For the past few months, I’ve become invested in woodworking. I love the smells, the sounds (with ear protection, of course), the touch, and the feeling of accomplishment as I continue along in a project. I’ve been digesting all sorts of Youtube videos and websites to help me along my journey and one video in particular has stuck with me: How to Make a Basic Box (and Why You Need to Know How). I thought to myself at the time “I can make a box, let’s see if I already know everything about this.” Turns out, I didn’t. I learned more about making straighter cuts and joining edges together better. I learned that making a basic box was necessary because the elements of making a box are transferable into all of the more elaborate box-shaped projects I would make later: tables, dressers, storage cubes, etc.
All from a box.
In these recent weeks of COVID-19’s effects on our world, a lot of people are being thrust beyond our normal and into a time when some of the elaborate and wonderful ways we could do life before just can’t hold up in the same way. I can’t go to the gym right now. We’re at home with our almost 2-year old and working. Communities cannot gather in the ways we are used to. It can be a time of grief in losing the ways we are used to engaging life.
In times of deep stress, it can be helpful and reassuring to return to basics. When Paul writes to the community in Galatia, he is under great stress because he thought they were living their faith one way, only to learn that they had decided to advocate for Gentiles to be circumcised in order to be saved by God. In Paul’s stress and anger, he advocates for a return to basics in what we call today the “Fruits of the Spirit.”
“By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.”
These words are shared by Paul to remind the Galatian community what the law is truly focused on and where the Spirit truly is. God’s Spirit isn’t fulfilled or exclusively present in our ideas of perfection or when things seem to be going right. God’s Spirit is filling our space where these qualities are present in us and the world around us. That makes God’s Spirit broader than the Galatians and others tend to allow. Just as the box is foundational for so much of woodworking, these fruits of the Spirit make God’s Spirit foundational for all of our relational experiences. With such a foundation, we may find a wider world of possibilities for life abundant after all.
Hold onto each of the “Fruits of the Spirit,” one at a time, while inhaling and exhaling deeply at least three time each. You are welcome to hold a word longer than others if it stands out to you for any reason.
What do you notice in this time of reflection? What did you hold during this time? Did anything change for you?
God, your Spirit produces more than we know. Help us to dwell in the basics of life you have given, that we may rely on you as our foundation and follow you wherever we are today. Amen.