Ode To My People

Ode To My People

 

Rationality is me seeing what I see

and not saying otherwise.

To say is to be brave;

for to say is to admit that you are not happy

in a system where the meter of your happiness provides true indication of belovedness.

 

This is the system of my heritage and it demands Truth or belovedness, but finds their coexistence to be

a confounding impossiblity.

 

If this system is true

then I am unloved and unhappy,

(though I often feel both loved and happy)

because this is what I see and must speak:

 

Dehumanizing declarations made at Thanksgiving and families move yet further away from unity

Original land owners herded like cattle and eighteen year olds commit suicide on the eve of high school graduation

Women with ebony eyes disappear along with elephants and no one says if either one is important

New neighbors forced into corners of lives spent with hands red and bruised from tearing frozen

chicken breasts

 

Little feet and necks swell with flesh and with every click Coca-Cola makes millions

Men have bad dreams of the children they killed beneath a red flag

Ebenezer Scrooge lives in privileged pockets, sewn with the blood of Taiwanese factory workers,

just $7.99 at Old Navy

The final chapter of the Biology textbook goes untaught and lives of girls without options

grind to a halt

Twelve year olds are hustled across state borders like sacks of cocaine

Girls are touched in taxis and under tablecloths

Boys get shot in the street

 

Candy wrappers fly out of open windows and choke sea turtles

Concrete eats the grass

Earth´s belly heats up and casts religious people out of their homelands

Ice melts and Santa Claus will show up soon; a wintery work shop disrobed by our insistence on a 66 degree house year around

Regions suitable for cultivating vineyards move from North to South and still the planet is unchanging;

She is wrong about her own health

 

Irrationality is expecting the blind to see

the way I see.

 

Sight is a gift:

a gift that weighs on souls,

shaking the burden too long left on the shoulders of the beloved Underdog:

firstborn of the Christ.

 

This is the system of my heritage and it demands Truth or belovedness; but I dance

in their coexistence.

Truth is, I find myself beloved.

 

Woe to you!….For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. (Luke 11:46)

Woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the prophets. (Luke 6:24-26)

Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough places shall become level ways. (Luke 3:5)

 

 

 

 

 

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Beauty & Sexuality

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The story of why I cut my hair starts with yesterday (the seed of today):

Yesterday I experienced & incarnated Divine beauty. The invitation went something like this:

touch some sacred places within you and know that you are profoundly gorgeous.

You are woman: wondrously alive and unified with the Earth.

 

That was yesterday.

 

Today I hear afresh the bullhorn of unjust division between men & women, along with a

gospel of mutual objectification. Corruption crawls in one side of my psyche and the

beauty that was the gospel of yesterday becomes a ball and chain–a temple of limitation soaked in the blood

of everyone whose hair isn’t blonde and whose chest isn’t robust.

 

What this new (to me) culture called my kingdom quickly became an instrument of handicap. The reduction of my being into a body, a butt, blonde hair, chafed at me–rubbing me raw. I

felt myself turning on a spit amidst jeering humans with balls & chains of their owns. Pieces

of my flesh dripped grease into the fire as they pulled me apart–nothing but a morsel on their tongues. Women worldwide are seen (and see ourselves) as consumables; my race cut in two like the skin we all rip to enter this world

The same charade plays in my country, but new perspective brings fresh heart break, and a

hunt for Divine invitation here: (the way, Truth, and life of) how to evolve.

 

….Jesus showed me the face of ardent rebellion: women who have been in this fight longer

than I. My classmate with cropped hair under a boys cap, accustomed to the jeers yet still

fiercely female, playing for years with no checkmate, she called me wordlessly to leave my

own kingdom of beauty behind.

 

My soul heard hers call me out of the enemy’s bed, into the rebellion. I jumped. I blinked and

knew that what I did had been essential: that there are no exceptions, no part of me that can

maintain allegiance to the lies. There is no looking back. There is life and death and I choose LIFE.

Life with the side-lined. Outcasts. Humbled Ones. Marginalized. Homeless. Single Mothers. First Nations. Scapegoats of our societies. Fortresses in my own soul.  Life against the odds.

 

I choose to fight relentlessly against sexist, racist, dehumanizing ideologies while loving

radically those who hold to them.

 

As one being we long for freedom.

We long as one because we came from One & are journeying together.

