Tag Archives: Faith

My New Normal

The other night, while I lay in bed waiting for sleep to weave together thoughts and concerns in the ephemeral landscape of dreams, it struck. The depth of the truth of my reality crashed up me. This time instead of struggling against its power I let it drag me under, allowing its weight to demolish any semblance of control (i.e. pride) I daily attempt to exert over my comings and my goings, my relationships, my financial resources, my vocation.

In the darkness and isolation of a week spent sick and alone, I realized after years of fighting I was in a quiet place of acceptance of the now. I accepted that:

  • I have no career. I am underemployed in both the amount of hours I work and the amount of my talent, ability, and knowledge utilized in the work available to me;
  • I have no love life of which to speak;
  • I have an absurdly large amount of student loans that cause me significant anxiety, which in turn makes me feel trapped in places and positions I abhor;
  • I am ten months away from losing my health insurance because I cannot afford the monthly premiums.

In short, I have nothing, no thing. But if I have no thing then I have nothing to lose. And if I have nothing to lose then I can do anything, any thing. If I can do any thing, I must be obedient and respect this time and place and the longing that is being drawn up here.

That night washed away the weight of years of anxiety (about what to do next), fear (of looking foolish in the eyes of those I know and those I want to know me), and isolation (from those who appear to have somehow managed to scrape together a life that is accepted as normal and good by society at large).

I see, name, and know the blessings that daily garnish my life. I humbly receive them as the abundant grace and blessing of a God who loves me with the greatest urgency.

My prayers have become simpler in the last few years. The life-stripping process of 2008-present has laid me bare, and my words reflect that: “Lord, all is unreservedly Yours; Thy will be done. Use me as You see fit; Thy will be done. Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

May I embrace this freedom, in which I have nothing to lose and everything to gain. May I risk in ways previously unimaginable, for what have I to fear? And in all of this, may:

I arise today

In the name of Silence
Womb of the Word,
In the name of Stillness
Home of Belonging,
In the name of the Solitude
Of the Soul and the Earth

I arise today

Blessed by all things,
Wings of breath,
Delight of eyes,
Wonder of whisper,
Intimacy of touch,
Eternity of soul,
Urgency of thought,
Miracle of health,
Embrace of God.

May I live this day

Compassionate of heart,
Clear in word,
Gracious in thought,
Generous in love.

John O’ Donohue, “Matins 2” from To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings

Grace and peace.

Everything is Different, Nothing has Changed

There are those moments when you know your life is going to change in an irrevocable way. Life as it is now, in its quiet beauty and predictable uncertainty (the uncertainty you have come to rely on), will end. The end may be punctuated and decisive or it may slowly wax into being. And you have no idea when or how the change and ending will occur. Sometimes these moments of revelation are loud and crashing, other times they are quiet, silently quickening the recipient’s interior life.

Yesterday, while cleaning the kitchen floor, I was silently struck by a premonition that this season of life, in which I am at peace, is coming to an end, and the things that will be removed first are the very things that helped usher in this peace. This news is equal parts ache, fear, thankfulness, gratitude, and excitement. Ache and grief for the people and places I will have to let go of and leave, for the loss of dreams and hope unrealized. Fear of the residue of past harms, lies and anxieties latent in wounds not yet fully healed, all of which have a nasty of way of resurrecting themselves in times of uncertainty. Thankfulness for the current respite full of a peace that allowed me to taste the reality (not simply the possibility) of hope. Gratitude for the reminder of what it means to be fully present here, now, and to suck its very marrow and not to allow uncertainty of what is to come to detract from or overwhelm the now. Excited for the adventures that are to come on the path I am walking, the path that is shaping me and leading me closer to where I am going, to where I am needed. An ending is coming and I must be obedient to the call forward.

Keep your head up. Keep your heart strong.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

HERE is “Pre-Summer Tunes”, my musical ode to warmer and longer days, my most recent 8tracks mix, in addition to February and March’s mixes “California Skies” and “Just Say, ‘Yes’“.

