Purity includes identity

I was crossing the street today and someone stopped me, he said, “Can I talk to you about LGBT rights?” I walked away from that conversation shaking a little bit. I read an article that came to my inbox an hour later about how the Catholic church can show sensitivity towards an identity that someone has embraced that identifies them as sexually being attracted towards the same gender while knowing that it is in itself still an elusive identity. (though strong and weighty) It slips through the hands as oil through the fingers ..
What is liberating about this sexual revolution I think 1) on a basis of a reality that someone has lived through and known and 2) Acceptance and vindication.
I will start with the first reason: That of reality.
Reality, I suppose, in terms of sexual libido is quite a bit relative. I can only suppose that the internal desires have been shaped by the particular formation of the individual. The formation of the human soul is complex, and given that L. G. B. T. is not given to children at birth, the infant is given the simple right to breathe and to be loved.

These words are not persons…it is nothing more than what it is: simply put, a desire and an act.

Yet somehow, it gets a false hush. It gets personhood attached to it. It becomes the person. That, I do not understand.

Sometimes I have sensed a false hush comes over a room when dealing with homosexuality, as if heterosexual disorders are not equally harmful…I guess God’s word simply declares both to be damaging and to be equally resisted.

My own practice of sexuality didn’t immediately attach me to the disorder I carried. I did not receive the identity of Disordered Heterosexual upon my first abandonment of clothing, nor upon the first time an irreverent lust entered my heart. the way I practiced it was so NOT beautiful. (or self-dignifying, or honoring to God or anyone else

And then to be told by God, that He is the One who will determine just what it is that I need. And that it is He alone who has the right to determine who and what I am.

if God says me living how I want to live is beautiful and good, chances are I will not be happier for it. Fortunately God doesn’t say this: and I am free to mourn the loss of my “freedom”.
I mourn that I cannot “have it my way”
I mourn that God convicts me of self-love and teaches me the art of abstinence. I mourn that I must not give into the selfish pursuits of myself and others. I mourn my own purity, when all the while Christ was interceding to claim it for me, giving himself up for me, that I would become a better woman than I ever could be, had I been “liberated” from His captivity.

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When you bring LaDawn and Rhonda on a date with you

Experimental dating #93939 I decided to bring LaDawn and her sister with me for my date with Paul.
I got there first. It was extraordinary seating, (on the roof and the breeze was blowing.)

Rhonda and LaDawn showed up next. Rhonda had a WaWa cup in her hand filled with Pinot Grigio that she had brought with her. LaDawn and I ordered from the happy hour menu. I ordered two drinks, LaDawn got one. And Rhonda ordered none, because she had her WaWa cup.

We took pictures of each other and shot the you know what, Rhonda urged me to hit on the bartender. I refused.Then I noticed the guy (we were meeting for the first time). I looked at Rhonda, (that’s him, behind you) Does he recognize you? she said. I don’t know. I said. Go over there and get him. No, I said. I looked at LaDawn, he didn’t know I was bringing friends with me.

Then he walked over and approached me. “Hey, Mikaela?” He said. “Hi,” I said. He had a cigarette in his hand.

And who are your friends? He shook hands with LaDawn and Rhonda and then remained standing. Leaning actually, I was saying nothing and avoiding eye contact. “What are you smoking, can I have one?” Rhonda asked. “Madam” he said held out his pack. “Ugh, what are those Marlboros!? Ugh, I thought you were rolling your own, ugh and your smoking Marlboros!” but she took one anyway.

Rhonda breathed in a few puffs of cigarette and then said, “so your her boo huh?”

To which I said, “he’s not my boo”

And he was repeating to himself, “boo?”

LaDawn simultaneously was saying, “i keep telling you he’s not her boyfriend”

and he said, “yeah we just met”

Paul had nice brown eyes. I really liked his outfit too, nice complexion. But everything he said was such a turn off. Within the first few minutes he had filled my ears with the F word at least 10 times. A gentleman doesn’t impress a lady by using the F word incessantly and with no good reason.

