Weeping and Wailing: a lament litany

Untitled design-9.png

Maybe the stars went black that day because there was nothing else to get their attention, the people gathered around the crosses with dice in their hands and grins on their mouths, a few others hiding, stopping to stifle their quiet sobs.

After all, thieves hung on crosses every day, proclamations of miracles and resurrection on their lips now and again.

Maybe the stars went black because the sound of the nail through skin made them, finally, too tired to shine.

Maybe they just closed their eyes for a minute to weep, while the thunderclouds wailed around them.

Maybe then it only lasted a few moments, but maybe every night while we sleep, the stars go black for a second, and the thunderclouds rumble a low lament– a weep and a wail lasting centuries in this world.


 

Weeping and Wailing.

For every innocent body executed by the state—

Weeping and Wailing.

For every murdered indigenous person whose killer goes free–

Weeping and Wailing.

For every abused child–

Weeping and Wailing.

For the poor, who are told to pull themselves up or else–

Weeping and Wailing.

For young women, who believe their voices don’t matter in the church–

Weeping and Wailing.

For the tired widows–

Weeping and Wailing.

For young men incarcerated and abused by the system–

Weeping and Wailing. 

For the descendants of the oppressed, who live generational trauma in their bones–

Weeping and Wailing.

For the Empires, who for centuries have oppressed in God’s name–

Weeping and Wailing.

For too many tombs filled with those killed by police brutality–

Weeping and Wailing.

For institutional sins of ableism, sexism, religious bigotry, toxic masculinity, white supremacy and racism–

Weeping and Wailing. 

For a world that has been abused herself, beaten year after year because we say that we are called to “subdue” her–

Weeping and Wailing. 


 

The stars went black because they had no other choice.

Because if the world went black for a moment or two, maybe the people would gather to one another and make peace.

Maybe they would remember that they belong to each other and the world they inhabit, there in the darkness, there with the thunder calling their names.

Maybe the darkness puts us in the tomb, too.

Maybe we go there to weep and wail ourselves, for injustice, a longing to be whole again.

Weeping and Wailing.

Weeping and Wailing.

Weeping and Wailing.

Until the stars shine on us again.


A Chemical Reaction of the Soul

chemical reaction: n. a chemical change that occurs when two or more substances combine to form a new substance.

FullSizeRender 42.jpg

I’ll be the first to admit that I know little about chemistry.

But recently I had a conversation with my son about chemical reactions, how something as simple as baking a cake becomes a chemical reaction–because the cake can never go back to being flour, salt, sugar, or eggs. It has transformed.

Neither can my coffee, that is ground and immersed in water inside the coffee maker, go back to being the original bean again.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the process of deconstructing or decolonizing my faith.

I’ve written about it here, and if I stop with one piece, I’ve obviously missed the point.

About two years ago I had a conversation with a friend that ended in the realization that I am no longer the person I was in high school and college.

My perspectives on faith and the church have shifted, along with who I believe should be included and excluded in such matters.

It seems I’ve become someone else, but still hold in tact the original essence of who I’ve always been.

Is it possible to have a sort of chemical reaction of the soul? Is it possible that we transform so that we cannot be what we once were?

I believe that’s a healthier version of ourselves, and if we’re really honest, fighting transformation will leave us unhappy, missing out on new aspects of ourselves that are waiting to be discovered.

When we refuse to change, to evolve, to transform, we become stuck in only what we’ve known, because we’re scared to ask questions. But the question-asking, the wondering and wandering– it’s what helps those chemical reactions of the soul take place. All of those substances combine in us to bring transformation.

My coffee, steaming in my cup with cream and sugar, will never be a coffee bean again.

It has some sort of new purpose.

Just the same, my life journey today, seeking my Potawatomi identity and asking the American church how it can be better, is a version of myself that cannot forget what it has seen or go back to what it once was.

But the question-asking, the wondering and wandering-- it's what helps those chemical reactions of the soul take place. All of those substances combine in us to bring transformation.-2.png

If coffee transforms, so can we.

And each fall leaf,

every flower,

every bird’s egg that hatches,

each child that grows and matures,

a caterpillar that will become a butterfly,

every pumpkin pie or fortune cookie or veggie omelet–

a chemical reaction in the world, a transformation.

