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Posts Tagged ‘truth’

(This was originally published in error as a separate page two weeks ago.)

Notes along this journey:

I’m not made for the corporate life. I’m just not. Others are. I’m not. It’s a box I don’t fit into. Small organization, yes. Work for myself, yes. Freelance, yes. Just be, yes.

Job searches are so much about trying to fit into the corporate life. It’s a bit disorienting that way. When people ask me what kind of position I’m looking for, I need to figure out a better way to answer, a simple way to say I want to earn enough to support myself by being a writer and a maker and a mentor and a learner and a teacher and a simple living guru and a disciple and a disciple-maker. And not worry if anyone else thinks that sounds irresponsible. I’m very responsible.

I believe I am called to live in such a way that shows another way is possible. A personal way, yet a community-building way. An artisanal way. An intergenerational way. A simple way. An ancient way. A contemplative, spiritual way. A way that supports justice and participates in restoring shalom to our world.

I do not know if in that description there are ways to fully support myself. But if God calls me to it, God will make a way. I have been consumed with how to continue to make a living. After all, paying the bills is pretty necessary in our culture. But it’s had me bound. And that’s a sign of not trusting. I don’t want to be bound. I want to make a life. My life.

I have this vision of a house like Nonnatus House. If you are a fan of Call the Midwife, you know what that means. Maybe not a full blown convent, because maybe it could be co-ed. But a place where people who like each other enough to live together share expenses, thus easing income-pressure for everyone, and share common areas. Share life. Share vision. Share service. Neighbor with their neighbors.

I stand at the crossroads, and I’m looking hard. I ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, because that’s where I long to walk. There I will find rest for my soul. (Jeremiah 6:16)

God wants me to see the path, and I want to see it. So the way will open. On that I’ll rest.

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I spoke at a breakfast Rotary Club meeting this morning. The club meets at a rec center about 30 miles from my house.

To get there I rose early, put on some confidence clothes — today a sleeveless LBD with a black/gray/white flowy scarfy cocoon thing over it, because it’s July and 90 degrees  was predicted but I’m a teeny bit self-conscious about the crepiness (not to be confused with creepiness) of my upper arms — and gave myself plenty of time to get there because you never know with Denver traffic. This is something I have continued to try to outsmart since moving here 11 months ago, sometimes successfully, sometimes not.

The traffic was not bad, the sun was up, it was a glorious summer morning. I found the place with only one missed turn. The rec center was off a main street in a fairly new development on ground that used to be Stapleton Airport before it was replaced by DIA.

Kudos to city planners for the way they have redeveloped that area into mixed use areas of retail, office, residential, and open space. (Except that like everywhere else in Denver, housing costs are through the roof, making it very difficult for lots of people, even if the area includes a few mixed income/affordable housing units.) This center was  on open space. Lovely day, like I said.

I went inside, met people I had only emailed with before, ate some fruit and a scone with my coffee, made some follow-up-worthy connections, and gave my talk. As I left, I passed the area devoted to stair-climber machines and treadmills. They were full.

I thought as I walked out into the fresh bright air, why would people pay membership fees, drive their cars however far, park and go into a building and exercise on these machines, when they could just take a walk down the lovely streets and on the trails set up for walking and running? This is Colorado, where it’s sunny, like, 300 days out of the year. People move here in droves for the gorgeous weather. And it was morning, so it wasn’t too hot yet.

What am I missing?

And then — and then — we have more people than ever being put on mega-doses of vitamin D by their physicians after they are deficient in that essential nutrient. Spending 30 minutes in the sun a day meets our daily requirements, or so I’ve been told. Look it up.

What I saw this morning is not peculiar to Colorado. You can go anywhere in America and observe the same thing. It’s a symptom of something. What would you name it?

As Brian Wilson said, “I guess I just wasn’t made for these times.”

 

 

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How to write anything tonight out of anything other than sadness and anger? And yet do I have anything to add that has not already been said better?

I have friends who are black. Tonight I can’t help but think about how it could have been one of them in that car, or on the ground, bleeding to death from bullet wounds. Husbands and fathers raising great children, working long hard hours, who are there for their families. Community leaders who invest their lives in serving their neighbors.Women whose intellect and conviction can change the world but who fear for their brothers’ and fathers’ and sons’, and their own lives.