Come on people, if your going to cuss, it should be creatively and with purpose.

Then he said the following statement, “My dad always told me I should believe in something. I’d say I’m a Christian. But I’m for abortion. And gay marriage: why does it matter who people marry? let the people f’in marry who they wanna f’in marry”

I paused. I waited. I think I said something like, “It’s just inconsistent. It’s inconsistent to pull parts from a Holy Book, and then say that you ascribe to it while disregarding other parts of it.. ..the only way to reasonably reinvent the family/redefine love is if you also cast aside everything else in Scripture”

he said, “this is why i don’t like religion, see how it automatically becomes moral.”

“yeah what is right and what is wrong?” Rhonda said. “Jesus looks at everything you do, so just do it! he knows i brought this wine in w me in this f’ing cup and he’s smiling at me.”

 

Rhonda was standing up now, “why did you freaking bring up religion” she looked at me. LaDawn looked at me sympathetically. Rhonda sat back down.

Paul looked at her, “she didn’t bring it up!” he said.
 
“Well, I hear music going on, I love music. i love live music, all kinds of live music!!” Rhonda exclaimed passionately.

We ended up getting in for free and the first thing Rhonda does is start dancing (uninhibited) I was so grateful for her freedom. LaDawn looked at me: “she dances like a stripper, you’ll see.”

she danced the whole time, relentlessly, in her own Rhonda style which I actually really liked, because it was kind of cool moves. I was laughing so hard in the blackness of that room though, when I observed the scene. the metro scene kids did’n’t know quite how to react to her breaking into their world except for the way they were already responding to the music.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Severance

My Grandma lived alone. My Grandpa lived with a dark haired woman.

My Grandma was a bit mentally ill, but functional. She taught me how to separate eggs, and let me stand on the stool while she made pancakes or corn chowder. The rice in her pantry was rice she held onto all the way from the time of the bomb shelter in New England. All of her cabinets smelled like moth balls. She hung her underwear out on clothes-lines in the backyard. Dad would say, “There blows the kites in the wind, kids.”

She had renters live with her on few occasions. We even lived in her basement for a little while. The one renter I remember was a skinny tobacco smelling man named Randy. He was untrustworthy but friendly and scrubbed the top of our heads with his palm gingerly like you would do to a puppy.

My Grandpa’s house was on the other side of town, by the Biltmore Estate, but you had to drive a ways on weaving roads to get there. His neighbor owned cows and sometimes they would escape and show up in his front yard. He used to sit on his porch in the mornings and watch the birds gather at the feeder and when a cow showed up he would watch the cow.

Grandpa loved Christmas. He would grow his beard out exceptionally long and dress up like Santa Claus. He would pass out the presents and say, “Ho, Ho, Ho” in pretense. My step-Grandma would bring out sausage and popcorn and shortbread cookies while we played. Every year the tree would get bigger. Last year Grandpa hired the Guatemalan’s to find him the biggest tree “imaginable”. It was towering and had to bend over some inches once it hit the ceiling.

Kirsten and I once argued over who’s Grandparents’ had the best house. It was a true fight.

I passionately defended my grandpa’s yard: I described it to her in my own childlike diction. How magical it was! The fish pond and the frog pond. The long stone wall. Above the wall was Frances’s garden, which was just lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes. There was however, a potted kumquat tree and one bountiful cherry tree.

Then there was the bridge that Grandpa built. Across the bridge was space to run, a couple tool sheds and Grandpa’s white truck. If you didn’t cross the bridge and followed the creek “up” instead, you soon found yourself inside a round and continuous wood: as silent as an empty church, but for the murmuring sounds of cows or crickets and the moving stream.

I brought Kirsten over once and she said to me: “It’s not that great, Mikaela. It’s not as great as you described it.” But to me, his house was a sanctuary.

