Disheveled Theologian: Unremarkable things

When you were little did you poke around your parents' desks, opening drawers and digging around in corners where you had no business digging? I might have done that. OK, I did. No "might have" about it. I remember finding interesting things: Car...

When you were little did you poke around your parents’ desks, opening drawers and digging around in corners where you had no business digging?

I might have done that. OK, I did. No “might have” about it. I remember finding interesting things:

Carmels from Scotland in my Dad’s top drawer. They were tasty. A note Mom saved from months before, written by me, complete with terrible spelling and handwriting. That was sweet. Smelling salts of my grandmother’s. (Of course I gave it a sniff. Wouldn’t you have?) That was a mistake.

My parents had such fascinating things in and around their desks!

There was one thing I loved best of all. It was always kept on the top of Mom’s desk, doing what it did best: weighing down papers.


Yes, it was a paperweight. Heavy. Circular. About three inches in circumference. It had been my grandmother’s and it contained, magnified through its convex glass, a sepia-toned painting of Mary, Queen of Scots.

I loved it, though I don’t really know why. It wasn’t fancy. Just an unremarkable thing.

Fast-forward a bunch of years. I was minding my own business one day, not thinking about anything much in particular, when out of the blue that paperweight came to mind and with it came the idea for a story I should write. I thought of the paperweight, I thought of the story idea, and suddenly I had the writing material for approximately the next two years of my life.

The story I was inspired to write that day had nothing to do with Mary, Queen of Scots, and very little to do with paperweights, either. Most likely, it will never see the light of day beyond the writer’s group I was in. But those two years taught me more about writing and being read than I’d ever learned before.

Since fourth grade, I had wanted to be a writer. I wasn’t sure I would ever see my dream come true. That story gave me the mustard seed of faith I needed to believe that it just might.

Around that same time in my life, my mother initiated the awkward conversation between her, my two sisters and me regarding our inheritance. She wanted to know what specific items of theirs would we like to inherit someday. Well, I like a lot of my parents’ stuff, but I like my parents even better, so I wasn’t willing to think or talk about such things for a long time.

Except for one thing.

It came last Christmas, wrapped in unassuming bubble wrap and tucked into a little Christmasy bag. Surprised by the weight of the bag, I carefully slid out the contents, not knowing what it could be. I picked off the tape, unfolded the bubble wrap, and there in my hands lay Mary, Queen of Scots, age 28, smiling benignly, unknowingly, serenely.


If I own any magical thing, it is this. It speaks to me of history, of family, of childhood, of exercising the skills God has blessed me with, to his honor and glory.

And that is magic, indeed.

God calls us to many different things. Sometimes we struggle to make those things happen. But he won’t give us an undoable task. He brings inspiration when we need it, sometimes in remarkable ways.

Or through unremarkable things.

“If you have faith as small as a mustard seed you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20 NIV

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