Breath for the Bones Book Club: Thoughts on Chapter 9
Chapter 9 in Luci Shaw’s Breath for the Bones is titled simply “Paying Attention.” Here she stresses the need for the artist to heed the significant in the simple. That’s most often where God tucks His treasures—in the places we would least expect: Christians are earthen vessels (simple, modest, mere dust) containing the ultimate, divine Significant (God Himself, the Spirit of Christ).
Shaw reviews a litany of small but history-altering events from Scripture; then she turns the spotlight to the present, to our time, so that we might ponder the “small events or incidents, which have altered the course of your own life. Never despise the power of small things, like seeds, to transform the landscape of the heart” (122).
In the chapter’s writing exercises, Shaw prompts us to “free-write for about fifteen minutes about something ‘small but significant’ about yourself. . . . Remember: We must learn to be still; we can’t see our true reflection in running water” (194). The book club took a vote, and all agreed to follow Shaw’s prompt for this week’s post. Here’s a small but significant piece of me from my fifteen minutes.
I used to think I was invisible.
Not literally, of course. It’s not as if I were suffering from some sort of superhero complex. It was more figurative—well, more of a learned mental state (OK, it was an escape).
You see, when I was a kid, people generally did not notice me or pay attention to me, which was fine by me. I was a quiet child, prone to painful shyness. So it was more comfortable for me to go unnoticed, to hide in the shadows and amongst the crowd. I hid by choice. I chose invisibility.
Invisibility became my cloak and shield protecting me when I was young. It didn’t get packed away, however, with the rest of my childhood memorabilia. I kept it handy on through early adulthood. When social situations grew uncomfortable, I would remind myself that people generally did not pay attention to me. I told myself that I was in essence, invisible. It became a sort of self-soothing mantra.
Over the years, however, the Lord Jesus has beckoned me to lower my defenses and reflexes and to choose instead to be cloaked in Him, to be shielded by Truth. Jesus has asked me to put away childish things, such as these delusions of invisibility, and to function as a reflector of His goodness and grace.
Becoming a good reflector requires that I get comfortable with people noticing that I am present, that I am doing what I was made to do (becoming comfortable with others as they—as Shaw puts it—”pay attention”). I can no longer seek shelter under my cloak of invisibility when I have the distinct honor of capturing the attention of the world so that I might divert it unto the all-beautiful, invisible-yet-visible Messiah.
This shift in my thinking and living and reacting may be imperceptible to the world. But I know of it in deep places. I sense it every time I reach for invisibility and then remember I no longer need it because I am clothed in the perfection of God’s grace through Jesus.
It’s small but significant—for I am changed, and I am being changed. That’s the power of Christ in me.
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