Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Center of the Universe/Bloom Where...?

We’ve made an amazing discovery at our house about the Center of the Universe.

Several years ago on one of my trips to Africa, my dear friend Ato gave me a leather & snakeskin rug. It is one of my favorite possessions, because it reminds me of a place I found happiness and purpose. The rug’s design is one of concentric circles, leading to a center medallion.

Moving in with David presented many challenges, particularly with merging my belongings in with his. It has taken weeks to sort through the boxes of our things and determine what to place where. Additionally, we share our home with three furbabies: a black Lab named Scarlett, and two Snowshoe Siamese cats named Zeepers and Lil’ Jazz.

Our house has a small central hallway/room, about 8’ square. In its earlier years, this room was where that new-fangled communication device called “the telephone” was located. I know this because of the special shelf built into this room. Anyway, from this little central room, you can enter the living room, the bathroom, or either bedroom. When you stand in this room, you can also see into the dining room, the breakfast room, and outside to the deck. It’s the center of the house.

I unpacked the African rug, and wandered from room to room, trying to determine the best location to use it. In times past, I’ve used it as a bed coverlet and (briefly) a wall-hanging – but it’s best purpose is as a rug. I stood in the hallway, looking at the rest of the house – then realized that the absolute best place for that rug would be in that tiny room. Spread out on the floor, the rug fit nearly perfectly.

Zeepers is a huge tomcat, he makes his presence known just walking through the room on his enormous paws. He is regal-looking with his creamy fur blending into deep chocolate points on his legs, tail, and face. His white paws stand out, illustrating that the term “snowshoe” is appropriate for his breed. Perhaps the most striking feature are his deep sapphire-blue eyes.

If you were to ask him who was the owner of our house, I am positive that Zeepers would yawn, stretch, blink his eyes, and respond, “Ah Grasshopper, need you even ask? Bring me some tuna!”

About two days after I placed the African rug on the floor, Zeepers claimed it as his domain. Daily, he saunters from his bed into the hallway. Carefully, he steps onto the rug, looking around at his domain. He’ll circle the rug a time or two, then move to the exact center. From this vantage point, Zeepers spends the majority of the day. He stretches out and snoozes. He bathes himself fastidiously. He observes the comings and goings of all “His People” right from his favorite spot – now known as The Center Of The Universe. From that spot, Zeepers sees all, governs all, rules all, owns all!

Well…at least HE thinks so!

My new “good habit” is to get up early & walk, before the day heats up. I have developed a little route through the neighborhood, circling several blocks. I haven’t driven it to see exactly how far I’m walking, but hey ANY exercise is better than none, right?

Anyway, I enjoy my walk, partly because of the solitude. It gives me a chance to think or pray or meditate. God often speaks to me through nature, and I look forward to the chance to hear His voice.

I live in a mill village. Most of the homes are neat, with trimly mowed yards and colorful flowers. Some yards have fences surrounding them. One can track my progress from afar by whose dog is barking as I pass!

I’ve been thinking a great deal about my next visit to Ghana, coming up in a couple of weeks. This is my 6th journey, and it’s like returning to my second home now. As I walked this morning, I was remembering my earlier trips. When I first began traveling to Ghana, I ran into some opposition from time to time. While my parents & sister were supportive (and continue to be so), other family members were less than enthusiastic. More than one friend or relative would sort of sniff and say, “Bloom where you are planted. You do not need to go far away to find ministry opportunities.” I know that opportunities abound right in my own hometown. You don’t have to drive far to see the needs.

And yet…I just knew that my calling involved traveling. But sometimes, I still struggle with where I am “supposed” to serve.

Just down Holly Street, one of my neighbors has worked a great deal this spring on her yard. She has many flowers, a small fountain, and the place is colorful and lovely. She also has a chain-link privacy fence. As I made my way down the street, I could see that her gladiolus had begun to bloom.

Glads are one of the first flowers I learned to identify; I remember my grandmother planted them alongside the barn. They stand up tall and regal, with many blooms on a single stem.

My neighbor has planted some pink variegated gladiolas. As I neared her yard, I could see that one of her glads – planted inside the fence – had poked its way through the fence, and the colorful flowers were showing outside the fence. I smiled, realizing what God was telling me.

“You are in the world, but not of the world. You can bloom where you are planted, but it’s ok to reach out!”

While that flower’s roots were inside the confines of the fence – where it was planted – it’s blooms were outside the perimeter, for everyone to enjoy their pink glory!
I’m reminded of Avalon’s song, “In Not Of” –

I hide me far away from trouble
The world outside me grows darker by the day
So I promise to stay here close beside Him
Surely God would want His children safe
Then reading, how my eyes were opened
I find that He is leading us out into the world
Into the middle of fallen saints and sinners
Where a little grace is needed most

Come take the Light to darker parts
Share His truth with hardened hearts
We are not like the world but we can love it
Come bring the Hope to hopeless men
Until the lost are found in Him
He came to save the world
So let us be... in it, not of it

Yes, I could stay inside the safe confines of my own little “fence” but as a Christian I am called to show His love and light to others. Being human, I must live “in” this world. But I don’t have to be “of” the world – I can show God’s Glory in my words and deeds, in how I treat others who might be different than me, loving God and loving people.

So, like that gorgeous ruffled pink gladiolus, I choose to “stick my neck out” a bit beyond the fence! I might be “planted” in one spot, but I can “bloom” anywhere God wants me to!
Blessings, yall!


David Lee Waters Sr., said...

Some times we play spin the cat, to see what kind of day it's going to be :o)

Craig and Becky said...

I love that song, too! I think we are truly kindred spirits!