It could have been Rod, or Alex, or Michael. It could have been Seantae or Cheryl, or Mechiel, or anyone in their families. People I count my brothers and sisters. Instead, this time it was Alton, and Philando, and Diamond.

No one even bothered to check his pulse. While the officer kept a gun trained on him as he died slumped in the front seat with a four-year-old girl in the back seat. While no one bothered to comfort his girlfriend except her four-year-old daughter. In fact they cuffed her and hauled her into the squad car, then to the station for hours like she was a criminal.

Why? Because apparently we white people are so freaking scared of black people that we shoot first and find out facts later. The benefit of the doubt is a big joke. The right to bear arms and and legally carry apparently only applies to white folks.

I am white and privileged. I don’t know personally what this is like. But I believe my black friends when they tell me this is the truth they live with, have all their lives. We have to say black lives matter, because apparently too much of the time they don’t. That’s the point. Don’t you dare go saying all lives matter right now. If you don’t understand why, read every word of this article. Of course they do. The point is black lives matter too, just as much as anyone else’s.

Neither is the debate about whether there are good police officers. Of course there are. There are even good police officers who do bad things in the heat of the moment and regret it the rest of their lives. But like everyone else, law enforcement officers need to be held accountable and trained to actually respond to all races alike.

The point is that this cannot go on. It is not acceptable. And it will never change if we aren’t willing to look at it from the point of view of the people who live every day of their lives afraid that they will be feared and distrusted, and even killed, simply because of the color of their skin.

I have a long way to go. A lot of the time I don’t know what to do, but I know it starts inside  and works its way out.

Nikki Lerner, a singer/speaker/writer whom I really respect, lives and breathes racial reconciliation. She calls us all, all hues and shades, to lean into relationships with people of other cultures and skin color, to really see and hear each other and learn to give grace. Please, let’s do that. If we don’t have any intercultural relationships, now might be the time to start getting to know someone different from ourselves. Please let’s do that too.

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The subject for this post came to me at about 3:30 a.m., and I’m going with it. I don’t know if it’s just about habit, or if there’s more there. But here goes.

When I get up in the wee hours to go to the bathroom, by instinct I reach left first for the toilet paper probably 6 times out of 10. That’s where it was in the house where I lived for the 11 years before moving here. In this bathroom, it’s on the right.

My kitchen wastebasket is under the sink. This is where it should be. It’s where it was in the house I grew up in and in some other houses I’ve had. In others, it’s been in the pantry, beside the cabinets,  or underneath a kitchen island. But wherever, at least once a week I’ve reflexively opened the door under the sink before realizing, oh yeah, it’s not there.

My parents had a starburst clock on the living room wall for many years while I was growing up. And still — still — occasionally I look on my living room wall when I want to know what time it is. Never mind that I haven’t had a wall clock in my house for years, probably decades.

This is the sentence that came to me at 3:30 this morning: Every place I’ve lived has left its mark on me.

I have lived in lots of places. Let’s see —

  1. The house I grew up in. Lived there for 19 years. The clock on the wall. The white house with trees in frontwastebasket under the sink. Good, solid life. That place is truly in my core.
  2. The tiny house we lived in briefly right after we got married. Today it would be considered part of the tiny house movement.
  3. The 12×50 mobile home my dad helped us get. Bigger than the tiny house. Smaller than the apartment where I live now, a fact that gives me perspective.
  4. My parents’ retirement home in Florida. Temporary until we could buy our own.
  5. The house we bought in Florida.
  6. My mother’s home. Also my childhood home. Dad had died and we lived with her for 9 months, again till we could buy our own home, having moved back from Florida.
  7. The house we bought there.
  8. The first parsonage. My husband was the associate pastor at that church.
  9. The second parsonage. My husband was the only pastor at that church.
  10. The third parsonage. My husband was the senior pastor at that church.
  11. The home of a friend’s parents. Things had gone sour at the church and the congregation voted to ask my husband to leave.We did, with nowhere to go and no income. This place was shelter and storage space as we tried to heal and figure out next moves.
  12. The first house in Colorado. We bought it without seeing it, after friends on site checked it out and arranged for a volunteer crew to remodel it. It was traumatic for multiple reasons.
  13. The second house in Colorado, which we rented when we lost that first house.
  14. The third house in Colorado, which we started out renting and eventually bought. Lived there for 13 years.
  15. The house in Indiana. Lived there for 11 years. It’s the one my husband died in.
  16. This apartment, where I still reach for the toilet paper where it was in the last house. And where the trash again fits under the kitchen sink.

