I guess it doesn’t really matter what it’s made out of or what flows through it; any way you go piping is simple, bland, and deeply spiritual.
Yes, I really think a pipe can be spiritual. And not just in some hippy cliché “yeah man, when I smoke my pipe it’s like all the chaos in life becomes so peaceful” kind of way. If it leads us to think about more than just the physical, then I think it can be “spiritual.”
In some semi-meditative thought, I considered the history of pipe and thought about what its basic purpose is: transport. Modern pipelines transport oil, water, and even sewage: all things that society needs to get from one place to another. Initially, I only thought about all the valuable stuff we can get from a pipeline, but then I decided that it’s equally valuable for pipes to get rid of waste. The Blue Man Group brought to my attention this function in one of their performances where they not only used pipe to make wonderful music/performance art, but they also spent quite a bit of time explaining that most of the plumbing in the world is used to transport poo away (they had an echo loop on the word away.. away.. away).
When googling pictures for this post, I found this one of a water main in Philidelphia made of wood. I’m guessing that, when it was built, water pressure wasn’t that big of a deal; in fact, they were probably just excited to have water flowing. I guess my thought was that the only reason why it matters what the pipe is made of is efficiency of purpose. Can you imagine trying to carry drinking water in a pipe with holes? And yet you want holes in some drainage pipes. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s tough to carry out what you’re designed to do if you aren’t made of the right material. Anyway, you’re probably wondering what this has to do with us. Well, over the next 12 months we’re working with our church to lay some pipe, not physical pipe, but spiritual pipe. We hope to connect our church community with orphanages in Guatemala City to allow love to flow between the two. There won’t be any literal pipe. I guess the piping will be us. Not just “us” being me and Rachael, but “us” the community of people who are following Christ and serving him by loving others. We are the pipe.
I think Paul might have been alluding to this by saying we’re jars of clay. Back in Paul’s day, they used clay pots for transporting water, oil, flour, and probably waste in a similar manner as to how we now use pipes. (Although, I’d like to think we increased the efficiency and sanitary factors over the course of centuries…)
I’m looking forward to seeing how God can use a simple mission like ours in Guatemala to share his love with some unloved children, creating a bond (community), and seeing God blow our feeble efforts out the of the water with his life-changing power.
Final thoughts: It’s crucial for me not to be a leaky pipe or one that’s polluting what I’m carrying. My prayer is that God would continue to refine the material that I am so that I can efficiently and effectively carry what he’s designed for me to transport.