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Shalom: her magnetic heart

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You and I are “other” to each other,
foreign creatures,
locked in our independent skin.

You and I, we’re unnerved
when we’re together,
we’re fractured, disconnected,
thin as moth-wing.

And yet, the same stuff
that tears us from each other
gravitates us to each other,
and all along,
the earth keeps spinning
to help us shake the
regret-dust from
our shoulders.

I cannot assume you,
and you cannot assume me.

And yet, we began in the same
womb of thought,
the same dream of beginning.

We started and we will end,
and in between we can
detonate bombs
or
unmake them;

We can tighten the noose
or
make climbing ropes;

We can pull triggers
or
bury our weapons
beneath the trees
in our city parks
and let our
oneness
grow out of their
metal mouths.

You and I are “other” to each other,
but desperate enough to invade
these spaces–

desperate enough to fill up the
missing places,

patch up the broken links,

re-engage where we’ve
abandoned.

Shalom– She is a sacred word,
an everlasting act.

Shalom– She is an enduring
vision on the
darkest night,

and that magnet-force that keeps
fighting against our
pulling
and
tugging,
because she puts us
always back
where we were before–

hand in hand by the fire.

Shalom– She knows us better.

Shalom– She binds together the
blistered souls,

and we quiet ourselves,

eyes locked,

all “otherness” dissipated
in a stream of
perfect light.

One of The Church’s Greatest Mistakes: to those for whom there is no room

There’s a story about a laboring woman and the baby inside of her, a story about how far they journeyed together to find a safe place to rest, a suitable place for a birth.

They travelled and travelled and finally the innkeeper said to them, “Sorry, no room,” and they found their way alone.

And today, a lot of people– a lot of churches, a lot of Christians– have taken up the mantle of telling the “other” the same thing.

No room, no room.

No room for the woman who seems impoverished, waiting for her daughter in the church building;

No room for the socially awkward or outcast to find community;

No room for those who have made mistakes and wish to be redeemed;

No room for the Native Americans to keep their own land and find God in it;

No room for the women to lead;

No room for the curious, for the people who ask questions and admit that they seek God outside the church walls;

No room for the children to be children, their little voices heard and considered.

No room. 

And as the privileged voices become louder and the marginalized become quieter, they say, “Speak up, we can’t hear you….No room, no room inside of me for you.”

Maybe those marginalized voices have been speaking, reaching, trying to break glass ceilings and enter the in-crowd for decades.

But still, no room.

And Jesus said, “Those who have hears, let them hear…”

But maybe today He says, “Those who have always had ears and means but haven’t really been listening to anyone but their own…close your mouths for a second.”

And then He looks us in the eyes and says, “Because someone told my mama once, ‘no room, ma’am,’ and she birthed me in a cave.”

And so today, new voices shout from the street corners and church parking lots, “No room! No room for displacement, prejudice, hatred.

No room for xenophobic social circles and secret gossip clubs.

There is no room for the one-person agenda,

No room for the top-down scheme.”

And with every breath of Kingdom, that man who was born in a cave says, “Room…there is room at this table and plenty to eat…

…Come with your questions and let us journey together. Let us make room.

And there, the new church is born.

 

Hallelujah and Amen.

At The End of a Long Week: a Friday Prayer

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All I can say at the end of a long week is that I hope Your will was done.

I hope good came from bad,

holy from evil,

life from brokenness.

I hope somewhere that someone felt the sunlight sink deep into their bones,

that those same rays of sun bolted back out of them

and blessed their every neighbor.

I hope that when Kingdom came this week,

someone was paying attention,

someone engaged with their humanity

and Your perfection.

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It’s the end of a long week,

and I hope that we’re learning to rest better by now.

I hope our deep breaths are deeper

and our hunched shoulders are lowered

and our voices are less strained.

I hope we fill the spaces of the coming weekend

with that kind of Sabbath rest that only Kingdom

can teach us.

All I can say at the end of a long week is

Kingdom, come.

I hope that even where I feel empty, I am full;

I hope that where I feel full, I will be emptied back out;

and I hope all things will be leveled and brought to a good kind of justice,

because at the end of a long week,

the world is both terribly frightening

and

breath-takingly beautiful.

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At the end of a long week,

I hope that our daily bread was given,

that our debts were shackled off of us,

and that our hearts of stone were broken to meet the work of forgiveness.

At the end of a long week,

I hope that we stepped out of our realm and

into Yours,

and realized that they aren’t so far apart after all.

 

So at the end of a long week, I keep praying to the King of Tenderness:

God to enfold me,                                                                                                                                             

God to surround me,
God in my speaking,
God in my thinking.

God in my sleeping,
God in my waking,
God in my watching,
God in my hoping.

God in my life,
God in my lips,
God in my soul,
God in my heart.

God in my sufficing,
God in my slumber,
God in mine ever-living soul,
God in mine eternity.

–Ancient Celtic Prayer, The Carmina Gadelica 

Amen.

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We sit together, one, together,

pressed into green chairs, shoulder to shoulder

with the glory and remembrance of sainthood carved into our hearts,

with cake on our laps and coffee steaming the air between.

We, the broken and undone,

We, the cherished and welcomed in.

We, the family.

And we bring to this windowed room our

thunderous laughter and our stone-heavy tears,

and we pour forth the nectar of our opened hearts and stilled souls.

And we speak of quiet Spirit and of leading Voice,

when it booms in our deepest places.

And I see that our shoes are all tied to our feet,

each of us in our shoes that have journeyed each single journey

to come here, to this mecca of community.

