Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

When You're Feeling Like Dirt...

Hi Friends,

I've been thinking about this verse from Psalm 103 (verse 14) today: "for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust." Dust doesn't seem very beautiful or important or desirable. In fact, it just seems kinda, well, dirty. But God sees dust differently. He loves His dusty children. So, as I've been thinking about the verse, and pondering the attributes of dust, I remembered this story that grew out of a scene from my very first book, Cry Freedom. See what you think:

Twilight tossed its gray mantle across the sky and into my newly dusted living room. Shadows crept over the floor, darted into corners, and settled in my mind. Weariness whispered through me. Why did I have to clean, and scrub, and do all this work anyway? I wanted to read a good book, watch a movie, anything else but clean the living room for the Bible study group that would meet there that night. Why did I always have to be the one who did the work?

I threw my cleaning rag onto the coffee table and melted into the recliner. In a moment, the oven timer would buzz, and I would have to leap up and finish preparing the cake for the night’s study snack. Why couldn’t I just be free, free to spend my evening however I wanted? Free to do as I pleased?

A butterfly flitted outside the window. I watched it fly high, then low, before it paused on the rosebush just outside the pane. Eggshell wings fluttered in slow motion. Up and down. Up and down. Then, the creature dropped from the branch and flew into the sky. I followed it with my eyes until it became only a black speck against the clouds. Then, it disappeared.

“Make me like the butterfly, Lord,” I whispered. “I want to be free to fly into the sky, rest on the roses, and drink in the beauty of your creation.” I leaned back my head and stared up at the window that shone from our second story. “Lord, give me wings.”

I waited. And sighed. And shifted in the chair. But I felt just as tired, just as earthbound as ever.

Then, something happened. A shaft of light, as bright as a blade, sliced through the upstairs window and illuminated a path the floor. And in the light, I saw them – a hundred, a thousand tiny motes of dust. They drifted in the light like bright bits of glimmering gold.

I grabbed my dust rag, and started to stand. But then, I sat back again. I had worked for hours to eradicate the dark bits of dust that marred my furniture, countertops, and television screen. But this dust was different. These tiny motes weren’t dark, weren’t dirty, or ugly. They were beautiful, shining like miniscule stars in the last rays of day.

I dropped my rag, settled back into the chair, and wondered at the splendor of the dust. How could something that was no more than dirt be so beautiful? After all, it was only dust. I watched a few motes drift lower, out of the shaft of light. They turned gray again, just ugly little specks that floated onto an end table. Only in the light were they lovely. Only there did they shimmer like jewels.

As I sat and pondered the secret of the dust, I remembered a verse from the Psalms: “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:13-14, NIV).
I am dust, I thought. Not some winged butterfly, not a creature that flies wherever it pleases, but dust. Dirty, ugly dust. But in God’s light, I too am transformed. “I am the light of the world,” Jesus said in John 8:12 (NIV). And like the dust, I am only beautiful when I am aloft by his power, illuminated by his love.

As pretty as the butterfly was, the dust that glimmered like sparkling gold was much more beautiful. It stayed, it shone, and as long as it remained in the light, it was stunning.
I had prayed for the ability to order my day as I pleased. But, God offers a freedom that’s more incredible, more real, and more wondrous.

In his light is the freedom to rest in his grace and love. That is the mystery, and the wonder, of true freedom. So now, I no longer pray for wings like the butterfly. Instead, I pray to stay within the light.


Karen Dishman Jantzi said...

Marlo, as someone new to your work, my heart is touched with the beauty of your words. I write as well and remember someone saysing to me one day, "Karen, what new do you have to bring to women?" Your description of dust reminded me of that question. Dust. Not brilliant and beautiful on it's own, but when shone in the LIGHT was then glistening specks of radiance. Just as when God's light and glory shines on our "dust", we become radiant and beautiful to Him. I needed to read this today and it has propelled me to walk more passionately in my journey for Him. Love to you, Karen Jantzi

Marlo Schalesky said...

Karen, thank you sooo much for your comment. You encouraged me greatly! This bit "it has propelled me to walk more passionately in my journey for Him" sums up my prayer for all my writing - you totally made my day, my week, my month (!!) by saying that! Blessings and more passion and wonder to you!