Redemption is written into every story;

I learned from this jump that my sexuality is more than an act or a crass word. My sexuality is

a fierce desire to survive, to evolve for the sake of abundant life in any context.

 

This haircut is the external symbol of my internal evolution: this is Truth incarnate.

 

The Lord lives and blessed be my rock and exalted be the God of my salvation….yes, you have exalted me above those who rose against me; you rescued me from the man of violence. *Psalm 18:46 & 48b*

 

¿Porqué corté mi pelo?

Hay dos partes en la historia: la belleza y mi sexualidad.

Cuando me mudé a temuco, chile de una pequeña ciudad en el sur de los estados unidos me di cuenta de una división muy profunda entre los géneros. Una división en la cual mis lágrimas nadaban porque de la pena de estar vista sólo como un cuerpo: pelo rubio y nada más. Me sentía como un objeto como resultado de la diferencia entre esta cultura y la mía. No es peor acá, simplemente es diferente y más fuerte y me costó cuando caminaba por las calles y escuchaba las voces de trabajadores y hombres normales.

Me sentía como carne en un circulo de hombres con hambre, con ganas comer lo que soy. Pide a mi Dios(a) una perspectiva nueva, una manera para sobrevivir y evolucionar en este contexto nuevo. No pude creer (ni quería creerlo) que mi sexualidad podía ser nada más que un acto, que dibujos y fotos encontradas en el internet.

Entonces vi una compañera de mi clase y su pelo cortito me inspiró: ella luchaba en esta guerra antes de mi tiempo acá y ella tenía la sabiduría y la fuerza mantener su propio estilo sin tener en cuenta las opiniones tristes y malas. Sabía que seguir su ejemplo valiente era mi senda, el próximo paso en mi evolución personal. Así corté mi pelo.

Unas personas no me han respetado desde lo corté y la mayoría no han entendido. Pero hay un poco…un grupo pequeño que me apoyaba, que entendía, y ellos cambiarán esta cultura, este mundo. Porque sus mentes están abierta, sus corazones están suave y porque siempre eligen la esperanza y la libertad personal y no pierden una oportunidad de ver por los ojos de una otra persona.

Si no seguimos luchando, creyendo, esperando un mundo mejor, viviremos sin la energía divina que es necesario para disfrutar llenamente cada día de nuestras vidas maravillosas.

Lucharé contra ideologías deshumanizadoras sin recreo pero amaré a la gente quien cree en esas ideologías radicalmente; es posible hacer los dos al mismo tiempo, lo sé.

 

Por mas difícil que sea un objetivo, siempre exista una manera de superar los obstáculos….Si permanece esperando el momento ideal, nunca saldrá del lugar; es preciso un poco de locura para dar el próximo paso. El guerrero usa un poco de locura. Porque en la guerra y en el amor, no es posible preverlo todo.
*Paulo Coehlo, Manual del guerrero de la luz*

 

¡El Señor vive! ¡Alabada sea mi roca!
    ¡Exaltado sea Dios mi Salvador!
Tú me libras del furor de mis enemigos,
me exaltas por encima de mis adversarios,
    me salvas de los hombres violentos. *Salmo 18:46 & 48b*

 

 

 

 

I Am & I Hope

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Born to be creative, freed by the Truth to pursue life in the trails I blaze through this globe-jungle.

Who am I? is a question I ask myself every day and then smile at the obstinate refusalof my soul to respond simply. I am not simple. I am big. I am not defined by the color of my skin, by my heritage, by what I know or do not know, experience or do not experience. I am me, I am. I am lost in I AM. I am a wide network of dynamic relationships, ideas, and memories. I will not be stifled. I am gratitude and I am the tears of the ones I love.

I spend my days in expectation of the unspeakable Divinity which is faithful to bestow a timely spark on my dry wood. Then, as ashes, my substance travels the invisible current of our atmosphere to the wildest corners of our world; may I land where hope is needed and may I be loyal to her, Hope, the North Star of my very being.

I bow my head to the women whose voices are strengthening me, whose hard-earned beliefs keep me company, keep me grounded in the soil of my God & teach me that I am never away from my loved ones, nor am I ever unloved.

Enjoy the quotes, friends. Thanks for reading.

