Sunday, November 28, 2010

"Here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies,

to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee . . . .

"And though we are unworthy, through our manifold sins, to offer unto thee any sacrifice, yet we beseech thee to accept this our bounden duty and service, not weighing our merits, but pardoning our offenses, through Jesus Christ our Lord."

Friday, November 26, 2010

Grace in the Structures

The spiritual tradition I grew up in doesn't allow for privacy, for internal space. Without symbolism, we can have no boundaries or interiors, and thus the outside (which can't really exist, as with a Mobius strip) comes in. We implode and are violated. There is nothing real inside.

Pastors tell us that Christianity must take over our lives; thus, we lose our grasp of who we really are. Appropriate and distinctive relationships are blurred into gray by the term fellowship. We are told that the Holy Spirit within us guides our consciences so that we know what is right; guided thus by three abstract, vague, and invisible concepts, we give way to the pressure of outside definitions of goodness.

My life has been a perfect expression of gnosticism.

***

My friend lent me a fascinating book once. Those Terrible Middle Ages addressed common misunderstandings about the Middle Ages, and pointed out that with Christianity came gradual emancipation for women, children, and slaves. That concept has stuck with me. Christianity brings freedom; it allows us to be individuals, self-directed people with the power to choose and to act.

Individuality is only possible with boundaries. I need a place within myself that is only me.

***

If we do not believe in physical space and in the matter that subdivides it, we will have no internal boundaries either. Even Aristotle knew that the mind can only grasp what is similar to it.

We need a touchable world; we need to arrange and architect it. We need colors and textures to organize and scatter; we need things to taste and smell. We need objects that matter because they express the life within them - unique objects that don't just "stand for" something, but actually express it, are it.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Same but Different

So this weekend I was tired so I

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
it's okay
to have a place

and all the things I thought I couldn't have because they were bad

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Happy God

Lately I have found myself drawn by crucifixes. I've never been the type to talk sweetly of Jesus and all He did for me. I prefer not to think in detail about His death agonies, and I'm tired of drumming up sticky sadness and slavish gratitude by contemplating my sins that held Him on the cross. If I've heard it once I've heard it a thousand times: The cross shows you how much God loves you. He came to earth, dirtied His hands, suffered and died for you, the human worm, so you could go to heaven when you died.

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

Why Be?

. . . because I buy flowers. And today one vase wasn't enough for them all, so there's one bouquet on my dresser and another on the shelf.

. . . because I got a new haircut.

. . . because it's fun to write again. So I'm writing a novel. And last night, working on it, I felt happy.

. . . because a friend told me to watch 30 Rock, and Alec Baldwin is flawlessly hilarious.

. . . and live chamber music in the evening and the acoustics were perfect, and yesterday I made a list of the people that love me. And a golden retriever who never gives up hope for an extra morsel of food from the kitchen counter. An autumn-leaved tree, straight-trunked, out my window. Finally admitting all the things that never made sense, and holding my breath, wondering, thinking maybe . . . all the things I once hoped for, could they be possible?