Jesus, Fully Human, Fully God.

JESUS IS HUMAN. JESUS IS GOD.

(edited for theological accuracy!)

It was important for me to learn that Jesus was fully human in every way, even though he is also the Son of God.  

Jesus hungered. He grew weary after a long dusty walk or a difficult day.  He prayed, yes he talked to God and it was necessary to do so. He required food and water, even human love.  He is fully human. 

Jesus had people, his people, his community – a mother who loved, a step-father who provided, half siblings all with their messy lives and needs, friends who gave to him and took from him. He had friends who got sick and died.  

He wept salty tears. He thirsted as he hung there, dying slowly and painfully. 

If he was not fully human his dying would be meaningless. If he is not the Son of God his dying would be meaningless.  It is in the joining, of being fully human and fully God, that his sacrifice is fully known to us.

The day I was able to absorb the idea that this Jesus died for me, my heart and my life were forever changed. First to fathom it, was just the just beginning.  But then to accept the notion that Christ would have died on that gruesome, utterly painful cross for me – even if were I the only sinner needing his sacrifice – yes, only me. Still he would have died. 

Owning that concept fully and completely, that Christ died for me, changed me into a different person. The trajectory of my life altered, its purpose settled into a different rhythm as I was able to understand, though I will never know fully, this sacrifice. 

THE WOUNDS OF MOTHERHOOD

As I worked on this piece “the weeping women of Jerusalem” I thought about how often I weep as a mother.  It is often because of motherhood — the burden and the responsibility to care for, guide and protect my children, my deep love for them and even more so my strong desire that they would come to know the Jesus that I know.  My heart breaks from it, sometimes.

As Jesus met the women of Jerusalem, who wept for him, according to Luke 23:27-31, it is said:

There followed him a great multitude of the people, and of women who bewailed and lamented him. But Jesus turning to them said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never gave suck!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’; and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

I know the wounds of motherhood, the weeping for my children.  Jesus meets us there — in his sacrifice.  And he will meet our children too, though we must trust him to do so and allow him wipe our tears.

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Stations of the Cross is a visual art and music experience in Madison, Wisconsin, opening March 30, 2012, with exhibit hours during Holy Week from March 30 through Good Friday on April 6. See our website for details on the art and music exhibit experience, artists, blog posts, and exhibit schedule. RSVP on Facebook.

Envy

I cannot believe how insidious envy is.  As we are in a time of learning about the power of our possessions in our life this is particularly clear to us, to me.  We are learning what’s most important and who our money ultimately serves.

As you list out how you spend it is startling to see your priorities.  Sad. Even embarrassing at times.  Self serving  much?

Okay not always.  There are admittedly many good things that our money is applied toward — ongoing, frequent requests at church to help those with less, extra scholarship money for public school field trips for the kids that can’t afford, the bonus $5 at the grocery store for whatever cause they are raising money for or the extra bag of food for the shelters.  Public Radio.  Our church.  World Vision child.  Compassion International child.  There are lots of ways to give in our culture and it feels pretty good.

But still.  I envy.

Envy is something innocuous.  Invisible.  Like a vapor.  Of the heart.  And the mind.  Originating in the soul.

I read an email vacation message yesterday that said:  “Someplace warmer.”  Envy.  I am not there, that someplace warmer.

“Beautiful jacket” I tell my friend.  Envy.  Mine is from St. Vincent’s is already pilling.  And it is not even close to being “this season.”

Vacations.  Nicer cars.  Newer stuff.  Season tickets to whatever.

Things.  Activities.

Envy. Envy. Envy.

It’s a constant pull. And, possibly because we’re older and are beginning to make wiser choices apparently so they tell us, our children “suffer” for our wisdom.

We put 15% of our budget into retirement.  We haven’t been on a vacation with our kids for three years (since we stopped using our credit cards frankly.)  We limit Christmas presents and birthday presents.  We no longer (I no longer) shop for entertainment.  We haven’t bought furniture in years, though ours is “trashed” by our cats and kids.  I have a nice car (Tom’s belongs to work) and still, I look at the car I wanted, seeing it everywhere, wishing I had the sun roof, leather seats, V6 engine, and a GPS.  Yes, two years after I bought my beautiful almost new Honda Accord I still wish I had upgraded it to to have those features. Will I ever be content?  That is envy.  That is it right there in its ugliness.

The insidious cancer of the discontented my pastor called it.

And yet, reading in 1 Corinthians 13 in the New Testament this morning it says (the Mel paraphrase):

Won’t you just do love, it is what is most important.  Those “spiritual” things that you act like are so important  — they’re not.  Devoid of love, they are nothing.

Even more important than faith and hope, love is what I want you to do.  Because to love the people in your life is to be patient and kind in your responses to them.  Not irritable.  If you are loving you are glad when truth wins, whatever that might be.  Love never gives up or loses faith.  It is always full of hope, and can endure every circumstance.

Love is not JEALOUS. It doesn’t boast.  Don’t worry about what others think of you or about what makes you look good!

It is the opposite of self-glorification.  It is humble.   Love does not demand its own way rudely.   Love does not keep a record (even in your head) of being wronged.  Love is not happy at injustice.

Love is your highest goal.

Not all that stuff?  No.  I haven’t achieved that.  Thankfully Jesus also said in 2 Corinthians 12:9

“My grace** is enough.  My power perfected when you admit you are weak.”

Thankfully I don’t actually do.   He does it in me. And he is perfecting me more every day as I wake up to his priorities.  His focus.  His purpose for us all.

———-

** If you don’t know what GRACE is, you should look it up.  It’s pretty amazing.  And it is what Jesus gave us as a gift.

