Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas in the Land of Broken

I am living in the Land of Broken. Today, my office blind won’t release the catch, so it’s going to stay up all night. This morning my computer technician told me my audio port is broken. Yesterday, the vacuum gave off that distinct burnt rubber aroma. Last week our favorite lamp smashed to the floor.

Broken is disappointment. At the least, it’s an interruption in my plans. Plans to close the blinds, finish the audio CD I’m making for a Christmas gift, clean the house for company. At most, it’s the sense I’m not good enough, don’t have enough, and will go broke trying to fix the broken things.

The other day I was listening to that old Cat Stevens song, “Moon Shadow.”

If I ever lose my hands . . . I won’t have to work no more.
If I ever lose my eyes . . . I won’t have to cry no more.
And if I ever lose my legs . . . I won’t have to walk no more.
If I ever lose my mouth . . . I won’t have to talk no more.

There’s something beautiful in letting go of the fear of loss. In knowing, whatever breaks, you’ll have a new and lovely replacement – even if it’s just the freedom not to have to work, strive, walk, talk. There’s a similar letting go by Job, who suffered tremendous loss, in the Biblical account: “The Lord gave, the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord.”

For many years, I didn’t accept loss. I denied it, fought it, strove against it. Now I’ve come to see that the only thing we can truly ever lose is our happiness. Meanwhile, all the trappings of our lives trick us into thinking they are what make us happy.

The greatest gift is acknowledging that my happiness comes from a deeper source. It isn’t dependent on circumstances. I know this sounds simple, but it really is something you can practice - it’s changing my outlook. It isn’t conditional upon “getting all my stuff done.” All I need is that Presence, that Moon Shadow, that reminder that Love is here to bring joy amidst all the broken things.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Unruly Faith

I want to keep letting God out of the box. More and more, I see the need for people of faith to let go of moldy, outmoded ideas and develop a relationship with boundless love. Allowing creativity and the arts to lead the way, rather than being suspicious of our impulses. Trusting in a love that is BOUNDLESS and ENORMOUS, so much bigger than our petty human preferences and arguments.

I'm calling it Unruly Faith. (Follow me on Twitter: @UnrulyFaith). Moving beyond the fussy rules of people, and into the greatest thing: Divine Grace.

What an adventure!

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Why of Bowing

Breaking the Bow
by Randy MacLean

I have nothing against humility
Accepting the wondrous enormity of God

But for years I had an odd yucky feeling
About bowing one's head in prayer

It was like saying:
I am a permanently horrible miserable being.
Oh Lord have mercy.

Mercy is endless, limitless
When we are open
We are eternally wonderful

Now when I bow my head
It brings me closer
So I can hear You beating in my Heart

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Saving the World?

"I wake up in the morning torn between the desire to save the world and to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day." --E.B. White

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Playing God

Sure, it's easy to say I know I'm not God - I mean it looks obvious and all, but what about all the times I play out a role of little pretend goddess?

All the Ways I Think I'm God

  • When I can't resist the urge to give advice, just sure it will change someone's life instantly.

  • When I think that my worrying and fretting (or pre-worrying, as my sister calls it), will change the outcome of tomorrow, the future, the distant future, and the destiny of everyone and everything.

  • When I can't accept not knowing.

  • When changing my mind is out of question.

  • When I insist on my plans and schemes - without possibility for interruptions and detours.

  • When I have to be important. When deep down I'm terrified that I'm insignificant, and I try to make up for it.

  • When I argue my right to be right, and think that rightness earns me bonus points.

