Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Thursday, January 28, 2016

God as space.



I am still reading the Book of Common Prayer in the mornings, and I like to come back to phrases or words and repeat them over and over in my mind, I suppose as a meditation.  It feels soothing to my mind, to repeat these words or short phrases, and I'm all about learning to be gentle in my mind these days.

I'm so transparent with my longing when I consider the words I am drawn to: 

Whole.  
Well.  
Free and full life.  
Wide open spaces.
Fresh.  
Setting things right.

I am a person prone to anxiety and worry, to obsessively picking over interactions and feelings, the same way I pick at the skin around my fingers until they bleed.  I feel, acutely, all that is wrong in my world and relationships and self.  I want to be made well.  I want to skip and dance with surprise, I want to be overcome with delight.  I especially want space and ease and intimacy where there is so often pressure and tight spaces and fear.  

So I repeat the words over and over again in my mind, tracing them into my being.  It's a small way for me to practice trust, to remind myself that the shame and worry that hangs low over my head is not what was intended for me.  It helps me glimpse the sacred mystery of God's invitation to humanity, a message that can get twisted up and sometimes only looks like an extension of the pressure and shame and rules that keep me down in the dirt.  With these small exercises of meditation, I am teaching myself to associate God not with more pressure, but with space and well-being.  May it be so.

....

"Pushed to the wall, I called to God;
from the wide open spaces, he answered.
I didn’t die. I lived!
And now I’m telling the world what God did.
God is God, he has bathed us in light.
Festoon the shrine with garlands,
hang colored banners above the altar!"
Psalm 118

Friday, January 1, 2016

27.

I've been waiting for this birthday for years, just so I could sing along with the Fleet Foxes about Montezuma:

So now I am older 
Than my mother and father
When they had their daughter
Now what does that say about me?

And it's true.  I'm now a year older than my parents were when they welcomed me into the world, and  at 27, the only person I am learning to mother is myself.  (Of course, cat baby is a different story, but being a cat necessarily disqualifies her from being considered a person).  On the morning of my 27th birthday, I sat on the couch and read the Book of Common Prayer and cried and cried.  If a core theme of my life has been the sneaking suspicion that I must behave and perform in order to make people love me, then it is the most tender and humbling revelation to be able to lean in, even for a few minutes or hours, to believing I am loved, worthy of connection and belonging, seen and known and not forgotten.  Beloved friends and family have done a really embarrassingly wonderful job of helping me feel the love this year.

I also cried because I was feeling the weight of how profoundly life-altering the last three years have been, how changed 27-year-old Sarah is from her 24th, 25th, even 26th birthdays.  It was so hard for so long, and there were (are) moments where I didn't believe I'd make it, when I suspected all hope and light was lost.  Yet here I am, and all the good and beauty in my life is made all the more precious.  By grace, I didn't sink down into the dirt and despair.  In my birthday letter, Chris wrote, "You have sprouted from that shell you needed to protect you and have begun to blossom, not into the person you once were, but into a stronger, gentler, more understanding, capable, purposeful person...I think you have had the true and admirable success in life, not me, and that is to be duly celebrated!"  This understandably continued the waterworks, and it also felt like a clear-sighted moment where I could say, this will be worth it.  This journey of deconstruction, of grief and doubt and pain, it's all part of the labor pains as I become someone entirely new, and somehow even more myself than I was before.  

I could have been lost, hidden behind my shell of protection, driven by anxiety and fear, hijacked by shame and scarcity.  Instead, I am being set free--thank you, Jesus--and this long slog is beginning to bear fruit, bear beauty.

Over the last few years I began a tradition of (gently) (insistently) forcing friends and family to make a list of goals or experiences they'd like to have during the next year of life--the number is always semi-arbitrary while attempting to be semi-related to their new age (i.e. if you're 24, you might make 4 goals or 6 [2+4] ). Here is what I hope for from for my 27th year, so far:
  • Journal twice a week 
  • Send 27 handwritten notes (text or comment with your mailing address if you want a note!)
  • Take a 1-second video daily 
  • Cook one vegetarian meal each week 
  • Organize love letters chronologically (including scanning in the letters we have) 
  • Volunteer in-person and pursue kinship with those on the margins 
  • Begin grad school 
Here's to these goals, and even more dreaming and envisioning--for twenty-seven, for a fourth (!) year of marriage, and for 20 sweet 16.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

God of the waiting.

God of the waiting,
give us courage to wait with those in the most broken
places of the world,
and with all those who struggle to be bearers of hope
there.

We pray with those who wait for wars to stop, for
violence to cease.

God of the waiting, turn conflict into peace.
And we pray for those who have given up on the
coming of hope,
because they feel they wait in vain
at checkpoints, at borders, for jobs, for food,
and for all those whose lives are crushed under the
structures and systems of injustice.

God of the waiting, wait with your world.
Turn anger into reconciliation,
and our lack of hope into courage,
so that our waiting may be over
and all the things of darkness shall be no more.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Christ the refugee.


I've been grateful for the internal quiet I've experienced after a month away from social media, especially in light of all that's happened in our world--there's been much to process and learn about, and I needed to be away from all the noise for a while. These past few weeks, I've been feverishly reading and listening and praying, and now, I'm putting this out into the interwebs in a spirit of gentleness and hope for our world. Love wins.

"Let’s live like we are loved. Let us fixate on that, and...it will start to chip away at the great lies and fears we have swallowed whole. Be not afraid, the angels said, and they paved the way for a Savior who was himself a refugee–torn from his home, oppressed, beaten, ridiculed, and killed in a horrific way by the powers that be. A Christ who suffered what so many in the world suffer, who understands the temptation to fear, who loves in radical and unsafe ways, who asks nothing less of us, his followers." -D.L. Mayfield

Painting is Rest on the Flight into Egypt by Luc-Olivier Merson.

A few other recommend readings on the refugee crisis:

Nicolas Kristof, one and two.



  

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

a circle of compassion.

"Jesus said 'so that all may be one.'

We imagine a circle of compassion and then we imagine no one standing outside of that circle. God created an otherness so that we would dedicate our lives to a union with each other."

Father Greg Boyle, in an interview with Krista Tippet

...

"Our human family is dismembered—like a scattered puzzle. We must re-member. We must rise above our fear and come together. Even when we are afraid.

We all have fear. But fear does not have to be where we set up camp and live. We can allow fear to become but a flicker. We can feel it, and then rise above it again and again. There is a place above our fear we can keep returning to again and again and that place is love."

Glennon Melton

Wednesday, November 11, 2015