Thursday, July 21, 2011

Blood, Thunder and Lacunae

Last night our daughter Jennifer (the History major at USC) recommended a great book by Hampton Sides, Blood and Thunder (Blood and Thunder is also the title of a sports magazine devoted to coverage of contemporary women's roller derby – but this blog is about the book). Through the complex life of Kit Carson Blood and Thunder tells the story of the decimation of the Navajo nation.  It’s a great read and (thanks to iPad and continued jetlag) I made it through the first few chapters last night. 

I loved this description of one of the characteristics of the Navajo nation:

 Navajos hated to complete anything – whether it was a basket, a blanket, a song, or a story.  They never wanted their artifacts to be too perfect, or too close-ended, for a definitive ending cramped the spirit of the creator and sapped the life from the art.  So they left little gaps and imperfections, deliberate lacunae that kept things alive for another day.

Even today Navajo blankets often have a faint imperfection designed to let the creation breathe – a thin line that originates from the center and extends all the way to the edge, sometimes with a single thread dangling from its border, tellingly, the Navajos call the intentional flaw the “spirit outlet.”

Most of the imperfections in my life are unintentional but the gaps and dangling threads always provide an outlet where God is at work.  I'm learning that its good news that our stories are incomplete.  Our stories are written in both intentional and unintentional lacunae.  And often it’s in the ways that God fills those gaps that we find life.  Instead of worrying about my incompleteness and imperfections I am grateful for the outlets they provide to experience God’s grace.

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