Ann Voskamp, over at Holy Experience, opened my eyes to the concept, and the reality, of Ugly-Beauty. How can something be both? How can two extremes share a common outline? How can two unlikelies sit side by side in the same space? Or even be on the same face?
My son. Less than twenty-four hours earlier he and I were covered in the bright red blood of life. He took a metal pole, removed the umbrella from the top, and slid down the slide with it in-hand. Then the ground stopped his downward descent. One end of the pole crammed into the earth. The other end, with the sharp edge, cut through his soft, boy face like a cookie-cutter cuts through dough. His screams curdled my blood as his soaked my shirt, my shorts. As we sat in the emergency room, his daddy tried to distract him. I rocked him, holding him close to my chest, my blood-stained shirt. He, in his reddened mess sat very still.
By the time, which is slow and long in the hospital, the doc got to my bloodied son, it was the next day. Midnight. They glued his face together and warned of this and that medical malady…the closeness of lost teeth, jammed out eyeball, or worse, had that pole shifted an inch or two.
I should have taken the white-coat aside and told him of The Healer. Apparently He had other plans.
Less than twenty-four hours earlier our prayers and screams were heard by our Father–it is obvious by my little one’s face. Miraculous healing by the knitting together of vessels, orderly rearrangement of cells, and fusing of delicate four-year old skin.
That has got to be my favorite photo of Ugly-Beauty.
Roots. Gnarled, twisted, and eerily alligator-like.
Ours are hidden, sometimes deep inside. Others right near the surface waiting to bite. Thankfully our roots can be transformed.
Healed. Forgiven. Strengthened. Straightened.
Mud. Frozen over by air so biting cold it left teeth marks
on every breathing thing.
Touch the ice puddles with a boot toe and they shatter, sending splinters to and fro. Just like us, bump into us with unkind words and we, too, shatter. God sends His love and grace to warm our hearts with His Truth.
His Truth always needs to be where we take our frozen, bitten,
Ornamental cherry tree. Bursts forth through Spring’s unsteady western Oregon door. One branch is wide, curled, not like its delicate,
pretty brothers & sisters dressed in orderly buds.
Just because it’s beauty isn’t in-step with those around it, don’t reject it. This branch has way more blooms waiting to blossom into beautiful bursts of pink. When in full wondrous dress, folks will gaze at this same spot and marvel at its abundance.
Why did God make that one spot so thick with loveliness?
Abandoned bike. Rust-splattered. Paint, some of it chipped
and most of it missing. Hiding.
Some may look and not even see this bike, for a shiny two-wheeler awaits them at the store. I stop (do you?) and gaze at its oldness, and wonder about its adventures. Where did it travel? Who pedaled? And how fast? Did it splash through puddles or swiftly ride down a country lane? What stories lay imbedded in those tires so flat? God looks to the heart of a man.
And He knows.
Ugly-Beauty. Few make it past the eye-teasing marks and think on what it means to the heart. How is it possible to see Ugly and Beauty simultaneously? With the same set of eyes? And feel it with your one heart? Friends, isn’t that what God does every single day whenever He looks your way? And mine? He sees both, but graciously looks beyond the one to the other.
When looking at me, there is Ugly (frustration, bitterness, anger, fear, doubt) all over the place. I even take to my knees and I give it away, give it to Him. But often times I snatch it back. And wear that same ole tattered coat again.
Ah, but there is Beauty (grace, mercy, forgiveness, freedom, strength, love) shining brighter and truer and deeper than my mortal eyes can see. For God cloaks me in His loveliness. And He doesn’t ever take it back from me. No, not ever. He just keeps holding it up as I come back time and again, and sink myself in. Then He wraps me tight. And holds me close. In His Beauty.