Saturday, December 11, 2010
Sunday, December 05, 2010
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Friday, November 26, 2010
Sunday, November 21, 2010
slept in and just did what I felt like
and didn't feel guilty and i
was brave and talked to people and normally I'd be too shy,
and I didn't go to church. and bought a latte even though I'd already had tea
and bought a book for myself. to read. for fun.
And i have places I'm going and I'm going because now i know it's okay,
to do what I want
to have a place
and all the things I thought I couldn't have because they were bad
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
It doesn't make me feel loved. It makes me feel tolerated, sacrificed for, needed, controlled. Not loved.
But I've been learning a lot about love lately. Real love isn't performance based. People who really love you are just crazy about you, and they don't care if you're Hitler. People who really love you want you to be happy and they want you to love them back, but they don't want to control you or make decisions for you.
When I think about God's love for humanity in this context, I get very strange ideas. I picture the Trinity getting together after the fall of man, figuring out how to save us, and they're all fighting over who gets to go to earth as a person. Under the old paradigm I imagined it as this grave occasion where God picked Jesus and said, "You go," and the Son nodded obediently but sorrowfully, and the Holy Spirit wept softly. But now I imagine them all saying, "Me! Me!" and Jesus saying "YES!" when it winds up being Him. "I get to go to earth and have a body and walk around with all the people we made, and touch them and feed them and hang out!" And God the Father elbows the Holy Spirit and winks, because they both know they'll be present in Christ's body, with us.
So when Christ, at Gethsemane, prayed "Not My will but Yours be done," God replied, "Absolutely. My will is to die for them. Let's get moving." Christ was God and when Christ died, God died. It was His will and He did it.
Lately when I look at a crucifix, I get this weird image of Him smiling, arms thrown wide. He's so happy to die. He's thinking, "Finally, I get to do this really amazing, big thing for the people I made. I'm giving them the most valuable thing in the universe - my life." It's not that He isn't suffering terribly; it's that it means so much to Him to do this for us. He gives with abandon, not begrudgingly.
Saturday, November 06, 2010
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Saturday, October 09, 2010
The one Who said "Let there be . . ."
You woke up sick and stayed in your pajamas, putting in half a day on your laptop,
And the sunlight burst into every inch of the pink-walled room
And then what else happened?
Ran into an angel at the library yesterday -
An acquaintance really, but somehow she saw
And inside her God was carried like an exploding sun inside a lantern.
Some voices tell you to hate yourself;
You'll never be good enough, do it right, deserve good things.
But then when you got out of your car there were more stars
Than there ever were in your whole life put together
Orion peeking over the trees
And stars you didn't see before because it wasn't dark enough or clear enough
There are so many stars.
Big and bright ones, shooting stars, tiny ones,
A little handful of pinpricks suddenly discovered
In an inch of sky
These stars, these stars
Singing into your ears the truth of who you are.
Don't let any other voice drown them out.
Sunday, October 03, 2010
Not so, saith the Teacher. Sit back, evaluate the situation, decide what to do. Eventually things will change whether you want them to or not!
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Saturday, September 18, 2010
There's a lot that's coming together/coming apart for me right now. Good stuff, light surrounding the darkness. Hard to detail each last little bit, so I'll just stick my hand in and see what I pull out for this entry.
I go to an Episcopal church now. To get there on Sunday morning, I drive west toward the Appalachians, and think how soon I'll cross right over them, cross the continent, land somewhere with real mountains. These I'll trample. But for now I'm not there yet. I drive through a pretty little town and crunch into the gravel parking lot and inside is the organ, and the smell of wooden pews, and people wearing vestments. Candles and stained glass and sunlight pouring in. We say a liturgy, kneel to pray, stand to sing, eat His body and blood (gluten-free communion bread for the first time in my life!). Christ is on a cross over the altar. I look at Him and wonder what He would be like in real life. What would He say to me, how would He treat me? My brain takes a break from doctrine. I just need to know what is, not what I have to believe. A heart beats inside each of these symbols, a throbbing flame within a paper-thin shell. Light and life shine through, something real. The rector says I'm absolved, his green-robed arm lifted into the air, and behind him the man on the cross whispers and smiles and says, "Yes, you are absolved."
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
First, though, watch this video which explains a little bit more about the conference and makes you really want to attend.
Here is the story I want to live: I am going to move across the country -- from one coast to the other. This is going to happen sometime between January and June of next year (2011), depending on when I am able to find a job. I am looking for a job in book publishing because, in about ten years or so, I want to be a really top-notch book editor and maybe even have my own publishing company. But that’s not the story. The story is me moving across the country. It’s a big move because I’ve lived on this coast all my life. My family and friends are here; I went to college here; I work and vacation here. All my memories are here, and all my ideas of God. I need a new mental landscape.
