Springtime and sprawling; the soup and the swirl ….

I started writing down a series right in the middle of Springtime,
the way you start something when you think you see the road ahead
because you’ve seen so many tomorrows before.
Then everything changes,
and it has, my world swift sprawling
and I’m in the swirl,  choosing to go loose in the waves
instead of digging in firm to my agenda and fighting the current.

I remember when my daughter was a river rat,  guiding whitewater tours
downriver and through the rapids.
She told me often stories of people dumped into the soup and having to be coached
to keep their feet drawn up high,  face the oncoming waves,
and just bob on down the river like a hat tossed overboard.
Struggling to plant your feet creates danger of injury and even drowning.
Go with the flow until you see a safe out,  she said.
I’ve remembered that a time or two.

So here I am,  wide-eyed and whooshing along in the might of waters
that I don’t need to control,  just to discover;
letting myself be shaken like a new leaf in a fierce wind,
open to the goodness in the going upended,
shaken loose from things been squeezing me
until all that remains is love.

To be a friend to myself in this place where I’m a little lost and gimpy,
to stop apologizing with my breath,
to tell the truth with my life
even when circumstances seem to scream that I should cover over the ugly,
this is rest.

I can totally dance with this tension.

So I’m gonna give myself a pass on that series until life goes Summertime gentle again.
Just pick you flowers and sing you easy songs:)
Because you’re worth showing up to
and it’s joy to be here
even when I haven’t much to serve.

“You will find peace of mind
If you look way down in your heart and soul
don’t hesitate ’cause the world seems cold
stay young at heart ’cause you’re never,  never,  never
old at heart.”
( Earth,  Wind,  and Fire)

I’ve had a story churning in my heart.
I went writing,  taking small bites (each post) to discover what my heart wanted to see
and learn and say.  Seems since I took off on that journey a few months back
that my sea got wild with big waves

that capsized my little boat until I’ve been sputtering on a few thin boards and adrift.
Maybe Springtime wasn’t the best time to set sail:)
So I’m drying off on shore but have my eyes to the horizon,  watching and listening.
I’m curious still about fundamentalism and how it played out in my own story.
I hope by going there that
maybe I’ll learn better how to live true and real and love in the heaving of our often troubled times.
Maybe I’ll find something to share that will heal someone the way Love seems to be healing me.
I’ll come back,  I will,  with a better boat:)
Thanks for your smiles.

Of music and musts and medicine…

The music flowed like medicine,   gently relaxing fingers
where my soul had become a fist closed tight.
Over my senses it came,  like springtime drifting through a window,
this invitation to the whole and small of me.
“Father,  I want you to hold me,”
the slow healing sound offered me words
to wrap around the lonesome inside.
“I want to rest in your arms today,”
sang someone who sounded tired like me.
Tired of hard trying and hiding
and making like I was fine.
Just fine.
There came a hush to my noise as the song ached low
and with it came permission here to be not quite fine at all.

“Hold me,”  I sang to this presence who enfolded me in a way that felt protective.
Here I sensed protection from judgement,  from evaluation,
from every driving, pushing, accusing thing i’d ever run from.
  Here was a love to run to,
and my voice dropped whisper-low as I sang the words,
“I bring all my cares and I lay them at your feet.”

This moved across my tender places so hard that I drew my breath in sharp
and let it go slow,
slow as a lifetime.
Here,  with this benevolent being,  this gently-there presence,
were no musts about another something else to do.
There was nothing here to earn.  No performance allowed.
And I heaved a tearful relief,  exhausted from effort,
from failure,
and from being angry over the notion that I had to try.

And so I began to show up to the music,
to meet with God there,
and so great was the peace of this place that I wondered whether I could ever
be moved to fear again.
Because this Love wasn’t impressed with me.
Nor un-impressed.
This freedom from evaluation felt delicious to me.

“I’m impressed” were words I’d learned to pocket
like tokens of my worth.
This had come with a hefty side of insecurity
because being impressive is such a random spark-of-brilliance kind of thing.
You never know when it will fire
or just leave you standing in the dark.
And I was tired of feeling exposed and having to hustle to cover myself.

Yet here I was,
all splayed out and weepy and unraveled and felt somehow safer still.
This began to heal the all of me
from every little bit of un-love I would ever know.
The relief swelled up inside and ran down my cheeks.
Here was a door only open,
a Love always there.

In those awkward places of pain,
those anxious parts that didn’t seem anywhere to belong,
in every tender, posing,  hard, off-putting,
game-playing,  humiliated place,
God was in the music and rocked me safe
in arms of Love.

“I feel your arms holding me,  I’m not alone.”
– Brian Doerksen

“The real ‘work’ of prayer is to become silent and listen to the voice
that says good things about me,
to gently push aside and silence the many voices that question goodness
and trust that I will hear the voice of blessing.”
– Henry Nouwen

Of breakers and breathing and sprains…..

I started writing this series a few weeks back,
letting it dig up my heart,
so that I could carve out and share the overflow.
Then things got weird,
as if I was digging up buried treasure,   yes,
but also other really disturbing things packed away in boxes
in the basement of what I am.
Rocked me back hard,  I tell you,
until my soul felt concussed:)
Then I got some whiplash, for good measure.
Just one big, weepy,  anxious,  throbbing,  nauseated mess.

So I’m giving myself a week to sit down on the beach of this thing
and just watch the waves and listen to the surf sing it’s soothing songs
until my cheese climbs back on my cracker.
Sit here and breathe with me,  if you like.
I love your company.

