Thursday, April 7, 2011

Bolivian Beads

They were lovely beads—a double strand of dark red, off white and matte black irregular- shaped beads. My daughter brought them back from Bolivia to her younger sister as a gift and memento of her time there.

They matched my sweater, and I was wearing them. I regret doing so. I wish I had decided on something else, picked another necklace or scarf from my own collection, but I didn’t. Sometime in the course of the day the clasp had turned to the front. I stood in the kitchen and was turning the necklace back around my neck.

The shorter strand snapped between my fingers. The breaking happened before I even realized—so fast, so unexpected. The beads dropped to the floor so quickly I didn’t even catch one. I managed to grasp the strand and stop the unstringing midway, but I looked down and all around my feet the beads rolled. I gasped.

I had broken the Bolivian beads. They had traveled thousands of miles intact. They had been worn many times before, but I was the one who broke them.

I grabbed a measuring cup and started to kneel to retrieve them, but my husband was already bent picking up tiny black beads with his enormous fingers and placing them in the cup of his hand.

I stood, unmoving, still astonished that this had happened so quickly. In the middle of all this I still held the broken strand of beads. Finally, I handed him the cup and he began to fill it. We moved a cabinet in order to locate the stray beads. When we managed to find them all, I laid the broken strand in a shallow pottery dish on the counter and sighed.

A week later I was on the walking track at school. For thirty minutes every day I walk around in circles. I would much rather walk outside, but the long winter has prohibited that option. I do enjoy hearing snippets and snatches of instructions and lessons as I go by the open classrooms. Usually I walk with a book—reading as I go. The reading makes the time move faster and allows me to do something I love while doing something I don’t necessarily enjoy. The students think I’m funny. Several of them will wave at me. Some have even put things in my path to see if I notice. A trash can. A desk. I just move them and continue on my way.

Some of my deepest thinking happens in this cyclical routine. As my heart rate moves up, so does the awareness of my spirit.

And the Spirit spoke. Clear, pristine directions. This is what I want you to do, Tamera. But I had no pen, no paper, no means of recording what He was speaking into me. This fact didn’t matter. When he wants you to remember, you will. And when he wants you to make connections he will help you connect the dots. That day I was walking and I remembered the beads on the counter. The broken strand. The loose beads. As I turned the rounded corners I replayed the scenario in my head—a short clip I could fast forward and rewind and pause.

Something hard and sad occurred in my life a few weeks before the time of the beads. I regret that eventful night. I wish I had made other choices. I wish different choices were made. It was a night of unexpected and quick brokenness. The whole situation was like a fragile string that couldn’t handle the pulling and tension, and it snapped. Actually my strand snapped that night. I had felt my own fragility and watched as the beads dropped to the floor out of my reach and beyond my control. I wasn’t even able to hold to the strand to keep it from totally unstringing.

I stood gasping.

And I am still collecting scattered beads. I can’t seem to locate all of them.

But (God’s beautiful divine conjunction. Praise him!) as I walked that circle, one foot in front of the other, he spoke his peace to me. His solid peace moved to the most remote and broken parts of me.

Deep parts, deep places.

He whispered to me that he knew where all the beads were and he was quite good at restringing broken strands. Even if the beads remained missing he could and would create a new pattern if I put the string and the beads in his hands. If I trusted him with the process and the pattern.

At first, I looked for the right words, the right posture, the right attitude to fix and repair the situation myself, but I simply don’t have that capability. I can’t repair what is broken—especially not what is broken in me.

Several years ago the brokenness would have driven me to despair and depression. A few years ago I would have pummeled myself until I was spiritually and emotionally bloody. What good is that? What benefit does that have in my life and in the kingdom?

As I walked around that elliptical track, one foot in front of the other, I raised my head and closed my book. And I made a hard choice. I chose to hand over the beads and the broken string. I chose to follow his instructions.

Those beautiful, lovely beads and the fragile, broken string are in his hands now.

His hands are capable; they are skilled.

I trust him to the restringing.

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