When Grandma sold her little yellow house in Oakley and moved into a trailer park., we still visited her just as much. She still lived on the opposite side of town as Grandpa. When I spent days with her in that trailer, she told me stories about the nature of men. She sat me down on the couch as a 7 year old girl and told me that men only wanted something from me.

Grandma never had much. She bought her food from discount grocery stores and always made it last for a long time. She told me that Wally took her to court after he divorced her to “get every penny he could.” He put an ad in the paper for a wife while they were still married. I remember hearing the hurt and jealousy come through her voice when she asked me once about Frances.

“Don’t worry, your the best Grandma in the world.” I told her.

My grandparents met at a bar during Wally’s drunken Navy days. They weren’t really a good match, and I’m not sure if they ever really loved each other, but I suppose I have to recognize some amount of  sovereignty in their decision to marry. It was an unfortunate marriage and a divorce from hell, (from my Grandma’s viewpoint) but somehow I exist through it.

The beautiful thing about being a granddaughter though is that you belong to that person in a way that is typically very detached from all of their wrongdoings. What can your grandparents do for you but love you? They don’t have the responsibility of rearing you, and it seems more or less they have more than enough time to spend on you.

Being a granddaughter to Wally was untainted. He treated me kindly, he treated me well. There was nothing in me that couldn’t receive him, nor him me. No judgment, no awareness of my guilt, no knowledge of my flaws, no hindrance that kept me from being his “darling”, and I too, failed to see him as the betrayer of marriage. He was only ever my Grandpa.

In 2015 I saw him for the first time after coming out of the religious group. (idealogically at least). It had been about 6 years since I’d seen him and I hadn’t talked to him for most of that duration.

I was with the Bakers on one of their trips. They needed a place to stay the night and we were passing by Asheville, so we all stayed with Randy for the night. (Grandma’s old renter). They dropped me off at Grandpa’s the next morning because I had asked if I could see him.

When Kim text me and said they were in the driveway and had to get back on the road, something of horror seemed to strike. I’m not sure what exactly hit me, but I remember that visit so well. Frances made eggs and toast and then went back into the bedroom so it was just me and him in the kitchen. It’s not that we talked about anything special it was just that he was still there, and still being my Grandpa.

When I had to go back into the van with Mike and Kim and all the boys, something in me broke. I looked out the window and tears were streaming down my face. I didn’t want to be in that van, I wanted to be back in that kitchen with my Grandpa.

 

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Ray, a drop of golden sun

For my date with Ray, the electrician, I decided to dress up…so far I’ve stuck to jeans every date. This time, I just felt like wearing high heels and a dress. And surprisingly the one time I dress up ends up being the first time the guy lets me pay!

I didn’t feel much spark, but the conversation was nice. I managed to avert almost every personal question and was incredibly pleased with myself for this. I am so over self-disclosure. So we talked about his education. We talked about conspiracy theories. We talked about animal psychology.

My eyes were getting tired and the room started spinning a little. I looked around me. I reveled in the silence.

I commented on the beauty of the walls.

The next day I received a series of text messages from Ray. Ray told me that he wasn’t attracted to me, but thought maybe the attraction could grow.

Then when I didn’t respond for an hour he said I was fake and there was a reason why I was single. He said he wished I smoked weed. He said a bunch of other things in this text blast, most of them were mean things you shouldn’t say to people you just met.

Today I had a really good day. I made the decision I’m not going to go on any more dates. I finished a book, I relished in nature and hummed “weeping pilgrim” by the river while a huge boat passed by.

I brought some clothing over to Ivetta’s house for a clothing exchange. No one showed up but me, so we drank Russian wine and ate lentils.

The door opened and in walked Rajeev. The Indian Man. “Oh my American beauty!” he said.  “My Indian Uncle!” I exclaimed and gave him a hug. He had a plastic pitcher of homemade Sangria in his hand. “I don’t know why I was so foolish to bring this in the car, but fortunately it didn’t spill.”

“Mikaela, get the ice cubes out of the freezer!” He began his orders and Ivetta and I both looked at each other and laughed. “Yes, Uncle.”

