Posted by: ritagone | March 17, 2010

Colanders or Containers?

   Somewhere along the way recently I began thinking about a wonderful imagery for us as Christians: are we colanders (sieves, as they are also called) or containers?

Containers hold water; you pour water (or something else) into them, expecting the ingredient to stay put, to be “contained.”  While they serve this important function, the “stuff” contained doesn’t get spread anywhere else. In fact, that’s the whole point of a container, isn’t it?  You don’t want leakage; you want the stuff inside to stay put.

Colanders, on the other hand, “leak.”  If you pour liquid into them, it spills out.  Why?  Because there are holes in the sides and bottom of the piece, and so nothing stays put.  Nothing is supposed to stay put.  That’s the normal function of a colander: to strain or drain something, letting the liquid seep out.

In an interesting book I’m reading called “Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle,” author Chris Hedges talks about how we’ve all become self-centered, self-pitying people.  Self-pity, he believes “…is the undiluted narcissism of a society in precipitous decline.”  In other words, too many of us are containers, walking around pouring into our own psyches and brains and not bothering to let what we have spill into the lives of others.  Just too much trouble.  Certainly risky.  Most likely time-consuming.  Who needs it?  Just stay home and pour into yourself, and leave it at that.  Be contained.  Be a container.

No.

Let’s not.

Let’s be different.

Because if we’re not different, what’s the point?  If we behave just like everybody else – if the people out there can’t tell that we belong to Jesus Christ, then we might as well admit that we’re containers and just fill ourselves up with whatever it is that makes us happy.  On the other hand, if we want to be colanders, if we want what’s bringing us great joy and peace and contentment to spill out onto those around us, then we’d better get busy.  Because there are a lot of people who are empty, who are containers that contain…nothing.

The other day a friend at church was brave enough at our Thursday morning ladies’ Bible study to share that she retired recently from a 40-year nursing career due to some health issues.  She and her husband figured they would just transfer their medical coverage to his job, which was a federal appointment.  Eight weeks after she retired, her husband got laid off, and because he didn’t have tenure there, he also lost his medical coverage.  Now, here they are, in their 60’s, with no income except his pension from teaching in the California school system for many decades, with no medical coverage.  But as she related this situation, there was a definite calm about her.  Why?  Because she knew, she said, that God was going to take care of them.  And in that comment I saw something pouring out of her into the hearts and minds of the ladies listening.  Her trust and faith in God was filling up the women who sat in that room needing just such a word for their own lives.

So today, figure out where you can be a colander, and let the good stuff flow out of you into others.  Don’t be a container.

Best of the rest of the week,  Rita

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