So if we aren’t who we were yesterday, and we’re not yet transformed into who we’ll be tomorrow, who are we today?

Maybe we simply ARE,

this transforming thing,

the cake that’s still in the oven,

the coffee that’s being ground.

Maybe we’re inside the middle of transformation, where it hurts a little, the caterpillar making its way toward the butterfly.

While we are in this cocoon, dreaming of who we’ll be, working toward it, we acknowledge that this space, right now, is necessary and good in the process, and we cannot skip it.

You and I are in the midst of our chemical reaction of the soul, and we cannot go back now.

The only way is forward,

and into glorious, unknown light.

Amen. 

 

PEOPLE WHO HOLD SPACE WILL HEAL THE CHURCH

IMG_7740

When I married my husband, he’d just cut off his dreads and was an avid rock climber. He married me– a girl from a small town, comfortable in everything that I knew, in everything that I’d been and was going to be.

As Johnny Cash says, we got married in a fever, and before we knew exactly what we’d done, we were home from our honeymoon, beginning the long journey toward figuring out who we were–together.

When he married me, he loved who I was, but also saw who I could one day become, and he held that vision steady. And it wasn’t a vision for what he thought I was supposed to be, but a vision still unknown to him, held by the mystery of God.

He took me climbing in one of his favorite spots not long after we married. I had a dislike of nature, but was idealistic about it, and there was abounding irony in the fact that I’d married someone like him.

He took me to a place called Lincoln Lake, a climbing spot in Arkansas that had been home to him for a long time.

All that I remember thinking is that the lake water was really brown and there were a lot of bugs. I couldn’t see then the way I see now.

FullSizeRender 34

 

Nine years later, close to our anniversary, we went back there. He took me to the top of the rocks to set up the climbing rope, and I sat and drank my coffee. There were large black ants crawling across my feet and the humidity in the air was rising little by little.

“It’s beautiful here,” I said.

“I didn’t appreciate it before.” I looked back with tears in my eyes.

“I know,” he said.

There seems to be a difference between being with someone to change them and being with someone as you hold space for them to change.

My husband has always held space for me.

He’s held space for me to grow up from the 19 year old who married him.

He’s held space for me to learn motherhood.

He’s held space for me to ask questions in my faith.

He’s held space for me to walk into my Native American culture without fear.

In holding space, he has loved me.

And he continues to hold space for who I’ll become tomorrow.

I’m convinced that space holding people are the ones who will heal the church.

They are the ones who bring justice and shalom, because they are patient people who hold onto a long-off vision. We need them in our churches, because they will not force change. They will not sit in pews and bear judgment over the people around them, but they will sit with those people and wait for God to show them the way.

The church has very publicly become a place that tries to manage others, and it often leaves people wounded. It wounds the church by distorting who the church should really be, and it wounds individuals in the church by making them feel like they aren’t good enough for Jesus.

So we need to learn to hold space.

Like my husband saw in me, we need to see what is good in each other, to hold onto the longer vision that God holds for each of us, and we need to wait.

I did not understand as a 19 year old who I was marrying or who I was. And in the process of learning, I needed someone who could be gentle yet steady with me, just as God is gentle and steady.

People like my husband, who hold space, show the unique character of God in a way that we are all hungry for.

So let’s practice holding space instead of holding one another hostage to our own ideals.

Let’s remember that God has an individual vision for each of us, and it’s worth waiting for.

IMG_7738

As I climbed up the rocks that morning, I felt like I was communing with a space of the world that I’d never known existed before. I felt drawn in by my inability to know exactly where to put my foot or my hands, but that unknowing gave me energy to try anyway, like I was trusting this thing that was calling me back to God.

And on the one climb when I reached the top, I turned around and scanned the treetops with my eyes. I looked down at the brown water and across the horizon of that Arkansas day and thought, “I am so glad I am alive.”

If we hold space for each other, we learn how to truly be alive with one another, as we cast off judgment and wait for the grace of God to journey with us into unknown and sacred places.

And my friends, it’s absolutely worth the wait.

 

That Night at the Monastery

Last year I visited a monastery about an hour away from my city. I was there for a few nights for a staff retreat.

