Today’s devotional comes from our very own Minister to the University, Rev. Angela Kaufman. Since 2004 Angie has served the TCU community and has grown The Office of Religious & Spiritual Life from a department of 2 to a department of 6 staff who work to support 24 student religious organizations and the nearly 30 professional staff members who work with those communities. Her love and commitment to this university is only surpassed by her deep love for her family and God. I trust that her insightful words for us all today will be helpful as we begin this Lenten journey and time of reflection together. Peace be with you…
Psalm 139:14-16New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes beheld my unformed substance. In your book were written all the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed.”
In the short time that I’ve been the proud parent of two boys there’s been many areas of expertise I’ve picked up along the way. Some days I am a master Lego builder and other days I’ve learned the basic principles of rocket launching. Among it all, one of my favorite discoveries over the years has been how to break open a geode.
Our friends in the geology department would certainly share a better explanation, but my second grade geologist would tell me that geodes are hollow rocks formed in areas with volcanic or sedimentary layers, while my five year old geologist would simply say they’re “cool rocks with crystals inside”. Both are correct, and while all the sciences are a source of fascination in our house, geodes hold a particular joy for my kids because the act of discovery is as rewarding as the result inside. They are perhaps like the tootsie roll pops of the science world. Sometimes my other half will go out to the garage and get the soil pipe cutter so we can approach it with technical precision, but most times we take a layperson’s approach as we wrap the geode in a large towel and find a safe location to strike it with a hammer. There are few times that we tell our kids to whack something as hard as they can with a hammer. This is one of them.
Anybody who has cracked open a geode can tell you that sometimes when they’re hit exactly in the right spot they open perfectly in half. However, many times they don’t simply split cleanly into two pieces, but break into many smaller ones. The latter is what happened to us the other night when after a strong whack one of the geodes broke into countless small pieces of rock, crystal and dust all over the place. The youngest in our family was less than pleased and made it perfectly clear that he wanted a different geode. He wanted to start over.
Most of us at some point or another in life feel the same way. We as individuals and as communities strive towards a misplaced idea of perfection that’s only encouraged by our culture. We want to have it all together. We want everything to be arranged just right on the inside and out. But our faith tradition as a whole and Lent in particular calls us to take note of how we are often like broken geodes – sometimes rough around the edges and in other places perhaps a bit sharp and jagged. In some moments of life we may even be shattered into tiny bits that we don’t know how to reassemble.
This is why thankfully Lent never calls us to just look inward in isolation. It calls us to be bi-directional perhaps – to both turn inward reflecting upon ourselves and yet equally as important to turn towards God. It’s in this moment of doing both that we make the most humbling rediscovery. That is that alongside our own imperfections and jagged places is always the never-ceasing presence of God. A God who remind us that we and all of creation are fearfully and wonderfully made. A God that says that like that geode there is something stunningly beautiful inside us. A God that beckons us through Christ’s love to recognize that same beauty in others.
God tells us through scripture and through the generations that like the geode, we may not look perfect when we’re cracked open. Indeed and thankfully, that’s because we’re not perfect. What is rough around the edges is still beautiful. What is not quite perfect is still quite perfectly holy. I believe this is what we find when we crack open the Lenten season.
God as we enter fully into Lent, call us to that deep quiet place where we can see ourselves more fully and hear your voice more clearly. Urge us to place our own jagged places and rough spaces before you knowing that through Christ we are made whole, and through you we see the imperfect beauty in one another and in our world. Amen.