I remember which bookcase it was on, where it was on the shelf, what the light was like. Maybe I opened it to a sentence that might as well have been in neon, a passage I admired for its construction and loved for its truth. I've kept the book all these years and reread it, or at least part of it, a few times (evidenced by the geological strata of marginal notes). And for decades I’ve kept a little sign on my desk with one of her sentences, printed in a font that now seems to scream 1990s: “Work is the backbone of a properly conducted life, serving at once to give it shape and hold it up.”
So what would it look like for us to hold in tension both this graced capacity for making a secure dwelling as well as the possibility of leaving this dwelling? For me, part of this tension can be answered by looking at the architecture of a house.
A wise friend once told me that there is always some element of sacrifice involved to help something or someone else flourish. And in those painful moments reckoning what was happening with the dog that we loved, I realized that blessing creation, both human and non-human alike, might not be what you expect and usually comes at a cost.
The body I am tending is a living and organic revelation of the unseen spirit inside. We are sacraments of the One who made us—beautifully and wonderfully made, as the psalmist would say. I am given charge of this garden from season to season, from birth to death. So, what if I tend to the body the way an attentive gardener would his garden? What then? What is the watering? Where is the history buried here beneath the oak? How do I help to bring about the blooming of springtime flowers even as I embrace the stretch marks and surgery scars in the skin that covers my miraculous muscles?
They say good artists copy and great artists steal, so for one, no point worrying about my authorial voice issuing from deep within—I’m an artist, thank you!—and for another thing, why was I born not knowing how to express myself if not so someone could teach me?