It’s one of those thin places, where you feel yourself go from outside into an unseen womb, a haven of silent meals and monk’s prayers. While the rest of the staff continued conversations in the “talking room” through mealtime, I sat with my friend Dilshad in the silent room and we ate in complete quiet. At one point, we looked at each other with tears in our eyes, and she grabbed my hand. It was all we needed to know that we’d found a sacred space in the quiet. We’d found a place that was going to show us something of God and bond us to one another.

That evening our group attended prayers and worship, a service in which the monks sang Psalms and other scriptures over us.

By the third song, I was weeping. I tried to stifle the noise, wiping my nose on my sleeve so as not to distract the other people from worship.

But I was so tired. 

Over the past six months, I’d begun deeply investing in the history of my ancestors and of native people in general, a long wound caused by the church– people using the name of Jesus to enslave, kill and force out indigenous men, women, children and elders, and to destroy the land they once lived on.

And it wasn’t a grief that I could leave at home or drop off at the front door of the church. It came with me, it sat inside of me, it processed its way into my faith and told me to ask the raw and difficult questions.

So I stood still in that gorgeous monastery cathedral where it was dark and candles were lit and monks were singing a benediction over us, a call into the presence of God, a call into living.

And while they sang, while I wept, I thought over and over to myself, “How could something so beautiful be used to kill so many people?”

Over and over and over,

I stared into human history, zooming in and out, people to people, culture to culture, human to human. I watched as the monks sang over me, as my ancestors sang over me–that piercing in my heart creating shallow breath in my lungs.

Kaitlin b. curtice.png

A friend put his arm around my shoulder as we left, and I thought in that moment how grateful I am for a companion on the journey, but how difficult it is to describe something I mourn so deeply.

But I decided that I’d spend my days trying.

And every moment that gives me the opportunity to understand for myself what I grieve, and to bring that to the table of the church, I’ll do it.

And I’ll do it with a spirit of reconciliation, with a spirit of shalom, because I know that on the human life trajectory, though there is killing, though there is pain and death and brokenness, there is still Jesus.

And while Jesus is not the God of the American Church, he still calls the American Church to a new spirit of humility, to a new spirit of learning and re-learning what it means to honor anyone “other.”

For the first time in my life, my spirit feels “othered” and I haven’t been sure what to do with it, except to come here, to share my story, to look my people in the eyes, then to turn to the church and look my community in the eyes as well.

Because today, I have a responsibility to speak into my indigenous, Potawatomi heritage, into my relationship with Creator God and my ancestors, and an equal responsibility to teach the church why I am also a part of her.

So, Church, do you remember how to pray?

I need you to pray with me, to pray us into a new season of Church, into a new understanding of shalom, for the sake of all of us:

O Jesus,

In a world that revolves around life and death,

we hope and pray that we learn to understand the human lives that rest in between.

While we are here, we grieve and celebrate, we laugh and cry,

we journey in and out of appreciation for the life we’ve been given.

And in the in-between times, we are simply listening,

trying to understand what it means to know ourselves and to know you,

the one who carries the stories of the world and rests in the wilderness with the lonely,

the one who lays beside the dying and calls the broken into wholeness.

We simply hold onto your essence,

because it covers us and leads us both into ourselves

and into each other– into you.

May we journey the labyrinth,

the medicine wheel,

the life cycle,

the moment-by-moment call

to be a people who are both

spirit and breath,

both learned and learning,

both wandering and found.

Somehow,

you hold us there,

eternal love your salve,

the call of shalom your surgical tool.

You, Jesus,

are still the beautiful thing,

despite our attempts to

steal you and create you into something else.

Yes.

You, Jesus,

are still the beautiful thing.

Amen.

SEVEN GRATITUDES: life & death

sevengratitudes

{Seven Gratitudes is a lovely link-up I participate in some Fridays with my dear friend, Leanna. Head over to her blog for wonderful lessons and beautiful, honest writing.}

This week, two people (that I know of) in this world committed suicide. One was someone I didn’t know, but have connections to his work, and the other was a friend from my youth.

I would never presume to decide what happened in the world to lead to their decision, nor would I attempt to judge what they were feeling in the last months, weeks and days of their lives.

So in my grief, in my lack of understanding, I pray for their families and friends, and I turn to gratitude, to the things that give me life today.

FullSizeRender 14.jpg

  • My sons’ second violin lesson. I thought that I loved music, that it orchestrated and moved my life through every season, and when I had Eliot, I found out I’m not the only one. In fulfilling this dream, he’s coming alive.

