Monthly Archives: February 2010

today: becoming iconic spaces (dear peter rollins, you are rocking my world.)

Working on a blog for little Luci while waiting on a plane at Sea-Tac and discovering words that ought to be shared and celebrated…

(So ends the first section of writing in his book with love as the plumb line of Christian faith) “… Not an inauthentic love which only embraces those who embrace us, but the love that emanates from our beloved, the love that would embrace our enemeies, that gives until it hurts and then gives more, the love that gives with the right hand while hiding its gift from the left. To affirm the approach that I am advocating means that we must accept that to be a Christian is to be born of love, transformed by love and committed to transforming the world with love. This is not somehow done by working ourselves up and trying to find the right way of thinking and acting, but rather in letting go and opening up to the transformative power of God. In so doing, we will not merely sit around describing God to the world, but rather, we will become the iconic spaces in which God is made manifest in the world…”
-p71, How (Not) to Speak of God, Peter Rollins

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tonight: we’ve a long way to go

From here you can almost see the sea.
-David Gray

I can tell you we swaggered and swayed.
-Sufjan Stevens

feeling rhyme-y tonight

the overcast kinds of days bring out the heretic in me
as i ball up my fists and cling to hindrances seen
blessed, blessed the ones who believe
blessed, blessed the doubters and deceived
we flock together, all of us, in need
and that undoing tethers and tangles
i struggle to give but somehow receive

the overcast kinds of days mean forcing feet to go outside
lacing up shoes and refusing to hide
the dark and dank corners grow mildew and pride
the dark and dank corners are where we do die
and we flock together, all of us, abide
and that yields us towards that for which we cry
when our eyes are open we see there is life

even on the overcast kinds of days
especially on the overcast kinds of days
we’ve a long way to go
but the point is not that we arrive
i think it’s maybe that we get to ride

tonight: normal day

“Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so.”
-Mary Jean Iron

So, so much awareness of the love of God in the normalcy of the day to day.
So, so much awareness of how much treasure the seeking eye finds.
This story, revised.
Author, Editor and Co-hort?
Divine.
(Friend.)

today: when we were young

Grass to us is more ground than figure, a backdrop to more legible things in the landscape- trees, animals, buildings. It’s less a subject in its own right than a context.
-p184 The Omnivore’s Dillema, Michael Pollan

Whenever I get a bit of time with Carla, my bestie, we travel back in time a bit. This trip, with the arrival of her daughter, we have done more life in the present than past visits. Still, we have history, and the endless memories of people and place provide context for who we are today. We went places together back in the day: all over Poland and to Montana and Colorado. I went to California when she lived there. She visited Ontario when I lived there.

We have never lived in the same place for more than a couple of months, but we have forged a friendship around music, lattes, the gospel and and endless array of yummy meals. I can post the following photos, and they mean something to us that a handful of our friends relate to.

To everyone else, they are merely photos of a funny whittled man and a guitar. I look at them and see the story of two girls with matching coats greeting each other on a snowy sidewalk in the sleepy town of Lakeside, Montana (pop. 500). We barely broached conversation. Fast-forward six months, and these same two girls found themselves in Czecestochowa, Poland living in a flat. That summer we taught endless Bible studies and English classes and played music and walked the streets. We rode a lot of trains. We filled pages of our journals. And late at night, after an internet cafe ritual, we talked. And talked. And talked. Sometimes until the sun came up.

We were both on a huge learning curve in regards to our faith, and God put us in Poland at the same time, I think, so that we’d find each other along the way. We did.

I was in her wedding. She will be in mine. I said then that I would come when she had a baby. I would help out. I am here.

When I look at the way our respective stories have zig-zagged through the years, I am amazed at how consistently we picked up the phone and sent emails. We’ve mailed birthday gifts and Christmas boxes. And on days like today, when I found myself snuggled in with her two-week-old girl while she and Johnny, her rock-star-and-a-half hubby went on their first post-baby date, I know I belong here. Luci and I hung out while Johnny and Carla went out.

I ate; Luci slept; she woke; we rocked; she ate. My life expanded the moment she arrived to enfold this baby girl. Children do that to the people who love them. And I love Luci because she is, but it’s her mama’s presence in my life that affords me this little one.

Emily Dickenson wrote her friends were her estate. I write along these lines a lot, because I think our culture does not necessarily help us recognize the incredible wealth the right relationships bring. And I don’t know much, but I know this: in regards to people in my life, I am very, very rich.

