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Flaws and Beauty

Last week in Wisconsin, Marnell and I went to the farmhouse where I grew up, the school where I used to teach, the church where I was baptized, the town where I played tennis, the coffee shop where Rosie and I met at 6am before going to our work places.  Of course we visited my four brothers and sisters who live close by.  We laughed and talked, played tennis, and delivered cookies and read stories to identical children.

We also visited my mom’s grave, and met with my friend Rosie and her husband, who recently experienced the loss of a daughter they had been anticipating many months.
Wouldn’t it be nice if no one would be sad during the Mother’s Day season?

I don’t know the answer to that question for sure.  But I do know that I learned something when, just after visiting my mom’s grave, we visited my great uncle’s shop.

First, I got distracted by the wooden curls.  I just love the curls that pile up around lathes. When Marnell took me on a tour of the machine shop where he works, I would have begged for a bucket of the steel curls if I could have thought of a good use for them.

I exclaimed over the wooden curls as well, and my Aunt Pauline offered to bag some up for me, like the generous woman she is.  But of course I could think of no practical use for the wooden ones either.

Once he had my attention again, Uncle Reuben explained that when he sees old trees or logs lying in a pile, he pictures what he could make out of them.  With special cuts, and the use of his lathe, he turns the wood into bowls.

“See this dark line?” he asked, pointing to a pattern on one of the finished bowls.  “It’s rot, or decomposition in the wood.  But it makes a beautiful pattern.”

He explained that a flaming box elder tree is just junk wood.  But when turned into a bowl, the flaming box elder retains it’s scarlet color and makes the bowl worth a lot of money.

And then, my favorite… Uncle Reuben said that he always tries to cut the bowl from the edge of the log, rather than from the tough heart wood in the middle.  Keeping the heart in the wood often makes it difficult to cut and messes up the bowl.

“See,” he said, picking one off his shelf.  “I left the heart in that one, and it’s not quite even.”

Ahh…how much easier our lives would be if we had no heart, no flaming flaws, no decay!  But… would they be as beautiful?

“I’ve made some bowls just out of good oak wood without flaws,” he said.  “But they aren’t as beautiful.”

Indeed, beside the others, they were quite drab.

Madame Jeanne Guyon, who wrote the song, “I would love thee, God and Father,” lost several of her children, and apparently her great beauty, to small pox. She spoke of God’s love as a love that carries faithful people to places of suffering, a place that offers many blessings if it is not rejected.

I would love thee! Every blessing flows to me from out thy throne.

I would love thee, he who loves thee never feels himself alone.

I bought two of my uncle’s bowls, one for my friend Rosie, and one for myself, the one that was slightly crooked because the heart was still in it.

“I’m not surprised,” Marnell said to me with a smile when I explained that I wanted that one.  He must be figuring me out.

The next morning, I introduced Marnell to an old friend who used to torment Rosie and I in our youth group days in Wisconsin, who is now a husband, father and pastor.  We were standing out in the breeze on the church porch which my students used to use for home base, just a few hundred feet from my mom’s grave.

“So you’re the stabilizing force in Katrina’s life now?” he said matter-of-factly to Marnell.  I’m not even sure why I put a question mark on the end of his words; it was a statement.

Great.  Everyone seems to have me figured out!  Even though times change, people have a remarkable gift at staying the same.

I’m not sure that it will ever be possible to figure out the total purpose for the dark lines, the flaws, or the crookedness come into our lives.  It’s a little hard to know why Mother’s Day is a day of laughter for some people and a day of sadness for others.

But perhaps in the end, when we look back over our lives from eternity, we will be surprised when we see where the beauty comes from.

10 Responses to Flaws and Beauty

  1. Martha Schrock May 13, 2017 at 7:11 pm #

    Very inspirational as always. We would have also liked to meet your “stabilizing force” We were in Kansas for Elvin’s brother in law’s funeral.

    • 500Admin May 13, 2017 at 9:49 pm #

      Thanks Martha! Sorry about your family’s loss.

  2. Bev May 13, 2017 at 7:35 pm #

    I don’t comment much , Katrina but I do enjoy yourblog… and the Wisconsin connection peaked my interest today😊I think it’s hard for me to imagine your family without your mom… blessings to you as you keenly miss her this time of year… I’ve also found it interesting that your dating a guy I was at SMBI with for one term( it’s ok he probably doesn’t remember me I wasn’t one of the popular people 😉) The third thing I connect with is your living right in the city… We also live in a small city and are part of a church reaching out many around us who need Jesus’ love in their lives. Thanks for sharing your gift of words with others..

    • 500Admin May 13, 2017 at 9:50 pm #

      Thanks Bev! I will have to make sure he sees this!

  3. Gina May 13, 2017 at 8:52 pm #

    The last line of your post brought tears. This week my husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor and has surgery scheduled for Tuesday. I have found out firsthand that there is beauty to be found in the hard and ugly things. Our beauty has been feeling God’s people reach out to us with their prayers and give us an overwhelming sense of peace.
    Thank you,

    • 500Admin May 13, 2017 at 9:50 pm #

      So sorry to hear this! God go with you through this week.

  4. pauline May 14, 2017 at 3:19 pm #

    Thank you Katrina , sure enjoyed the short time you spent here ,was so glad to meet Marnell , and hope to meet him and you many more times . Thanks for all the pictures you put on your blog of our messy shop and your neice and nephews !!

    • 500Admin May 14, 2017 at 3:47 pm #

      Was fun to see you! And I don’t call that messy!

  5. Reuben Kulp May 14, 2017 at 3:55 pm #

    Thanks Katrina, I am not much of a reader so I don’t get your blog read every time but Pauline pointed out My 15 Minutes of Claim to Fame. 😉

    • 500Admin May 14, 2017 at 3:57 pm #

      😂 Glad you enjoyed it! Thanks again for the tour.