Ponderable Things

Luke 2:19-20, MSG

Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they’d been told!

This has long been one of my favorite passages in the Bible. I can identify with ponderable things. Sometimes there are things in life that come to you and defy any sort of incarnation. Things you couldn’t put in adequate words if you tried. I’ve lived a few of those mysteries, and I think most Christ-followers could find a few moments like that if they thought about it a while.

I think this idea of mystery might be one of the reasons behind the commandment God made to not make Himself into a graven image. For us to make an imitation Incarnation of Him would be by definition a clumsy profaning of His glory. Or so I realized during an excellently done sermon on the topic that completely changed my understanding of the second commandment. I always thought it had to do with statues people made as objects of worship, but on considering the vastness of God contrasted to man (What is man, that You are mindful of him?), it does resonate. So then, since we are created with a deep-seated need to be sub-creators, what do we do with that drive within us to respond to His image revealed to us in scripture and in creation? I honestly hadn’t really thought about that much before that sermon, but -I do understand the concept of ponderable things. I think that learning to listen to God’s guidance and knowing when to keep things in our heart, not attempting to analyze the mystery out of the experience, and discerning when something is meant to be a catalyst to a more explicit external response, visually, literarily, or otherwise is the answer.

I read a little book long ago (I think in high school -I used to read lots of strange things back then, including Thomas A’Kempis… I was a strange one, I know…) by Brother Lawrence, titled “The Practice of the Presence of God.” It was a simple little book, but it’s guided me many times when I’m tempted to get lost in the monotony of the everyday and lose the joy of humble things. That book gave me an awareness that anything (dishes, even -Brother Lawrence himself was a kitchen worker at the monastery) can be done as an act of not only servanthood, but of love for whomever we are doing that mundane act, be it changing a diaper, changing a tire, studying long division, or dusting a bookshelf. I can’t say for sure, but I believe Brother Lawrence spent (as I have) many an hour elbow-deep in dish suds, conversing with his Lord about all those ponderable things.