Lydia Nomad

 

I once heard that there is enough food in the world to feed all the hungry children. It is not a lack of resources; it is simply a lack of will. When I think about what I have hoarded or held onto because of fear, it causes me great grief. I want to walk, eat, pack, and work with an open and trusting heart. For I have learned that when my heart is open to the world, my vision is transformed, and I am able to see family where I once saw strangers and opportunities to heal where I once saw obstacles to joy. –Becca Stevens

 

We have been treating the earth as if it were a supply house and a sewer. Weve been  grabbing, extracting resources from it for our cars and our hair dryers and our bombs and we have been pouring the waste into it until it is overflowing. But our earth is not a supply house and a sewer. It is our larger body. We breath it, we taste it, we are it, and it is time now that we venerate that incredible flowering of life that takes every aspect of our physicality.–Joanna Macy

 

“No hay paz sin justicia,

no hay justicia sin equidad,

no hay equidad sin desarrollo,

no hay desarrollo sin democracia,

no hay democracia sin respeto a la identidad y

dignidad de las culturas y los pueblos”.–Rigoberta Menchú

 

 

Love Now, For Always

 

Nothing is forsaken since love seeps through

Shallow graves and dead stumps.

We weep for blights and injustices,
But even if we hung up our lyre,
The bluebirds and yellow­bellied sapsuckers
Sing for the weary, “There is love after death.”
–Becca Stevens

Loverfly

Fam!

In all honesty, I am a little embarassed that it has been almost a month since I posted. However, I have been listening to some lovely lady voices (Naomi Shihab Nye, The Indigo Girls, Regina Spektor, Audrey Assad, to name a few) & now find myself living in the Southern hemisphere for a while. A city in central Chile called Temuco is my current home. It is terrifying and enchanting to be here but the journey and settling in process could not have gone any smoother.

In the moments when everything, from the city streets, to the food, to the curtains and the bed where I sleep seems foreign and I become overwhelmed, these words have been an oar I use to paddle my way forward*:

By the light of day and by the dark of night your God has not forgotten you || Quran Daylight 93.1

&

Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you. || Psalm 116:7

Sometimes the most difficult of big journeys (or just big changes) require me to sit, to return to silence, and remember God is not mad at me. I am not in trouble. It is all a gift to be enjoyed. And most important, and most difficult for me to believe, it all has a purpose. I have purpose.

Silence is the language of God, everything else is poor translation. || Rumi

It is interesting the internal furniture that is rearranged by travel. Sunday afternoon (my 5th day here) an old sorrow surfaced, like pieces of algea that ride the tips of ocean waves. It evoked a poem and a deep ache inside, connected to other aches. Pauline Boss says that the answer to human sadness is human connectedness (I have been listening to a lot of On Being with Krista Tippett, obviously) and I wonder if that is because sorrow touches every experience we have. Sadness is an ultimately integrated space and our interactions with others, those sweet moments when we touch and are touched, must be the only remedy broad and complex enough to greet the ache.

My liberation journey continues, now on a new continent. Dirt and sky, both ancient and savage, keep me company as I wait, breath, live one more day….yearning for gratitude, aching for new Life inside.

You, dear blog readers, always get the roughest, newest poetry. I hope you enjoy:

In a country new to me

I looked down and saw, for the first time,

the face of a miniature Chilean:

round, chapped cheeks and almond shaped eyes with dark brown fans for eyelashes.

I asked the unanswerable question: how does loving a child

make adopting an entire culture

that much easier?

 

Tucked away from the wind in the afternoon

one of the unanswerable questions I find is:

Why fall in love so often?

Why are humans so quick to embark on such a painful journey?

What foolhardy resilience are we busy cultivating

that we jump off the cliff time after time (to pursue cultures, experiences, people),

falling into something new with the old still all around us.

 

I keep this one love like dried beans in a secret, quiet place in my heart

where it is dry and cool

and where I don’t look very often;

I don’t know why.

It hurts to look, yet

for the sake of the future loves

I will be found taking the moments made for a look:

a gaze that is long and loving,

though he will never know.

It is the release of his thoughts of me,

of the white woman who came and went

without apology,

that simmers in me volcanously.

It is because he will never know, just as many who have loved me (of all genders and age) will never know,

that the purity and strength of their love was the fire under my feet.

Busy looking for what their love lacked,

they failed to see how love was all I needed

to keep healing, to move towards wholeness,

to walk the way of becoming just one step more.

I didn’t need anything more than what they had to give,

I couldn’t put a tidy bow or explanation on it because their love ran me out,

and what sense is that?