In A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, Miller says that a story is a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it. The conflicts in my story are obviously practical (finding a job, a place to live, etc.), but also emotional. In fact, my biggest conflict is fear.
I’m afraid of getting sick again. My health has improved tremendously since I started getting treated for Lyme disease, but Lyme is hard to treat. I’m afraid of a relapse, either before I actually get the chance to move or after I'm 3,000 miles out on my own.
My other fear is of loneliness. I hardly know anyone on the other side of the country. My entire immediate family, the people who take up the biggest part of my life, are all here in one state, most of them still in one house. It's hard to think of being so far away.
But I so desperately want to find out if life can be better than it has been for me . . . if things like hope and meaning and beauty really exist, if God really is good. For some reason I feel like I have to go far away from familiar ideas and images in order to answer my questions.
Really, this move is a practice story, not the real story, which I think will come later. A good story starts with a character, and I’m honestly not sure who my character is. I know a lot about what I want to do in my life, but not who I am or want to be. Maybe the only way to find that out is to do something that tests my mettle, helps me see what I’m made of. Hence the practice story. I think the real story is going to happen down the road, in relationships, in decisions.
I want to go to the seminar for encouragement -- to be reminded that sacrificing for something only imagined is worthwhile and that better stories really are possible. And I also want to get some ideas for thinking creatively around practical and emotional obstacles, to help me stop taking “no” for an answer.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
the glass was shattered, lies splintered and glittering
at the bottom of my heart
- - - a pile of flaked ice, the shards clinking and scraping one another
i'm picking up the pieces, turning them over
trying to understand and maybe put them back together
but it's impossible. and the edges are sharp.
but still I notice
how they sparkle, how the light i didn't know was here
bends back and forth, makes golden paths and rainbows all around me.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Saturday, June 05, 2010
(black and sordid little universe,
two-dimensional two-penny-novel ghost-town nightmare
with its flat rainbows and paste diamonds
and petty-dictator god) is okay,
then i know
that outside is the velvety darkness of a bigger universe . . .
the aching glitter of stars and
. . . cool ripples of air, Japanese maples . . .
everywhere the flashing hints of a different God
and frantically i tear down these paper walls surrounding me
to find that light seeping in
Friday, May 28, 2010
T's father is an architect, and T understands the significance of this house built by Wren, with 200-year-old panelling and a spiral staircase held up by opposing forces. T's housebreaking is a creative act - a creativity that receives additional power and force from the building's original greatness. Additionally, destroying the house is necessary to set Old Misery free from his prison-like existence within this beautiful home, with its "half things, broken things, former things" and his life savings hid in a mattress (which the boys burn, down to the last banknote).
"Of course I don't hate him," T said. "There'd be no fun if I hated him. . . . All this hate and love," he said, "it's soft, it's hooey. There's only things, Blackie," and he looked round the room crowded with the unfamiliar shadows of half things, broken things, former things.
During high school I studied geology with my dad, who has an inexplicable love for rocks. I resisted this study until I began learning about the rock cycle. Volcanic lava hardens and becomes igneous rock; over time this rock is given new identity by heat and pressure (metamorphic rock), or broken down and deposited into the earth over time to form sedimentary rock. Ultimately any rock is subject to the possibility of being remelted by a volcano or vent and transformed once again. I can't think of anything more savagely destructive than a volcano, earthquake, or flood, and yet these are the means by which rocks are completely transformed into new things. Same material, new identity.
One day I woke up and couldn't pretend anymore, couldn't take it anymore. I wanted to find something better, but in stretching toward hope I pulled the pin from a grenade. The universe cracked open, all its wrongness turned up to the light of day, people went stumbling around into potholes everywhere. Doing the right thing now seems so, so wrong.
Is this what God does - transform our lives utterly by burning away everything, dredging things up from the very bottom, heating and pressurizing and restructuring life's chemical makeup to make a new heaven and earth out of the old? Do we, and the universe, carry within us the very material that will be perfected and beautified at the end of things?
Saturday, May 08, 2010
One of the ways that I am learning who I am is by taking my own feelings seriously. Trying to leave off disclaimers like, "This probably sounds silly, but . . ." or "You're probably right. I don't really feel that way."
My counselor told me, "I admire you for staying with your pain." Taking my pain seriously is what got me into this mess in the first place. So it must be a good mess. It's a me mess. Somewhere in this mess of emotion and experience and what I've felt and what I was supposed to feel is me. If I take the time to honestly feel and follow my emotions, I might untangle the mess. And in the process I might discover myself.
