{Stretching the Canvas of our Imagination}

Silence
Silence

I’ve tried to sit down and read all day.

Instead I’ve placed phone calls to doctors, waited impatiently for return calls from nurses about supplements and medication’s interactions, and run twice to pharmacy and grocery store.  And, on it goes. One child threw up this morning. Another is dealing with headaches of the magnitude that you or I would be in bed – a 9 on a scale of 1 -10.  Children should not have to suffer so and as I deal with the litany of doctors, I am trying to be the advocate for the whole person who is my child. And be gracious.

I ate my third meal in as many days and just for a minute sipped ginger ale and will write this, Though I’m not technically sick (Moms don’t do that) I am unwell.  The headaches and body aches with this particular virus are awful.  Eating feels like an X sport.

I’ve been trying to read all day and life keeps getting in the way.

As the holidays come rushing, with the “extra” everything on the calendar, this small task will only become more difficult – there will be concerts, school projects, plays, shopping, and parties,there will be more of everything.

And I’ve tried to slow down and read because I know its important to make IT stop. 

It’s essential, I think, to get up even earlier or stay up little later, just to BE. 

We need it. To read that something, or to pray a little, or to write a poem or whatever we do “to stretch the canvas of our imagination”. We need to listen to meaningful music or place a phone call to an important friend or stop and say I love you. To write that letter of appreciation to someone that you perhaps wanted to do at Thanksgiving but didn’t get around to. It’s important to do those things in a whirlwind life full of obligations and duty, or service to others, or personal illness, or whatever our life entails.

It’s essential to make it all stop, especially during December to slow, and celebrate. Advent is about waiting – anticipating, leaning in, listening, and keening toward the Holy One.  This takes intention.

All day, I’ve been trying to start a small little book by Enuma OkoroSilence and Other Surprising Invitations of Advent.   And finally, I have begun.  In the introduction she reminds us what it means to cultivate patience. We walk along side Zechariah and Elizabeth and learn from them.

In Silence, she says: “The hard work of Advent reflection and waiting is mingled with the gift of time and space to dream new dreams, to bathe in pools of hope, and to stretch the canvas of our imagination wide enough for God to paint God’s own visions for our lives.”

What one thing are you trying to do this holiday season to slow yourself down, reflect and do the holy work of waiting?  How will you wait?

Will you allow the Holy One to paint a new vision for your life?

Melody

Advert: To purchase this book in Kindle or print, go here.

I am human. Join me. (Thoughts on faith, confession and writing)

Part two of … this.  A response.

You know it’s funny.  Several people responded to what I wrote today with what I found to be a slightly odd, or at least a surprising response to me.  Okay, odd isn’t fair.  They expressed concern.   You need to know something. If I have gotten to the place of putting my thoughts down, I have lived it — bled it — known each word like a friend.  I am on the other side enjoying the lesson, learning and knowing I am beloved.  The things I write while true still, are not cloaked about me oppressively.  

You see, no matter how many times I have to learn it — like the Israelites who were incredibly short sighted, foolish and distrusting of God, over and over — I do know I am a beloved child.  I do. Don’t worry so about me.

I read an interview with Anne Lamott, a writer that I adore.  When asked about her writing about her faith (since she’s “pretty outspoken, eccentric artist—a quality we love and admire in her. How does she successfully reconcile the perhaps stereotypical connotations of ‘Christian’ in this polarized day and age—when Christian in the political sense often means an extreme conservative—with her clearly open-minded, open-hearted point of view and way of living.”)

Oh yeah, that.  I can relate.

She said:

“That’s a complicated question. A good question. You do the best you can. A certain percentage of self-identified Christians think I am doomed and just fucked beyond all imagining because I don’t believe the Bible is the literal word of God. I’m a progressive Christian. I’m more of a liberation theology person.

My religious life, my life as a recovering alcoholic, my life as a writer, and life as a public person are the center of my life along with Sam and Jackson [Sam’s son].   People are going to think what they think. It’s called “another thing I have no control over.”

And when asked about her writing process she confessed unabashedly, “Right now I have prepublication jitters, mental illness, and distraction.”

Here is what I think, we are all simply human.  And in writing about our “walk” with faith, some are more honest than others.  I try to be crystal clear, yes even hopelessly honest. That’s my style, my voice, my path.  Sure, I hope one day to write out of a place of certainty.  Just when I wish for that, then I know that I don’t really hope for that.

I carry the scars of my life, not proudly — as if — but I am not ashamed of them either. I am a child of a raging man, who was verbally abusive and controlling.  That makes me different than a lot of kids who grew up with unconditional love and certainty.  I am an alcoholic (in recovery.)  It is a part of my dna and I will write about it.  I’m a compulsive, addictive person — whether it be to Facebook, or Farmville, or television shows like Stargate, watching episode after episode for hours — and I will never have all the answers for why I am like that.  I will never know complete release from that this side of heaven.  That’s what I think.  That much is absolutely certain. But this won’t sink me, it will push me.  Humble me.  Help me to know how much I need God, and the community of believers. And what I must do is be a person that is committed to the spiritual disciplines of prayer and study, to the humble place of making callouses on my knees, and to surrendering myself to service of others.

Daily, hourly.  Sometimes moment by moment, this sweet surrender admission of my broken places.  That’s me.

Reading the incredible words today from Enuma Okoro who said in an essay on faith and the writing life, written to people who seek her wisdom, she said:

“Engaging in the craft of creative writing is where they feel most alive and the means by which they feel most passionate about witnessing to “the things about which [they] have been instructed” (Luke 1:4 NRSV).  … These men and women seek counsel on discerning how writing can be ministry and where they might turn for support and encouragement in understanding how faith and writing intersect…

and she said later:

“Take the leap of faith and trust in your gift to proclaim God’s word in new ways.” I hope I can grow into the sort of mentor who recognizes the writing gift and call in others and boldly and daringly says to them, “Write for the love and power of words. Write for the love of God.””

So, dear friends know this. When I write about the pain of being an artist in the church, or of being a feminist in an evangelical church or the f-word being a dirty word, or my struggles to totally surrender to God’s absolute love, I am simply telling you that I bleed.  I am human. Won’t you join me?