 

A whisper says, learn to not know

or understand,

because love leaves us speechless.

The profound nature of my desire to make it right

beats against my chest;

a silent kick drum against the part of me where I loved him, where I hold those tender memories.

Now the space between us is a chasm and there is no use asking it to decrease in breadth

because what would I say?

Still there is no sense,

only Love, a butterfly perched on my lips, where I smile anyway.

 

Ciao!

Lydia Nomad

 

*Naomi Shihab Nye, On Being with Krista Tippett, July 28, 2016

 

 

 

Poem Full of Hope

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She carries her cross, terrified and fully aware of surrounding and indwelling dissonance;

she knows she was made for more, a more she knows nothing of, which makes her ache with hope and agony.

 

Terrified, she treads deeper into the forest landscaped with fear and uncertainty.

She carries her cross because she needs more to live for.

 

Children who have yet to see the forest edge, for them she carries her cross.

While they can’t muster hope she, terrified, touches one more toe down.

 

She carries her cross, brown-eyed and unstable.

Terrified, the woman is Jesus, come back to lift the poor from the hopeless heaps we’ve put them in.

 

 

Me For Me

These words are about the healing and growth I am undergoing and what that is bringing about in my life. Next post will be about how exactly the 31 days of Her Voice has intensified this process. Enjoy 🙂

 

Everything is different now that I get to have me, and

see through the eyes I was born with, no one else’s.

 

A world of invitation and delight orbits just outside my domain,

without whisper of exclusion.

 

Having me is eating and tasting food for the first time,

it’s looking in the mirror and knowing that I am that.

 

It’s dancing wildly without a thought for who is around,

it’s being with loved ones and then being completely alone.

 

It’s one boat leaving the dock and another pulling up alongside

It’s a journey I can’t un-take

 

 

Who is she?

This wild woman with Tarzan arms that have climbed trees in Puerto Rico, held children, cooked Indian curries,

shook hands, written essays, braided hair, drafted budgets, wrapped around the body they’re attached to.

The wild woman who holds herself and stands on no feet but her own.

Who creates spaces where others can breath, where long-dormant hearts can beat again.

 

Once you see you can’t unsee.

Once you feel you can’t unfeel.

 

There are magical children around me. Some are adults but most are young, not so long out of the womb that they have forgotten the Spark they sprang from.

When I ride in the car with these kids, climb rocks with them, blow bubbles with them, read books with them, something extraordinary happens.

Over time a space is created. I imagine wind drawing a circle between us, its gusts creating a vortex of safety, peace, love, and acceptance.

Some kids hear the whisper quicker than others but it is there for all: Everything you are has a place. And by sheer Heaven-wizardry that message brings out hearts and puts smiles on faces. It’s like camels just come to an oasis.

Hearts start to show like turtle heads peeking out from under shells. Words I can’t yet voice, about things I haven’t begun to comprehend,

do their life-giving work in this space. All that I feel I cannot do for the children starts to do its work.

With me, but also without me.

 

In me something is happening.

My interior is a wide expanse with hay that sways in the breeze rather than the barren land it once was.

As restoration roots within me it creates a sacred spin around me; rearranging the souls that I overlap with, gentle licks of ocean against sand.

I sense that it is less an hour glass and more the mysterious layer of cinnamon particles carried by winds that, over time, shape the sand dunes.

 

There is no sense to be made of what goes on in and around me. To put language to it is a fun, sometimes useful, challenge.

To enjoy it in all its delicious mystery is the only mandate. It’s more of an invitation.

 

Do you believe in an endless love?

Looking for More Than Scars

I escaped into Arkansas wilderness today, despite the rain, because I needed poetry and a deep breath of the holy (whole) God I have come to know. Tramping over a creek I looked down and saw watery patterns.

Where is Jesus in this? I thought, and saw a pattern of stripes.

Bloody ones on the back of a man that prompted me to remember a verse about Jesus being pierced for my “transgressions”. Then I quickly backtracked mentally as that train of thought began to unravel the healing work I been faithfully cultivating.

Phew.

Looking for the scars is not doing much for me.

I’m tired of my faith centering around an act of violence.

If redemption stops at violence then this story isn’t any different from the last and, oh, how I need a new story.

