As many of you know, last week I spent five days with my tribe, the women who inspire me, encourage me, and pray for me. It was an amazing trip filled with adventures. One of our outings was to the Franklin Park Conservatory which displays a permanent collection of the famed Chihuly glass. The glasswork can be seen throughout the conservatory’s gardens and exhibits and are meant to “highlight the connection between art and nature.” Each piece of glass was a masterpiece in and of itself, and the displays throughout the butterfly garden and other botanical exhibits were breathtaking. After seeing the magnificent works of art, we knew we could not miss the demonstration of how the works were made.
As we sat in the outside pavilion, warmed on that chilly day by the 1800° oven, we were enthralled by the artisan, by his love of this beautiful form of art, and by the transformation of each piece from a glob of clear, melted glass dipped in crushed, colored glass to a beautiful work of art. Over the course of about 30 minutes, the glasswork was put into the oven at least a dozen times, each time being heated and then molded, changing and becoming that which it was intended to be. Even the color of the glass–clear when first taken from the oven, red when heated, and then the color of the crushed glass as it cooled–symbolized the transformation from indistinguishable glob to bowl or cup or vase or magnificent piece of art. Once the piece was shaped as desired by the artisan, it would be cooled overnight in a kiln at 900°, thus finishing the process.
Over the course of the past week, while attending Bible studies and Mass and thinking about Holy Week and Easter, I’ve found myself returning to that glass-blowing pavilion time and time again. Last Wednesday, April 6, one of the daily Mass readings was about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego literally undergoing trial by fire. An angel of God walked in the fiery furnace with them, accepting their prayers and their self-sacrifice and turning the offerings into a masterful display of love of and trust in God. The three men and all who witnessed the sight were transformed in much the same way that the glass was transformed. On Thursday, April 7, we read of Abram’s name being changed to Abraham as he was transformed into a new person cooperating with God and His plan. On Saturday, we read that “the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before Passover to purify themselves” (John 11:55). God’s people knew that they needed to be purified before the feast of Passover. They needed to be worthy, transformed, brushed and polished into their best selves.
Read these words from St. Paul which we just read on Palm Sunday:
Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted himPhilippians 2:6-11
and bestowed on him the name
which is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
God emptied Himself, taking on a new form, the form of man, and humbled Himself to be like us, then died the death of a sinner. After this, He was exalted, changed once again into the highest form, above all else. His passion and crucifixion were not a trial by fire, but He was transformed just the same–born into humanity and dying into glory. He was formed, as we read Monday, and set “as a covenant of the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness” (Isaiah 42:7). We, the prisoners, are brought from darkness and thrust into the light, transformed by its dazzling heat.
Yesterday, we heard from Isaiah that “The Lord called me from birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name. He made of me a sharp-edged sword and concealed me in the shadow of his arm. He made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me” (Isaiah 49:1). How are swords made? By fire! They are heated and sculpted over and over until they are perfect, sharp and ready for the battle, to defend and bring honor and glory. Even Jesus’s prediction, in today’s Gospel, of Peter’s denial was part of Peter’s transformation–heated, molded, heated, molded, heated and molded again.
Each one of the Apostles and many of the disciples (think of Mary Magdalene and Nicodemus) were like that glob of glass in fire. They had to be heated, molded, polished, and refined. They had to go from one indistinguishable thing to an instrument of divine use–a sword, an arrow, a bowl or glass. They were to be purified and refined in order to carry the teachings of Jesus to the world, to be defenders and /or vessels of God’s Word.
One of the most important steps in the glasswork process is the glass blowing. While the glass is still not much more than a large glob of heated jell, the artisan blows through a pipe and into the glass, causing it to expand and take form. With each breath, the jelled glass becomes fuller, larger, closer to its intended shape and purpose. How beautiful it is that we, like the Apostles and disciples in the Upper Room at the culmination of the Easter season, are breathed into by the Holy Spirit, the breath of God. With every breath He sends upon and into us, we are transformed, filled with His grace, moving closer to God’s intended purpose.
Tomorrow begins the Triduum, the shortest but most important of all the Church’s seasons. It is during this time and on Easer Sunday that some of the most important transformations are made, and they certainly are made in fire. From the transformation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, we move to the transformation of friend to betrayer, of sweat into blood, of joy into sadness, of servant to king, from students to teachers, from condemned to saved, from defeat to glory. Though the disciples didn’t stand in a fiery furnace like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, they did undergo the test. Some failed, and some rose to greater glory.
When we go through trial by fire, when we are burned and betrayed by those we love and trust, when we are summoned to be transformed, we can trust in the Artisan who is molding us. With the Holy Spirit, which ignites a fire in our hearts, we can be transformed into that which we were intended. As we prepare for Easter, may we not be put to the test, but may we be on fire with the Word, molded, shaped, and transformed; and may we learn the craft of the Artisan so that we, too, can mold, shape, and transform those around us.
Come see Amy on one of these dates:
April 23, 2022 – A Day of Wine and Roses Book Festival, Brook Hollow Winery, Columbia, NJ
June 4, 2022 – Christ Church 350th Anniversary Fair, Broomes Island, MD
June 12, 2022 – Saints Peter and Paul Communion Brunch, Saints Peter and Paul Church, Easton, MD
June 15, 2022 – Catch Amy on Delmarva Life on channel 16, Salisbury, MD at 5pm.
June 18, 2022 – SunDial Books, Chincoteague, VA – The Launch of My New Chincoteague Trilogy!
August 13, 2022 – Makers Market, St. Michaels Inn, St. Michaels, MD 9am-3pm
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Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. The Good Wine, the sequel to Whispering Vines was released in June of 2021. Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s chapter book is The Greatest Gift, and her most recent suspense novel is Summer’s Squall.
Amy’s second book in the Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Promise, was awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018 and was awarded a Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2019 for Inspirational Fiction. It is the 2019 winner for Best Inspirational Fiction in the RWA Golden Quill Contest, Best Romance in the American Book Awards, and a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award of Fiction. Amy’s 2019 work, The Devil’s Fortune, a finalist in the Writer’s Digest Self-Publishing Awards and winner of an Illumination Award, is based, in part, on Amy’s family history. The third book in Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Hope, was released in August of 2019. Amy’s book, Desert Fire, Mountain Rain begins her new Buffalo Springs series. Book two, Under the Summer Moon, was released in December of 2021.
Amy’s new book, Seeking Tranquility, will be released June 15, 2022. Pre-order your copy now!
Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018), The Devil’s Fortune (2019), Island of Hope (2019), A Devotional Alphabet (2019), Desert Fire, Mountain Rain(2020), The Good Wine (2021), Under the Summer Moon (2021).