Of loving and leaving to the light…..

Just this.
Because I need a little break this week from working out the words.
I made this for you to sip on,  instead.

Love to you,  exactly where you are,
and to all that you carry inside.

“My whole life I have been complaining that my work was constantly interrupted,
until I discovered that the interruptions
were my work.”
– Henry Nouwen

 

 

 

 

 

Of skinny dipping and scripture…..

At first the words landed sweet,  like the tingle of sour candy I used to scrape across my teeth
during Summer matinees,   so swept up in story that I didn’t notice my tongue start burning raw.
It would later hurt to talk and it took some figuring
to trade in those large pastel candy pucks
for a box of something creamier and chocolate,
which feels a little like the path I’ve taken with scripture
and I’m fumbling,  talking milk duds,  while I stall
to find the words because this is where the wicket gets especially sticky
in my story.

The word of God.
I still have a bit of an allergic reaction to this phrase,
and to many of the clusters of words that make up what my faith calls the Bible,
this volume of letters that I’ve loved and loathed.

“Of all the scriptures I despise,  I hate that one most of all,”
the words scrambled out of my mouth
too hot and fast to wrangle back inside as I watched faces go shocked with nervous laughter.
It was a little gathering of believers that met each week where we
sprawled on couches and floor and worshiped easy and talked real and spoke encouragement
and prayer over each other’s hearts and lives and people in a genuine,  healing way.
It was bliss for me until it took an unexpected turn into bible study and my insides began to squirm.
The offending verse brought back the sharp slap of shame I’d felt in earlier years
as I’d failed to “be healed” or “have no anxiety” and showed up weak or depressed
to you better cowboy the faith up and do better and believe harder
because neediness is sin.
The medicine was to “get more Word in me.”
(I can’t even make this upOh. so. heavy.

I’d eventually run away from this and similar spiritual floggings,  then wrap around and circle back,
this time to safer-seeming places and mostly they were and I loved the love I’d discover
as I unwrapped another slice of freedom from the very same book that pounded me before.
It was like swimming in the sea and being drawn into and dazzled by beauty and light
or suddenly stung and throttled until squeezed empty of breath.
What was the deal?
Like a sandpiper on the beach,  I’d dart away then go back hopeful,
drawn always to the sunsparkles on dancing water.

There are a million places I could settle and even more stories why,
but I want to tell you quick were I’ve landed
because the long version is a love story still unfolding and for another day
The cliff notes for now: I go no more into the water alone
wearing the tight, heavy clothes of assumption.
I invite the author to take me there,  skinny dipping,
like a guide who seems happy to have me along for company
and may be eager to show me a shade or swirl I’ve never noticed
or just bob in the waves until some weight slides off
and I’m floating free where I felt constricted before.

Because the whole thing is a painting,  I think….
Poetry and parables and picture-talk,
spacious fields of buried treasure inviting discovery,  spirit calling spirit,
a long beach for combing slow,  encountering gifts washed up from the deep.
Going there intellectually seems like driving fast down the beach in a truck,
looking for messages written in sand.
Mysteries get missed and even crushed that way,
and so do people.

I came back to life in the rhythm of the waves,
walking bare-heart on the moist of the sand.
I’d looked for God in a still life and found eventually an abstract painting,
an allegory with a generous guide.

Do I even think I understand it all?  Oh Lord no and feel no pressure to try.
And I wouldn’t argue any point at all, except for this one:
if someone looks inside this tapestry and sees a picture
that paints God as harsh or vengeful or petty or moody or narrow or disengaged,
anything other than the good I see loved out loud in the person of Jesus,
I don’t buy it,  thinking this projection of bias,
or even more likely translation of a foreign language based only on our native tongue.

Maybe it was always meant to be a treasure dig like I’ve come to wonder.

I can only say that I’m  finding still fresh fountains buried for me there
and the process seems to grow inside me something that I wouldn’t trade for certainty.
And yes,  if served up in a spirit that my heart no longer welcomes,  my soul will break out in hives
and I’ll run screaming into the woods with no apology.
I have no tolerance for spiritual bullying or the suffocating fear it can cause.
(Really,  people?  From a God who took the pains to write down “fear not”
365 times in a book he was willing to pass off to wobbly beings like us to have published?
Don’t even try to threaten me with fear.)

If I had to say it short,  I’d say that yes,  I believe that scripture is God-breathed,
like trees and sky and sea and flowers and puppies
which we also tend to get our sticky hand prints on and pollute or even abuse.
(i’ll go there later – where i’ve landed on the whole deal of suffering and a loving God)

For now,  may I just bless you wherever you are on whatever your journey
in whatever you choose to believe.
I love this about life – how it’s all one big eclectic explore and we’re all welcome along the way.
And for each time someone has used scripture at you – caused some blunt trauma wound,
can i apologize to that hurting place.  I believe wholehearted that it wasn’t from the heart of God.
Someone just couldn’t see the picture for the paint.
You are loved.
Always.
Loved.

“Will you follow me down that old dirt road and get lost inside those mountains?
Will you rip up that map and dance inside the confetti?
Let’s chase the horizon and find ourselves along the way.
These are wandering feet and they wish for you to join them.”
– Tyler Knott Gregson

” Don’t settle for an angry,  narrow-minded,  linear-thinking,
unkind,  punitive God.”
– Robin Macmillan

Thanks for coming along on this series…..I have maybe one more or maybe I’ll find myself done;
it’s been harder to dig up the words than I ever imagined.
I’ll be putting it to voice soon,  like I wrote it to be.
Here’s another little video I made you….hope you enjoy:)

 

 

Swinging doors and celebrate me home…..

So why,  in the wild, wild beauty of this sweet breath of God,
is church even a thing?

