Monday, May 30, 2011

I just can't think of what to title this.

Cleaning out my basement on Saturday, I came across this gem (which is now in the garbage can in the alley). I had all these parts underlined about "supporting your man" and sticking with marriage come hell or high water. Anything becoming an absolute rule is so, so dangerous.

"Fundamentalism laments the absence of the time when everything was as it should be. Family values, perfect morality, and pure faith existed without the chagrin of question, critique, or the horror of such notorious practices as alternative lifestyles or morality.

Such perfection, of course, never existed. Fundamentalism is based on faulty and fear-filled perception. It constructs a fake absence, the absence of something that never existed in the first place. It then uses this fake absence to demand a future constructed on a false ideal.

It pretends to have found an absolute access point to the inner mind of mystery. But such certainty cannot sustain itself in real conversation that is critical or questioning.

Fundamentalism does not converse or explore. It presents truth. This false certainty can only endure through believing that everyone else is wrong. It is not surprising that such fundamentalism desires power in order to implement its vision and force others to do as prescribed.

Fundamentalismm is dangerous and destructive. There is neither acceptance nor generosity in its differences with the world. It presumes that it knows the truth that everyone should follow.

There is often an over-cozy alliance between it and official religion. Blind loyalty replaces belonging. Then the creative and mystical individuals within an institution become caricatured as the enemy; they become marginalized or driven out." (John O'Donohue)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

wide open spaces

"In Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, Shunryu Suzuki talks about giving farm animals big pastures in which to roam. He says that when you fence them in too tightly, they become wild and restless, but when you provide wide, open spaces, they relax. The same is true of human beings." (Geneen Roth)

Ahhh big pastures. If there's one thing I want to "work on," it's this: reassuring my heart, body, and mind that I am in a wide open space. I think that's why Spain was so impacting, because it was sensory reassurance of this, it was a trip of so many vistas (and my kids were safe and happy while I was gone, and my boyfriend had fun with his guy friends and didn't punish me for going without him, two kinds of relational open spaces).

So often we trap ourselves mentally, or rather have leftover traps that somebody else put there - a parent's modeling, a partner's treatment, friends' expectations. Nate and I are learning how to point out each others' traps, and it helps to have that clear mirroring. (Unfortunately we can also sometimes both assume the other is reinforcing a trap when, in fact, we aren't; communication is H U G E .)

If there's been one thing fertilizing my negativity here, it's been those mind traps (and some actual life traps, like money stress or loneliness).

I had a dream the other night that both my great-grandma and my grandma were waiting for me at a coffee shop and that, instead of instant coffee, my grandma insisted on buying me two freshly-made vanilla lattes. She wanted to free me with abundance.

This week I want to keep my eyes out for big pastures - in conversations, when looking into someone's eyes, in what I see around me. Continuing to paint my walls shell-white a few strokes at a time is going to be a satisfying metaphorical act, as well.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


My close friends Kenny & Sara Foster were affected by the tornado in Joplin - his family home was destroyed. This shows the before and after; that's his mom and sister with them on the couch, and that's his dad sifting through the rubble on the right. They're all safe (after his grandpa hacked them out of their crawl space with an axe), but they need help.

Even $5 helps. Copy & paste this and it should work, I hope:

Friday, May 20, 2011

hello dears

I have been gone for awhile. I went to Spain. I feel more reborn than any church service or year of therapy could make me. About two days in, my perpetual hypervigilance and repetitive negative thoughts just eased up, and have yet to really return... Crossing my fingers. Something about the distraction of constant beauty, the messing with my circadian rhythm, the food pleasure, the bonding with one of my oldest friends - I can't stress what an incredible return on investment it was. (And I did it with a moderate tax return, so don't think its not possible for you - just stay in hostels, don't rent a car, and research flights ahead of time for best prices.) Ella gave me a post-trip blessing yesterday with the pronouncement, "Kid recess is going to small fields. Mama recess is going to big places."