“The depth of the feeling continued to surprise and threaten me,
but each time it hit again and I bore it,
I would discover that it hadn’t washed me away.”
– Anne Lamott

“The sky where we live is no place to lose your wings.
So love, love, love.”
– Hafiz

Of hiding and hunger and a low sound humming …

I was born into the anxious airbrush of a disapproving religion
and I was born into love and welcome arms and really glad you’re here.
Always the two danced together,  as they often do in an uncertain world
where life is fragile and being is messy and only rules seem safe when nothing else does.
Born to good people who wanted only goodness for me.
They’d been raised severe,  my parents.  Especially my mom,
whose own dad kept court with a southern baptist smoulder that could singe
the tender parts of curiosity and joy
until even they trembled fearful in the corner.

They were unmarried and in love and in college chasing dreams
when I came to be.
They packaged my presence in a lie
–  already they’d married.  Secretly.  Months before.
Now that I was on the way they quickly wed
and so began the family into which I shortly arrived.
The appearance swept clean,  we tidied up pretty good
except for the disease.
Deep running through the fault-line of all that I received
was this message of dark shame
and what we do to hide the beast.

I was a lively sprite of a child and this unsettled the conservative core of my parent’s sensibilities.
Oh we knew love and laughter and joy in our days,  especially after my little sister arrived just 13 months later,
but I was less compliant,  more boisterous,  willful and impulsive and sometimes “a little hellion”
which fleshed out my mother’s darkest fear:
that I had let a little hell in.
The chill of her childhood left scars that made my deep-feeling curiosity seem dangerous,
and this hung cloudy over me,  the child of her shame.
I felt it long before I knew it’s name.

And there was goodness and I’m grateful for the village that was my childhood and church,
rich with stories and friendships and music and meetings that sometimes felt like bright stars.
But I felt different from the other kids,  like I was somehow less;
all my hard-trying didn’t cover up the dark and don’t of me,
not even my scratchy Sunday best.

Into this hot lonesome came a sweet, sweet Love,
like a tall glass of acceptance to my apologetic heart,
healing balm for the shame I’d feel burned by
for the slightest infractions and failings,
not served up by my parents – please don’t hear that.
They were young and on my side.
The voice I heard was the sound of the lie
hissing over us all that there was something dark to hide.

I hungered to know more
of this God that loved the wild of me
and I began to travel roads less stained-glass and steeple’d,
looking for a safe somewhere
where my truth wouldn’t have to get dressed up,
a shelter where Love kept shop and togethering happened honest,
all the whosoevers and ragamuffins,
unguarded and at peace.
No fighting for scraps of attention.
No competition for who would love who.

I was a smooth bundle of nervous contradiction as I plopped down onto throw pillows
on the living room floor where I first learned how to be seen
in a way that soothed the hiding child of me.
Kinship group,  they called it,  and with the first soft strum
of the guitar humming low,  a lifetime of tears began to flow
as if I was taking off  ill-fitting shoes and discovering inside little rocks that I could dump.
I’d been holding my breath long and didn’t know.

 “I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness
the astonishing light of your own being.”
– Hafiz

(this is second in a series I’m tugging loose….come along for the ride,  if you like;
I’m always so glad you’re here)

Of sinners, saints and seagulls…..

(Gosh,  I almost put out a cold tray of leftovers for you here again today
because I’m scared silly to wrangle free the words stuck inside.
But here goes.
Because a bad beginning is better than no beginning at all)

My life is a small one,
as lives here are generally measured.
My jobs have been many and unsubstantial and not even the measuring kind.
No fancy credentials.  No letters after my name.
My time here on earth unimpressive,
a barely glance-worthy resume,
if I had a resume.  Which I don’t.
If I were to muster one up,  it would be underwhelming.

And yet mine is hardly a wasted life.
In fact I like my weird little journey,
even when I trip over messages that I’m such an underachiever
that my time here barely registers on the value-meter.
But I’ll wrap back around to that later in this series.
I think I’m stalling:)

What I really want to start tugging my words loose about
is my Christianity.

There.  I said it.
Did your skin crawl just a little?
I understand the shudder.
Because we generally freak people out.
Christians even unhinge each other
unless we’re cut from the exact same strip of cloth
and sewed up tight and exactly like the next.
Which nobody is.
So it can be prickly business,
which is tragic since I think God is the least prickly being ever.

A few months back I brushed my words light across the story of my heart’s dance with God
and it was life to me to pour it onto paper.
Those were the easy pages.  The sweet beginnings and where I’ve landed.
I want to go exploring through the come-to-Jesus years,
the messy in between
because I’ve grown more curious about this thing called “Christian,”
how it’s tossed around and flashed and fought over like scraps flung to seagulls.

“How can you call yourself a Christian and……..”
Many of my people don’t even use the word anymore.
Somehow it’s come to name a hurtful thing.
I want to go exploring.  To tell my truth.  And maybe discover healing along the way.
Because healing is only ever what I’ve always wanted to offer
and I’m one of them,
odd though my flavor may be:)

So come along or wait this one out.
I’ll be back for the next however-many weeks digging up old stories,
looking for buried treasure and sharing it with you here.
With all the love I’ve got.

“As long as we continue to live as if we are what we do,  what we have,
and what other people think about us,
we will remain filled with judgments,  opinions,  evaluations,
and condemnations.
We will remain addicted to putting people and things
in their ‘right’ place.”
– Henry Nouwen