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?
The ring road was a real-life video game, a high-stakes bumper car ride. I opened my eyes as wide as I could, as if that would help me see better, scarcely daring to blink for fear of missing one of the Fiats or Ferraris zooming around me like moccasins whipping past a lazy water spider. There’s something of the primordial swamp about driving in Italy—it’s very much a sink-or-swim situation, wherein the fittest not only survive, but sprout scales, fins. Wings. I squared my shoulders and lowered my foot on the gas pedal.
Christians love to ask each other how they “got saved.” It’s never been an easy question for me to answer. If you ask, I’ll probably say that I am saved, but also that I am being saved all the time, that it’s a thing I’m working out with more than a little fear and trembling. I’ll say that my “testimony” involves a lot of stories, not just one. My personal history of faith is all bound up in my personal history as a writer and a reader. If you have time to listen, I’ll tell you some of the tales.
I know this puzzle has holes in it, yet I never throw it out. I like its scene, the kind of place you might escape to in a novel. I enjoy the safe and secure process. But I also value the reminder that our planet is marred, that this desire for a stress-free ordering of a perfect and predictable picture has its place as an amusement or diversion but is not part and parcel of this world, already redeemed but paradoxically not yet.