Tapa(s) That Mountain

 

Climbing Pinnacle Mountain today was difficult. Stomach problems made it painful internally but it was not even an *Arkansas* hot day. There was a breeze that accompanied me as I wheezed, heaved, & groaned my way up the East Summit.

Damn, I love that mountain.

Every bit of the experience was familiar to me (though I did not used to be this challenged on the way up…). The contours on boulders smoothed by hundreds of feet scaling them each week, the canopy of leaves overhead, the friendly faces who greet & cheer you on as you ascend & they descend the steep trail. I adore the crags on either side of the worn path. I love the coolness afforded by the vines and greenery all around. I love the feeling of my chest rising & falling at the summit as I gaze for miles & miles, soaking in the sherbet sunrise. I hear firecrackers, set off not far away & roll my eyes.

God, I love this place.

This walk triggers a plethora of memories. When I was a child the mountain seemed so long, the trek lest arduous but definitely more lengthy. During high school for a time I climbed the mountain weekly with a fierce group of young women. We explored the crags & swung off tree branches. It got easier for us every week, but never lost its’ lustrous challenge, it never stopped reminding us of the warrior-women within. None of us spoke out loud of how powerful it showed us to be, this weekly strength practice–we were taught to be docile & dainty–but I know we all felt it. And secretly shared it. If the other girls do not remember, then I will be guardian and remember-er, and secret keeper of these memories.

In yogic philosophy  there is an idea called “tapas”. According to Deborah Adele, Tapas is the fiery determined effort we can make to offer ourselves up to transformation, by way of strength training, meditation, or any other focused practice. Tapas is discipline, it is taking the difficult action because in your gut you know it is the right action. Tapas is the courage to step into the fire for the sake of being purified.

Pinnacle Mountain has been a place where I have cultivated Tapas. That summit has been & was again tonight the altar where I offer myself to God, to transformation, to my higher, truer, better self.

I love it. Oh, I love it very much.

Here’s to more cardio & less carbs.

Feel the holy burn, friends!

 

Lydia Nomad

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Fireside Tribe

In a dark lodge with wood paneling like chocolate/vanilla swirled ice cream, and cool stone walls, seven women sat facing a fire. The fire was burning inside a stone nook, slightly below floor level, naked. The grate had been moved aside. Big logs whose bark was cut into black and white square patterns by ash periodically shifted, popped, and crackled.The women were gathered before the fire like chocolate chips that have fallen to the bottom of a muffin. Four sat in a row on the brown leather couch, puppies lined up in the cradle of their mother’s shape. Two sat perched on chairs, staring into the dancing flames, enshrouded in fleece blankets of blue and white.

In the corner next to the fire, as if at the helm of a six-man ship, sat the eldest. A rustic woman with silky hair pulled back to the top of her head, held there by one band of rubber, durable and tight like faith after a long hospital stay. The firelight illuminated her perfect hairline, reflected off her earlobes. Athletic pants were tucked into the top of duck boots, and she sat leaning forward. Her eyes were wide, horrified by the weights still balancing on the backs of her young crew members. Suddenly she stood.

“Alright,” she said. She threw three small packages of Kleenex at the women on the couch. She flicked off the overhead light. “This is what we’re gonna do.”

The girls stared up at her, lips ajar. Firelight now reflected off the moisture in their eyes. One fingered the package of tissues, sealing and unsealing the round sticker at the lip of the envelope. The standing woman continued:

“Get a piece of paper and write down your sins. All that junk you have been hangin’ on to. Your parents sins, your sins. Write it all down and we’re gonna burn it. You owe it to the world to accept healin’. God has forgotten those sins you keep bringin’ up. He is ready for you to move on.” She stomped out of the front door, letting in a chilly fall draft.

In a moment, pens were down, flying across torn pages held close to dimly lit faces. Two of the girls looked up, peeking (with marked hesitation), towards the woman who wrestled large chunks of wood outside.

She returned, bold captain for the day, and placed wood on the fire. The only energy emitted besides the Joules eking from flames were in the music notes gently playing:

Boldly I approach your throne, blameless now I’m runnin’ home…

The indention in the stone floor became an altar. The blaze a throne. The wood their unburning God, ready to speak through flames of his creation and control.

