This is a burl.
A burl is a rounded knotty growth on a tree,
seen by many as an imperfection,
and maybe even as a symptom of a disease or
the sign of a faulty growth.
But in the hands of an artist, a burl is an invitation to create beauty,
giving an attractive figure when polished
and used especially for handcrafted objects and veneers.
I am an imperfect person,
given to sinning, weakness a host of imperfections.
By myself, I am seen by many as ugly and hideous as a burl.
But in the hands of the Divine Artist,
I can be a spirit of beauty that can give joy forever.
I can choose to live by what the world seems to go by: what is in it for me?
Or, I can choose to live my life in generosity
– to give and not to count the cost,
– to labor and not ask for reward.
The more time I spend in silence and prayer,
the more I am prodded to live my life for others,
rather than living it for myself alone.
So, the choice for me is pretty obvious.
Oh, but there are times of temptations
when I would just want to wallow in selfish gratification;
or just to give up trying, doubting if my efforts are worth anything;
or succumbing to the blandishments of the question
most everybody else seems to be asking – what is in it for me.
I must pray and must pray without ceasing
– for the grace of generosity, faith, perseverance, humility, charity.
Until I come into the fullness of all the relationships that sustain and fortify me.
And like the burl, I might even be the source of new life and inspiration.
Remember paradox and mystery.