Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Offering Up

We offer up thanks. We offer up praise. We offer up our hands and our hearts and our willingness to serve in those ways that God sees fit.

Jewish women baking challah for the Sabbath offer up a bit of the dough. Hindu women preparing meals for their families offer up a serving of each dish as part of prasadam. Kwakiutl women would offer up thanks to the cedar tree when removing bark for household use. 

We humans have a long history, all the way back to burnt sacrifices, of offering up gifts to the gods we serve. It is coded in our genes; it is coded in our belief systems.

I was thinking about this several nights ago as I was trying to fall asleep. It been one of those out of sync days when nothing went really wrong but nothing felt really right either. Warren and I had unintentionally grated on each other's nerves more than once. The chores I had meant to do were still waiting. Now it was Sunday night with the week looming ahead and I had accomplished nothing.

You know, that kind of day. 

As I lay in bed that night, I tried to put myself in a better frame of mind so I could fall asleep. As Warren brushed his teeth, I thought of all the wonderful qualities he brings to our marriage. 

It didn't matter; I was still irritated. 

As he turned out the light and the darkness settled over our uneasy quiet, I moved to my blessings list and tried to start through the alphabet, hoping my heart would take over and lift my mood.

No go. 

I lay there in the dark thinking, "I should be offering up all the gifts of my day, offering up a prayer of gratitude that I am so blessed."

But I wasn't offering that up. All I was offering up was a tangled knot of frustration. It felt like a soggy ball of poorly wound string. All I was offering up was a chewed up wad of gum stuck back in the wrapper but not yet tossed in the trash. All I was offering up was dust bunnies, the big, fat, hairy ones beneath the bedroom dresser that no one has swept under for way too long. 

In the midst of all my blessings, I was offering up dust bunnies and wadded up gum bits. Those were the best I could come up with when I emptied out my spiritual pockets for the day. 

Pretty pathetic.

But you know what? As I thought about offering up the soggy, knotted string, I relaxed. As I visualized the overgrown dust bunnies, I breathed deeper. And by the time I imagined laying down the wadded up gum wrapper as my offering, I was at peace.

Sometimes the best we can do is offer up the scraps and shards of our day. Sometimes we come to God with a dirty dishtowel and a stale doughnut in hand, and then stand there, scuffing our toes in embarrassment at our paltry offerings.

God takes it all the same. Takes it even though it is a torn bit of paper, or a torn piece of our heart. Takes it even though it is a knotted bit of string, or a knotted worry. Takes it even though it is a wadded up scrap of gum, or a wadded up hope. God takes those scraps and bits and discards from us and patiently reassures us they are acceptable.

They're acceptable even though they are torn and dirty.

They're acceptable even though they are bits and scraps.

They're acceptable even though it is all we think we have.

The other night, I offered up my dust bunnies and my knots and my gum wrappers. I offered up my petty irritations and annoyances. I offered up my less than grateful heart and my less than comforted soul. 

And then I slept. Because it was all acceptable.


I am joining up with Deidra and Michelle this week! 



see you there! said...

April, I've had those days and I've had the hard to fall asleep time at the end of them. Next time instead of trying to mentally escape by trying to think of other things I'm going to follow your suggestion and just offer up the day - warts and all.

Thank you for your thoughts on this.


Anonymous said...

This is so beautifully said. A couple of things came to mind as I read--a rock at a place called Sleeping Buffalo in eastern Montana. The rock is covered with offerings of tobacco, in all forms, left by Native Americans.

The second was the gifts our children bring us--I have an entire box full of such things. They are endearing now to take out and review. But it is the spirit of the gift that matters.