ever would pit myself or my opinion against Buechner, but something nagged at me after reading the selection.
Perhaps the deeper truth of creation and redemption is that the entire world has been saved, and that we’re living in a place where the sow’s ear is as important as the silk purse.
That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t strive to be the best little piggie I can be, of course. But transformation of our nature doesn’t have to mean transformation into something else.
Or so it seems to be me. 😉
With Buechner, there’s room in the inn for other interpretations — a quality of good writing I’m learning. I don’t imagine Buechner would be bothered very much by yours. And, of course, nor am I.
As I’ve thought about your comment, and thought more about Buechner’s words, it seems (to me) that we are both sow’s ear and silk purse — more or less, and even depending up the particular snapshot of time.
I certainly am both sow’s ear and silk purse — to the extent I am asleep (and living out of) my false self, I am the former. But where I have waken up to claim my ‘true’ self, that original shimmering self which was created in the image of God, then I am the latter.
The latter is the subject at hand for my final project in my spiritual direction coursework. Who knows that maybe more of this line of thought won’t find its way here…
Thanks for your wondering.
Ah ~ and of course now I see what I missed then, the ear/purse juxtaposition as metaphor for saint/sinner. Not us saints here, them sinners there, but all of us, everyone, saint and sinner mixed up together.
The beauty of that understanding is the way it allows for fluidity – sometimes we’re more of one than the other, and then everything shifts and we surprise ourselves with our capacity for good or evil. It seems to take account of and allow for the tensions in life.
Now that I think about it, it’s almost a theological Occam’s razor – the simplest explanation possible for a complex reality 😉
Well, I’m on a bit of a roll tonight. You might be interested in Courtney’s blog and my comment here. My comment has a couple of bits of family and personal trivia you might find interesting 😉
MY family was harassed by the KKK, too – in a bit of forgotten American history. 😉
I did go look at your comments at Courtney’s — isn’t it interesting that we find so many ways to divide ourselves.
It’s especially ironic in a religion context, when the primary objective — at least in St. John’s mind, was unitive — to become one with God. But then isn’t all of life sacred?
Sinner/saint and sow’s ear/silk — what appears divisive ends up being only the flip sides of a single soul at work. We become whole as we claim our good and our evil — so much of my life has been spent ignoring or trying to bury the latter. Who said that our shadow sides contained 90% gold? Whoever it was, I think he was on to something.