19 For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. (Isaiah 43:19 NLT)

Tell me, please, that

There was “good” before there was death

and

There was descent for the sake of ascent* (rather than for the necessity of endless chaos, as my childhood fears–and the childhood fears of many fundamentalist religious leaders, it seems–would propose**)

 

Maybe you need to hear a story of death

Where you may be lowered

Perhaps your ego needs a jolt & a bit of righteous de-centering will help you find your true center

 

Today, that is not my story. (I know that our will is made to be broken.)

Today, that isn’t the Gospel I need. (I know that blood is necessary for cleansing–what woman doesn’t?)

My soul won’t come out to play for anything less than a story that offers me the chance to have a “center”, to regain the hiding parts of me.

So tell me the story, instead, of the Essence that got so excited to know & be known that

it belched a ballad with me right in the middle.

 

Tell me the story of a girl who wasn’t born to suffer;

whose oceanic depth is mysterious on purpose.

Voices are starting to welcome me into this story–words of women who write and speak with a confidence I don’t yet have (Jen Hatmaker, Rachel Held Evans, Opal Tometi, Sarah Bessey, Rosemary Ruether, Maya Angelou, Sojourner Truth);

women who aren’t stopped by the patriarchal language of a tradition they have found Truth in (though very bothered by the problem of patriarchy).

Their vulnerability makes Truth more accessible to me:

 

I have my own quiet sorrows, of course, but they are mostly common sorrows; and joy, especially the everyday quiet joy of loving and being deeply loved, has been mine in abundance.” ~Sarah Bessey, Jesus Feminist (140)

 

Why didn’t anyone tell me that before?
My shocking stories of abuse,

hands of cruelty that still reach from the dream world and shake me awake:

those hands aren’t as strong as they seem.

Snippets of Sarah Bessey’s experiences, honestly conveyed in her book, Jesus Feminist, are one way my heart is hearing a message she never before believed could be true.

Let me see through your eyes, sis.

Her story shuts me up:

Oh, how good it is to be silent,

to hear instead of chaos the deep truths of joy, love, daily grace.

How good it is when women who know their belovedness aren’t silent.

(These are the words of God, and they find success in the lives of the women who have forgotten the belovedness that birthed them. They find success in my life.)

How good it is to entertain the idea that there is an ever-clean shore, and

thousands of arms upholding the daughters who, day after day, watch-wait-hope to see healing break the horizon line.

For me, this is news worth searching the creekbed for. This is Gospel.

Check the drama at the door: I’ve had enough and I will shake the expectation of its return.

This is the other story and it isn’t tumultuous or violent;

it tells me of an unjeopardized, completely accessible wholeness.

The Gospel of Jesus’ fullness: today’s liberation and bread of Life.

And there’s more as her bold words uncover hidden hopes:

“.…women who have been abused rising up in strength to lead us all….” ~Sarah Bessey, Jesus Feminist (149)

Mother Teresa. St. Clare of Assisi. Rigoberta Menchú. Christine Caine. Opal Tometi. Becca Stevens. Deb. Rosario. Jan. Countless others leading in their own ways, big and small. If they matter I do too. My footsteps fall amidst theirs and if they can climb the mountain to wholeness, so can I. Together we can win bigger. For me that victory starts today, it starts at the feet of these women as they stroke my hair and bid me to take heart. I am humbled by their Grace and mothered by their legacies. My gratitude is all I have to give for this life–for this tiny, sacred role I get to play in the story–and I will give it as a thank-you-mark at the sentence-end of each exhausting day.

 

“For I believed then, as I know now, that we are meant for love.”~Sarah Bessey, Jesus Feminist (142–I’m putting page numbers because I SO want you to read this book–at least look up the quotes. Please?)

 

This is the Truth, the message of Jesus’ beautiful, coming Kingdom. (I’m retraining my ears to hear its’ soft footstep).

Though the thumbprints of patriarchy still leave smudges on the language Jesus’ people use for a better world,

I give myself to Kingdom.  

Because it is so good for us all, and we need it desperately.

An existence of Love, for Love.

 

The feminist scholars whose teachings I am deliberately choosing to sit under are bringing to memory the candles lit by women in my life. Sparks, small and persistent, that have brought me out of the shadows. Just some examples….

Brianna who dared to love the angry, confused, proud, and fearful child I once was. Who risked forgiveness as seeds of a fresh start.

Jan, gentle & kind, never using her words to jab me or make a point, soft to her core. Present and available without insistence. Carefully respectful of every person she makes contact with. Her tears are her testimony over a dinner of flaky fish and a rainbow of veggies, and the index cards on her fridge make me a little less afraid of the Bible.

