The Mystery Remains


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Once again, I am overwhelmed by your response to a post about my journey with my mom. It never ceases to amaze me how great an epidemic this is in our land, how many people are walking this hard, painful road through the death-by-inches and loss of self that is dementia. Thank you for your kind words and your stories — they mean the world to me, and to everyone who reads through that long comment thread.

This week has been one of gradual healing, slowly regained mobility and living right smack dab in the middle of deep wells of gratitude. I’ve spelled out a few reasons why in today’s newsletter (you can subscribe at the bottom of this post if you’d like), but I will just say here that the human body is both fragile and miraculously resilient and I am celebrating the gift of my own body in ways I never have before.

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I have abused this vessel for many years, in many ways: too many calories, too little exercise, too much stress. Slowly, slowly, I am learning to appreciate how very well it has served me over my life and I am living more fully in it than ever before. That is no small gift for a little girl who hated her height/skin/hair/self and always felt awkward and clumsy. 

The bruises from my time with mom on Mother’s Day are healing as well. I dropped off some supplies two days later and as she saw me, her eyes welled with tears and she said, with great hesitation,”Are you still mad at me?”

I almost wept again.

Somewhere in the confusing tunnels of her brain, she knows that she has upset me. And she is sorry for it.

I am sorry, too.

A trusted friend and counselor said to me this morning, “You know, Diana, your letting go of that Coumadin is a strong metaphor for the way in which you must let go of everything else that makes you bleed.”

Everything else that makes me bleed.

Well, wow.

Exactly.

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I must continue to learn how to let go of these old wounds, to offer them to my Savior as a means of grace, to say ‘thank you’ for the good gifts first and forever, to release my mother’s ultimate care and safety to Another.

I am not now, never have been, and never can be responsible for her health and happiness. That is the lie that she and I have believed for far too long and it must be jettisoned. It must be.

We cannot, any of us, be ‘the answer’ for another human person. It is not possible, nor is it desirable. We can be instruments for healing, we can be companions on the way, we can laugh and cry and worry and wonder with one another. But we cannot, we must not, we dare not ever try to fix one another.

We don’t have that power. Thank God.

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There is only one source of Healing in this universe, and it pours out on us all day after day, in mess after mess, through trial after trial. It shows up in medicine, psychology, friendship, good marriages, good parenting, healthy politics (is there such a thing?). But the Source is the same. Everything  that is good and right in this universe comes from God alone.

Not me.

Not you.

Through me, hopefully, yes. And through you, too.

But we do not have to generate it, invent it, or even package it. We simply have to allow it. That is all. 

So I am learning again to say, “YES.” With as much of me as I now know, I say, “Yes.” 

And I say, “Thank you.”

Becoming the Right Size — SheLoves

This is quite possibly the most vulnerable and personal post I have ever written. It was time to tackle this very large piece of who I am (pun intended). You can begin the post here and then please follow the link to finish it over at SheLoves today:

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Sometime in the early 1980s

I have jokingly said that I’ve never been small in my life. Trouble is, I am only half-joking. I am a large person — always have been, always will be. I have baby pictures with my closest cousin during our first year — and believe me when I tell you this — I am gargantuan compared to this lovely, tiny peanut of a babe who grew up to be one of my favorite people in the universe. That picture was frequently taken out at family gatherings, everyone always marveling at the giant child in their midst.

Until the boys began to have hormones moving through their systems at about age 14 or so, I was also the tallest in my class. Always. I was awkward, uncoordinated, had difficult skin issues and stick straight hair that my mother was incessantly trying to curl with permanent wave solution. And no, it did not work.

I was also loud, sometimes quite bossy and usually anxious about something. Not the best combo in the world for developing a sturdy psyche or nurturing a strong sense of self. All these things made me feel overwhelmingly large in any social situation — on the edge, insecure, impossible to hide. And somewhere inside myself, I decided that I might as well BE big, the biggest of them all.

So I worked hard. I studied, got great grades, learned a lot of different things, developed the cooperation gene to the fullest extent possible, and tried to ‘blend in.’ I did what was expected of me, trying not to stir up the dust as I worked.

I did this for a very long time – decades, in fact. I was the quintessential ‘big girl,’ absorbing everyone’s expectations, grief, neuroses, demands, anger, neediness. And somewhere along the way — about the time I started to have babies — I became a really, REALLY large woman. I enveloped myself in a layer of extra pounds that fluctuated from time to time, but always managed to keep me safe, well-padded and sturdy in the midst of whatever turmoil might be raging around me.

I remember successfully losing about 60 pounds one year and going for a dip in the pool at a friend’s house. She turned to me with a surprised look on her face and said, “Wow, Diana, you’re actually quite a small person, aren’t you?”

