Ordinary. Bold. Ordinary and Bold

September 27, 2012

Excerpt from Acts 4:13-31

"Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized them as companions of Jesus."

Reflection by Donna Schaper

Ordinary.  Bold.  Ordinary and bold.  The writer of Acts seems surprised that these two adjectives can go together.  Perhaps he doesn't know about adobe, a method of making shelter and beauty out of mud and clay and straw and sun.

Adobe – the word comes from the Arabic for "earth from which unburnt bricks are made" – became the primary construction technique of early Spanish settlers in northern New Mexico and, later, of 18th and 19th century Anglos who ventured west to live in Santa Fe and Taos.  Weighing up to forty pounds apiece, readily produced in large quantities, quickly assembled, and easily chipped and shaped, adobe bricks – at first purely utilitarian – came to be appreciated as a bold kind of beauty.  For many modern devotees, adobe forms a spiritual connection between humans and the surrounding earth, by which the human need for a dwelling place is met with harmony with nature, unseparated from the landscape.

Now, many hear the word "adobe" and think of a reading service on the Internet.  Which came first?  The mud or the Internet?  In both cases, bold inventions become ordinary and dwell among us.  Rather than being surprised by the connection of the bold and the ordinary, we should, by now, have learned to expect it.

Prayer

Holy Spirit, when we wonder if we matter, ordinary as we are, remind us of the way you build houses among us and in us.  Adobe us, and make us glad to be who we are.  Amen.

About the Author
Donna Schaper is Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Check out her blog, Grace at Table, at donnaschaper.com.

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