IMG_7218

  • This garden. There is something really sacred about growing plants from seeds. It brings out a nurturing spirit, and I guarantee that if you invest in these little seedlings and watch them grow into adult plants, harvesting their produce for your table, you’ll learn something wonderful about the cycle of life.
  • The latest endorsement to my book, the day after having my first podcast interview with Steve Wiens, author of f Beginnings: The First Seven Days of the Rest of Your Life and Whole: Restoring What is Broken in Me, You, and the Entire World:
“Kaitlin Curtice is the kind of writer whose words carry you to spacious places where you can breathe again. When I read Glory Happening, I was in a frantic season of my life, hurried and harried and kind of lost. With each of Kaitlin’s stories and prayers, I was gently invited back to a place of rest and grace. If you can stand it, please sip this book. It’s too delicious to drink all in one gulp.”
IMG_7123.JPG
  • Easter (and everyday life) with this man. He’ll be starting a fellowship with the Carter Center this summer, and I can see the fruit of his hard work coming to life in a way that I always knew it would. He’s one of the most beautiful souls I’ve ever known.
  • A moment with one of my co-workers at church in which he leaned into my life as an indigenous woman and spoke to me about the whiteness of the church, about how, after all these years, something must change. In that moment, he honored the lives of people of color and our place in this world and in the church.

IMG_7125.JPG

  • Potawatomi culture and ceremonial practice. I ordered sweetgrass and ceremonial tobacco this week, and in honoring my own culture, I am finding a space with God that helps me slow down, breathe easier, and find true, sacred life in all spaces. I need that in the face of difficulty, when I am hungry for a moment of grace.
  • Sarah Bessey and Nish Weiseth, who both took over Twitter this week to point out the way female writers are treated in our world today (#ThingsFemaleWritersHear) and the reality that many women of color are not given a platform on which to share their work.

I encourage you to find your spaces of gratitude today. It can be as simple as a cup of coffee, a moment of silence, a deep breath, a glance out the window to the world that holds you.

I leave you with this benediction:

You have been called out,
Sent out,
Gathered up and told,
“You. You are the one to fulfill this dream. You are the one to know this journey. You are the one to find God and all goodness.”
And like a hand on the small of your back,
You head out,
Only adventure ahead of you,
Only a path untouched,
Only a story untold,
Only a life yet to be lived–
Yours.
Go, my friend.
Go in peace.

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

FullSizeRender

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.

Mending our Mess & Finding Community: the wildernesses of the churched and unchurched

IMG_3563

I believe in transformation.

I believe in ending grudge-matches,

in pursuing community ties.

I believe in Mystery,

in the essence of God in the created world.

I believe in the human journey,

in the winding process that eventually leads us to each other and Kingdom good.

IMG_3831

When I was young, I took to heart those bible verses that told me not to hang out with non-Christians or to date anyone who might try to kiss me.

I had a deep love for those outside my church body, but I was afraid of them, afraid of the dark, afraid of the unknown that could stain me.

When my legalistic hardness softened a little, when I re-understood the words I’d read for so long in the church pew, I inched outside of myself bit by bit.

I saw the world outside the conservative Christian lens, and lo and behold, God still called it good.

We are trying to figure out why people are leaving the church, and our ministry-minded brains find it difficult to swallow that we may not be giving life with every warm welcome and small group meeting, that our efforts to engage and save the world sometimes fall short.

And people leave the church and we are sure they are gone forever.

But the truth is, we all walk the wilderness, whether we are “churched” or not.

And the truth is, the Mystery of God holds meetings with the stars and spends time in the campfire glow.

The Mystery of God speaks in the ocean depths and mourns every heartache we never knew existed.

People find God in their yoga classes and favorite restaurants,

in a drink with a long-time friend

or at toddler story time.

They find God at the climbing gym,

God in the garden bed.

And so the church does not work because of us;

the church is God, and God is in the wildernesses of our short lives,

at the Sunday Farm Burger table and the Tuesday morning board meeting.

If we truly believe that God is in our midst, we believe that God is inside and outside the church building,

walking around the farmer’s market with the children, faces painted with ocean waves and iron man colors.

The church is for community, for healing, for rebirth and reminders that we are all called good.