Wedding Malaise and the Ballast of Faith

It is June, and for a woman in her late twenties this means wedding season has officially begun. Again. This June falls in the middle of a year brimming with pairing offs, weddings, and babies; to the extent that my facebook feed typically includes at least one engagement and one pregnancy announcement per week. But this is to be expected.

It is my experience that life does not necessarily stabilize with age. But one uses certain anchors to keep from losing the way. For me community, comprised of my dearest friends and family, is the anchor I have relied on most since my career’s weight (read, demands) threatened to sink my boat – thankfully, just as my ship was about to go under, I cut myself loose of that deadly weight and watched it sink into the darkness beneath threatening waves. Friends’ marriages and expanding families significantly alter my community anchor’s shape, weight and ability to perform its designated task.

I celebrate my dearest friends’ joy as they pursue their lives and loves. I must, however, admit that I am weary of losing friends. The loss is never intended, it is simply the bittersweet reality of changing lives and priorities. I am tired of my female friends’ post-nuptial one-year disappearing acts, and of the inevitable cessation of all meaningful connection with my male friends.

At least with my girl friends there is hope they will resurface at some point. But when it comes to guy friends and marriage everything changes. The intimacies (which were neither romantic nor sexual) that once girded the male-female friendship are sullied and deemed inappropriate for some reason, leaving an empty shell that once housed a robust friendship. A shell that sits like a dust-covered souvenir collected from a distant shore visited during, what feels like, another lifetime. With decreasing occurrence, the shell is dusted off by quick catch-ups at a mutual friend’s wedding or other social gathering, during which the shell appears to looks the same, but the function, which is everything, has changed. Only the calls of the distant shores remain in the calcified structure, accessible only to those willing to pick up the shell and listen.

It is as a dear friend (married and then in the finals days of her pregnancy) told me, “The only male-female friendships that do not change with marriage are those with your male family members.” Thank you, Lord, for my incredible brothers!

As I flip through my planner littered with “Save the Date” postcards, I look forward to celebrating the unions of hearts and lives. And as I make my travel plans I prepare for the loss of these friendships, or at least the loss of these relationships as I now know them.

I am beginning to realize this sense of loss, of drifting resulting from the morphing of my community neither dictates nor reflects the true state of my life and faith. I am finally at a point where I accept (without demands for change) the limitations and fallibility of this anchor, of community, and am trusting my ballast will not fail as I sail into unknown, open waters with little more than a compass and certainty that an unseen land, “home,” lies ahead.

Bon voyage!

When all you have are empty, open hands . . .

 

Remember.

 

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Blogtrack:
– Lemolo, “1290 Whale Song”  (Download it HERE under “Song of the Day Podcast”; the download is available for three days)

Today’s lesson

Note to self:

TRUST.

 

 

 

 
Blogtracks:
– Yelle, “Safari Disco Club”  (Download it HERE)
– La Dispute, “First Snow in Grand Rapids”  (Download it HERE)
– La Sera, “Devils Hearts Grow Gold”  (Download it HERE)

Just around the bend…

 

Summer feels so far away in season and in soul.  I needed this reminder today:

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

~ Mary Oliver

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Blogtracks:
– The xx, “Islands (Nosaj Thing remix)” (Download it HERE)
– Veils, “Bloom” (Download it HERE)
– Crystal Skulls, “Outgoing Behavior”

Off we go…

When I graduated from law school in 2008 I moved back to Southern California for what I thought would be a brief time of preparing for and taking the beast that is the State of California Bar Exam.  During that time I decided to take a wee break from attending traditional church, aka the building with its four walls, and its politics and pettiness, which too often overshadow the purpose of the Church: to worship God and to be the collective body of Christ (by loving, serving, sacrificing for and extending grace upon grace) in the world.  Well that and three years of boredom and stress (ahem, law school), leaving a great church in Seattle, and the added bonus of grieving the loss of what was then my most important relationship, resulted in my not having the wherewithal or fortitude to undertake adventures in finding a new church community.  Especially when I would was only planning on being a community I figured I would leave in 2.5 months.

