I see the world through a lens of metaphor and story. The magnolia tree near our chicken coop is a love letter. The window in our stairwell is a promise.
Like a pair of good eyeglasses, metaphor helps me see the world and my life more clearly. It is the tool I use to scratch beneath the surface of things.
These days, I am learning its limits.
Or, maybe, I am learning my own limits.
I plunge my arms up to the elbows in a deep farmhouse sink. Snap peas, carrots, a rainbow of swiss chard, and heads of broccoli so richly green they’re also purple. In every moment I can spare, I am harvesting, washing, blanching, freezing, eating, feeding. The kitchen garden we rushed to build and plant this spring has become a fountain. Between the rain and the explosion of good things to eat, that is no metaphor.
Apparently, metaphor has been more than a pair of eyeglasses to me. It has also been my preferred tool for setting up distance between the spiritual world and my own. I have used it to say here are my life and my world and way over there? Can you see it off in the distance? Those are the promises of God. The things that truly matter. We will get there someday.
Except, someday is today.
The things of God are here.
The things of God are now.
In my Bible, I can point out an inky smear of a date. Also, a little scribble of a star. They remind me that two years ago, I heard God say this, “they will make gardens and eat their fruit.”
Those words felt like a promise, and I held on to them through two very unfruitful years. In other words, I believed them. Yet, I know now that I believed them in a hazy, over-spiritualized kind of way.
What if God means exactly what he says?
What if his metaphors indicate, not distance, but nearness?
He promised, and, today, I am eating those words. I have sautéed them in oil and garlic, roasted them at high heat. I have shredded them and peeled them into ribbons. I have tossed them in salads and shared them with neighbors.
They taste good.
I think in metaphor and story too. You’ve got me thinking with this one . . . pondering. I never thought of metaphors as a means to keep promises at a distance, a hazy future of someday. More a way to express the unseen in the here and now.
Yes, Shelly, I think what you describe is how metaphor is meant to function and why I love it so much. Of course, tools can be used incorrectly or inefficiently. I’m wondering if that’s how I sometimes use metaphor – as a way of telling myself some promise is “merely” metaphor and thus less real? I’m beginning to think God’s metaphors are the realest things there are.
Dear Christie–I came upon your blog through Renew and Sustain. Your words are weighty and rich and stay with me after I read them. This piece will keep me thinking about holding onto the promises I’ve received in yet another new way. It’s surprising when the most ordinary meaning is the most extraordinary one. One of my promises is: “Blind eyes will see…” Hmmm.
It’s good to have you here, Danielle. And you are exactly right – “the most ordinary meaning is the most extraordinary one.” I think your words are true because the ordinary meaning meets me right where I am. Beautiful.
This is just lovely, Christie! And a great reminder to let God be the God of daily details, of actual life as it is lived, not just that great metaphor-in-the-sky-by-and-by. Thank you for this anchoring of faith in the rich gifts from the earth.
Thank you, Diana. “That great metaphor-in-the-sky-by-and-by.” Love. 🙂
OMGosh, Christie, you’re speaking my language!
Like Shelly, I too am pondering. I want my metaphors to bring reality of God to my friends, not distance. Hmmmm.
“Thy words were found and I did eat them; thy words became to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart.”
May this be what our words do for our friends!