July 21, Diary of an Old Soul
All things are shadows of the shining true:
Sun, sea, and air—close, potent, hurtless fire—
Flowers from their mother’s prison—dove, and dew—
Every thing holds a slender guiding clue
Back to the mighty oneness: hearts of faith
Know thee than light, than heat, endlessly nigher,
Our life’s life, carpenter of Nazareth.
George MacDonald, Diary of an Old Soul
Augsburg Fortress Press 1994
* * *
This sonnet makes my heart sing.
As wonderful as nature is,
with its “slender guiding clues,”
One rises above all others.
More than a shadow of shining truth,
The heart of every flower or drop of dew,
holding all things together,
Life of my life: “carpenter of Nazareth.”
I can’t help asking why? Why this man Jesus, carpenter of Nazareth, who lived for so few years on this earth? Why this man on his way to death from the beginning? Not known for being beautiful or easy to follow. Why this carpenter of Nazareth?
I’m not given to rational answers or apologetic reasoning. Yet without this carpenter of Nazareth in my life, I would have no life.
Without him I would see shadows,
but not the “shining true” within the shadows.
I would miss the “slender guiding clues” that point beyond.
Beyond the sun, sea and air;
beyond the flowers, doves and dew
to One who is closer and dearer than light and heat,
breath of my breath—“carpenter of Nazareth.”
A carpenter, vulnerable as am I. Not visibly glorious like a sunset, or majestic like galaxies spread over the universe. Vulnerable. Like a newborn infant, a flower or dove. Vulnerable like a frightened child, a painfully self-conscious teenager, a clueless young adult or new parent, a jaded war-weary adult, or an aging senior citizen.
Vulnerable to what? Being mocked, loved, rejected, abandoned, hated, ignored, disbelieved, understood, misunderstood, sick, hungry, thirsty, weary, sad, forsaken, fed up, angry, passionate, stalked, watched, betrayed, arrested without cause, convicted in a mock trial, beaten, paraded as a criminal, strung up to die.
He wasn’t a power-monger; he lived a human life and dealt with his human situation as one of us. A carpenter of Nazareth doing his best to remain faithful to God who gave him life and a seemingly impossible mission.
He showed us what to do and what not to do, how to be and how not to be. He showed us the way home and the way to die, and offered to walk with us.
I know him because he first knows me. His life tells me so.
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 21 November 2015