So maybe we need to relax and lean in,

engage the quiet of our hearts,

the stillness in our homes,

know ourselves,

understand our own journey,

and let that lead us to

gracefully holding

the journey of others

as sacred.

Perhaps there is some more rewiring to be done,

perhaps, years later, we still have to unplug from the legalistic mindset

and remember that God finds us and holds us

precisely when we feel far away,

exactly when we feel that we are right where we need to be.

And so we pray,

God, be God,

and let us dwell

in and

with you,

creation-goodness

abounding

where

we most

and least

expect it.

Amen.

Becoming a Deacon(ess): just passing through

The day in September that I was flying to Minneapolis for the Why Christian? Conference, I got a phone call.

“We’d like for you to consider being a deacon,” Scott said. I felt his smile through the phone, and I think it widened when I started cackling.

“Okay!…are you sure?” I said through shallow breaths.

See, we’ve been in this beautiful little community for about a year and a half now, and while I certainly admitted deep down that I’d love to be a deacon in a church someday, I didn’t know it would come so soon.

The defintion of a deacon is something along this line: a servant who’s passing through.

FullSizeRender

If you’re of a certain conservative lot like the one I grew up in, you might be a little uncomfortable with this. A woman, a deacon, a worship leader…a woman.

Well, it seems the longer I know Jesus, the wider the Kingdom becomes, and He calls every single one of us into something unexpected and holy and good, if we just widen our scope of the Spirit.

And even when we aren’t listening so well, He’s still good. If that isn’t miracle on earth, I don’t know what is.

But I know that I’ve found in this last season of living in Atlanta that God is stretching me bigger than I thought my being could stretch.

I am so small, and yet I find that somehow He grows my capacities, and multiplies gifts like bread and calls me good when I think I know better.

So then He pulls me close again and asks me to serve.

Serve, daughter. Give yourself again to these people. Be filled by them and pour your gifts out like I’ve asked you to. Be church. 

I remember someone else who passed through, a man who healed for some years before He passed on into eternity to take over the throne seat that had been waiting for Him for so long.

If deaconship is following in His passing-through-as-servant example, I’m in.

So while I pass on through, I get to wash some feet.

I get to know stories and faces and embrace bodies and speak life.

I get to mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those whose hearts beam joy.

I get to remember, again, that I am part of this deep and everlasting well that calls everyone to her, calls everyone into some sort of servanthood, some sort of “love one another” beckoning.

Hallelujah, that this Kingdom is a serve while you’re passing through kind of Kingdom.

I’m so honored to be here.

IMG_1140

A New Church Truth: the lie of the generation gap

Often in the church, a gap emerges, a “we” and “them” dynamic, a “modern” versus “traditional” dualism that leaves many people isolated and lonely, the church hurting in unnecessary ways.

The truth is, that gap is rooted in a lie.

The generation gap exists because we created it to bear itself down on us, to impose a rule of restriction over our natural need for community.

The younger avoid the older, so much that we find it most difficult to cross into uncharted territory, to join in the other service, to sit at a new table, to even say hello.

One day, not long after we first moved here, we ventured across downtown shops and busy streets with Debra, and ate at Chic Fil A. She held Eliot’s hand and ushered him into the bright red and white building.

She bought our lunch and gathered at the table with us, helping Eliot with his chicken and fries while Isaiah hunkered down with some apple juice in his stroller.

Then we left, journeying back downtown to explore a community garden and local park.

“We don’t have grandchildren, so we’d love to borrow the boys sometime!” she said while we walked.

We continued on, nearly arm in arm, the kindness of community becoming more apparent by the hour. It’s Debra loving on a young mother and her two boys, and a young mother asking for a friend for her family.

The boys go to Debra and Scott’s home some mornings, and it’s another Grandma and Grandpa, another experience of inter-generational kindness and love.

The generation gap we’ve created tells us that these moments aren’t possible, that young people can’t put down our iPhones long enough to make any eye contact, and that someone like Debra just won’t seem to understand.

If there’s any pressing responsibility for the church today, it’s to bind this lie. 

Because young mothers have forever been in need of mentors and friends to lighten the load, and parents and grandparents have forever been loving on their kids and grandkids in beautiful ways.

The truth of the space between generations is that it exists in order for us to teach each other something. The difference in years between us is for both our benefit, a holy design that’s lasted years and years before our time.

