I once decided to decorate a bedroom wall with a collection of pretty paper fans. I arranged the floral half-circles symmetrically in a colorful display of airy creativity. Of course, the fans were opened to reveal their respective patterns and vibrancy. It was a unique and pleasing wall display—at least to me. My husband did not have much to say about it.
Fans are interesting, like people. The more a fan is unfolded, the more the true picture emerges and the more the fan is available to keep someone cool. Both beauty and function improve the more the fan is opened. As people learn more about themselves, the more their beauty shines forth, and the more they can use their talents and energy to live life in a fuller, more genuine way.
As followers of Christ, we are challenged to unfold our layers of potential goodness, calling upon the guidance and example of Jesus. We seek to use our God-given gifts for the love of others. St. Paul reminds us of this in his letter to the Christians in Rome (2:6):
We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader in diligence; the compassionate in cheerfulness.
We can pray daily to the Holy Spirit and ask for enlightenment. It is up to us to make ourselves available. There are times when we might even surprise ourselves as we endeavor to open up to new possibilities of service. St. Paul tells us:
All of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
We can get a fuller picture of ourselves as made in the image of our Creator.
For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. (Ephesians 2:10)
I conclude with this little poem I wrote a while ago:
Revealing, unfolding in magical essence,
The delicate fan tells a story of love.
Truer pictures appearing with every expansion,
Stretching and etching timeless beauty from above.
Half circle of creation, more complete, more compelling,
Multiplying the mystery, we make use of our gifts;
Cooling the fever, calming the upset,
Soft’ning the unknown, repairing the rifts.
Painting, "Five Fans," by Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849)
The Scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Sharon Krause is a RENEW volunteer whose writing has appeared in several resources for small-group faith sharing. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother residing in Manchester, Connecticut. Over the years, she has served in many parish ministries.