Centered Hearts, Swelling Gratitude, Abundant Grace. How?

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With busy lives (tasks with deadlines; needs with accompanying cries, whimpers, and whines; minutes that tick by without permission), how can we live with centered hearts (the kind that focuses our caring labor on the long-game care of humanity; not the kind we assume comes from the labels that people use to define our personhood), swelling gratitude (the kind that is born from the “enough” around us; not the painted calligraphy kind that is purchased at craft stores), and abundant grace (the kind that comes from the wells of forgiveness for perpetual imperfection; not the kind from ballerinas or naive optimism)?

If not for the Divine Parent who loves our busy lives, forgives our imperfect attempts, and redeems our busyness, I know not how. Continue reading

Unfastening the Tool Belt: Cease, Take Refuge (Psalm 34)

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“I sought the Lord, and God answered me,
     and delivered me from all my fears…
The poor soul cried, and was heard by the Lord,
     and was saved from every trouble…
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears,
and rescues them from all their troubles.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted,
and saves the crushed in spirit.

Many are the afflictions o the righteous,
     but the Lord rescues them from them all.
God keeps all their bones; not one of them will be broken.

The Lord redeems the life of his servants; 
none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.”
– Psalm 34: 4, 6, 17-20, 22

“Silence the contending opinions you have within your heart… You do your best to call a halt to these noisy crosscurrents of personal feelings, opinions, and ideas.  You start over… You center upon what God’s estimate of this person was in creation and is now in God’s redemptive wisdom and love… You choose to center down.” – Wayne E. Oates, Nurturing Silence in a Noisy Heart, 43.

Weary, I collapse.  The tool belt hangs heavy and clumsily around my waist, creating a loud thump as I fall to the ground.  The tools weigh me down and leave me grounded wherever I have fallen.  Where I sit, there I am stuck.  I lift my eyes towards where I wished I had landed instead – a cushioned seat, a place with a better vantage point, a spot in the company of friends.  My body pulses and aches, and the distance between where I sit and where I wish I sat grows further and further.

Continue reading

Bless the Beast

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Sadao Watanabe, “Jacob Wrestles the Angel”

Like all seasons of life, this sabbatical year has been beautiful and brutal.  It has been bitter and sweet.  It has held great joys that I have relished and great griefs that I have lamented.  There have been moments that have been good and moments that have been good for me.

Along the way, I have wrapped each negative feeling with a purpose.  By God’s persistent grace, I have journaled my way from loneliness to self-reflection, from loss of career to personal re-stocking of wisdom, from loss of community to gained a connection with the common experience of living far from home.  Though our return to Louisville is only a few months away, my endurance for resting and reframing has begun to run low. Continue reading

The One Who is With Me

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img_0884If I could give our three year old anything to satisfy his greatest desire, it would be simply this – the time and space for me to be fully his.  We would play the game of his choosing and he would giggle.  We would drop everything and run outside whenever he remembered how much he wanted to play golf in the garage.  Then he would lead me by the hand through the house with his eyes bright, taking in all the options that now shone bright for I was his.

When he loses his composure, whether from sleepiness, hunger, or sadness about some limitations, the words come tumbling from his little three-year-old lips – “I just want to be with you. Continue reading

The Time of Reckoning

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Before the mirror, I gaze upon this warped, swollen, scarred flesh of mine.  The sight of it fuels the pain I feel, uniting into a combined sensation that knocks me over with overwhelming physical, mental, and emotional fatigue.  The shower’s water strikes and I am overcome by the tenderness of my flesh.  Sore places cause slow movements, compensating as an attempt to lessen the pain.

In these days following my third c-section, the time I take to clean and care for this body of mine becomes The Time of Reckoning where I face the reality of what is.  The act of growing, giving, and sustaining life means wrecking this own life of mine.  It is a temporary time but that cannot deny its present power.

If I linger long enough in these moments, the Divine sneaks up on me and saves me.  The trembling calms and shifts its shape.  I remember the holiness of the Suffering Servant.  I remember the mystery that God uses human flesh to birth Hope into this world.  I remember the Eucharist truth that body nourishes body.

During these tender days, I am that body.  I am that human flesh.  I am that suffering servant.

Continue reading

To Greet the Day as It Dawns

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To greet the day as it dawns,
I calm the racing mind.
Cracked windows bring cool spring morning air
and bird’s symphony, alive and well.
Breathing bodies remain still in their beds
while the dog restlessly burrows in her bed.

The cards of my life have been thrown in the air,
I wait to see how they fall, and which of them remain.
But to greet the day as it dawns,
I am reminded of wholeness and its satisfaction –
the earth’s, the divine’s, and even, perhaps, mine.

Sing to me sweetly, birds of the morning,
and remind me who I already am.

The First Glimpse of Christmas

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In the morning, I ponder it all. The daily tasks await completion. Yesterday’s tasks were hurriedly accomplished, but not finished. The past lingers while the present demands. My mind struggles to hold it all in balance.

And yet the future continues to be there – untouched by my attempts to control and out of reach from the past’s long reach. Christmas is days away and I cannot yet touch it.

The people who have walked in darkness,
   have seen a great light.
The bar across their shoulders,
   You have broken.
The tools of war burn in the fire,
   around which we dance and rejoice.
– Isaiah 9 Continue reading