Today's spiritual message springs forth from an excerpt found in the book Stripping Down by United Church of Christ minister Donna Schaper. Here, she discovers truths about herself while refinishing a chair.
So, let's sit up straight in our seats and strip this passage down for some meaning.
"The first thing people do when restoring old chairs is to strip--strip right down to the bare wood. They do this to see what the original might have looked like and to determine if the thing is worth doing over. They strip away all the years of grime, the garish coats of paint piled one on top of the other. They get rid of all the junk that's been tacked on through the years and try to find the solid, simple thing that's underneath."
The old chair that we see is not the simple, original chair that it once was. Over the years, the original slowly disappeared under the "years of grime" and the "garish coats of paint piled one on top of the other," heaped on us by culture, media and advertising, authorities, family and friends, and more.
How did we let this happen? Why didn't we see this happening? And how do we "get rid of all the junk that's been tacked on" throughout our lives?
It's gonna take some elbow grease.
Some of those areas will need more elbow grease than others.
But either way, when we make a commitment to our spiritual and personal growth, we must be willing to strip ourselves down to our core, that "bare wood" to get back to our natural, original beauty.
We didn't see this happening to us because we didn't know any better. We learned what everyone else before us had learned and had passed down to us. We accepted it as "truth." We didn't question it. Because we didn't question it, it piled on. And we allowed it to pile on because of our ignorance.
But not knowing any better is not an excuse.
We come to see that all of those so-called "truths" are really illusions to keep us in our places. So, we strip, and we strip some more. Sometimes it's downright painful, but we keep doing it because we now "know" what lies beneath. We remember our purity, our beauty, our naturalness, our divinity in all of its originality.
This stripping down is an intentional letting go. It becomes an act of love and worship. The illusions fade away as we strip through the layers of anger, disappointments, cynicism, or pain -- all the junk -- until we can finally forgive ourselves for what we have done to our Sacred Center.
And that's when God says, "Welcome home, my Beloved. Come sit with me now."