And we open our Book, whose pages

cover us and count us,

words that gather us in.

And it’s an hour, but our time here is forever,

for the Kingdom We Seek is not bound by time or secured by

our fingertips.

No.

It weaves itself through and between us, sewing us into

a tapestry meant for the world.

Hem us in, hem us in.

And we run to You in the beginning, each of us both prodigal son and brother of pride

embodied.

We come to You,

and gathered up in Your embraces,

we leave with the joy of sainthood sheltering us,

All is well, all is well.

 

Amen.

 

 

The Pursuit of Seeing

There is seeing, and there is seeing.

Ann Voskamp mentions it in her book, One Thousand Gifts, and last summer when I read it, I felt like she put words to what I’d been trying to do for the past year or so.

There is a way to knowingly step outside ourselves and look around us– to see our family, our friends, our community– there’s a way to take all of that in as a gift.

I’ve written about it here before, when I’ve needed to stop and step back to see my boys and my husband. Even to see my God.

Maybe that’s what the Holy Spirit gives that is so valuable– a new way of seeing and beholding, a new way of being.

This morning I chopped onions and minced garlic and poured olive oil. I sprinkled cumin and dashed salt, I cracked pepper and rinsed beans and spooned rice.

And for a second I thought, All this work for a 20 minute lunch? What’s the point?

And then the Solomon inside of me gave way to something stronger, and I thought about how God must delight in the way we delight– that He must take joy in our cooking and in our eating, in our experiencing and in our seeing.

And if God can see that as precious, me standing in my sweatpants, making a mess of my kitchen so our family can eat– if He can cherish that, I should, too.

This next season is going to be hard, and I admit, I’m scared. I’m scared of not communicating enough, of not listening enough or not sharing enough. I’m scared of losing my own space, afraid that selfishness will strangle my joy.

So for the next 5 years (and then some), I need to stop and see.

 

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Photo by Travis Curtice

How does the blind man see? I would argue he sees with his whole being. He sees with his hands, his ears, his footsteps; he sees with his breath and his heart.

He sees with all that he is, all that is around him.

I’d like to see that way.

The Pursuit of Seeing is the pursuit of life, slowed-down.

If you’re part of the online mommy world, or even the minimalist realm, you’ll hear about it plenty: the push to slow down, the importance of simplifying and stopping and treasuring.

But can we stop reading about how to, and actually do it?

Dive in, be blind, experience your life with your whole being. Let it sink in.

This is a place of STORIES, and today my story was about smelling simmering veggies and cumin. It was about eating with my house full of men and recognizing– seeing –that it’s beautiful to share my table with them.

What do you see?

If you blog, join me in the journey– write your story, your pursuit, and post it in the comments section.

If you don’t blog…join us anyway. Let us know what you see.

We’ll be focusing on seeing monthly.

If you need a little nudge, choose your definition of seeing. Choose how you want to look:

–to come to know

–to perceive the importance of

–to care for

–to notice someone

–to become aware

–to imagine as possibility

Annie Dillard says it like this:

“Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of mystery, like the idle, curved tunnels of leaf miners on the face of a leaf.

We must somehow take in a wider view, look at the whole landscape, really see it, and describe what’s going on here.

Then we can at least wail the right question into the swaddling band of darkness, or, if it comes to that, choir the proper praise.”

Annie saw something in the creek bed, and she chose not to close her eyes.

Friends, let us open our eyes and see, that we may journey together in the adventurous pursuit of life sweetly lived.

 

Let Loose and Dance, Mom

You can be sure that in this house, when mom’s stressed, everyone else is, too. Paper’s due tomorrow, the dishes are piled high, and there’s not enough coffee to fill my thirsty throat. I still can’t find the right person to interview for that project, and Charlie is getting his brown doggy hair all over the kitchen floor.

Travis makes me laugh and exaggerates my sour attitude with sarcasm.

Eliot whines more because, well, that’s what mom’s doing.

So this afternoon, we just need to dance.

Travis is gone to fill his students’ heads with wonderful things, empowering them to change the world. (I really love him.) Eliot’s eating blueberries and a “baked organic cheese & grain snack” that’s got him smiling.

So we turn on Pandora. First, the Lecrae station. A little headbanging and jiving, and we’re done.

Next, Gotye– that’s better. Now he’s hiding behind the curtain and laughing. Eating his puff off the floor and wiggling his little legs, clapping all the time.

The party’s just not quite right without his new dog– the plastic one that scoots and barks at him. We invite him into the kitchen, and Eliot’s in bear crawl position, bouncing his booty up and down.

I dance while I put away the dishes, he dances while he bangs on the refrigerator. Now it’s “Lights” by Ellie Goulding. Hands in the air. Celebrate something. Howl like the dogs do. It will make it more fun. And feel every beat.

We keep jamming. I can’t wash the dishes because I got a spray tan this afternoon (go ahead and laugh), but I can clean while I dance. Cleaning is sort of my hobby, my de-stresser. I wonder if Eliot will pick up the habit.

He watches me, wants to know when I’m smiling, when I’m glaring, frowning, worried and stuck in my own head and circumstance. I smile, he smiles. I dance, he dances, and the world appears right. It’s a piece of God in the brokenness, and it’s what I need. What we’ve always needed.

Maybe when he’s 11 he will pick up my habit of worry. He will be up until 12 trying to write a paper that he knows he will get an “A” on. I will teach him the lessons I’m still trying to learn at age 24 now, at age 35 then. But right now, the lesson for both of us is simple.

Let loose and dance.