  • When I act as if God can't run the world without me.
God: Next time I insist I'm God, let me remember that I'm probably not, especially at the moment. Let me shut up and let the real God be in charge. Amen.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Thanks for Saying That

I love it when other people say things so I don't have to. I love it when Christians themselves point out the foibles of the faith, calling us on being judgmental and labeling. I love it when someone else's soapbox is much taller than mine, and they have a good chance of being heard - but they're not shouting, they're beseeching. ("He who has ears to hear, let him hear . . . ")

Let's hear this message of wisdom: that we need to listen to each other, not make snap judgments. Jason Boyett makes the case for it, as follows. Thanks, Jason.Thoughts About Rob Bell, John Piper, and Justin Taylor

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Labels and Faith

A teacher friend of mine wanted to share a spiritual concept with his nonreligious class - but in the middle of speaking, he stopped himself. "I'd better not say it," he said. Lucky (or unlucky) for him, I happened to be in his class, and knowing he was on the brink of opening his heart to everyone, I piped up, "Oh, go ahead!"

So he went ahead and briefly mentioned the belief he identifies with. His spiritual connection. His faith. His religious affiliation. His born again experience. See how each of these phrases carries its own connotation? Every label has its judgment. Which is the right label to use? How ever can we talk about God when we all cringe at various words and warm to others?

And yet people practically drag that info out of you, because they want to know "where you stand." Someone said that to me once, and I almost gagged. Sorry, but you won't know where I stand by the label I use, but by getting to know me and watching my life.

The fact remains: identifiers are easy. Labels are quick.
My teacher friend was correct in knowing that the wrong phrase would make some people prickle. And yet being the wrong color can also make people uncomfortable. Hailing from the wrong country. Wearing the wrong thing on one's head.

And all these differences are seen, noticed, identified in the blink of an eye, the turn of a phrase. ("Oh, she said that. She must be one of those.")

When are we going to learn to simply let the other person be different? Fact is, most of our differences circle around language. When it comes to true experience of our Creator, of Jesus, of the Divine, of love, of transformation, we have so very much in common. But how you reacted to some of the above words shows the orientation you have. "Jesus" may have sounded wrong. Or "transformation" seemed new agey.

The first step to breaking down barriers is to recognize them in your own life! Notice what makes you balk, what ruffles your feathers and gets you all opinionated. There are whole cultures nextdoor to you - different communities, neighborhoods, churches - whose main difference is the words they use, the books they read, the radio and TV they watch.

These divisions don't further the kingdom of God. Only love furthers the kingdom of God. (Again, this phrase may or may not be in your personal faith lexicon. Just go with it for now. Thanks.)

When you see the other as brother, sister, whom you can love and reach out to, learn from, learn with - you are living like a little Christ. Yes, even if you call it something else.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Martin Luther King Day

Voices much more eloquent than mine speak of truth and justice. All I know is that when I was a little girl, I lived in a multiracial neighborhood, and my first crush was my five-year-old neighbor. It never occurred to me that being different colors meant anything.

Alan lived next door at Lakeside Apartments. His skin was shiny and smooth and beautiful. He had a round smiley head topped with short, black fuzz and when he talked, his head moved in a peaceful way. We were racing matchbox cars in the dirt between the sidewalk and the green wet grass. I wanted to see what his dark, smiley face would kiss like. His cheek was soft and smelled like toothpaste.

You who claim to love your fellow human, understand that if it isn't color blind, it isn't the love of God. Children are lovers. (Be like little children, said Jesus.) They know the truth of this.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Cerebrating or Celebrating?

I was bewailing a writing contest that I didn't place in. And then I began scrutinizing, overscrutinizing, and judging my writing. Then it came to me: I was cerebrating versus celebrating.

Cerebrating is a symptom of overdoing. I am struggling for power, giving too much credence to the thoughts of my own little brain. But when I replace the growly "r" in cerebrate with the very gentle "l" (even the sound of the letter - "elle" is feminine and yielding), then I am able to celebrate. Letting go of results, and enjoying the moment.

I have so much to celebrate, but I lose sight of this when trying to achieve a certain outcome. Once I stop having to be control, and start celebrating, it's a wonderful thing.

Ordinary People Who Know Things

"The moments you are fully present are the ones you remember." --Jean, in my centering prayer group