One by one each woman folded her piece of college ruled paper corner to corner and knelt before the flames. The orange tendrils kissed their bundled knees, heated the concrete under their feet. Each one offered silent pleas: “Let me live free from the burden of these sins,” “Let me be done with this yoke.” And before each piece of paper curled up and disintegrated into dark ash, bright light shone from the brittle kindling of penned sin. The brilliant glow shot up the wall above the temporary altar, then disappeared. Each woman sat where she had been before, sniffling, grabbing hand of co-heir wedged on couch beside her.


May that be our sin: placed without hesitation into the fire of God’s love. Then may we watch delighted as that burning bush turns it into a bright light warding off the world’s deep darkness.

Year of Two Griefs

2013

2013

2 years ago I tutored a girl named Aaliyah.
1 summer ago I met a woman with 3 daughters trailing behind her.
That summer I realized that I had to have real faith or no faith at all.
I knew that it was not enough to serve people I did not know.
I knew I was cheating God to emotionally clock in and out of “ministry”.
I knew I had to care.

Then I said, ‘behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’~Hebrews 10:7

Back to the girl named Aaliyah.
I started showing up at her apartment, chatting with her mom.
I started bringing strawberries after school.
I felt awkward and unsure of everything except for one thing: God’s plan.

But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.~Micah 7:7

He was leading me, Little Old Me, and I was doing my best to walk in the shoes He had for me.
I searched and searched and kept coming back to apartment 119 in the projects.
Then I took three girls to the park.
Then I took three girls to the library.
Suddenly–I can’t remember when exactly–a relationship was born.

Rumor has it that other languages have words for what English speakers call “adopted family” or “fictive kin”. I wish English had a word for it. The three girls are not my sisters, they are not my kids. “Entourage” doesn’t cut it either. They are something more miraculous and unusual. We became blood-kin not by our parents but by our Savior. His love compelled me to their door. His love made sure there was a place for me in their life. God’s whimsy, His creativity, His mission brought us together and made one great year.
There were apologies and snacks by the pool. We ran spontaneously into the sprinklers at Peabody Park and we went to church together on Sunday afternoons. We danced in the talent show and we played tips with the Church’s Chicken basketball. We read books together and we watched Beatles videos until we got bored. We wrestled, we danced, we swam, we clapped, we sang, we prayed. We were humans–little girls–together. Jesus’ loving ability to meet our needs bridged the gaps between us.
There were times when I felt I was banging my head against a wall of sin and rebellion. There were times when dancing in the kitchen with them was therapy for me.
Our love for each other turned heads. I like to think that people felt an inkling of divine involvement when they saw me and three chocolate swirled girls happily packed into my truck.1452329_763019423714930_46172494_n

Now they have relocated and left a gaping hole in my life.
The anvil is on my heart again,
Like wounding a wound.

The English language falls short once more.
Suffice it to say, God’s dreams are the dreams that overwhelm and delight.

As I read Isaiah 30 I can feel God whisper to my tore up soul:

This is the way. Walk you in it.

This Wild World

The insanity of roller coaster moments in life continually blow my mind.  Learning about things continuously is exhausting.

EX:  It’s weird how the better I become at being honest with people, the worse I get at expressing myself on paper (eh, computer).  Connecting with people seems to help me improve at only one thing: connecting with people.  I know stuff, I understand people, I’ve got the connections, but good gosh! I hardly have an education.  Not much has been accomplished in these past 19 years of life by general standards.  I’m a professional nothing.  An unbusiness woman.  A full time patient.  Absolutely dependant.  Hopelessly accomplishment-less.

Tsk, tsk.

I suppose all there is to show from this past 9 months is surrender and a couple of unfinished charcoal drawings.  Partial surrender, because complete takes time when you insist on being full of pride.  This is good; this letting-go is the most important thing.  Yet still I wonder, where is my field? Am I going to learn how to do anything?  How shall I express myself?  Will I ever truly enjoy the work that feeds and clothes me? These are questions for the future. Today, my business is love.  I am supportive, I am ready and willing, and I am at peace sitting still.  Later, I will hustle and bustle and my business will be more tangible.

Hopefully I’ll get to jump off of cliffs and rescue children and that sort of thing.  We’ll see.

 

I’m grateful to God for the wildness of this world -N.D. Wilson