Impressions on the Soul

Today, I’ve been thinking about the gift of family and feeling grateful, especially, to have artists, poets, sculptors, and potters in our mix. Especially glad today for our collection of Cousin Brad’s kiln-fired angels, made from earthy-red clay rendered elegant by the imprint of Great-Aunt Lela’s hand-crocheted doilies and handkerchiefs. The angels are tall, with lovely open-faces and strong, powerful wings. Their robes bear the lacy marks of Great-Aunt Lela’s ancient handiwork impressed into the clay before firing. The loveliness of the art comes from the markings of two hearts and two sets of hands separated by geography and time: Brad’s and Lela’s. In a work of the Spirit, their giftedness marks our souls with lightness and joy.

Impressions on our souls and selves mark us and shape us, too, toward who we are and one day shall be. Few of us slump through life as just another lump of clay yielding to the pressures of every other person and thing. At times we push back and resist the shaping, especially when it comes from persons and circumstances that do not have our best interests and purposes in mind or heart. But we all are marked and shaped none-the-less. We all are marked by grace and tragedy, by good and ill, by fury and forgiveness. We are marked by those we love and those who love us whose presences linger in our lives even after we, too, have become separated by textures as temporary as geography and time, and as permanent as death. We should pray that we become aware of how we are leaving impressions in the souls of others, too, of course. It is that way within families and the family of humanity, but you knew that already, didn’t you?

Thinking about Brad’s angels and the shaping and marking of our lives, I remember, too, the power that came to those in ancient times who had been shaped and marked by God’s love and calling. The sense of God’s presence was so impressive and real that it drove them forward on wondrous and terrifying adventures, with the “angel of his presence” near to guide them.

I keep thinking of our spiritual family,

like Abraham walking from Haran


like Sarah waiting for the child promised her


like Moses in Sinai


like Mary in the night of annunciation

like Jesus on the via dolorosa


like Luke’s disciples on the road to Emmaus

like Paul and his friends traveling the roads to Rome


like Junia, Priscilla, Phoebe, the Marys and

the daughters of Philip proclaiming the gospel

in a culture resistant to God’s ways of calling

whoever God wants as God’s emissaries of grace


like Fannie Lou Hamer who was “sick and tired

of being sick and tired” and

Dr. King who had a dream worth dreaming

no matter who you are or what color God loved

making you to be

like you and me on the pilgrimage toward becoming human,

coming to peace with all the wonder and terror

that resides in our souls

that we might face the worst of what has marked us

in our past, present and future, not

with fear, but trembling confidence

because we have been marked, too,

by the transcendent

mercy, love, and grace

of God.

Grace and peace,

bg