Monday, November 26, 2012

God, Bare Feet & Calcedony

Thanksgiving Day, here in MI, was a balmy, almost 60 degrees. A cold front moved through that night, plunging the temps to the 30s. Where they stayed, all Black Friday.

Blustery, grey and frigid, with snow flurries.

But, this didn't phase the Barefoot Hippies, who left for the other side of the state, bright and early Friday morning.

We were visiting the Henry Ford museum, for what might be our last visit on this current annual membership pass.

There was an awesome lego display that we got to see in the museum, plus we explored the back section, which we had somehow managed to miss in previous visits.

And then we went outdoors, to visit our favorite Greenfield Village haunts one last time.

Yes, outdoors, in the frigid, blustery, snow flurries.

Oh, and did I mention that this Barefoot Hippie Girl was barefoot? Or, at least barefoot enough, in flip-flops? How was I to know it was going to snow???
Meres in the glass shop. She charmed the socks off the glass blowers.
 Or at least she would have, if they'd had socks on. They must be barefoot hippies too.

No hat, no mittens, no socks, no shoes. But I did have a jacket. Always prepared is my motto. Insert sarcasm. And unladylike snorts.

After running (literally) to the coffee shop, and then the hat shop, and then the supposedly open and decorated Edison homestead in Timbuktu, we headed to the guaranteed warmth of the glass blowing shop.

Have I mentioned either (here) or (here) that the glass blowing shop is my absolute favorite part of the Village? That I could spend hours there? That, as a matter of fact, over the course of this year, I have spent hours there?

Well, if I haven't, consider it said. Because I do love it. And I always learn something new. And Friday was no different.

Friday we got to observe the artisans making two different pitchers, and a chalcedony (calcedony) glass vase.

Calcedonian glass employs techniques in glass blowing that gives the final appearance of semi precious stones. Meaning-it has a colorful marbled look to the finished product. The technique is over 300 years old and comes from Murano, Italy.

What happens is the artisan gets a blob of glass on his blow pipe, which he proceeds to torture. He will get it hot, and then slap it on a hard surface. Then he'll get it hot again, and twist it, like you'd wring out a rag. Then he gets it hot again, and blows it. And, you are thinking, this is going to be really cool. Until he plunges it in a mold. And takes his tweezers and pulls at the vase making defects all over it.

It really looks like he is wrecking his work of art. But, then, he puts in back in the fire, and starts smoothing out the imperfections.

And you learn that all the torturing of the glass was to make an unbelievably beautiful end product.

Because, each time he beat it, or twisted it, or molded it, or pinched and pulled it-he was drawing out the color of the glass. The elements that are in the sand/glass are brought to the surface through the torture. And that is what makes it beautiful. The swirled colors in the piece of art. And no matter what they do, each piece is unique. All the pieces have a different composition of the elements (copper, cobalt, etc) and each piece is distressed in a different way. That makes each uniquely stunning.

How can I not see God in this picture? There is a word in the Bible that reminds me of this. It is manifold. Manifold means many colored. Manifold is actually used several times in the New Testament...

manifold wisdom of God- Ephesians 3:10

manifold temptations- 1 Peter 1:6

manifold grace of God- 1 Peter 4:10

Haven't we all been through manifold temptations? Temptations of all shapes, sizes and intensities? Have we not seen in these trials and temptations the manifold wisdom of God? Have we not experienced the manifold grace of God being showered down on us?

Many colored...

Sometimes when we are in trials and temptations we feel like we are beaten down and broken. Broken beyond repair. We just can't take any more.

Yet, God is the master Artisan. I hate to use the term torture, like they do in the glass shop. But, God is distressing the piece of art that is you. The piece of art that is me. And we do know that He works all things together for good to those who love God, and are called according to His purpose.

But what if He, in His manifold and many colored wisdom and grace, is not just crafting a good piece, but an amazing piece, out of us?

What if, in order to do this, He must distress us? In order to bring out the color. The color of Jesus Christ in us. The beauty that is not seen by just blowing the piece. By just taking it through ordinary circumstances.

The beauty of the fruit of the Spirit that is developed through hard times. Love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and self-control. The trials that deepen our faith, our patience, our character.

The beauty from pounding, and twisting, molding and pinching, tearing and stretching. The beauty that brings out Jesus Christ in us. Not us. But Christ.

I don't particularly love trials. I'm not praying, "O God, send another trial my way." Trials are hard. Having a loved one die is hard. Going through sickness and need is hard. And it hurts.

But, I am continually learning to thank God for the trials. For the stretching and refining. For the molding. I am praying for God to bring out the beauty of Christ in me. To make me a specimen of His manifold grace, wisdom and goodness. Not so people see me, but so that they see Christ in me.

O Lord, how manifold are Thy works! in wisdom Thou hast made them all: the earth is full of thy riches. Psalm 104:24

So, this is probably the last time we will visit the glass blowing shop for a few years. I guess no more glass blowing posts. Please, keep sighs of relief to a dull roar...=)