Tuesday, February 21, 2012

teach us to care and not to care [a blog fast]

During the season of Lent I'm making the commitment to get quiet, really quiet here.  I've been blogging for something like six years and I'm feeling the need to put it down for awhile to process privately, maybe do some writing for another space, maybe take some naps.  Not sure.

We do celebrate off-days on Sabbath (which we happen to celebrate on Monday since Sunday in a pastor's house is not exactly restful) so you might see me occasionally.  I value the conversations so many of you have with me here and will look forward to celebrating our risen Jesus together come April!

Grace and peace,

[photo credit:  Ann Voskamp, The Way of Light Wreath]

Some of my Lent posts from past years:
Ash Wednesday, 2011

Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice

And pray to God to have mercy upon us
And pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain
Because I do not hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us

Because these wings are no longer wings to fly
But merely vans to beat the air
The air which is now thoroughly small and dry
Smaller and dryer than the will
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still.

-- from T.S. Eliot's Ash Wednesday

Saturday, February 18, 2012

getting words on the white blank page

It's been a long time since I sat at the keyboard in front of a blank white page, hoping to fill it with words that mean something to me.  And maybe to you, too.

It's been a hard six months.  And that was following a hard two and a half years.  And it's not that I didn't have moments of crashing during this time.  I had plenty.  Sometimes I shared some of them here.  Sometimes I didn't.

In the last couple of weeks I think I faced some of the hardest moments yet in this season of hoping, dying to hoping, and hoping again.  And I ran out of words to say.  

Probably no coincidence that before I ran out of words, I ran out of time for quiet, prayer, contemplation and rest.  Some of that was my own fear of sitting with myself, alone.  A lot of it was not my fault at all, but a surrender to the demands of this abundant season of family need.  We have said yes to adventure and we have said yes to risk and we have said okay to vulnerability and unknown variables and exposed nerves.

Somehow, in a turn of events that I think has surprised each one of us in this family, I was given grace and stamina to rise to the almost-overwhelming need in our home and family with energy, faith, grace and an uncanny ability to put dinner on the table almost every night.  I was given that energy for the first six months of our time here.  And then, almost over night, the energy was gone.  On several different occasions the past few weeks I've felt the old near-crippling panic that has not visited me for probably more than a decade.  The temptation to run to the nearest exit to escape this old discomfort has taken up way more of my thinking than I want to admit to anyone.  And I know that it's true that resisting that temptation is a noble fight, but somehow the tangible benefits of groceries in the pantry and clean, folded underwear in the dresser drawer feels better, you know?

Mixed among these moments of almost-debilitating stress, I've experienced the grace and feasting of community, love and care from my husband, gentleness from my children and intercession of the saints.  We've entered more deeply into the story of our new community in Austin while remaining open to sharing the stories of our distant community in New York.  I've begun to offer my own shoulder to the weight of need surrounding us in the people we've come to love fiercely in almost no time here at Christ Church.  And I know again the astonishing paradox of Christ's strength in my weakness.  

Still I thrash against the reality of my weakness.  And it 'most nearly wears me out.

I have not been faithful to Jesus walking with Him through this season of Epiphany.  Not in the way I'd like to see myself, anyway.  One of the faithful standing beside him as he heals the leper, carrying the baskets of bread and fish to the hungry crowd,  skimming the surface of the water, flat-foot, eyes fixed on His face.  Instead I've been the leper, the famished and the drowning one.  Perhaps, this is epiphany still?  In the revelation of myself as the weak, I am forced to see Him as the strong or faint dead away.

In a last minute hail-mary pass to actually see Jesus again, I tried the innovative approach of opening my prayerbook this morning.  Started walking with Him in the Gospels again.  Today I witnessed the miraculous healing of the woman crawling on the ground in pain and shame from twelve years of bleeding.  I read the words of her suffering, especially the ones about the doctors who'd attempted to help her but had only made things worse, and the words about all her money spent. I recognized in her the desperation that took the form of fingers clutching on Jesus' hem, the shame that caused her to hide in the crowd rather than ask for help to his face.  This was epiphany, the revelation of desperation that leads us to Jesus in the weakest of all possible attempts for help.

I sit in that posture this Epiphany.  And I hear the words of Jesus to the bereaved Jairus: 
Don't be afraid. Just have faith.
I believe and am saved once again.

epilogue:  Would you believe me if I told you that this song came on my Pandora station within minutes of reading the passage of the healed woman in Mark 5:24-34?  It's true and I receive it as a gift of small wonders from my good Father this morning.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

spending time with these two fun people instead of blogging

My parents came to Austin!

Saturday, February 04, 2012

post script: on greased watermelons again

A follow up note on an old topic:

   1.  Several times in the early years of this blog, I shared my jumbled-up imaginings of God as a greased watermelon (in that He sometimes hides from us, but only in the sense of delightful pursuit rather than the cruel and detached way).  
        p.s.  I'm reading Sabbath,  Dan Allendar's contribution to The Ancient Practices Series.  In his chapter "Play Day" he tells us his readers that God the Creator did not Sabbath due to "lack, loneliness, or necessity", rather he chose a day of Sabbath for reasons "free and groundless -- that is, without reason, other than delight."  Imagine my delight when Allendar, later in the chapter, uses the metaphor of God's playing a form of divine hide & seek with us as an act of holy play?  
An excerpt: 
Belden Lane offers a terrifying and thrilling proposition: perhaps God is truly playful. When we experience God's absence, perhaps God is "like a mother playfully hiding from her child or a lover playing hard to get, God hides from those God loves, occasionally playing rough for love's sake. The purpose of God's apparent absence of God's hiding, is to deepen in the lover a longing for the one loved, to enhance the joy experienced when fear dissolves and the separated are rejoined."
It is disturbing enough to cast God out of the garden. It conjures our deepest fear, as C.S. Lewis spoke about, being the toy in a divine game that is cruel and vile. Yet what do we do with the book of Job? Satan strolls into God's presence with a gamble that God takes as a worthy contest. Even as a literary convention, it is radically disturbing to our sensibilities. No wonder we don't like play, especially when it has to do with faith. Instead, we want the tried-and-true, the established and fundamentally solid. It is just too much freedom and risk to play with God.
Lane argues that our play with God requires us to be wakeful and simultaneously disengaged. It is the mystery of all deep play. To enter the realm of play, we must give ourselves to something or someone and turn away from all else. It is both a pledge and a betrayal.

We hide and desperately hope to be found. Our good mother knows when to return quickly when our fear is beyond our capacity to endure the anxiety of her absence. She also knows when her departure is necessary to sustain even when our fear rises beyond the heavens. God knows our frailty and our courage and never confuses one for the other and knows how to comfort and call forth when we would prefer God to simply answer us as we desire. More than any other purpose, God plays for the victory of union. We seek and hope to be reunited.
(chapter 5, "Play Day",  Sabbath: The Ancient Practices by Dan Allendar)

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