Last night we gathered to celebrate the life of my dearest friend’s father who passed a month ago at the age of 95. We told stories, ate her lasagna (his favorite) and drank Manhattans (also his favorite), and at the end of the evening I read a piece I wrote a few years ago about a beautiful wooden bowl we received as a wedding present. Life looks different now than when I wrote these words, but they still have a ring of truth to them, and probably always will.
We have a God Jar in our home. It is a beautiful, hand-turned wooden bowl created by my best friend’s dad. It was a wedding present and I’ve never quite known what to do with it. Until now. It sits on a little round metal table that I found at a junk store somewhere, and I guess it’s kind of like an altar. I like the idea of an altar coming from the Goodwill or a dumpster. It isn’t all churchy and shiny and serious. It is uneven, rusty and beyond imperfect. Like life.
The God Jar sits on the junk store altar next to a little pot that one of my daughters threw in a pottery class. It isn’t perfect either, so it fits perfectly, and is filled with blank, torn up pieces of paper and a pen. Whenever anyone has something that they need help with, something that is bigger than they are, they write it on a piece of that paper and tuck it in the God Jar. Every day I stop at least once if not a hundred times, put my hand on the God Jar and ask for help with whatever is in there.
Now, God is not in the jar. It’s not a magic jar. It is just a simple way of remembering to have faith and trust that life will work out.
God’s Jar has brought faith to our home in a new way. My girls ask me to put things in the God Jar, and their friends slip notes in there when I’m not looking. I am always putting things in there too, and no matter how many things go into that jar, there is always room for more. Stuff happens when something goes in the jar. Things in the jar have resolved, grown or gone away. Opportunities have come knocking, solutions have arisen, and cups have runneth over. Jobs have been found and bad relationships left behind. Forgiveness has been extended and health has returned. Strength for one more day has been mustered and next steps have become clear.
But lately my faith has been sort of shaky. We are facing all kinds of changes and transitions, the future seems sort of rocky, and I can’t see as far down the road as I would like. Rather than walk in faith, I creep in fear. I write down my concerns, fears, hopes and dreams, put them in the jar, and then walk away, but I can still feel the weight of them on my shoulders..
Then one day it dawned on me that I might just need to climb in the jar too. Put my whole self in, just like the hokey-pokey. So I did. I just took one of those little torn up pieces of paper, wrote my name, and dropped it in. I have to be honest though, ever since I got in the jar with all the other things, life still feels shaky. As if God is shaking me and the stuff in the jar all around. I don’t like the feeling. I feel out of control. And then I remember the hokey-pokey. You put your whole self in and you shake it all around. That’s what it’s all about.