Yours is the day, and yours the night. You established the moon and the sun. You fixed all the limits of the land; summer and winter you made. – Psalm 74:16-17 (The Inclusive Bible)
The other day I got out the art supplies box at the back of the closet, rummaged around until I found the sticky oil paints, and tried my hand at painting a Welcome sign to hang outside my house. It was terrible.
I let it dry. I tried again, looping over my shaky letters. It was moderately better. At least it didn’t look like something a drunk kindergartner had done. In my impatience, I didn’t wait long enough for the paint to dry before shellacking it, and the colors smeared. I hung it up anyway, and now begins the Welcome sign’s inexorable march toward entropy as sun and weather have their way with it. And still: it’s beautiful to me.
That is a little miracle, because I am a reforming perfectionist, usually unable to make my creations public unless what I’ve made is objectively good. Fully fixed.
The poet Ross Gay reminds us that “fixing” has alternate meanings, none of them happy: including to pin down (as in a butterfly or a biology lab frog) or even to kill. He says, “Isn’t the point of beautiful art—again, like a person, like a life—that it is unfixable and unfixing? That it changes as we change? That it unmoors us, calls into question what we thought we knew, and who we thought we were?”
The Bible talks a good game about God “fixing”—bringing order from chaos—beginning in Genesis 1 and continuing through a host of human activities. But God also unfixes, iterates. It took God several tries before the light of the world finally became the Sun. And from there, it kept evolving into the Son, himself eventually undone, unmade, the fix put in on him … before he rose again.
God, unfix me from where I am pinned, that I may keep growing and coming alive again.
Rev. Molly Baskette is the lead pastor of First Church Berkeley UCC and the author of books about church renewal, parenting, spiritual growth and more. Sign up for her author newsletter or get information about her newest book at mollybaskette.com.