Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Blessing for Writers

In the last few months, I have been made aware of friends who are writing some really fabulous things. While the idea of writing a book or being published sounds wonderful, I am learning it might not be in the future for me. At least not now. So I was wondering how I might encourage them instead of succumbing to my jealousy (Yes, there is an ugly place in me that hates you writer-types because you're so damn good). So, I found another way. It's a different kind of writing but it draws me out of myself and creates a place to bless the amazing things others are doing, writing, and being. I can be me and be blessed with what shape that takes while also blessing and being blessed by you.

A blessing for writers:

May you always recall the joy of bedtime stories of dragons and fairies.   
May you always rejoice in the imagination and creation of other worlds, other people, and other stories.
May the words you have locked up in your mind find place on the page before you.
May your deadline help you choose your words wisely.
May the story worth telling inside you find a way to surface.

And as we pen new stories and bind old ones
, may you always enjoy the journey to find those perfectly imperfect words to tell it.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Your Faith isn't Always Enough

I've been reading a lot lately. Probably more than my average amount. I think this is in part because my return to graduate school peaked a slumbering curiosity within me and I am chasing ideas in the pages of books but also because there is a hard story happening in my life. Unfortunately, there is rarely a life that is spared sadness, loss, confusion, guilt, shame, and brokenness. When we feel these things, when we sit front and center living our hard story, we yearn for something or someone to hold us. We might face illness, loss of a job, moving, depression, loss of a parent or child, rape, or other abuse.  A well intentioned but deeply harming response offered too often is "Just keep the faith." Sure, for me, faith proves immensely helpful in my ability to wake up every day. But the really hard stories-the hardest stories- need more than faith. I think the greatest, most honest faith is probably one that would give up of itself.

But, faith does not make a shit of a difference if we don't have people willing to let us be faithless. I don't mean that we will most certainly be faithless; I mean that we need people who aren't going to turn to shallow evangelism and empty prayer if we find ourselves forgetting the good.  It means we are allowed to forget the often shallow optimism we employ in faith so we can feel and face pain and suffering. In doing so, we meet a God who doesn't receive our blame for suffering, but simply receives it-and holds it with us. This is the incarnate.

Someone else can hold faith while we let our shit hit the fan. It is a fiercely difficult task to hold such hurt and faith in tandem, one that I am far from perfecting. In the best of time, it can be easy to feel invincible and full of life. And in the worst of times, it can be easy to forget that once upon a time, your life was full of goodness. It's easy to let ourselves reek of death and give in to the voice of nothingness. But there are ebbs and flows at work even in are unawareness, even in our nothingness.

A part of me hates saying that faith is not enough but a newer, more raw part says I wish someone would have said this to me. I have tried so hard to be faithful (faithful in the sense of void of doubt and disbelief. I would argue that now, I define faith as full of doubt and questioning). And maybe for you, your faith is enough for the hardest stories and that is beautiful too but be weary of assuming we all can endure as hope-full as you. What I would suggest is that the hardest stories require a cocktail of sorts. They require some element of faith but also humility, openness, vulnerability, and a giving up for another. And this is not faith of the religious or spiritual sense, but maybe it is that too.  I simply mean more of faith in knowing stories keep going, that today is not the end but maybe for someone it is; it is faith that we are part of a much larger narrative-Christian or not.  This is faith that is okay with us not being okay. This faith sometimes draws out holy anger.  This faith let's us be bothered by things in our stories and the stories of others. This faith cries out during injustice, a loud bellow, that disarms the armed and lifts up the lowly.

We say "Everything will be okay" to a lot to people going through the hardest stories.  We push hope, faith, and peace.  Perhaps, it is not always appropriate. Perhaps Jesus wants us to sit with one another in our hopelessness, faithlessness, and unrest. Perhaps entering into the suffering and allowing it is more faith-full response.  Faith is not enough; we must be faith-full people living in light of the incarnation and in the midst of the hardest stories.

If you are a music fan, a great song that lends itself well to this idea of hard stories and happy endings is "Happy Endings" by MIKA. 

May the God of our hardest stories be with you, in flesh and in spirit, today and always.

2013: Hopes & Dreams

I don't like resolutions. I have never, ever been able to keep one.  So instead of a resolution, I just set up to have some hopes and dreams for 2013.  Some are vague, some specific; all valuable and with the potential to transform. And isn't that what life is about: being able to change, grow, and respond to the world around us out of hope, compassion, and grace.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

For those that don't know, I'm in graduate school in Seattle. I currently flip flop between a Masters of Divinity and a Masters of Art in Theology and Culture. Maybe I will pick for reals sometime here soon. Or maybe I can do both (and be broke forever!).  Either way, it is finals week and I am attempting to condense what I have learned, unlearned, and where I find myself in my beliefs in 6-8 pages, double spaced. It's not an easy task but I am learning what is of utmost importance to me and that is helpful.

