Claiming my (ir)relevancy

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the blurry mess of a photo that one of my boys once took in the office on a Sunday morning…an accurate depiction of real life in the church office.

On a plane in conversation with a seat-partner or in a line at the grocery store when I introduce myself and my profession, I notice the surprise that breaks across the face of my conversation partner.  Sometimes, the surprise holds a twinge of disapproval, but most of the time it reflects general disorientation.  I know my gender and age have a significant part of their reaction: I am not what they expected.  As a blonde thirty-five-year-old mother of three, I am not the typical ordained Baptist pastor.

But an article I read this week caused me to wonder if the reaction might be, instead, a reaction to this ancient profession to which I have been called.

Survey shows: clergy irrelevant.

While the article is written hyperbolically, I know it attests to a real perception amongst our culture. “What do you do during the week?” is asked with some regularity. If someone has longer than a few moments with me, they seek some details of what keeps me busy, with an underlying sense of judgment or disbelief.

I discussed the article with my husband last night as we cleaned up the kitchen. My oldest son listened as he was playing Legos at the table. I know he is listening in on our conversations more lately. I look over and wonder, what will he think of me one day? What will be left of this clergy tradition? Will he understand this vocation to which I give my life? Will he know what I do in the office each week? Will he know what I labor over and whether it was all worth it?

Continue reading

How Unnerving It Is

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Composed while out on a run this morning reflecting upon…
– Teaching our oldest to ride a bike
– Walter Brueggemann’s article, “The Company of the Unafraid: God’s peculiar hope offers a way to keep fear from overpowering us”” in the July 2019 edition of Sojourners magazine

– Krista Tippett’s conversation with Elizabeth Alexander and the power of words that shimmer.

How unnerving it is
to move
through the world
in a new way. Continue reading

There is an ache in God’s Glory

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There are mornings when my quiet time pushes me to the limits of my imagination. It is not every morning. It is not every season. But when it comes, I can see God alive in all of creation – in every creak of steps as boys come down in the morning, in the birds whose songs fill the room through a cracked window, in the heart that still beats in my chest after all these years.

My chest fills with an awareness of the divine-saturated beauty of all things and of the human ignorance of its participation within it. I feel surrounded, overwhelmed, saturated in the Divine Life. Yesterday morning, I continued reading Richard Rohr’s latest, The Universal Christ, and I was struck again by the glory of God – an understanding of the ridiculously extravagant presence of the divine that is just within reach enough to knock me to my knees.

If life really is this rich, it is nearly too decadent. The glory of God can feel like a decadent chocolate cake that cannot be consumed in one sitting. Continue reading

This Is the Self God Loves

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IMG_4576I breathe and let the pressure release –
deflating the overblown self until it is only the
real, true, small, mortal self.

This is the self God loves.
This is the self that is able to love.
This is the self who can love another.

This is the self that is finite in its form
but infinite in Your glory

For this small, mortal self is Yours –

Yours, for You originated it with your creative force
Yours, for You have and will continue to redeem it
Yours, for You breathe meaningful life into it.

In our vast world where human beings chase after immortality, this small, mortal self is my greatest gift. It is the greatest privilege. It is the vessel for Your glory – a technicolor beauty unable to behold without covering our eyes or looking away in discomfort.

So as the morning sun rises and a full day awaits,
I breathe Your air
and I release all the pressure.

I am Yours again,
and I am alive
for another day in Your world.

I pause.
I give thanks.
I go forward to bless the world.

This Technicolor Life

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9B1A219A-F033-4EFD-A81E-CB1A1F3B9D19.jpgThe calendar on our refrigerator needs updating. To update it, I need time to cull all of our schedules and bring them into harmony – a harmony that will dance in front our eyes every time I gather food or fill my water cup this month.  The paper calendar looks empty right now, but it is far from it.  Soon, it will bleed technicolor. It will tell of all the many stories to be lived in the coming weeks –

Light Blue for baseball games, children’s choir performance, and end of year festivities
Green for church events and night-time meetings
Dark Blue for time with friends
Red for travel, graduation, birthdays
Orange for miles run
Black for meals to make

To live amongst it all is to ask our inner lives to line up within the designated tasks of the day. To live this technicolor life is to transition quickly from workday to family time. Child of God to Servant of God. Mother to Minister, and back again. Rising One to Settling One. Human Working to Human Being. Continue reading

Etch Into Me Something Permanent

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It became a practice for me earlier this year – writing a word or phrase from my morning prayer onto my left wrist, right above my watchband.  I notice it during the day as my fingers type out plans to be made.  I notice it during the moments when I check for the time, only to realize how quickly it has passed.  I notice it during the moments when I wring my hands on behalf of all that I do not understand and all that I cannot fix.

It comes with the simple yearning: Etch into me something permanent. Write upon me a Word that soaks into my soul and brands my bones. Continue reading

My Cup Overflows

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cup overflows
photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/val-er-ie/14343350693

These days are full.  My desk holds more piles of tasks and needs than I can tackle in a lifetime, nevertheless in 30 hours each week.  My children hold more needs for their own flourishing than I could ever provide them, even if I quit my job and gave each hour to the labor of mothering.  My grandfather lies in a hospice bed an hour away.  His sons wait upon him as he approaches his final hours.  They watch his fragile frame and listen to his breathing.  He holds more needs than his body can fulfill any longer, even if the drugs and the care continued.

There are limits to who we are and what we can do.  Continue reading