Here and There

Sunday, April 22, 2018

A Poem for the Earth, because I love her.

Mama Nature

Sometimes she catches fire
And it doesn’t matter what burns.
Sometimes it’s lightning, but mostly it’s not her fault.
Sometimes she wears a hurricane like a fascinator.
Her eye is its center, calm and silent.
Lace, tulle, feathers, siding, cement piers, branches and
Her gaze, her hold.

Sometimes she erupts from within.
It isn’t something we can handle, to see what she holds inside.
We run, cower and are covered over while she cools.
Sometimes she shakes, grinding teeth, shuffling the cards of her layers.

The tide pull, the daily turn, and the yearly turn, too.
Her movements through space, beyond imagination.
A mother’s love life.

We can’t know her or see her for who she is.
We can’t even find our place on her surface properly.
We ruin, we find dominion.

She, herself, a drop of life on a web we can’t fathom. A vast home ranging far above our thought, ranging past our extinction.

What’s that they say, “To know her is to love her”?

Or maybe “Have mercy on me a sinner”.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Braiding Sweetgrass

This book was somehow life-changing and affirming at the exact same moment. It made me remember parts of myself and ways of being that I've always had and also opened up knowledge, stories and insights that showed me new ways of knowing the world. It is beautiful and super interesting. 

Hard question: Are you reading only white male writers? Way back when, graduating from an English BA program that the default setting was white, male and Eurocentric, I had to make finding more voices and more perspectives a priority in my reading. In the last few years I've tried to make sure my reading lists are more diverse than my college days. This book reminded me that I have a long way to go in learning and listening.  Thank God.

I have savored this book, reading essays like daily devotionals. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to you.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Faces of Easter Week 5

"When Jesus came close to people they changed. They could do things they couldn't do before; they could see things they couldn't see before, they became well." --Faces of Easter, Jesus as Healer and Parable-Maker

Yesterday, Peter and I were talking about Jesus, who he was and how we understand him to be. As I've read these stories my whole life, my understanding of Jesus as Healer and Parable-Maker has become more expansive, stretching beyond the man that physically touched a blind man, like this, to the part of God that connects with people.

I don't know if this is wrong or right. I know I've been thinking about an undomesticated Jesus who doesn't read the Bible and act it out, but rather is the space of air between all living things providing connection between them and the Divine. So in this story when I think about Jesus' work, I am thinking about his all-time work, even though I know this story is really about that short window of time on the time-line of history.

Stretching the imagination with Jesus, especially Jesus as parable-maker, can make me feel dull, like I just don't get it most of the time. But sometimes I get a flash of understanding.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Faces of Easter Week 4

Jesus in the Wilderness. My meditation from this script this week is "To be a real human being, you need more than food." Which is the Godly Play translation of "Man cannot live by bread alone."

The image of Jesus in this plaque makes me think of his holiness, the whole background being gold, and his weariness, his eyes seem to show a little of the hunger and loneliness of this experience.

You'd think it was his divinity that prevented him from turning the rock into bread, but when he resists, he is calling upon his humanity, acknowledging that something more than food gives him his being.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Faces of Easter Week Three

This week's story is about Jesus' baptism in the Jordan. For the past few years, I've poised myself here at this story looking behind and before this moment with true significance. It's a hinge, opening the door to Jesus' public ministry, which is really also opening the door to Jesus, God and people experiencing an intense, beautiful relationship for these few months. This intensity kind of unfolds in the story itself, and the pace of the Godly Play story feels a sign of the ways people will see God in Jesus.

First, John names Jesus as the Messiah, there in the middle river, in front of everyone.

But that's not all, "There were people there that day who saw a dove coming down from heaven and coming near Jesus."

But that's not all, "There were also people there that day who heard a voice from heaven saying, 'This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased.'"

But that's not all, then he walks away.

This unfolding in the story feels particularly careful because the phrases, "There were people there that day who saw..." and "There were people there that day who heard..." gives the feeling of eyewitnesses, of people glimpsing God. It feels even more mysterious as a narrative told this way, and it gives all these moments of revelation, maybe you only saw one or heard one but it all comes together to make a very rich picture of God's presence. Hear John, see Jesus go down and see Jesus come up. See the dove flutter down, Hear the voice from heaven. It feels like there is no distance from God and people. He'll show them any way he can, I'm here, I've always been here. I speak, I'm always speaking. Here in the river, I am always here. Here in the dove, here in the voices of your family and friends. Here in the "darkness and chaos of the water" and then also in the light. Somehow in Jesus, it coalesces. And then he departs, but something of the knowing remains.

Friday, March 02, 2018

Faces of Easter Week Two

"Didn't you know I would be in my Father's house?" Jesus asks his parents in this story. "Lost and Found" is one of the titles of Week 2's Faces of Easter story, which describes one of Jesus' visits to Jerusalem with his family and then his disappearance (for  3 days!). His parents were frantic until they found him in the temple, talking with the priests and rabbis. "Who were listening to him because he knew so much and he was listening to them because he wanted to learn more."

The idea of Jesus knowing who he was even as a baby is brought even further here. Now a boy of age, 12, he has lived a babyhood and a childhood aware of his divinity. Mary and Joseph also know Jesus' identity as the son of God, but somehow they didn't seem aware that he would be living into that identity as a child. Maybe they thought it was latent, his God-self waiting for his adult ministry to kick in. Maybe they thought he couldn't handle exploring that part of himself, because the kid-part was somehow more powerful.  I don't know. But here he is a fully God/fully 12 year old boy person.

The Faces of Easter stories are always exploring this idea of Jesus knowing who he is, finding out more of who he is and then being who is really is. This is a model for human beings. We need to know who we are and then live who we are. This is less about choices or calling. This is about integrity to our individual person-hood. In this story, I see Jesus learning more and living out who he really is. And I wonder about his disappearance. Some cruel necessity there, somehow it's a part of his stepping more into his identity. Could this experience be a memory to comfort his parents when he is crucified? Gone for 3 days, but safe in his Father's house?

I tell you sometimes the Bible is like a blanket in a pile on the floor. A pattern I can't totally see, parts touching from opposite ends of the fabric.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Faces of Easter Week One

Faces of Easter Week One

"When the baby looked up into the face of the Mother Mary, he could already see the cross there."

I've told this story many times, and when I say those words I trace the lines across the forehead and then down the nose, long, smooth sweeps of the finger. And the smaller children are captivated by the idea. The older children not as much. They already kind of take it for granted. But the younger children marvel about what that could mean. How it could be true. They draw pictures with the crosses on the faces. They bring popsicle sticks and arrange them in crosses over the faces on the plaques sitting on the rug.

This past week, this was the conversation:

H: I want to ask about the cross in her face.
Me: Mmhm. What are you wondering?
H: Is it really there?
Me: Let's look at the picture. Is it really there?
H: No.
Me: But somehow Jesus knew something about it even when he was a baby. Maybe that's what the story is trying to say.

I could have wondered longer about this with the children. But it will come up again next week. It was a large group of children and I am just getting to know them, so I am treading lightly with the wondering.

Is Lent about learning more about how Jesus sees us? More about how to see each other because of how Jesus sees us? I am thinking about the crosses on our faces on Ash Wednesday. The cross on the face of the grieving woman at the school shooting in Florida. She didn't need to have the ash cross. She knew the problem about being mortal.

Can we see the cross in each other's faces? Can we see the cross in Jesus' face?