It was Ruth and Naomi, fighting for each other in grief and healing. It was my Grandma, gathering us to the kitchen to make blackberry pie.

It’s my mom holding my boys and reading to them.

It’s David and Jeanie bringing us into their home for an entire day while Travis is out of town.

It’s our neighbor and Eliot’s best friend, Suzan, driving hours and hours to spend one weekend with us.

And it’s Scott and Debra, reminding us week after week that they see us and are for us, and that these spans of years between us only add to the Kingdom’s good diversity.

FullSizeRender

We are all gathered at that well, we are all surrounding and surrounded by that good and holy water that beckons us to Spirit and each other.

Hallelujah, for a diverse and truth-filled Kingdom.

A God Story: the thin and holy string

TKUGANDA 116

In the corner of our boys’ room, there is a rolled up rug. It was woven in Uganda, and it’s got pink and cream and purple fleshed into its design.

And above our oven, there’s a white plastic canister with a red plastic lid, and it’s got groundnuts in it.

When I see that canister, I close my eyes and remember seeing those little plants growing up out of the African soil.

And every time I look at that rug, I remember our trip to Uganda in 2009, the research trip that my husband Travis and I embarked on with a hunger to see and understand someone in another part of our world.

I see Dunkan’s living room, his brick compound of a house and his tiny mother in her beautiful print dress, humbly gifting this homemade present to us.

I see him cutting the sugarcane and jackfruit with a handleless knife and I remember his shy smile, the way his white teeth flecked light from the sun.

TKUGANDA 405

The day I met Dunkan, I tried to hold on to the air, tried not to breathe too deeply so that the moment would last longer, so that I could cherish it forever.

I remember the day that I decided to sponsor him through Compassion International, the day I was only a teenager standing there, looking through faces in tiny rectangular packaging.

I told God then, “If I do this, you have to provide for me. If I do this, I need you to provide.”

And Dunkan went from being someone I’d never known to someone I had finally met to a family member whose picture hangs on our wall.

Dunkan is 18 years old now, and I’m a mother of two little boys, and God has always provided for both of us.

Today, He still provides, and I am reminded that the journey went from the blue carpet of my Baptist church to the dirt ground of Uganda, where I put my arm around him and saw his life spread out before me– two lives attached by a thin and holy string, two lives claimed by the grace and kindness of God.

TKUGANDA 391

It’s odd to think about making deals with God, to consider that this relationship is a give-and-take in so many ways.

Thomas Merton said, “Our vocation is not simply to be, but to work together with God in the creation of our own life, our own identity, our own destiny. We are free beings and children of God. This means that we should not passively exist, but actively participate in His creative freedom, in our lives, and in the lives of others, by choosing the truth. To put it better, we are even called to share with God the work of creating the truth of our identity.”

Sponsoring Dunkan when I was sixteen was the beginning of a new season of my identity, and God and I worked together every month to give a little something to this boy across the ocean.

And every month He was shaping another part of my identity, another part of Duncan’s identity, painting Himself in a new light for us both in this unexpected and magical relationship between two people who really needed each other and the Father.

He was someone God was real to, someone cherished and known and valued.

Knowing who God is means asking Him questions, asking questions of ourselves, stepping outside of what we know to embrace possibilities of servanthood and goodness.

There, we shape a new truth in ourselves, and there in my boys’ room I’m reminded of it every time I see that rolled up rug in the corner and every time I pass by the jackfruit piled up at the International Market.

God is real as He shapes my heart and my identity every single day, and He is real in the way He provides for me, and in the way He provides for Duncan.

TKUGANDA 386

————————-

Jesus,

You’ve always been a gift-giver. In the healing of your hands, in the spit and the dirt you used to work wonders, you were giving the essence of yourself to our humanity.

When you left us to be with the Father, you gave us Spirit, a chance to put fresh breath into our tired and weary lungs, the gift of someone speaking to, for, and with us in our quietest moments.

And in our humanness, you still pour gifts forth, in the ways we experience the sacredness of each other’s lives.

Thank you for cherishing us, thank you for teaching us how to cherish You.

Lead us to your throne, day after day after day, and then lead us back to each other, back to community, back to the gift-giving legacy you began in us so long ago. Amen.