Signs of Life

I thought of another smell I love: fresh-turned earth.

This morning I woke up stiff, with both arms as sore as they had been when I went to bed. Groaning and slowly inching upward, I tallied off the causes of my aches: five hours gardening, several animated rounds of Wii baseball and golf and swordplay, and a shirt with elbow-length sleeves that were too tight at the ends which may or may not have partially inhibited my circulation.

But I won’t complain for these aches. They mean I’ve accomplished something. A bonus of being at home so much now means I can actually take better care of myself. I don’t worry about my physical state because of how it affects my appearance so much as how it affects my ability to be useful.

As I told Gram the other day while she was lightly grumping about my persistence to be perky, my goal this year was to say “yes” to more things and “no” to less. “Yes” to tomatoes and mushrooms and social activities and missions giving. “Yes” to quitting my job and finishing my book and looking after Gram. “Yes” to a smaller room because I get to be creative with space. “Yes” to a punching bag and a yoga mat and planks and running despite the weather. (Okay, some of those I’ve yet to get to, but they’re on the list.)

All of those things come with aches and fatigue and sweat. But I’m learning to be okay with that. To go with the flow and not resist means dullness and cramped quarters and stuffiness. That isn’t living. To achieve anything, there has to be a defiance of the way things are. To be the person I hope to become, I have to start now, not when the conditions are optimal. They may never be optimal.

My Bible study group was talking about how we all want to be closer to God so we can better do more for Him. It was pointed out that nothing good comes without a little pain and difficulty. In my mind, if the world thinks I’m crazy and life is fighting to quell my enthusiasm, it means I’m on the right track. People didn’t accept Jesus. People didn’t welcome the apostles’ teaching. People don’t keep quiet to men and women of God who refuse to condone what God has clearly said is wrong. There were and are beatings and scoffing and stiff necks and ungodly laws. But the definition of “Christian” is not a fluffy person who loves everyone and turns a blind eye to darkness. “Christian” means “Christ-like.”

We aren’t supposed to fit in. We aren’t supposed to conform. We are not of this world. God didn’t fashion us to blend into it.

One thing you’ll quickly learn about me is that I love the illustration of light versus darkness. I can’t get over it. This new example struck me the other day:

We are all frames. Some wood, some metal, some plastic. All shaped differently. All with gaping holes that we try to fill with baubles and material and glass. Beneath all of that is the same darkness we can’t escape.

Then a light comes. It shows us the chains that hold us captive to the earth. Some of us crave that light. It is offered to all, but many refuse. By the light, our meager decorations are removed, our frames polished and sanded and cleaned off. Our chains are broken and we are hung up, still in the darkness but not a part of it. Then mirrors are fitted inside, to fill the emptiness. The glass can’t be removed, but it is our duty to keep it clean.

I want to be a mirror so polished, so angled toward the Light, that I blind the world with it. People won’t like it. They’ll squint or cover their eyes or try to throw cloths over me to put out the light. I can submit to save myself and prevent them from shattering the glass. But I’ve seen something about mirrors that are shattered: they have more surfaces off of which to reflect light.

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