Ivetta compiled strawberry cakes for us and ushered Rajeev to sit on the couch and watch an episode of How I met Your Mother with us.

“I came over here to drink Sangria and gossip and this is what I see. You two eating girly strawberry cakes on the couch and watching sitcoms. No, I will not watch it.”

Ivetta softly insisted that he sit on the couch and eat his strawberry cake and watch. She was calm and he relented. 🙂

I do not like them, Sam I Am

 I was waiting at the smallest table in a retired tobacco barn reading Frankenstein. I was getting more nervous by the second, and I couldn’t even read. The waitress relieved me by standing next to me, and close. She began a monologue about all about the places she’s lived in her lifetime. (the list including countries, states and cities) It made me so grateful to not have to wait at that table alone.

And then I noticed Sam standing at the barn’s entrance. I heard him greet the hostess, “How’s it going,” and I was hiding behind the large woman. She was still telling me about all the places. I looked away from her to look at Sam and he recognized me and came over. He was wearing a hoodie and jeans and his beard looked fuller than the last time.

“Hey,” he said. “Hey.”

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I was grateful because for a while we didn’t have to even look at each other. The waiter came to pour tiny amounts of wine into our glasses and while he did this, he began to speak in a new language. This one will coat your tongue with the astringent taste of a sour apple. This one will taste like butter (he said). I enjoyed this because it takes so much less effort to nod and sip than it does to look someone in the eye.

The thing about Sam is that he doesn’t really talk much about himself, but he’s really good at stories and eye contact and this combination plus me being nervous made it easy for me to accidentally say things.

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The accidental things began when I began randomly making baby comments.  He told me the story of how he negotiated with some boys to buy his dog for 200 bucks. And my response to this story was, “hopefully she can have lots of puppies.”

Sam nodded forgivingly. “I think she’s fixed.”

“Oh so I guess she won’t.”

The first time there was a lull in our conversation I broke through the silence with the words, “My sister is 4 centimeters dilated right now.”

“That’s a great conversation starter,” Sam said.

“Oh.” I said and then continued talking about her dilation experience, “but she’s just lying in bed with the toddlers on her waiting for her husband to get home.” So our conversation conveniently went in the direction of childbirth and we were both starting to sweat because of how hot it was. “I guess I’ve bought into the lie.” he sighed.

“The lie??” I said. And then I understood that he was making a propaganda joke.

“Oh yes, the secret truth is, none of us came through the canal of a woman.”

“Really we all probably come from various planets.”

“And have powers.”

images-65 The other thing I started slipping up in is that I began to share with Sam things about myself. I didn’t want to. The only way to keep these dates casual, is if I disclose only a bare slim whisper of information about myself (and mostly keep it topical).

But I severely messed up on this date. I disclosed things I am even embarrassed to tell myself about.(Things my mother very clearly warned me to never share on a date) Like the fact that I don’t have a high school diploma. I told him about grasping for a sense of self when I moved around so much.

I told him about my pastor and my church and LaDawn’s marijuana pen and Doniki’s nail business. I told him about Patty and how she smokes on the porch because it gives her a break from the demands of life. Then I even told him her partial life story. I described in detail the tattoos she never got but wanted to get.
I told him the name of Patty’s future unborn child: Franchesco Dalphene.

And Sam repeated the name of her future child out loud.

“Franchesco Dalphene.” he said. “Well,  his future teachers will look down at the attendance sheet and cast type him for sure.”

When were standing by our cars to say goodbye to each other, he invited me to get food with him.  He said, “you don’t have to if you’ve got things to do, but i’m starving.”
I was like, “sure, i’ll get food with you” and so we remembered the buttery green apple sips that cost 80 dollars (no cheese included) fondly and then drove to the Pit BBQ place next to the liquor store. On the front of the building it had the words “Crabs and BBQ that are Beyond Your Belief” inscribed. .

