Bent- out of shape.

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Luke 13: 10-20

The 18 years of suffering carried in the form and substance of a “temple woman” reimagines the practice of Sabbath in this Christ encounter.  The woman embodies a broken structure, the “18 year” descriptive a known ancient code phrase for “suffering and bondage.”

The story though begs a more feminine interpretation. The imagery of being turned in on oneself yet asked by Christ to move forward intones a message not often recognized as Christian. Jesus’ humiliating argument in favor of Sabbath grace and healing referencing the need to water a thirsty ass shames the “keepers” of sabbath places.  And despite the insulting reference the crowd of broken spirits- I suspect many of whom were women -respond with delight and seem energized!

Jesus further encourages with parables of yeast and mustard seeds, moving then to kitchens and gardens– home places for women. The mustard seed would stir up thoughts of healing as it was used medicinally in a paste with “new wine” and the transforming power of yeast worked into flour would be obvious to the feminine ear.  The message that Sabbath is as close as your kitchen and near as your home seems obvious.  These are “shaping” places for sure.

The miracle, the healing call and response, rises from a feminine space of both release and synthesis–freedom and enmeshment, sacrament and incarnation.

We reshape our brokenness mid Sabbath moments of everyday life.

Artwork by Anastasia Arteyeva

A Hallowed Eve

I do believe Life was created from a God Space of Love.

God’s Nature, though, and the force of its being spin a web of violence, disease and destruction.

Where is the Love in this?

The cycle of life runs head long into the wall of death…with all the hurt of endings.  It is ugly. It is hard to bear.

Even the autumn harvest, the sweet energy of summer’s sun stored in the peeled skin of an apple and sacrificed in a muffin, seems mostly a trivialized and transient wonder.

We likewise are part of the sacrificed, caught in the momentum of life consciousness…we absorb, assimilate and recreate new spaces in life only to waste on sick beds and under head stones.

How do we honor the love of so many saints?

Where is God and Love on the back side of this cycle of life?

It’s the skeleton that seems the ruling image of this back side and I see them everywhere – an eternal Hallowed Eve.

And it does seem the bones are the last to go. They hold the marrow of life, stored safely inside. They give structure and form; they reconcile and hold our flesh like a photograph holds beauty.

So perhaps it’s there, in fossils…in our bones, that the flow of love still speaks.

I will sit therefore in midst of carnage and with holy courage in this space look with a glance of love…and remember tomorrow. 

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Waterfall

I woke with the images of a dream lingering in my consciousness. A journey theme with water, caverns, and ambient light.  Various and odd characters joined my travels- some with faces or stories I knew.  The part that even now I FEEL in my body, though, was the part I had to travel on my own….coursing a raging river bed to get to the other side.

That first step into the current came with a lateral force so immense, every muscle and tendon retracted in fear to secure my feet to the rock bed. Only then did I realize the threat of a waterfall just within sight.  This journey was do or die, a crossing over or falling over, a heroic feat or drowning.

From the cavern view, the waterfall was just a short drop off, very non-threatening. Now within the rushing counter flow, the UNDERcurrent questioned my call to the other side…Could I really do this?  Should I continue?

The tension in my thighs said yes- “you are strong enough.”

I woke with that resolve today.

Yet I wonder now- what happens when you let the current take you, when you fall?  The pool on the under side is deep and refreshing, maybe? The energy released, absorbed…maybe calm, maybe peace.

It’s okay if you’re not strong enough–

Maryellen and Dorina.

Against the wall.

Hitting hard against the concrete wall, the pepper-winged body fell … and it broke my heart.  I was afraid of its death and more its pain.  In stillness and perverse serenity, I saw his eyes open to meet mine. I reached, gathering his wings which were stretched in a broken pattern, and I felt his life in my hands. Perhaps in a daze but present, he seemed to listen as I spoke to comfort imagined distress.  I had no plan.  If he were to die, it would be so and I was saddened to know this truth. I placed him near a bush and breathed deeply, prayer-like, and hoped he would awaken and return to flight and glory.  His pain changed me… I -the Raven.

Luke 12: 22-24.

Anatomy of a Mood

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How often do you “choose” your mood?
Can you really “change” your mood?
Most days I am inclined to answer NO!

This smiling face, however, works for me every time!!!

The ugly mood trap sets in for me after so many hits & triggers from the negative side of life. Perhaps I am a bit too insecure or perhaps just too sensitive to the competing interests of the moment.

Recently I have embraced MINDFULNESS practices to the challenges of my daily struggle. It is a more honest version of what I use to call PRAYING. I say more honest because Mindfulness recognizes the feeling of the moment without replacing it with guilt or blame. It lets that feeling breathe and be named. It releases the struggle behind the feeling rather than calling on magical thinking to rescue and banish the evil of the moment.

Perhaps my Christian roots ruined prayer for me, so if this is still prayer I can not name it as such. I only know that my walk in the moment mid the pain and hurt around me requires honest words and thoughts, ones saturated with the FEELING appropriate to the tears and fears they represent. Without that honesty, I can not tend to the process of healing, for myself or those I serve.

The Chains of Comfort

The annoying “Hate Your Family” passage in Luke 14:25-35 has plagued many a wanting Disciples.   Luke presents this cutting view of  discipleship as Jesus struggled with the “crowd” and circus potential of His ministry.  These verses call out the comfort of a distant follower, challenging the integrity of their growth and intentions.

As I read the “hate” discussion I realize I, too, can only “follow” so far–chained to the comfort of affirmative readiness. I fall chained to my model of success.  I fall chained to my model of worth.  I fall chained to my model of strength and beauty.  I fall to the model of all the family and social values that created my image of a competent and wanting-to-feel-loved-ME.

I don’t hate this model…I treasure it.  The child in me needs that model as a guide to physical and psychologic comfort.  I am in many ways paralyzed, bound to it— with only a vague wondering about the true FREEDOM of a discipleship journey.

Besides, hate is such a strong word.  Really, must I hate?  Can’t I just separate from the model peacefully, maybe dabbling in the comfort a bit when I hurt or am feeling inadequate?  Can’t I rebel in it a bit to feel the pride of success in competition with over achieving friends?  I promise to remind myself even weekly about the path of spiritual growth, maybe even “go deeper” in my faith with seminars and studies a couple of times a year.  I just can’t let it all go.  I am tied to the chains of my comfort.

Yet I continue to follow…..close enough to see the Cross.

The Lenten journey is the only road to freedom and the only path that truly embraces LIFE.  Easter embraces Love beyond imagination and strong enough to break the chains of comfort.  I will begin again there— with some hate of the chains.  I will break free to Love.

In your embrace… on Vimeo

Why Should I Care

My daily agitations must mean life is worth caring about.  Apathy has never been an acceptable option.  I live my days intentionally focused.  I seem to care deeply about this process of flesh and breath.

Yet really, why should I care that I am up with the alarm, dressed and pressed within the hour and out the door well before the bumper to bumper race-around highway crowd?  What rule book have I written for myself….or who captured my soul and exchanged life passion for appearance and applauded success?  Is this life thing just about me and my life performance?

God save me.

God save the script of urban existence and the narcissistic gaze of modern living.  Christ came in the flesh and rewrote the holy books and redefined human community.  I care about such caring.

I care enough to challenge my driven but heartless posing and musings with acts of Discipleship and mission, words of prayerful confession and rare moments of feeling Christ’s presence.

This is how I learn to love my neighbor as I have learned to love myself.