Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wilbur the cat, Elmer's glue, cracked pots and what they have to do with Holy Week

Wilbur the cat, aka “The Menace,” did it again.

While I spoke to my sister on the phone, Wilbur flew from a table to a sofa, hitting a shelf while airborne and knocked off a pottery piece I’ve had for years. It’s a handmade slab construction cup bearing a lovely glaze with rabbits stamped into the surface, probably given to me for some occasion now forgotten. Like a toddler, Wilbur amps up his antics while I’m talking on the phone to get my attention, as if he doesn’t have it any time he wants it.

So when my sister heard the squeal on the other end of the line, she in kindness tried to console me. “You can glue it back together.”

I didn’t want to glue it back together, because with Wilbur around, I tire of puzzling over pottery bits. What came to mind was a story about a friend’s mom who’d raised several rambunctious kids, and one day she went through the house, gathered all the glued back together things, and threw them away. I guess she’d had enough of Elmer’s glue holding her life together and figured she’d rather have nothing at all than so many fragmented pieces. My friend remembers her mother often saying while shopping, “We used to have one of those.”

So, I, too collected the pottery shards (there were six) and deposited them in the kitchen trash.

And that was it.

But, later, I started thinking about the glaze and how I’d rarely seen that color used on pottery. I reflected on the embossed bunnies and how much I’d enjoyed them through the years. So, several hours later, I found myself digging in the kitchen trash for all the tiny pieces.
I’d like to say for the record that it was a particularly gross trash day. But, after finding, sterilizing, and accounting for all of the parts, I retrieved the Elmer’s glue.

Somehow, I managed to assimilate the pieces into a shape that mostly bears the image of the original cup. Of course, it will never hold water, but I don’t think it ever did--just pencils or dried flowers.

 Another motive for the repair job is I have a soft spot in my heart for broken vessels, because I am one. I bear the scars of having been shattered. I’ve always loved the title of Patsy Clairmont’s book, God Uses Cracked Pots. Where would we be if He didn’t?
Decades ago, God picked me up out of the ruin I made of my own life, and lovingly began to restore me. He's still working on me, and I'm not nearly where I need to be, but you'd have to know where I came from to truly appreciate God's handiwork.

As we move ever closer towards Good Friday, Isaiah’s words once more roll in my head.

But it was our sins that did that to him (Jesus),
that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins!
He took the punishment, and that made us whole.
Through his bruises we get healed (Isaiah 53:5 The Message).

Through what Jesus suffered on the Cross, God restores our fractured lives, and not to anything they’ve ever been before, but to something more wonderful than we ever dreamed.

So often, we only focus on the striations of cracks and fissures, and we fail to step back and see how God is using them all to create a bigger picture—a better picture.

Though my cup may never hold water again, God’s work stands the test. To borrow a phrase from Ernest Hemingway, we become, “…strong at the broken places,” often stronger than we were before.

I’m glad God does not tire over repairing our damaged vessels as I do over the ones Wilbur leaves behind. God's persistence in the restoration of our lives gives us one more reason to offer Him our gratitute.

 On this Wednesday of Holy Week, we thank God for Calvary and His restorative touch in all our broken places.
Related: Thoughts on Suffering for Wednesday of Holy Week

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