Rosario who cries in front of the class semester after semester as Powerpoint slides tell tales of systemic oppression against her own people: female and native, ongoing since humans learned to speak. Who doesn’t harden or bristle when arrogant students expose bigotry during class but faithfully leads her flock through the stories and argues with stagnant faculty members in both English & Spanish.

Heather who wrestles faith as heartily as she struggles with every day challenges of the business world. Who invites and beckons and keeps firm boundaries up while slipping hundreds of dollars into the hands of her hopeful daughters who dare ask for help.

Meghan and Emily, friends who tell me that my healing journey isn’t easy for any of us

but who beg me not to walk any other path;

who I know will be waiting anyway, always–no matter what.

 

There’s an army here that I haven’t dared to see, but now, as the fog of fear lifts, I can’t help but acknowledge. They’re women. They’re mothers of the Queendom of God. I stand on their shoulders and I’m going to touch Heaven.

 

Let my life be see-through.

Let my love be genuine.

Let me, at the very least, give it my best.

 

To honor the women who have gone before

To honor those I have forgiven

To honor the me inside of me (who I repent of mistreating)

To honor the earth beneath our feet we often forget to respect

To offer higher shoulders to the younger sisters

 

Let grace settle on the forest floor of my heart, with roots pushing deeper and deeper into dirt. A wood of love & hope–never-dying trees–is growing in me as I evolve,

as poetry tunes my ear to hear the new story, the real story of an upside-down reality:

that I was not made to suffer, but for Love.

 

The dancing moments when my ankles and knees fly past one another

The ecstatic yelps

The deep breathes of cinnamon-y scents in the kitchen on Christmas

The curly locks slipping through the teeth of my lucky hair pick

The intimate jokes robed in laughter

The essays that take days to write

The ideas that still elude language

6 mile hikes in the rain, shoes squelching through muddy ruts

Peaceful conversations on slow mornings

Adventures filled with discovery;

Community and closeness with others I have only yet heard whispers of….

 

This is the Gospel I need.

This is what persists.

The stone rolled away for this, for me, for us–as a family. 

 

Women still locked within the lies, know this, my sisters, my loves: those lies will lose their hold. God is coming. Her people are rising up. It won’t be long. In the meantime, Immanuel is with you.

 

There is an alternate story and hope for the next life is not where it stops–that is where it begins. The story isn’t about a man dead on a cross. It’s about life after the stone rolled away. It’s the wonder and awe, not the wounds, that we march towards. Watch as the next life comes closer and becomes more real, more new, more now than you dared to imagine.

Let my hopeful voice join the ensemble of women whose struggles are the struggles of our cosmos,

whose bold examples are North Stars pointing me towards the Jesus no hurt can chase away, whose stories hush my hopelessness.

 

Mine is the story of a girl born blind,

whose God gave her poetry,

whose poetry gave her eyes.

 

Just a little bit more free (from those haunting, misused verses about violence that echo childhood voices still stuck to our brains),

just a tad more alive,

just a couple steps deeper in.

The drip of everyday Love and faithfulness are

eroding granite,

shaping a new path for humanity, a path each of us is invited to walk.

 

 

 

*http://www.chabad.org/theJewishWoman/article_cdo/aid/335943/jewish/Chavah-Mother-of-All-Life.htm/mobile/false

**http://robbell.podbean.com/e/episode-86-richard-rohr-and-the-alternative-orthodoxy/

Glory & Guts

I’m singing out: YOUR LOVE LEAD ME!

 

There’s nothing that I have need of

There’s nothing you haven’t done

You make my soul alive

You put your life inside

There’s nothing that I have need of

There’s nothing you haven’t done

 

You make my soul alive

You put your life inside

 

You put your love inside

 

I’m giving you everything

 

~United Pursuit, Simple Gospel album

 