The Pit BBQ place was empty except for the staff, so we sat solitarily at a long white picnic table. The waitress gave us red plastic baskets filled with layers upon layers of shaved beef. I topped each bite with potato chips and horseradish and pickles in order to mask the dryness and flavorlessness of the meat.

I accidentally let something slip again, and it was really inappropriate because what I accidentally said (when he was asking me about CA) was that because of those years sometimes I hate men. Something came over me, but after I said it I wished so badly I could swallow my words.

His eyes got kind of wide and he said, “Oh, gotta go,” and pretended like he had to leave.

but then shook his head and laughed, and I’m really surprised because he actually asked me out again after this. This is a surprise, but he did. I am stupid for doing these date experiments, because I think if I let them carry on someone’s going to get hurt.

50 first dates

I thought it would be fun to do an anthropology series on my dating life. So here goes:

I have only EVER been in love ONCE. He was my first love and I hold on to those memories as a child holds on to a good grade or a science-fair trophy. Patrick was to me, a sort of savior. In him I found a friend and a lover. He mocked Christianity though, he thought very little of Jesus Christ.

Peter was the second boy I dated. He literally was an angel-boy. He had the soul of a cherub. He was untouchable.

The list is pretty short after Peter. I haven’t really dated that much. I’ve been single uninterruptedly for most of my twenties. Most of my twenties I spent entirely oblivious to the fact that I was single. Singleness? What even is that?

But I think after spending those isolated months in a certain basement, I became aware of myself. I became aware of my aloneness.

I thought, maybe it would be a good thing to have a partner.

I went on a date tonight with a guy named Richard. He wore suspenders and a beret. He ordered a filet of rabbit and roast potatoes. As I watched him cut into his rabbit I asked him if he’d ever read Watership Down.

“No, I don’t think I’ve ever read that one. What’s it about?” He asked me.

“It’s an invigorating story about the conquest of civilian rabbits against an evil Rabbit, General Woundwort. It will have you turning page after page. You just get caught up in the battle and the gore of it.”

“Oh.” Richard said. “Interesting. What’s it called again?”

“It’s called Watership Down.” I said. He let the waitress carry away the unfinished rabbit.

We got beers after dinner.

Richard is a beverage man. He tasted a sour and a nitro and then ended up getting an oatmeal berry beer or something like that which tasted like hoppy caramel. I don’t like beer but he ordered for me and it wasn’t that bad. It was called Sixpence I think.

He asked me what made me say yes to going out with him. “It’s kind of a policy.” I said. “I’ll go out with anyone once, as long as they aren’t a creep.”

“oh.” he said. “so what are you thinking about this date so far? what do you think about me?”

I didn’t struggle to find an answer. I answered him with ease and clarity.

Prior to shooting me with this question, Richard told me about his closest friends in Washington State, about the horrible movies he loved and how to bake with beer. He told me about his broken childhood, of his fathers death and his alcoholic step-father.

It wasn’t draining to listen. I wondered though if I should let him share those things with me. But really, it wasn’t my responsibility to shelter him. I offered to pay, but he said: “I asked you out, and I want to pay.”

Was he wrong to expose himself to an uncommitted stranger?

And how many times have I acted a fool and exposed myself for the sake of being known by anyone?

#50firstdates

Gracious love

I was 123 dollars short for rent for the Month of May.
I emailed my landlord, Peter O’Malley the most business professional email you can fathom, to which he responded that he remembered what it was like when he was once young and struggling to pay rent. He would work with me, he said.
I got a text last night from my friend LaDawn. She said, “hey, I have money for you to help with your rent.” It was offered to her from a local church’s benevolence fund which she turned down, but when she found out I was short, she called them back and asked if they could give the money to me instead.
When I had no money for food or gas a few months ago, because every penny was allotted to pay for housing, LaDawn had been the one to buy me a sausage egg McMuffin and fill my tank up with gas.

