Sunday, April 10, 2016
As I walked the exhibits of the Dogwood Festival yesterday, I came across a booth that caught my attention. This particular couple was from Homosassa Springs, FL and they were selling unique leather goods. (You can check them out here: The Hide Out.) Interestingly enough, it wasn't the merchandise itself that caught my attention but the scrap bin set at the corner. For $1, I could have 5 pieces of scrap; for $5, I could take home 40 pieces. So within minutes, I was walking away with a little green bag containing scraps of 2 sheepskins, 2 alligator hides and 1 crocodile skin. I had found my treasure. I would go home happy. Very happy.
My husband and I made our way deeper into the hoard of tents, looking, smelling, touching the wares of many of the craftsmen who had come for the weekend. We even stopped at the corner soda shop for an old-fashioned root beer float; and always, I protected my little green bag of treasure. Or so I thought, for as we were approaching the truck to return home, I looked down and gasped,"My bag? Where is it?" I had my other purchases, but my prized buy ... it was gone! So as my husband took my few bags and headed on to the vehicle, I back-tracked every step I had made since my last known period of possession -- yet to no avail. I returned to the truck and to our home dejected.
It was just a bag of scraps, for crying out loud, but for some very strange reason, these little pieces of sheep, gator, and croc had brought me such joy. And so after about 3 hours of brooding, I decided to return to the festival and to that particular scrap bin.
My first clue of blessing should probably have been the parking spot. A festival in full, afternoon bloom, and there, almost at the barrier cones, was an empty parking space. I whipped in and walked up to the booth. The man remembered me: "Yes, 2 sheepskins, 2 gators, and a croc," he said. I told him what had happened and he instructed me to pick out 10 for a dollar (instead of the 5). I told him I thought I might actually get 40 for 5. "Then pick out 50," he replied. He walked around to where I stood at the bin and began going through it with me.
"What are you going to do with these?"
How does one explain when one really doesn't know? So I said, "Well, I'm making a poem and prayer journal, and I want to use these somehow. Really, I'm just trying to strengthen my right side of the brain with a little creativity." Truth is I really didn't know why the innate pull to these reptile hides. But I kept digging.
Fred (did I mention he wore an alligator head "hat"?) told me that when I was through to come lay the scraps out and he would categorize them for me. As he did, he would say, "This isn't 40, go get you some more," and so I would. He would pile those and instruct me again, "This still isn't 40, but I'm not going to count them, so pick you out some more." By the time I was finished, I had accumulated piles of alligator, crocodile, sheepskin, cobra, boa, python, ostrich, stingray, snook, and rattlesnake. He labeled bags, separated them out for me, and after taking only $5 from me, sent me home, instructing me not to stop and hug anybody less I lose those bags, too.
So what does all this have to do with heaven touching earth? Everything. You see, yesterday, as I stood there dipping both of my hands into those scraps, turning them over and over, it seemed that time stood still, and in some mysterious way that I can't even begin to explain except that I know it was real, heaven opened up and I became aware of something very, very holy. In that moment, heaven came and touched my little place here on this particular ground where my feet touch. As my friend would call it, it was the ministry of reconciliation. For a moment, heaven and earth were reconciled. It was simultaneously sweet and bitter. Sweet in that it was so holy. Bitter in knowing that it was but for a moment. It would not last. I HAD to be in that moment, or else I would lose it forever.
I'm also convinced that my new friend Fred got a whiff of it, too. That's why he kept saying, "Go back and get more! Go back and get more!" Heaven had touched his tent and the Kingdom is always about giving ... about spreading outward ... about the more. He could not help himself.
Many who read this will think me crazy. In fact, I don't really don't expect many to understand at all. But that's okay. I just know that it's these brief moments of awareness and perception that make the world so full .. and so good.
By the way, when I got home and laid the scraps out on the bed to look at them again ... to touch them, I also counted them. 80 pieces. A double portion.
Just an ordinary moment...