I also know this: It so matters who we do life with.

tonight: and in retropsection

“We write to experience life twice, once in the moment and in retropsection.
-Anais Nin

please allow me the occasional cheesy photography. thank you.

today i watch a girl come to embrace newfound place
(cousin)
toddler wrapping arms around brand new infant
wondering about her needs: toys and food
five quick minutes (maybe less!) of whimsy
today i make this memory with my heart on my sleeve
because desperate, so desperate
am i to see, see, see
the newness of the world every morning
(mercy)
through eyes like the little one
who considered one smaller still
and got her a teddy bear

today: bellingham? yes, please.

“It’s not so much that we’re afraid of change or so in love with the old ways, but it’s that place in between that we fear . . . . It’s like being between trapezes. It’s Linus when his blanket is in the dryer. There’s nothing to hold on to.”
-Marilyn Ferguson

Everyone, maybe, has places where they should stop and put their feet up for a while. They are places where regrouping is possible. They are home or away from home. They are familiar and foreign. They are safe. They are dangerous. Bellingham is one of my places, because of the people who live here, not so much because of the mountains and the coffee and the parks and the trails and the water and the…

Bellingham already had people, and now some of those people have a new baby girl. I love her. It’s an amazing thing to be around when a family becomes just that, growing from two to three, figuring out what that looks like, adjusting to less sleep and more love. It puts life into perspective to watch the way a little person so radically transforms things. She makes me hope for a bright future. She makes me want things for the world that are bigger and fuller than my selfish ambition. It’s utterly disarming in the most compelling way.

Hanging out with Carla has never been difficult, and adding her little one into the mix only adds value to my life. I love that. I am here to help out, which I may or may not be doing, but we are passing days simply. We eat and sleep. Dishes accumulate then are washed. The laundry never stops. My camera is within arm’s reach at all times. Yesterday we went for a walk, today, another one. We drink copious amounts of coffee. We are passing days simply, but somehow I think this is where God intended us to live: quietly and in community.

God amazes me in the ways He is kind. With all that is going on in my life, I am thankful for this massive change who came in a baby package for Carla and her hubby Johnny. She is reminding me of what matters. It’s people and love and rhythm and peace. I think being in Bellingham is reteaching me to see. The days pass simply, and the fullness is rich. I’m reminded there are things worth holding onto. Thankfully. Fully.

today: lent, thekingdomishere.now.

This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it…”

-Isaiah 30:15

So it’s Ash Wednesday, and that means the time has come for Lent. The liturgical calendar has helped me find a rhythm for walking with God these past few years. He is good to give minds to create tools and symbols so that we can better understand who He is and what He is like. We cross our foreheads with ash to remember Jesus and his sacrificial life. We cross our foreheads as a symbol of our repentance.

I am in Bellingham, WA for a few days, and the groundhog didn’t have a shadow or something this year. It is mid-February, but spring appears to have arrived. I went for a run today and pondered the Isaiah verse as my Ash Wednesday reflection. The word “repent” resonates heavy, often, I think. And indeed, the implications are heavy. Stop sinning. Live righteous. Choose a different path. Or something like that.

The ancient word literally means to turn around. In repentance and rest is your salvation, in turning around, back towards the Sovereign God… but Israel never managed to do that. But I want to. My feet pounded the ground as I ran and considered salvation that is grounded in repentance and rest. Salvation?

I think we all know we are in need of salvation of one kind or another, whether we adhere to the way of Jesus or not. There are parts of us that are broken, things that don’t work right. God’s invitation, then, to turn towards Him and rest in His sovereignty takes the heaviness away from repentance. It’s not that it is not weighty; it’s just that He bears the brunt of it. And He is faithful. That is the God story I believe. And it is real. It is compelling.

In repentance and rest is salvation. Jesus talked about a Kingdom that is God’s that is here on earth right now. And then He spent his life and death and resurrection showing what that Kingdom was like. He loved people, individually, communally and globally. He healed. He touched. He looked at suffering. He smiled at children. He humanized humanity.

The early part of the Jesus story ought to have been the end. People who’d watched his life brutally ended it, unable to accept someone living a reality that required a redefinition of expectation and behavior. They could not turn towards Him. They could not repent. They did not rest. Salvation is here, though, because of Him.

May this season of Lent be one where repentance and rest mark the way of our collective journey and individual journeys. May a quiet kind of trust emerge as our strength. May our perspectives conform to the One who humanized humanity. May He rewrite our hearts so that we can see. Salvation is here. The Kingdom is here. Life is full. Life is good.

I finished my run and came home to my best friend’s baby girl, who was born a scant nine days ago, and when it is hard to believe redemption is possible, an infant in my arms reminds me that we have reason to work out salvation and the implications of the Kingdom of God. An infant in my arms, an early spring run and a few words in Isaiah fused with the idea of Ash Wednesday helped me turn towards God today. Tomorrow it may be something else. Salvation is here.