I’m nervous as I sit down to paint my grandparents’ lamps. I’m not crafty. My hand isn’t always steady. I can’t always stay in the lines. But the gold leaf has worn from the lamps and I promised my husband I’d touch them up.
I know I can’t make them perfect, but I hope I can make them better.
It would be easier if they had but two dimensions: Round, I could see the whole of the task at once. But they’re spheres, roughly. I can’t see all the surfaces of a sphere at once. So I turn the lamp slowly as I paint, and as one area comes clearly into view, another area slips away, beyond my sight.
And I’m thinking love would be easier if it were round. Round, we could take it all in with a sweep, know all its features with a look.
But love isn’t round. It’s a ball. It rolls and bounces and just as we get one bit firmly in focus, another surface rotates sweetly away, out of our view.
I turn the lamp and paint, carefully, carefully, filling in the bare spots in the gold. I remember this spot as I rotate the lamp.
My paint pen has passed by here once before.
But I missed a spot. With all this turning, it’s easy to miss something. If I stood the lamp up and walked around it, would I see the gaps better?
No. Its shape is meant for turning. I’m not privileged to see it all at once.
So I roll the lamp through two rotations as I paint. Because I couldn’t see it all at once. I know I’m done when the cord is wrapped twice around the lamp’s base.
I might have missed a spot the first time.
I’m taking love up now, turning it slowly, examining every arc. It doesn’t come with a cord to mark the revolutions. And by the time I return to the beginning point, the contours are new.
God made love a sphere. If we could see the whole of it at once, we’d weep at its magnificence and rail at the pain it brings. We see two dimensions of love at any moment; but there’s always more, just beyond the curve.
Maybe this is a secret to love, then:
Keep rolling it gently. Never stop looking.
11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV)