In recent days, I've been feeling extremely fragile. Liable to break.
Physically, with fever and sickness and tiredness. The slightest overexertion and I collapse onto the nearest soft person-sized surface. Teaching is possibly the worst profession in which to get sick, since you are negotiating dozens of relationships a day, constantly dialoguing, planning, articulating. You need health and bountiful joy, or you will find yourself in hellish hell of introverted misery.
Emotionally, with massive events in my family back home and with the ever-changing web of relationships right here. Babies being born, weddings like confetti, the sudden departures of people I love with big love. The future prospect of being torn from the lives of my students. How is this to be endured?
Spiritually, liable to weep at any moment with the near knowledge of my daily failures and the impossible, incomprehensible, unfailing love of a Brother who is a King, whose love for me doesn't depend on my righteousness. It is beyond my ability to comprehend; it is too high, I cannot understand it. So I panic and weep.
'We have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.'
Whatever text I teach, I love to linger over imagery - whole lessons on a Shakespearean metaphor - unpeeling the delicate petals of allegory in a poem - the inexpressible beauty of sounds - if they learn nothing else, my students will learn to appreciate good imagery when they find it.
A jar of clay. Hard pressed, perplexed, struck down. The ugliest thing you ever saw. But not destroyed. Because oh, there's something indestructibly beautiful in the jar. It was put there some time ago. It is a story, all glory, all grace.