A Poem: I Never Knew Love

 

I never knew
that love would be so good.

Our beautiful chaotic life
of music, creativity and ideas. Of
trust, values, and goodness.
Of dreams.

I’ve learned
what it means to give up yourself, yes die
to self. That’s love
to me.

Often the world says
otherwise. But they don’t have
this beautiful chaotic life
we share.

I thought we had to fight,

and disagree
more than not. I imagined
we would be in constant friction.
Because the house that raised me
burned to the ground.

But I learned
the way to live is to give. Then
you get it all back without even realizing you are loved.

My dear, you are, everything.
And from you I have learned
to live.

Why are we here?: On Purpose, Artistic Expression & Fear

I’ve got a problem and my mother summed it up correctly:  “Something’s got you stuck.”

As I sat in her living room yesterday, even my body spoke of the heavy, languid place I am in.  Slouching, holding my head which by the end of the day had become a migraine with nausea and halos, I was sinking; mired in body and spirit.

Earlier this week, my shrink really pissed me off.  I’m sure he did it purposefully and that makes him good.  As I see him monthly, this schedule makes it obvious that I’m stuck, afraid to move on with my photography.

For months, and months, I’ve been allowing everything under the sun, every good thing, to get in the way.  I found myself saying to him, “I know, I know!  I don’t want to become my mother!  In my 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s resenting and regretting all the “sacrifices” I made for everyone else.”  I don’t think she regrets them completely, actually.  Nor is she bitter, amazingly.  But I watched as she gave up so many of her aspirations and dreams for others, mostly my father.

Why am I stuck? …  What is it that I fear or is it even fear?

I am a lover of words (a wordie).  And I will travel down every rabbit trail of language’s meaning, fascinated by each manifestation.  It makes me interesting in a Bible Study group, and fairly annoying I think as a blogger, but just look at this list on words related to fear.

“Fear, as a noun, denotes the agitation and anxiety caused by the presence or imminence of danger.

Fear is the most general term: “Fear is the parent of cruelty” (J.A. Froude).

Fright is sudden, usually momentary, great fear.

Dread is strong fear, especially of what one is powerless to avoid.

Terror is intense, overpowering fear.

Horror is a combination of fear and aversion or repugnance.

Panic is sudden frantic fear, often groundless.

Alarm is fright aroused by the first realization of danger.

Dismay robs one of courage or the power to act effectively.

Consternation is often paralyzing, characterized by confusion and helplessness.

Trepidation is dread characteristically marked by trembling or hesitancy. (www.education.yahoo.com)

Or is it something else entirely, inertia?  Don’t worry, enough about words.

Kafka was wrong when he said: “It is not necessary that you leave the house. Remain at your table and listen. Do not even listen, only wait. Do not even wait, be wholly still and alone. The world will present itself to you for its unmasking, it can do no other, in ecstasy it will writhe at your feet. ”

It’s definitely lined with excuses whatever it is that is keeping me from doing something, anything with my photography.

I don’t have time to have an opinion on all the things I have an opinion on. I don’t have time to express all the things I want to express.  I don’t have time to learn all the things I want to learn, to create all I want to create,  to do all I want to do  …..  choices, blessed choices!

I think THIS is the midlife crisis I have been colliding into!  I can hear that big clock ticking ….  this is the funk I am in.  It is a little bit fear but it’s mostly inertia, dismay and consternation all rolled into one and I cannot visualize what I want for myself so I cannot go after it.

What does it mean to be successful at my photography?  The business aspect, say the bottom-line?  The artistic expression? The public accolades?

And so, as I put sarcastically to a friend yesterday, “I have been trying to know as little as possible about how to take pictures, and expect hardly anything as an outcome.”  I am sooo funny.  Sooo pathetic more like it.

What makes what I do worthwhile? Is it simply because I make it and I like it?? Or do others need to value it to make it of value? How do I determine what is worth pursuing artistically? Is it about listening to others cues or simply allowing my inner vision to grow and the world can stuff it?

Rosanne Cash said in an NPR interview that she isn’t a performer if she doesn’t get out there and perform. The music cannot stay private.

And yet, so much of art is how you market it, market yourself, the glossy package of your website, studio, groups you join.  If that’s the case I’m in trouble: My office is in my junky basement, my gear is okay, and I have no slick studio. I haven’t gotten around to making a website or …. all the other  elements of “Making your photography Business a Success.”   So what? How much of it is perception and how much reality.

And if you have some ability you can take dynamic, compelling images no matter what your gear.  That I really do believe.

I think what’s more important is what’s the message?  What’s the story? Does your art have to have a message and story to be ‘good.’  I lean that way and then can think of tons of art that is simply pleasing to look at, esoteric, full of mood, just makes me feel good ….

Here’s a question for you:  If you don’t know what the “rules” of art are (e.g. no classical training, art school etc. ) and you break them, can you make good art?  And who decides?  Should art have outcomes?  I don’t know.  And, I don’t know how or when I will be out of this stupid funk. And I’m starting to feel some fright!

The good news, it’s not depression (and if you know my story at all you know that is major).  It really is not turning into that, but rather, more of a Why am I here?  What are my days for?  How do I serve others?  Can I serve with my artistic talent?  If so, how?  Do I have to be paid money, written up in the New York Times, recieve critical acclaim in order to prove myself.  And who is it that I’m trying to prove myself to, besides my father who’s dead.  To whom do I owe ultimate justification of my exsistance?  If god real, what is really expected of me as an artist?  Starting from the belief that god is real, how does that change my actions, deeds, what I create.

My kingdom for a magic eight ball that actually worked…