Honestly, I never would have thought I would say stuff like this. I have always cared so deeply about my identity. I've stood on it, spoken it, written about it. This is who I am. But under that bold statement was this truth: If I don't define myself, then everything inside will be formless.
Diving into that formless void is so scary. But I know that if I go down far enough, my feet will find something solid, a little bit of land to stand on. And that's where I'll build from.
Saturday, May 01, 2010
A half-life is "the time required for half the nuclei in a sample of a specific isotopic species to undergo radioactive decay" (American Heritage Dictionary, 4th ed.). In other words: At a midpoint in life, enough change has occurred for us to draw reasonable conclusions about something's identity.
I have reached the point of realization that the life I live is not full (another kind of half-life). In looking back and evaluating my identity, I see that much of who I am has decayed in a desperate, involved, time-draining attempt to pretend that everything is okay, protecting the half-truths I know and trying to please the half-God I worship.
Fact: Everything is not okay. Saying so does not disprove the Bible, it's not blasphemy, it's not heresy. Admitting my feelings does not mean that I am about to be swept away on a tide of dangerous self-deception. It doesn't mean that if I die at a moment when I don't like God, He's going to bar the gates of heaven. It doesn't mean that if my sorrow can't be neatly packed away in a box and labeled with an answer and eight Bible references, then my faith is inadequate.
It does mean that I'm finally learning who I am, and I'm trying to speak the truth of my experience without shame.
Friday, April 16, 2010
For too long, old questions have gone unanswered. Who am I? Who is God? It recently occurred to me that I have no idea who I am. I've made myself into the Lee Ann that everybody wants to see. When you strip away all those layers woven by compliance and the craving for approval - there is nothing. When I look into myself to see who I am, there is a terrifying emptiness.
But how can I know who I am if I don't know who God is? I am realizing that the God I think I know is boxed in by my own brain. He has been preached to me in church and modeled to me by human beings, and He frightens me. I can't change this image of God in my head. And yet I sense that the real God is someone stronger, kinder, than I can imagine. I seem to hear Him calling to me from very far away.
It's time to go find the real me and the real God. I'm tired of wasting time, wasting my life, my soul. I've started making some pretty drastic decisions about the next few years, but they feel right. Facing my questions means facing my fear, but it also means an incredibly beautiful freedom.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
to the same center of fear that birthed you, that reels you in
whenever you think you've escaped.
You are ever being returned to the same prison.
Do not struggle, my child --
Pause and consider this place to which I have allowed you to return.
Instead of fleeing, look up.
Instead of rescuing yourself, reach out to Me.
Allow Me to
obliterate your loneliness
For only I can do it.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
~ The Magnificent Defeat, Frederick Buechner
Sunday, March 07, 2010
I knew in that moment that if I went, I had no chance for redemption. I would have been happy, I would have believed in myself, and I would have known love, but I would not have been redeemed. I would not really have found peace.How can we have the strength to stay on the path of growth and healing, when every bit of us screams, "I'm tired of this; let me out"? Because what we are waiting for is to become more of ourselves and to know more of God. It is the grace and mercy of God that hedges us in, blocks us, limits our options, because otherwise we would pick the easy road - the road that leads back to the dishonesty and darkness that felt safe for so long, but only ate us alive.
All that they offered me, the love and kindness and friendship, was only the beginning of my becoming whole. It was only a birth to my healing, not the completion of it. If I had gone with them, I would never have really found myself, never really found the wounded broken part of me. I would have simply used someone else to cover who I had been. I would have let them recreate me into who I had always wanted to believe I was rather than do the hard work of changing who I had always been. I would never have truly healed.
I had to say no.
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Sunday, February 07, 2010
I've been thinking a lot lately about the two greatest commandments: Love God and love your neighbor. How often I distract myself from them with grand questions. How do I serve God? What is my calling? Who will I marry? What great things should I achieve today? Wonderful questions, indeed. They make me feel important and allow me to focus my energy on my own satisfaction.
It's when I try to answer the real questions that things get painful. How can I love God today? How can I love others? So often that means small things that I don't want to do. Review a Bible verse. Refuse to complain. Help with the dishes. Be patient with my siblings.
Why is it that the hardest things are the humblest, and why is God so adamant that we do them? Maybe because love - true love - is our highest calling, but it also goes completely against our human nature. But how freeing and comforting to know that by choosing to do the smallest things, I am obeying God and allowing Him to continue shaping me into His Son's likeness.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
~ Till We Have Faces, C.S. Lewis, pt. 2, ch. 3