This is a post regarding the redemptive characteristic of graciousness, which comes as a response from God I believe, to human beings who find themselves vulnerable. Though I despise my need, I have found that perhaps it is through bearing the scorn of poverty that I am able to see the rich benevolence of God in my life. Therefore I wish to somehow consider His graciousness and likewise respond to it. (This graciousness which then lifts me out of poverty; for I find that it is in the act of receiving graciousness that I am made rich. I am not abandoned or left empty handed.)

Moreover the graciousness itself is more prevailing than the provision of shelter and a habitat or the Egg McMuffin in my belly.

Firstly, I wish to expound on the word, ‘redemptive.’ And to explain why I have chosen to use this word. I have been confronted recently with a warranted distaste for a story which jumps too quickly to the “good feeling.” There is a tendency to slip up as a writer I think, when one ties a pretty bow on every raw ache and calls it a day.

Human existence, however, has begged for redemption. The demand for it is there, whether we realize it or not. This indefinite vulnerability to want, need, pain, physical breakdown and the like calls it forth.

So why is the satisfaction or fulfillment of a desire in itself not necessarily what we look for in a good story? Why is the “good ending” not enough to appease our literary appetite?

Here is my choosing of the word ‘redemptive’: I see it as a thread which is carried through the whole of human experience, which pays little respect for the successful triumph of the satisfied and does not intend to simply fill the empty glass of a wine-bibber. Somehow I think God’s character makes the story what it will be, and that is good.

When I consider my life in context of an ever expanding, unforeseen and yet ancient tale: a real, living story, containing both the bitter and the sweet, I have this awareness that it all doesn’t come together neatly and nicely in the end. When I think of my own life, I know that the good times do not taste like cotton candy. I do not expect that it will all come together neatly and nicely for me around the bend.

I have lived long enough in this body and with this soul and in this world to know that it’s not a neat or a nice place, that my body itself is not neat or polite (bodily functions anyone?) and that the soul I am inseparably bound to craves and wants and hopes things which all conflict in a way that when woven together with everybody else’s conflicts and bodies and souls and common histories, create a rather sad story of rich complexity.

So when I speak about God’s character being redemptive, I do not mean God is simply making an uncomfortable situation better.

I did look up the word, like a good preacher would, but was led on a goose chase from redemptive to redemption to redeeming and the only words in the box beneath redeeming were as follows: “serving to offset or compensate for a defect.”

I’m not sure, but the reason I brought all this up, is to justify me using the word redemptive so as not to be perceived as cheating myself. Yay, your rent was covered, your belly was filled: It’s a good, happy story! But I don’t think that’s the point.

So this is what I meant by calling God’s graciousness redemptive: this grace is pervasive, it is prevailing, it comes up time and time again as a response to human vulnerability and this grace doesn’t simply sweep our apparent and disturbing excrescences under the rug. But it is an appeasing thing for this one vulnerable person to come into contact with this other kind of person, who seems to be quite holy. (lacking nothing). When this kind of fullness and other-than-ness, rubs up against the mortal and all of his need and decay and unresolved hopes and desires, it is something of a mystery of what you get. It is not quite a fine and dandy story with a glowy, happy ending. It is as devastating as the ground opening up and swallowing up bodies and as surprising as a once very dead man takes off his bindings and accepts both breath and hunger again.

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There are sacred moments when the world seems to stop spinning for a moment, when the sun shines and the rain falls simultaneously in perfect measure, when your memories of love are sweet. And so as merry as that sacredness, so is it then most sorry,  the love that gives way to sorrow. It is like a pill to swallow.  It is the taste of your very stubborn will finally letting something precious go, and if you can imagine it: the successful pirate who was just told he must give up his treasure! It’s a bitter pill: bitter and liberating.
Here is the bitter: the wretchedness of having once been bound to someone, and having known the joys of love, but then to have that seal which bound you to them forcefully ripped off your fleshly heart as they return to dust. (I have not known this, but witnessed it)

