Friday, October 31, 2008

I would never claim to know the secret to life, but I have a hunch it has something to do with love, community, joy, and purpose -- not the size of your mansion or the brand of your watch. Further, I think it probably has something to do with alleviating suffering and inequality, encouraging people to think about changing the systems which keep them poor or in danger, not internalizing their failures -- financial or otherwise -- as proof of their own anemic imaginations.
Courtney E. Martin

Monday, October 27, 2008

one more solar revolution

Y’know when there are moments of clarity in your life, moments of passage, significant times of reflection, and all of those deep things?

Well, my most recent one happened at the Feist concert. Which was weird, but not uncommon, at least for me. I’m a bit weird.

I won’t go into details, because I think you’ll all think me wacky. But details aren’t the point anyway.

There was this poignant moment of reflection, of contrast, between who I am and where my life is today and who I was and where my life was 3 years ago. So different. It felt good, really. Lately I seem to be in this season of “WTF, where is my life going? What the hell is going on? All of these things are happening and I don’t know what they mean . . . “ Which is an uncomfortable season, but valuable and exciting and confusing and sometimes fun. Sometimes stressful. But I realized yesterday at the concert that I am so happy with what is going on. I am so happy with the commitment I made years ago to constantly change, to constantly allow myself to be molded by God and by my community, to always strive to a place of discomfort and sometimes pain to really live. To continually discover Christ’s place in and intention for my life.

It’s almost my birthday and I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. Like, more than usual. And I am just overwhelmingly thankful. For the journey I have been placed on, for the people in my life. For the fact that my life looks so dramatically different than my life looked like 3 years ago. My core and my foundation stays strong, but everything else is negotiable. That is the life I believe Christ has called me to. A place of continual discomfort, which sometimes sucks, but a place of radical living, of continually challenging assumptions, and a continual process of changing and stretching and growing. In super surprising ways.

I am happy. I will be 28. And I used to be 25. And I am very different now. And I will be so different in 3 years.

And I got a rock star new haircut.

Bring it on, year 28. I’m ready.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008

Rituals and Anglicans. And stuff.

This is what rituals are for. We do spiritual ceremonies as human beings in order to create a safe resting place for our most complicated feelings of joy or trauma, so that we don’t have to haul those feelings around with us forever, weighing us down. We all need such places of ritual safekeeping. And I do believe that if your culture or tradition doesn’t have the specific ritual you’re craving, then you are absolutely permitted to make up a ceremony of your own devising, fixing your own broken-down emotional systems with all the do-it-yourself resourcefulness of a generous plumber/poet. If you bring the right earnestness to your homemade ceremony, God will provide the grace. And that is why we need God.
- Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love

I used to think that rituals were old, outdated things. I got bored at my old Lutheran church when we lit the candles, said the same words a million times, bowed to the same old traditions.

But as I grow older, I have found that I crave the deep meanings inherent in these and other traditions. In fact, I have found, like Elizabeth Gilbert, a need for more rituals than my own faith community and my culture seem to make room for. I crave a life and an existence which is full of meaning and meaning-making. Some days I rely on it to finish the day. So I have created prayers, rituals, other methods of filling this need in my life – in intentionally connecting my daily (sometimes drudging) tasks with the Divine. To consciously accept and remember that all of life is spiritual – even the boring and mundane parts. And especially the exciting and vibrant parts.

This is why I sometimes attend Anglican churches, even though I don’t always understand what is going on. This is why I love and connect with SCM Canada – we ritualize almost everything in a really joyful and meaningful way. National Conference was full of rituals. Local meetings, when we had them, were full of meaningful rituals. SCM, those wonderful Anglicans, and others have recognized the need to assign meaning to both trivial and spectacular life occurrences.
It’s cool. I dig it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Boo yeah

Oppressive theology, or a theology that welcomes those who fit a normative definition of the dominant culture while excluding those who do not, is a ball and chain on the heart of the body of Christ, and with it we keep each other in bondage. The church of Jesus Christ is in the midst of change, not all of it for the better. Any theology that suggests that God receives some and rejects others is not reflective of the ministry of Jesus Christ.
- Yvette A. Flunder

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

On the banks of the Euphrates find a secret garden cunningly walled. There is an entrance, but the entrance is guarded. There is no way in for you. Inside you will find every plant that grows growing circular-wise like a target. Close to the heart is a sundial and at the heart an orange tree. This fruit has tripped up athletes while others have healed their wounds. All true quests end in this garden, where the split fruit pours forth blood and the halved fruit is a full bowl for travelers and pilgrims. To eat of the fruit means to leave the garden because the fruit speaks of other things, other longings. So at dusk you say goodbye to the place you love, not knowing if you can ever return, knowing you can never return by the same way as this. It may be, some other day, that you will open a gate by chance, and find yourself again on the other side of the wall.

- Jeanette Winterson in “Oranges are Not the Only Fruit”