In last week’s post, I included pictures of a wooden circle. It’s a Cradle-to-Cross wreath and I bought it a few years ago from Ann Voskamp‘s children who make them. [Now is a good time to get one if you want, before the Christmas rush.]
Every year it starts as an Advent wreath with a figure of Mary on a donkey, traveling day by day, 24 days in all. I put it away for a few months, then I take it out and add two extensions to make the circle big enough for 40 days of Lent, with a figure of Jesus carrying His cross.
Now it remains for the 40 days after Easter, which will take us to the ascension of Christ back to heaven.
But there’s a deeper story to this particular wreath.
A few summers ago, friends of ours generously let our family stay at their beautiful vacation cottage–six adults and four children under the age 6.
I bought little things to help occupy the kids, including sets of markers for each of them.
You can imagine how mortified I was when I discovered that one unsupervised child had taken the black marker and then proceeded to use the couch for a canvas [a child, I should add, who had not yet reached the age of reason–or even the age of speech. So if someone is to blame, you could go back to the person who provided the implements of destruction.]
I tried and tried to get the stain out. But it was still visible. Our friends were gracious when I told them what happened. “Don’t worry about it,” they said. Such is grace.
I have a couple hundred pictures of our family time together, but not surprisingly I don’t have pictures of the colored couch. When we take pictures, usually we want to capture beauty, joy, happy memories. We don’t want to expose the flaws and brokenness in our world.
That’s what I did last week when I took pictures of our wreath.
Last Christmas, the wooden wreath suffered a small accident when friends were staying in our home. That’s what happens when life gets lived, and I know I could have easily been the one to forget the candles were burning.
When people visit, sometimes plates and glasses and beautiful vases get broken. Sometimes a couch gets stained. Sometimes furniture get scratched or marked. There are always spills to mop up.
But it’s not just the furniture that gets damaged when people come into our lives. Love is messy and life is full of flawed people. Let someone in and chances are your heart will get broken in a small or big way. Reach out in love and you may get burned by misunderstandings, unkind words, disagreements that turn into angry arguments, needs that turn into demands, apologies that are rejected.
Even when God’s forgiving grace heals a wound and brings reconciliation, the scars can remain.
How fitting it is then that our Cradle-to-Cross wreath now bears the marks of friendship. We do plan to sand down the charred wood and put some wood putty on it. It will never look new again but that is alright.
We will enjoy it all the same, treasuring the reminder that at the cross our brokenness meets the full forgiveness of the One whose hands and feet bear the marks of His love.