Or the wretchedness of loving someone who could never love you back: the love you couldn’t help but pour inevitably into that blessed tunnel of someone else, where each strand of wanting waits for some sort of answer, but reaching further into the seeming void only reverberates the dark walls of that space. Unable feeling answers back, returning the same currents of longing which were poured forth. As each rejected wave reenters the lover’s heart it slashes the surface with the force of a whip, penetrating the surface until pink and raw, as skin when it is lacerated.
There are too those most worthy surrenders which are made for the sake of the good of common man (as exhibited by the life of Dorothy Day or Mother Theresa or other such saints). The lingering sorrow which presents itself in the willing surrender of love is as the love which is unwillingly laid down through death or rejection. It is still like a hunger that goes on for many days and doesn’t quite go away.
I must say that the pleasure that flows from these tales of sorrowful love does not come from some twisted sort of self inflicted sadism. Rather, it is that ironically so, in these tragedies, through these very pains, there is some sort of deeper something planted in the soul. It is the something which springs forth from the loss of comfort and the emptiness of longing that has the very potential to evoke such irrevocably true desires within the soul. There is this so thoroughly un-hollow, pure desire that springs forth from the soul which could never be answered through a successful love-story in this life.

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And Here is the light: the blessedness of waking up to a radiant love which caresses your hair with its soft beams and offers you life to flush through your organs and warm your bones. It is not strictly physical well-being, nor is it simply comfort. But it is perfectness. It is life lived through the only One who is truly worthy.
It is the sweetest song, dancing always between depth and height, length and width, surpassing the longest distance, crossing the highest wall, plunging through the thickest barrier.

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Here are the words on the most ancient pages of your heart, revealed. The best dream, the most fantastic longing, written up before your eyes. It could never have come true in your 85 years on Earth. It wasn’t a marriage, it wasn’t children, it wasn’t a successful ministry. It was this.
For here He is: the bitter-sweet Man. The Sad Man, the joyful King. The blessed son of God and the cursed son of Man; And I believe He was the desire I had felt so truly when I was living in a world that was vulnerable to evil. There, given the grace to understood the consequences of man’s choice, and still too, to know what’s it like to go through years untouched and burning.
Here you are now, here you have come, to see the happiness.
Light coming forth in soft currents from His eyes. Mercy that is tangible in His awesome stature. The awe of ages past now present before all mankind. This is your Maker.

He is awful, and terrifying because He’s unlike anything or anyone else. Yet He has known mankind. He too was wounded. And in awe, Adam looks upon the faint marks on his brother’s flesh, from where the Maker’s skin had once been lacerated.

I hope that I’m not being cheesy, that the point that I am making is not simply that Christ redeems our sorrows. It is more than that, I think. It is that somehow because He has wired us to be alive in Him, and wired His Kingdom to be fueled by the satisfaction that He Is. (and not only offers) …That Christ is indeed given to us, not only for us…and so when my life here on Earth in my late 20’s isn’t what I want it to look like. When I lose at obtaining the kind of love most photographers make their salaries off of capturing, I am very much hopeful of the kind of life which isn’t contained or constrained to this one. The life which is so very much connected to the Kingdom which is still to come, where the best dream of all comes verily true.

the strange art of letting go

runawaybunnyIn Runaway Bunny, the classic and iconic children’s book published in 1942 by Margaret Wise Brown, a mother bunny changes shape and form in order to “rescue” her runaway bunny. The child’s desire for independence is met with the overpowering magic of his mother, who in every instance of the child’s journey away from home, quickly finds him and reclaims him.

“If you become a fish in a trout stream,” said his mother, “I will become a fisherman and I will fish for you.” …

“If you become a crocus in a hidden garden,”
said his mother, “I will be a gardener. And I will find you.”…

“If you become a sailboat and sail away from me,”
said his mother, “I will become the wind
and blow you where I want you to go.”

Is this the magic of determined love? Does it deny the beloved their ability to choose? Does it give the object of its love no other choice but to be held in their arms, held captive by the strength of the lover’s will?