This post won't be comical or witty. Instead, I want to encourage us to think how, when, and to whom you can love better and more fully.  I struggle with this.  I want to react to people who see differently than I do and show them how they are wrong. Often, I want to convince them over to my side.  In the same manner though, I am shy. I do not like debate or to have to remain on a "side". I do not always like taking sides.   
While there may or may not be a right side, there is a different (or right?) way to love that looks more like listening than talking, more like hearing than saying, and more like humility than conviction. 
Here is a thought I had today about how I (and perhaps, we) can begin to see one another with different eyes and with a new imagination for what could be.  I want to imagine a response to exclusion that sounds like a welcome and while I do not know yet how to fully live that, it is important for me to try.
"We are always at fault of exclusion especially when it is done in resistance to a previous exclusion. Some denominations exclude women from church leadership positions and it would be understandable (perhaps even wise at times) to take a stance against them. However, if I do not make room for this voice in my conversations and posture, if I do not turn my stance towards rather than against, I am also cultivating exclusion. 
And I would suggest, perhaps I am at a greater fault than the original offender for I know the harm I cause."
 And This: My Finals Face. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Pen Testing In Progress

I thought I was unique in my desire to have specific writing utensils. Turns out, graduate school brings all the geeks out.  In the last month, I have had more conversations around what types of pens we prefer and why than I have about Jesus...Well, that might be a bit of an exaggeration but you get my point.  I am currently in testing phase trying out some newly recommended pens from a trusted pen-aficionado professor at The Seattle School, Pat Loughery.  His blog is much more useful and thoughtful than mine so be sure to check it out.  He also has another called WayofLife::Online that helps shed light on our intentionality: be it in faith, relationships, and more.  You will actually learn something from him, unlike here where your best bet for learning is to just log off!

Anyways, back to the lesser story:

Historically, I prefer the moleskine brand fine point pen that writes beautifully; it doesn't blot or puddle, and clips on quite well to a journal (pen on far left in photo).  For homework and notes, my default pen of choice since 2001 is a Pilot G2 .07.  With heavier ink flow, it's great for bold writing and doodles alike (far right in photo).

Enter two new pens- Tul Retractable Gel Medium point pen (second from left) and the Tul Medium ballpoint (second from right).  I must say, the ballpoint one is surprisingly handy to journal with.  It doesn't blot or leak through the pages and glides smooth on the paper.  The retractable gel pen is heavier than I like to use in my moleskine but very comparable to the Pilot G2 .07.  I like them both.  Pat suggested a fine point as his moleskine pen of choice. I couldn't find it at the store yesterday so the quest continues.

Another nugget to ponder-does your penmanship change with your writing utensils? With your mood? At different times of the day? After caffeine? Before eating? Start to take notice. Is your penmanship always consistent regardless of these factors.  As I've been journaling more, I notice subtle and some not so subtle differences.  With technology and typeface becoming the norm for communication, penmanship is becoming a lost art. Little girls don't practice writing their future husbands last names and no one dares pass an archaic note in class either.

So today, break the rules. Write a note by hand. Hell, deliver it by hand. Even better!  And please, if you have a favorite pen, do share.  Good pens are too few and far between to keep to yourself, asshole. I would really love it if pens just started showing up in the mail for me to try! :)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Meet Sophers.

This is Sophie.  She is an almost 1 year old (She'll be 1 in 4 days. There may or may not be a party).  I named her Sophie knowing that the names means wisdom or wise one. This was my futile attempt in trying to have a smart dog. Now, Sophie is smart in the sense that she will do tricks, follow most commands, and sneaky as hell.  But she just isn't very street smart. She'd never make it in Mexico. Her favorite activities include running around the church yard, going on walks in the harbor, eating the church pew in my living room, eating actual food, pooping (way too much), and sneaking lone socks out of my laundry baskets.  This last activity is my pet peeve...not because it does the most damage but because to have mismatched socks is a tragedy of great proportions for the modern day human.

Yet in her annoyance, she is also a wonderful dog.  She knows when you are sad.  She'll hop in your lap (all 70lbs of her) or snuggle up close and sniff your tears (probably because she wants to lick them more than anything).  She is never low on excitement, weird noises, and funny faces.  The photo here is when I woke her up from a mid-day nap and she looked drugged.  She is in the best mood in the morning when I first turn on the lights. She puts her chin on the edge of my bed until I get up to let her out. As a single person that is living in a new and different place, to have Sophie is a God-send.  Maybe that sounds sad or pathetic to you, but having someone or something to come home to feels nice, even if it is "just" a dog. :)

You're welcome to play with her anytime. She hasn't met a person (or dog) yet that she doesn't like!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Red Light Rear View

So funny thing here.  I think motorcycles are cool and pretty awesome looking (even though I've never actually been able to ride one) but I strongly urge those who ride to also be fans of clothing that fits properly and doesn't blow, sag, dip, or scoot. 

It's like iSpy. Find all the wardrobe malfunctions.