Transformed By One Another

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Just a couple of weeks ago we celebrated Clark’s Homecoming—seven years! As we retell his story each year, Clark’s questions become more nuanced, poignant. We have always told of his birth mom who gave him life and the foster mom who protected him until we could get him at six months. But now his questions probe deeper to that of identity and heritage. That is, how does my father’s ethnic heritage of Irish and English and Native American affect who he is? When I say, “oh, my goodness, you are SO Oliver when you do that!”—can it really be true?

It is interesting to read the emerging research on genetics and that by learning more, researchers are recognizing they know so little! Still, some have found that RNA can be altered by ones environment—the physical and emotional surroundings. And, over time, this change will impact DNA. It is obvious that Clark is “one of us.” Of course, he is the only one with those gorgeous deep, brown, almond-shaped eyes and perfect golden skin. He is still very much South Korean. And, the rest of our family sports uneven, white-ish skin and blue eyes, very European-melting pot American. But, now Howie, Samantha, Greer and Lysander are a little bit Korean, and Clark is a little bit mutt, and all of us are every bit Snyder Family—distinctly because we have been transformed by one another—as a family, in Love.

This has obvious implications for our spiritual heritage. When we dwell in the presence of Jesus, it will affect our very DNA. We are transformed by the day-in and day-out of being with this Someone. And, for a community who are being transformed into the likeness of Christ and doing so together, still more does this change occur. Each still Korean or American or Oliver or Snyder—yet, every bit family, fully receiving the riches of God’s glorious inheritance, given by the one from whom every family in heaven and earth takes its name. This is truly rich!

Below is the poem I wrote when we first learned of Clark’s birth and received his hospital picture. It was a time for me that was profoundly spiritual—and, in some ways physical—as I considered our hearts being knit together even before meeting:

Birthright

Cell’s divide and multiply—miracle of life;

Knit and formed, the womb does hide.

Our spirits link, thrice, love complete

Long before our eyes do meet.

Issued from me, astonishment, awe—

This person like me, though not.

Entrusted me, most exquisite gift

To nurture, love, Av, make me fit.

Still, again, mystery-miracle occurs

Deep, hidden, my spirit relentlessly stirs

Our hearts unite, love inexplicable;

Vast world, for now, leaves you invisible.

This union, unseen, most interior;

Still more, irresistible and proper.

Love, though not seeing, mine

Indeed, while separated in this time.

Incomprehensible, birthright, heir:

Joseph’s heritage ours to share.

Our inheritance, pleasing, assured;

Adopted child, mine and Yours

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By Nicole

Nicole Oliver Snyder’s expertise lies in the areas of leadership, gender issues, and mindfulness practice as it affects both. Leadership, particularly in an urban setting, requires community-relations skills, and an ability to clearly convey justice issues as they relate to felt, spiritual ones. Dr. Snyder is author of Leading Together: Mindfulness and the Gender Neutral Zone, and specializes in teaching mindfulness leadership development, formative spirituality, counseling, and Old Testament theology (emphasis on justice issues). She has a diverse background in international community-relations work combined with volunteer work in multi-ethnic communities, and with local institutions. She is an ordained Clergy; holds a BS in Human Development and Family Studies, w/Education Certificate, an MA-Counseling, MDiv Equiv., holds a Doctor of Ministry and Advanced Certification in Formative Spiritual Direction, and is a Licensed Professional Counselor (MI).

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