I remember the way my soul drew up taller when the couple climbed from their car
to meet us in the field where we used to play like banshees until the organ began to play.
They were our Sunday school teachers,  and had arrived to be here on a Saturday afternoon
for something that I don’t now remember.
It didn’t matter – they had come and we were together,
all the other kids and I,
and when the husband grabbed my hands and swung me playful like a ragdoll,
the music of that smiling gesture landed
firm that I belonged.

Here in this place where the music rolled out rich like Sunday dinner to call us all inside,
I felt more than bone and birthday and bottom lines
to the One who threw open doors that let me tumble giggling on the lawn.
We were -all of us – invited and so the belonging ran deep
like a river running through
and  i ran free for as long as believed it.

To have once belonged like this is a treasure stored and I hold it dear
even as the welcome mat seemed sharp withdrawn from the place where i felt my truest
and I have it always, the option to stay mad and serve up blame and why couldn’t they see
that my bad behavior was a howl of pain
and not a slot marked “damaged” where I felt neatly filed.

But I couldn’t see my own truth so how can I bring the gavel down.
The whole,  “So what if i don’t fit;  I still belong,
would take me decades to learn to hold.
Maybe they never held it for themselves,
and in the end I found the door and safer pasture.

Many doors later,  I find myself drawn still to those dotted,  grazing hillsides
for the very and only reason that I love the whole community thing.
Really,  really love it when it works  – when it’s inclusive
and supportive and accepting and come on in – the stuff of home
and togethering and chairs pulled up close around the table and celebrated joy
and circle the wagons in our grief and,  yes,  dysfunction because it’s family,
but fumble on and forward fall and figure it out because we’re for each other and we’re what we’ve got.
And there’s shared hilarity in even this.

Yeah,  it’s the shared part that I love,  even as my love for independence dances rowdy
on the graves of ways that have died.
To be curious together.  Vulnerable together.  Knitted together strong
and yet each thread celebrated
for it’s own unique flavor and shade.
This is the stuff of riches.

So i haven’t given up on “church” because I love so hard the hope of a local community
that is bigger and more diverse than anything that I could build alone.
The risk it seems I have to take to go there – to move toward connection,
is worth the pounds of fear I have to lose each time
I draw near and get real.

“A dysfunctional family is any family with more than one person in it.”
– Mary Karr

“There’s nothing that makes you more insane than family.  Or more happy.
Or more exasperated.  Or more…….secure.”
– Jim Butcher

If you follow along and read the words I write down here,   you have my everloving thanks!
I appreciate the time you take and hold that dear.
Thanks for coming along this Summer on this journey of a small-ish series.
I appreciate your company so:)

A little video I made for you…….

 

A trust-fall back into the flow…..

Sometimes,  when I barrel into a block with my writing,  I wriggle free
by doing this something that comforts loose the flow
and I wonder if it’s an odd quirk of mine,  or do you do it too:
list-making.
I love lists.
Sometimes the list becomes the thing.
Like today,  when I’m trying to back into a project I started in the Spring,
because I still can’t seem to find the front door.
These times I often go around back and see if there’s a little service entrance
where I won’t feel so conscious of my muddy-ness
and I can sit on the porch and leave my shoes to dry
while I walk on, barefoot,  inside.

I began a series back in March to explore the stories stirring in my heart
about my messy dance with God on this noisy planet,
rocking always,  this world,  to the strobe lights of scattered messages,
sweet and sullied,  soothing and strangling.
To discover more what really fits for me and who am I anyway
in the wide river of this mystery.
Yeah,  just a little tidbit to chew on.
Then life splintered down pretty hard and I pulled back for awhile.

So I’m offering up my list
as I do a trust-fall back into the flow……

Religion vs. Spirit
(when I speak of “religion” I’m not calling out specifics.  No disrespect.
I mean fundamentalism,  which can disease any set of beliefs or thoughts)

~ Religion dries;  Spirit is fluid.

~ Religion  is push;  Spirit is flow.

~Religion is strain; Spirit is release.

~ Religion is punitive; Spirit is creative.

~Religion is flint sharp and squint to balance scales;
Spirit is lightning strong and redeeming what is.

~Religion is pity,  for it stands above and apart;
Spirit is compassion,  for it identifies with and meets.

~Religion is strive for perfection; Spirit is permission to thrive.

~Religion accuses and shames; Spirit reveals and restores.

~ Religion is performance; Spirit is presence.

~ Religion drives; Spirit woos and calls.

I’ll be back around with my stories and songs as I bob on down this river and see where it takes me.
Thanks for being a place where I can share it safe in the borning.

“Everyday I wonder how many things I am dead wrong about.”
– Jim Harrison

“I’m here to be me,  which is taking a great deal longer than I had hoped.”
– Anne Lamott

Sharing below a little video I made for you;

Breath blowing free through the curtains of our being…..

Come ride this wind of my breath tonight,
fill up the hollows until I can sigh
smooth and untangled from the rhythm of the trouble
I seem to be borrowing from all my tomorrows.

Won’t you help me curl my breath around the smoulder
of some thinking overheated
by the worry I’ve been keeping,
secret fears grow unseen in the thick of my gray matter,
shut away from light like the mushrooms
my friend grows in the dark of her garage
and when she showed me how fast they sprung up we smiled proud
of her musty crop of fungus,
but my runaway assumptions are a tiresome sort

and I want to throw open windows to the truth,
to let the light slice through
until my own free breath
is blowing through the curtains
of all my shut down places,
filling up with nakedness and fresh supply and God.

God,  I’ve heard,  is in the breath.

Releasing breath into every place of need,
to you and for all that you love.

“Smile,  breathe,  and go slowly.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh

A breather of a video – a short shot of air for your heart
with love from me:)
(another little bite on free-breathing…..because my writing was always cobbled to be heard and not just seen)