The violin has forced me out of my cubicle into a world without muscle memory or transferable skills. Everything is a battle. My hand cramps holding the bow. C sharp never sounds quite the same in the second measure as in the first. I can’t tune without my teacher’s trained ear. It is humbling to arrive on Irene’s doorstep having made no progress from the previous Tuesday. The opportunities for me to fail on the violin are daily and infinite.
There are places in my history where I came to know myself in real ways. There is land that reminds me who made me. There are hills that sing to me of who my people are, and there’s a road where I ran until I understood the girl that God had created within this lanky frame. These are the places that made me, and when the earth is shifting at home, or when I just forget the truth, these are the places I crave.
The squirreled-away baguette’s crust is so hard you can smack it on the counter and it won’t break. It is like a crouton — one big, long, stick of crouton. It has not bred worms and it does not stink, but you can’t eat it either.
In your real life, you like to stock up, relying on your own ingenuity and foresight. Wince as you try to break the baguette one more time. Maybe right now you’re in Paris, dining while sitting down, saving butter for the morning, learning to count to five, but probably you’re just the same person, wherever you are, same fear, same neuroses, same old tired you.
Then, all at once: a miracle.
In order to reconcile myself to the difference I feel between Mr. Berry's observation of the world and mine — at my own risk, according to his prefaced warning — I listen to him as I would a prophet rising to an appointed calling, announcing judgment to all transgressors, calling us to change the way we live in order to be spared. He is a surly prophet, but better an ornery prophet than unmerciful judge. I would not want you, Mr. Berry, as my judge. You seem too convinced of my guilt before hearing my story.
Jesus spoke of a way of rightful being and living with God, people, and place. He gave it a name that the people of the time would understand — the Kingdom of God, and then He turned their notions of kings and kingdoms upside down and inside out. His talk of the Kingdom was not a once for all, clear as a bell theological declaration. It is, however, a creative means to reorient, even reestablish, what it means to be God’s kind of fully human person. That is, a person alive to a healthy relationship with God, His people, the land and all that is in it.