March toward freedom. Run when you’re unable to even stand. Use what could be your last breath (maybe feels like it IS the last breath of your soul) to hurl yourself toward light. Set your heels deeper in the mud and when they sink, keep pushing. You’re slaves but you don’t have to be. Stomp your foot in the face of that slavery. Sing out: there is a BEYOND for me. There is much to move towards. Restoration is a prize worth struggling unto death for. You may not know if anything good is true, but hope is essential. You have to believe it until it is true. You have to grind your teeth together and clench your fists until your fingernails draw blood. You have to wrestle the selfishness & despair within until you stand with your foot on its’ neck. There is more to be, more to believe, more life & abundance for the taking than you could ever imagine. You have access to all the strength that you need. The One who made you wants you back. Do you hear the song of love that the trees and waves and woodpeckers and thunder claps sing for you? The cry of Love’s broken heart: come back. Come back to the One from whom you came. You exist. You are. As surely as you are, you are loved. Newness is around the corner for you, powerful one. Nothing can limit your potential, your love, your light, your purpose. You were made to change & to change this planet. Whatever broken down places there are in you, they are redeemable. Whatever has been done to you can be undone. Whatever has been undone in you can be remade. There is no such thing as irreparable. There is no such thing as hopeless or helpless.

 

There is no such thing as a gift without price. This battle costs everything. It asks surrender of you. It asks devotion of you. But first, all it asks is belief. One movement (and a hundred more every day to follow) in the direction of “yes” to power beyond you will hurtle you into an extraordinary journey. An extraordinarily difficult journey. Every step requires a loss, and the losses will set you free. They’ll feel like betrayal. You will lose the only you you thought there was. You will find innumerable lies lodged in the foundation of your being and you will have to decide to let it crumble. In darkness the Enemy will whisper that you don’t love your family. In darkness the Enemy will accuse you of pride, of indulgence, of selfishness, of irresponsibility. In victorious moments all you will feel is struggle and doubt. Then you will look back & make an idol of the victory instead of the One from whom it came. In the hardest moments you will wonder why and how and your brow will be so tight that you get a headache. You will forget how hellish the slavery is and you will follow your flesh back to rock bottom. You will progress and you will regress. You will doubt and question and experience greater pain than you knew you had the capacity for. People won’t understand. People will throw darts. People will mock and people will wonder. They will worship you and that will hurt worse than anything else.

 

You won’t fit the mold anymore.

 

Your love changes everything.~United Pursuit

 

You will slowly lose your linear eyes. You will regain a poetic perspective and you will see beauty where no one else can. You will grow up and you will become a child again. The strong hands of your cravings won’t steer the boat anymore. You won’t be controlled by nerves, fear, or timidity. You won’t be running ragged and unsatisfied. You won’t hate the words coming out of your mouth; raw joy will take their place. You will run with hell at your heels towards one Being only & find that every other relationship can be fueled by the overflow from moment-by-moment encounters with Jesus. You will discover what you were made to do. Your skin will crawl and you won’t be able to live with that being the way it is anymore. You will see miracles & you will pedal and walk and run and jump and limp and crawl until the skin on your hands is calloused, your knees are knotty, and the cavern of your heart swollen. You will learn not to trust in life stages or relationship status but in an unchanging force whose tide is steady. You will eat less and sleep harder and dream bigger.

You will lose the ability to hate and have enemies. You will ache for someone besides yourself and you will offer that ache back to the One. Your soul will swell with joy & your time alone will be precious, full of laughter and dancing. Your fears will fall off your face in silver tears and the moon will replace them with determination and a fierce desire for home. Your need for admiration or adoration from your friends will turn into gratitude for the “amens” they speak over your life. People won’t make your decisions for you. People won’t disappoint and limit you. People won’t have the last word. People will speak curses and blessings over your head and what isn’t true just won’t matter. 

I saw your soul without the skin attached
You’ve got the guts of a coyote pack
We’ve been kissed, we’ve been cut
But we do what needs the doing
We’re just rainbows dreaming we’re human
~Cloud Cult

You will discover true glory. That hidden glory, familiar and sweet, will chase away the memories of every violation you have perpetrated against your soul and the souls of your neighbors. The glory will erase your shame and you will be baptized into forgiveness so often you lose count of the times you’ve come back up.

 

You were born as a spark.

Re-gain the spark that’s been pinched between the index finger and thumb of your life.

Give your spark space to breath.

Show it to no one but the warm wind of spring.

Protect it with your everything and beg the God of hope to let it grow.

Kneel in the wild and trust the small fire you have become to the flame of origin.

Accept no limitations.

Fight harder, win bigger.

Hunger for the Holy One more than for food.

Let Him/Her take you beyond.

The goodness is unending.

Dare to believe it.

Bet your vaporous life on it.

Everything changes.

