A preacher friend of mine sometimes says: If Jesus doesn’t offend you, then you’re not paying attention. Continue reading
We moved almost two months ago, and while the cardboard boxes were more-or-less emptied and banished from the house within the first week (not a coincidence that we had 8 days before starting our jobs!), on both the packing end and the emptying end, I did a lot of dumping into boxes, and then shoving into drawers or closets or bins.
I realized I didn’t have to process everything at exactly the moment it was presented to me. There is simply too much to organize and make decisions about and let go of to approach the process linearly — plowing through each item intentionally on the front end, or on the back end. Marie Kondo and I differ on this point.
Instead, I processed the things that really, really needed to be dealt with immediately — the boxes of dishes and pantry staples — and surrendered a few extra drawers and some closet space (okay, an entire closet) to “stuff to be dealt with later.” If you’re a born-and-bred pack rat, this method might not work, but I’ve learned from yoga that you can deal with things as you’re ready. A moment or chance will come when the urge to organize strikes, or when you’ve got a bit of energy and are seeking some order, or when an anniversary reminds you of something more emotional or spiritual that you’re now ready to sort through.
And those chances don’t just come around once. If you’re attentive, they keep coming around. Yoga taught me that it’s okay to shove things into drawers, both physically and emotionally; it’s okay to choose not to deal with it right now and to trust that at another point, you may be ready to face what’s been put in the dark for a little while.
For whatever mystical reason, that day was today for me. Interspersed with naps (32 weeks pregnant & 100-degree heat makes for low-energy conditions), I finished my dresser drawers and organized my plans for the closet. In the intervening 8 weeks, I’ve learned more about how I use the space in this new home, so I’ve been better able to decide where to put these objects without a permanent resting place.
Maybe it’s the same in our lives, too — when we give ourselves time to process events, emotions, and relationships, we gain perspective and wisdom while we wait.
Parables and moral stories have been told as long as there have been people who need to learn right from wrong. We know well the fairy tales: Cinderella, who is faithful in her work despite its injustice, is rewarded with a charming prince; in the Grimms Brothers’ stories, disobedient children are eaten and faithful children escape harm.
Jewish folklore was no different, it followed similar rules — just like all over the ancient world, you always bet on the oldest son, people who are less fortunate deserve it, the rich are winners, and the poor better be as faithful as they can.
The stories of Israelite patriarchs in our Old Testament upend these sensibilities — Jacob, the younger son, even the trickster, ends up winning the birthright of God’s blessing and becoming the father of many nations. Job’s friends know he must have done something really, really bad to deserve the horrible calamities that befall him — but we learn from reading Job’s story that his conduct was all faithfulness, his misfortune not a result of bad behavior. The God of Jacob and Job is a different sort of God than the world had ever seen. Continue reading
Delivered on the occasion of the Holy Eucharist for the Episcopal Church Women meeting at St. Augustine’s, 9 September 2016. Remembering Constance & Her Companions.
This morning I want to share a witness of God’s gracious provision during a dying season in my own life.
Constance and her companions, the Martyrs of Memphis, were called to real bodily sacrifice out of love. This is one of the ways that God calls us; God also calls us to dying to ourselves, as our Gospel passage from last Sunday outlined, and dying to our own conceptions and assumptions and identities about ourselves, as I preached on a few weeks ago.
As I head down the straightaway of my last trimester, those around me expect that anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed by motherhood will set in. I don’t just mean people around me, but every mommy blog, book, and spammy email mentions this anxiety that must just be eating me up.
I don’t feel it. Continue reading
preached at St. Augustine’s Oak Cliff on Sunday, August 21, 2016.
“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you,” God tells Jeremiah as he winds up to bestow a difficult call. I hear psalm 139 in this passage, the prayer which extolls God’s intimate knowledge of each person, how fearfully and wonderfully each one of us is made. Indeed, God created Jeremiah to be a prophet even as little Jerry’s bones were still being knit together and made calcified. More than being a determinist proof-text to affirm that no one ever really makes any life decision, we hear here that God cares so deeply for each life created that he dreams up how that person might make the world into God’s kingdom and then plants little seeds of that work right in to our very marrow.
I wonder if it’s something like Michael Phelps.
It’s been a hard week to have the tv on, or listen to the radio, or even to read the morning paper. Each day has carried fresh horror and violence, from religious extremism to the effects of mental illness, from random and tragic natural disaster to carefully planned and executed extinguishing of life.
One of my coping mechanisms when faced with a relentless barrage of bad news is to escape to another world — that is, to Netflix.
This past week, I’ve been in 1950’s Madrid, observing life at a department store, cheering on the seamstresses and delivery boys who work day and night, and shaking my fist at the selfish and scheming minority shareholders in the company who leaks scandals to National Enquirer to hamstring their opponents and make furtive phone calls from the smoky back rooms of bars.
Late in the season, I realized that this series’ power over me had less to do with scintillating dialogue or all-consuming love stories; the real center of this show is the fight between good and evil. A piece of me knows that because it’s a television show, and because it’s the love-lorn-style drama it is, that eventually, good will prevail. It’s a long road, and I know it will take till the very last episode, but somehow, the honest and good will win over the dark, and evil and scheming.
Back in the real world, I wonder, when a child at Disneyworld encounters an alligator — will good really win?
When a member of Parliament loses her life in broad daylight — will good really win?
When yet another friend is diagnosed with cancer — will good really win?
And these are to say nothing of the ache still present in Charleston a year later, and the raw wound in Orlando today. And refugees from Syria, and mothers and babies in South and Central America living at the mercy of Zika.
How on earth will good ever win?