Three months have passed into more than a couple handfuls.  And come Sunday morning I am still restless.  I have attended church about two dozen times over the last two and a half years, though I attend “church of the ipod” religiously. Church of the iPod consists of me, earbuds, my iPod with sermon podcasts, my running shoes, and miles of road or trail.

My hiatus from church is something I have not given much thought to until recently because I have had some difficulty articulating the issues I have with church.  I take issue with the hypocrisy, hate, bitterness and injustice carried out under the banner of being “biblical” and the lives destroyed by this way of biblical living.  I take issue with the insular, cliche-ish nature of church members, 3-5 point sermons prescribing the steps necessary to achieve your best life now.   Maybe it was wearisome suffering of lonely, dark nights and even lonelier and darker days that took me away from the church.  Maybe it was the loss of relationships, loved ones and notions of myself.  Maybe it was surrendering my sense of deservedness.  Maybe it was a suffering whose only expression was heaving sobs.  Maybe it was experiencing God outside of church; experiencing God in moments of indescribable beauty and moments of indescribable suffering.

As I read this over it sounds like I have given up on church, or that I think it is useless.  Neither of which could be further from the truth.  I believe there is a biblical mandate for the church (see, paragraph one, “the purpose of the Church…”), but I have been harmed by the church and so much collateral damage lies in the wake of churches and Christians.  Needless to say I have some things to work out.

Then a friend of mine sent out the following challenge:

i have been seriously thinking about putting together some short essays/stories on women & the church. young(er) women & the church. both in and out…on the outskirts and fringe. married and unmarried, moms, and anti-babies. this is for you. for us….My goal is that our voices can be heard. from what i can tell, there are a lot of us out there. but i don’t see or hear much about the perspectives of women who choose to leave the church for one reason or another…. especially those who leave in their early 20s and beyond. apparently, we are an anomaly. and its not too often you hear about strong single women in the church either. where ever you are, you have a story.

I am not sure if I struggle with the church because I am a well-educated, single woman in my “early 20s and beyond.”  But I am finally willing to wrestle with my questions, my frustrations, my scars, my hopes.   As such, I will be writing periodically about my adventures in trying to regain a sense that the church, though broken, is a thing of and conduit of grace and beauty.  Please note that my writing is more about pushing thoughts out of my head to make space for others.  As such, they will be the musings of someone in the wilderness.  I will likely meander, go to the extreme to see the vista and then backtrack.  I will be say things just to see what they look like on paper, how they sound when I speak them.  Some things I will dismiss outright, others I will put out there only to look at it awhile before turning my back on it, others I will carry along with me testing their truth and trustworthiness.

With all that said, get your packs and hiking boots ready.  Off we go…

***************************************************
Blogtrack:
– The Generationals, “Trust” (Listen to it HERE)
– Mean Lady, “Indian Sun”
– Iron & Wine, “Tree by the River” (Download it HERE)
– Alex Ebert, “Trust” (Listen to it HERE)
– Best Coast, “Crazy for You”
– Rasputina, “Holocaust of Giants (Daytrotter session)” (Download it HERE)
– Alela Diane, “Oh!  My Mama” (Download it HERE)
– Ravens & Chimes, “Division Street” (Download it HERE)
– Hey Marseilles, “Rio” (Download it HERE)
– Grouplove, “Don’t Say Oh Well” (Listen to it HERE)
– BRAIDS, “Lemonade (Green Go remix)” (Download it HERE)
– The Get Up Kids, “Shatter Your Lungs” (Download it HERE)
– Joe Pug, “Hymn 35” (Download it HERE)
– The Radio Dept., “David” (Download to it HERE — download available for 3 days)