In some cases a love story doesn’t always look like the magic of Margaret Brown’s Runaway Bunny. Sometimes the means by which you express genuine love for someone else may be the act of letting them go, as painful and hard as that is.

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Jane Austen said that she wanted to be the sort of author who let her main characters get what they wanted. Her own life was a different story.

She had tasted the bitterness of having to let a lover go and perhaps wanted somehow to vindicate her pain through writing stories where people got what they wanted; stories with happy endings, triumphant satisfaction.

I am opening my eyes a little bit to see the truth of love that is, however,  held in those experiences of having to let go, when the true nature of love cannot allow you to hold on with all your might.

I haven’t seen the movie LaLa Land, I probably won’t, but someone told me they were somewhat disturbed by the ending, because the lover’s don’t end up together. They go their separate ways in order to each fulfill with their lives what they would’t be able to accomplish if they chose partnership with each other.

In situations of unrequited love, the love could never be returned and so you form as a person, you heal, you move on. But in other cases, such as in the movie LaLa Land, or the movie Once, the story doesn’t end with partnership and consummation, but rather a bittersweet, yet willing goodbye.

Most people struggle with this sort of ending. This couldn’t be a successful love story! Our hearts reel with pain at such an ending. And yet the nature of love I do not believe is one of force or control, but rather it calls forth such true risk, such vulnerability. It doesn’t simply allure and claim but seems to require the element of will and choice.  And perhaps not just any choosing, but a free choice that is not motivated from self-interest.

Maybe will write next time on how an eternal perspective casts about a clear and hopeful ray of light over all the scars and blisters we gain from love in this life.

 

The only Power that be

About Jesus Christ and the Church, I simply know they’re just one thing, and we shouldn’t complicate the matter. (Joan of Arc)

Having thought a little bit more on topic of loving God but not loving church, here are a few bullet points.

  • A healthy church is different than a non-healthy one.

I had this very simple thought strike my consciousness recently, after addressing an issue that took place at a church where I’ve been attending the past year or so. the way it was handled by leaders was so different than anything I had experienced in previous dealings with leadership. I wasn’t shut down. I was treated as an equal, like what I had to say actually mattered. And it hit me, “that was refreshingly different.”

there is a difference.  Don’t let the adage, “Well, no church is perfect” justify remaining in an unhealthy spiritual environment, just like the phrase “well, no one’s perfect” is not a valid excuse for staying in a toxic relationship. I have seen families (and individuals) severely injured by church gone wrong and for them (as well as myself) it was quite a difficulty to learn how to step away from that environment.

The church represents a lot of things, depending on who you are and your background. I would say there is a distinction between “church” and Church.  If you are literally unable to invest in a “church” that doesn’t mean that you are no longer apart of the Church, or that you have ceased to be apart of this missional community worldwide.

  • God’s purpose in part in the establishment of the Church is for His people to experience Him through participating in the sacraments.

This was pretty good for me to realize too. In John Chapter 14, Jesus says to Thomas that He Himself is the only way to the Father. At the time the spiritual leadership of Israel was doing a pretty good job monopolizing power, abusing God’s Word and “taking the best seat at feast tables”. Yet Jesus echoes here to Thomas what He said in John Chapter 10, “I am the Gate ( or “door”)… By me, any man may enter in, and find pasture.”

  • Christ doesn’t always provide for us according to our own desires or interpretations of what our lives are ‘supposed’ to look like…  but He is our Provider and that is saying an awful lot.

God Himself is our Manna; Christ is our Provision.

The reason I include this as a bullet point is due to the weakness of man to be obedient to Christ’s commands. If the church falls short of demonstrating Christ’s goodness to the Earth, all hope is not lost.

God is not mocked. He’s not depending on us to be a perfect showcase of His glory. He is and always will be glorious.

The fact that He chooses to reveal His glory in earthen vessels wasn’t based on my decision. It’s quite mysterious just how God manages it, but I am convinced that He is the One doing it. God revealing Himself to people, and not only that, but choosing to show off His beauty in and through us, that is most definitely His work!