This litany of homes brings back all kinds of memories and emotions. But it’s what happened, and I do not think where I live now will be my last home, so the list will continue to grow.

It’s true. Every place I’ve lived has left its mark on me. It’s not the place, ultimately, but what happened there. The seasons of my  life, some quite short, in which I was changed in some way. I grew. Joy and sorrow mixed. Sometimes joy won, sometimes sorrow won.

My children lived in 13 of these homes, too. They also bear marks from those places and the life we shared, for good or ill.

I don’t want any of us to live in those places any more. I want us to move forward. But sometimes sorting through the past is necessary to move on, to heal. Just like you sort through things before a move. Some things you can leave behind. Some things you decide are either meaningful and beneficial, can be repurposed or rearranged to make them useful, or are just plain beautiful. So you take those things with you as you move . . . onward.

Let’s do that.

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You Are Here

“We are not the center of the universe.” — Galileo’s Daughter, by Dava Sobel.

The Roman Catholic power structure fought him on this, just like they had fought Copernicus on it, saying it dishonored God by contradicting revealed truth up to that point. I say thinking everything revolves around us is what dishonors God.

What Galileo was proposing, based on what he viewed through his telescopes, was counter-cultural then. We now accept without question that he was correct about the movement of planets and stars. But amazingly, the notion that the universe does not revolve around you or me, or even our nation, is still counter-cultural. How much less pain there would be in the world if we could somehow live more generously and humbly.

 

 

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Pen, restored

The antler pen works again.

If you read my last post, you understand.fountain pen made  of antler

After filling a page with sentences to get the hang of it, I was surprised that writing smoothly with it takes applying a certain amount of pressure. It is not effortless like the disposable fountain pens. It requires slowing down and being firm.

The meaning of this as regards the writing process is not lost on me.

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The pen’s the thing

I have three cups of writing instruments on my desk. One contains various colors of Sharpies and washable markers. The other two are crammed full of pens, pencils, and odds and ends like a letter opener I never use, two pair of scissors, a ruler, highlighters, and a White-out pen.

One person does not need all these. It’s ridiculous. About once a year I go through them and throw out the pens that have dried up, but new ones keep appearing. Just this week one came in the mail, a give-away from a Realtor who wants my business. I’m set for life.

A friend gave me a nice pen for Christmas, red with white snowflakes. It looks pretty, it feels good in my hand, and it writes well. So why do I hang onto all the business marketing ones that have found their way to me? Because they work and as long as they do, it feels wasteful to throw them out. You know the “starving children in Africa” line parents give their picky-eater kids? I think of kids somewhere without school supplies. What abundance I have.

Lately I’ve got a little crush on fountain pens. Did you know Pilot makes disposable ones? (Check them out here.) Who knew? They are so nice to write with, smooth and easy and much more expressive. Another friend hunted down a three-pack for me. Then today I dug into the back of my office cabinet where I had stashed a couple of really nice fountain pens Art had. One’s made of wood, the other of antler. I found instructions online and tried my hand at flushing out the nib of one, since it has not been used in more than ten years. With any luck, I’ll be able to pop in an ink cartridge and write with it.

Because keeping the flow going makes the writing smoother and more expressive. And because sometimes flow needs all the help it can get. And because writing with a nice pen gives me pleasure.

But pens are not just smooth or expressive, or pleasurable to use. Sometimes they get people shot or blown up. That’s what happened this week to some people in France. Terrorists didn’t like what some cartoonists drew, so they killed the artists. Horrifying.

Pens are powerful. Thoughts and words and images are powerful. Writers and artists are sometimes heroes acting with profound courage. Others use pens to deceive or destroy. I believe that the flow of truth will always win, eventually.

Keep the flow going.

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