Monday, May 2, 2011

your body is a temple

I know it's a repeating theme, but I think it's one that women just can never process enough, so I'll say: self-care is SO GLORIOUS. I've been going from grace to grace with it. I've had longer, painted fingernails for a month now. I have almost a Sunday ritual in which I replace the color for the new week ahead, like they change the colors in many churches as the liturgical seasons revolve. Right now it is a shimmery mermaid green because I spent the week in Florida with Gideon and my family, which was a magical, bonding time. I spent probably an hour between security in Nashville and touchdown in Tampa filing my nails down with a rose-print emery board, gradually, happily. I was in the zone.

And I love washing my face with salicylic acid every night. Taking more showers than I used to. Budgeting to dye my own hair once a month. And I loved swashing my mouth with red lipstick this morning, just because it worked perfectly with my red shoes and my polka-dot navy shirt, and because it was my last day of college for the semester, and I was feeling celebratory.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Royal Wedding Sermon

I loved it. Just loved it. So I have to post it on here. (I especially loved the part about the difference between transforming and reforming.)

* * *
“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”

So said St Catherine of Siena whose festival day it is today. Marriage is intended to be a way in which man and woman help each other to become what God meant each one to be, their deepest and truest selves.

Many are full of fear for the future of the prospects of our world but the message of the celebrations in this country and far beyond its shores is the right one – this is a joyful day! It is good that people in every continent are able to share in these celebrations because this is, as every wedding day should be, a day of hope.

In a sense every wedding is a royal wedding with the bride and the groom as king and queen of creation, making a new life together so that life can flow through them into the future.

William and Catherine, you have chosen to be married in the sight of a generous God who so loved the world that he gave himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ.

And in the Spirit of this generous God, husband and wife are to give themselves to each another.

A spiritual life grows as love finds its centre beyond ourselves. Faithful and committed relationships offer a door into the mystery of spiritual life in which we discover this; the more we give of self, the richer we become in soul; the more we go beyond ourselves in love, the more we become our true selves and our spiritual beauty is more fully revealed. In marriage we are seeking to bring one another into fuller life.

It is of course very hard to wean ourselves away from self-centredness. And people can dream of doing such a thing but the hope should be fulfilled it is necessary a solemn decision that, whatever the difficulties, we are committed to the way of generous love.

You have both made your decision today – “I will” – and by making this new relationship, you have aligned yourselves with what we believe is the way in which life is spiritually evolving, and which will lead to a creative future for the human race.

We stand looking forward to a century which is full of promise and full of peril. Human beings are confronting the question of how to use wisely a power that has been given to us through the discoveries of the last century. We shall not be converted to the promise of the future by more knowledge, but rather by an increase of loving wisdom and reverence, for life, for the earth and for one another.

Marriage should transform, as husband and wife make one another their work of art. It is possible to transform as long as we do not harbour ambitions to reform our partner. There must be no coercion if the Spirit is to flow; each must give the other space and freedom. Chaucer, the London poet, sums it up in a pithy phrase:

“Whan maistrie [mastery] comth, the God of Love anon,

Beteth his wynges, and farewell, he is gon.”

As the reality of God has faded from so many lives in the West, there has been a corresponding inflation of expectations that personal relations alone will supply meaning and happiness in life. This is to load our partner with too great a burden. We are all incomplete: we all need the love which is secure, rather than oppressive, we need mutual forgiveness, to thrive.

As we move towards our partner in love, following the example of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit is quickened within us and can increasingly fill our lives with light. This leads to a family life which offers the best conditions in which the next generation can practise and exchange those gifts which can overcome fear and division and incubate the coming world of the Spirit, whose fruits are love and joy and peace.

I pray that all of us present and the many millions watching this ceremony and sharing in your joy today, will do everything in our power to support and uphold you in your new life. And I pray that God will bless you in the way of life that you have chosen, that way which is expressed in the prayer that you have composed together in preparation for this day:

God our Father, we thank you for our families; for the love that we share and for the joy of our marriage.

In the busyness of each day keep our eyes fixed on what is real and important in life and help us to be generous with our time and love and energy.

Strengthened by our union help us to serve and comfort those who suffer. We ask this in the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Amen.