I received a piece of hate mail yesterday. It didn’t malign my writing skills, the condition of my lawn, or my political views, but instead attempted to make me doubt the value of something much more personal: my very self.
“Dear Christina,” the brochure beckoned affectionately. “Come find out how to improve your appearance and reduce the signs of aging!” The seminar hosts, a local plastic surgery group, promised to remove, reduce, augment, scrape, pump up, or laser treat any part of me that didn’t meet their level of Barbie-doll perfection. (Guess these wizards of mass marketing must have conspired with the retirement village / AARP band of vultures who have been circling since my milestone birthday last winter.) The brochure played on my womanly insecurities, and for about 30 seconds I wondered how I’d look without the small wrinkles forming around my eyes, the scar on my hand, or the ravages of gravity on the rest of my 50-year-old corpus delicti.
Then I thought of a 2008 trip my friend Lisa and I took to the Grand Canyon National Park. Each winding road and scenic overlook there afforded stupendous views which brought me to tears. The deep fissures in the rock caught the setting sun and reflected amazing vistas which we both strove to capture through our camera lenses. Lisa behaved cautiously, sitting on benches and retaining walls and clicking away to capture the sights, while I suppressed my fear of heights to dangle over precipices, wrapping my legs around trees and guardrails to keep my hands free to snap another memory-making shot. (In case of catastrophe, my strict instructions to Lisa were, if there was a choice, grab the camera instead of me and publish my pictures posthumously.)
At the top of one aerie overlook, I was pleased to see that the park had ignored the “separation of church and state” dictum and posted a plaque which thanked the Creator for the view. The biblical excerpt is from Psalms 66:4 and proclaims: “All the earth worships Thee; they sing praises to Thee; sing praises to Thy name.” I left the area faith-filled, joyful and appreciative of His breathtaking handiwork.
The erosive power of the Colorado River and God’s deft hand had created a place of unique beauty. Smoothing the fissures or filling the chasms in the Grand Canyon would have been an injustice; this deep, craggy chasm was an open invitation to inner reflection and appreciation of the Almighty.
So, if the plastic surgery group who sent me that brochure is reading this, I’d like to reply to your polite invitation: no thanks, doctors. Time and gravity have not yet etched me into a human twin to the Grand Canyon. The wrinkles, scars and outward imperfections that make up Christina Leslie will remain evident as marks earned by years of living within God’s care and loving attention.