I Can’t Hate the Church

In her book Searching for Sunday, Rachel Held Evans asks the question what is it the man Jesus’ (diverse) followers all shared? She says,

“It wasn’t shared social status or ethnicity….No, if there is one thing that connected all these dissimilar people together it was a shared sense of need: a hunger, a thirst, a longing. It was the certainty that, when Jesus said he came for the sick, this meant Jesus came for me.” (p. 92)

I am thankful God brought this book into my hands right now. At the end of the hardest year of my life (so far!). After a year of stripping away; of feeling more alive than ever before & yet abandoned & confused deeper than I knew possible. A year of ultimatums & threats & old relationships turned sour & new ones (budding in dusty parts of the soul) riding the mysterious current of the River of Life.

In January I started going to a church–a communion of these Jesus followers–that I could (finally) listen to without being offended. I started hearing the Bible taught in a way that made my heart burn with passion for justice & equality & truth. Truth that linked my heart to God’s more closely. I started leaving church full-ish instead of empty. I’m thankful for the 7 months I had at Mosaic Church, and that though sometimes I felt too preached to, and (more annoyingly) too advertised to, the hugs & prayers & celebration & meals & gifts & sacraments kept me there.

Church of God in Christ. Church of Jesus Christ. Crosslife. Cornerstone. Community. Grace Bible. Why do all those names still make me throw up a little? Jesus Christ is my dearest friend; how can I have such a strong reaction against his name?

His name has been taken in vain so often, even by ones truly trying to honor who he is (myself included!). A cardboard cut out representing someone else’s Jesus has been set up with its shadow cast over the very ones he loves best. The outcasts. The marginalized. The ones who smoke weed. The homeless. The ones whose sexuality isn’t quite what culture says it should be. The murderers. Rapists. Porn addicts. Teen mothers. People with no money. The lie has been sown by the ones who claim Jesus’ name that his burden is heavy. That they have to leave behind their families & cultures & identities in order to come.

Some days I hate the church. Psalm 8:1 says, “O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth.” I really get the feeling on certain days that “church” makes his name un-majestic. That the big screens & the insincere liturgies & the campaigns against abortion remove the mystery & wonder of a God with a humble earthly story, a God who spoke to Moses with a still, small voice (1 Kings 19:12). A God who invites us to munch bits of bread together & remember the united existence his death has made possible.

But I can’t hate the church. I can’t because the church is my best friends. The church is my eternal family. The church is the ones around me who know they are sick. The ones who hold my hand during a panic attack. Who go with me to get new tattoos. It is friends who don’t hesitate to affirm me while acknowledging the darkness in all of us. Who put coconut milk shampoo with the golden lid (I never would have considered myself worthy of) in my Christmas stocking. Who put together a picnic for friends of a friend. Who fail & recognize their failure but refuse to believe that anything can jeopardize their place as Children of the King. Who teach me what it is like to receive a gift–no strings attached. God’s people do this. God’s people show up & open up old scars to one another, knowing that encouragement & hope will be ministered freely. God’s people have laughed with me & danced with me through this most harrowing of years (2015).

Even a Christian pastor (the scariest kind of Christian!)  has the joyful confidence to say:

“I have to believe that God can put anything–anyone–back together. I have to believe that the God Jesus invites us to trust is as good as he says he is.

Loving.

Forgiving.

Merciful.

Full of grace.” (Rob Bell in his book Sex God)

Mutual hunger. Shared thirst. Shattered hearts & disappointing relationships. It’s all giving birth to unimaginable wholeness. I’m watching it in my own life & in the lives of those I love. The moments we feel of unity: during communion, at the corner of campus where people share cigarettes, through the bridge of Hillsong’s latest haunting melody, when girls have talent shows without mocking laughter or competition….those are the lasting reality. Those are whispers of a season where isolation will be no more. A season of depth & health & glory. God’s church emerging from all the shadows she has cast. The eunuchs. The women. The martyrs. The children. All who know their need & drop fat tears on the feet of humble Jesus.

She is the Bride Jesus longs to show off in the Heavens, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.”

And she will answer, “Worthy. Worthy is the Lamb who was slain.”

We will answer.

We will answer now–eyes on the Lamb–amidst world war, poverty, mental illness, divorce, and life’s messiest messes:

Worthy. Worthy is the Lamb we love. 12248635_1238736879476513_990288516_n