Can you guess how fast those pounds came right back on? Small? ME? No way. Everything in me was repulsed at the thought, and shocked to think she might be right.

I could not be small, you see. I could not. I did not know myself as a small person. How would I possibly manage all the pain I carried if I were small?

So I made sure I was big enough to shoulder the load.

Please click here to continue the conversation over at SheLoves . . .

Slowly, but Surely . . . and My Word for the Year

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Already, this has been an interesting year, marked by events both painful and rich. 

And it’s barely three weeks old.

A dear friend is facing into a difficult cancer diagnosis — for the third time. A young father I love just endured surgical removal of a cancerous body part, prognosis very hopeful. . . but still, difficult and frightening. Another friend discovered some challenging news about her unborn child. My mom forgot where she lived the last time I took her back to her room. And I am swiftly approaching a milestone birthday. 

On the brighter side, we have these tidbits: A grandson is off to Budapest for a semester. BUDAPEST! We have a great family vacation coming in July. I am walking, gradually building up strength and endurance, and managing about 1.5 miles every other day. This after six months of either NOT walking at all or moving very slowly and carefully everywhere I went. Also? I am swiftly approaching a milestone birthday. (Some things are both painful AND rich in this life.)

And so we inch along, moving from shadow to light, putting one foot in front of the other, one day at a time.

Life is like that, isn’t it? A crazy quilt of the hard and the lovely, all of it forming us, shaping us, sifting us. And it’s that sifting part that we resist, not at all sure we want to release the things that need releasing, to let that chaff be winnowed out and blown to the wind.

I’m wrestling with a few small personality issues in my life these days, letting my feelings get hurt too easily and worrying excessively about the underlying agendas at work in some of the smaller groups I belong to. I spend way too much time wondering what I should say, how I should intervene to insure that everything turns out the way I’d like it to turn out.

But here’s the truth of it: it’s not up to me, is it?

This much I know: I am asked to reflect the Savior I serve wherever I am and whomever I find there. And in each and every situation, to trust that ultimately, ‘all things will work together for good,’ that God knows what God is doing, and as long as I enter each tender place with my heart in the right space, nothing further is asked.

But I gotta tell you — for a control freak, like me? Someone who has long believed that competency, clarity and harmony trump just about anything? Yeah, well. Sometimes, it’s hard to let go, to trust that things will work out just fine, even without my intervention and/or feeble attempts at manipulation. It’s tough to keep my mouth shut when it needs to be shut and to speak when I need to speak and leave it at that.

I am a slow learner, it seems, because these are lessons I have to keep learning over and over again. This letting go stuff requires a daily — sometimes hourly — response in my spirit. Will I cease and desist from obsession, over-worry, hyper-sensitivity? Will I breathe in and out, and with each inflation and deflation, make space for the Spirit to rule? Ah, yes. THAT is the question.

So when I asked for a word for 2015, it took a while for me to hear it.

Last year’s word was obedience,  and that proved to be a tough one for me on many levels, perhaps beginning with the very physical act of relinquishment required for that foot surgery mid-year and the long recovery that followed. But there were other areas of life where I watched God do God’s thing in me, asking me again and again, “So . . . is you in or is you out??”

So in the midst of all of this, the word that came to me for 2015 was a strange one, at least to my ears. I like it, but I’m not quite sure what to make of it, and I haven’t a clue what to expect because of it.

So you wanna hear it? Here goes . . .

S T R E T C H

After a year like the last one, that particular word felt wonderful, to tell you the truth. Yes, yes, yes! I want to stretch myself, to reach out physically, to walk more and with greater confidence. To take more trips, see more of this grand world, enjoy these years of retirement and relative good health. Goody, goody!

And then I began to remember that stretching, as great as it as, as good for me as it is, can sometimes hurt. Sometimes it’s difficult to reach for something just beyond your grasp. And God has this way of pushing against the very places in me that are resistant, that curl up in a ball and hide away from the light, that whisper self-protection, isolation, and fear. 

Maybe I’m going to be asked to stretch in ways that are scary, to step outside my very familiar comfort zone and do some things that I’m afraid to do. 

Am I willing?

I want to be . . . I think. 

Interestingly, the very first way in which I think I’ve been asked to stretch is to take a step back, to unsubscribe from a long list of blogs that I’ve read for the last 4-5 years. Not because I no longer wish to read what I find there, but because I sense I’m being asked to simplify, to pare down.

Why?

Because I am being ever-so-gently-but-ever-so-firmly pushed to tackle some things that are (to me, at least) big projects. These are major challenges to me, they are the Large Overwhelming Anxiety-Producing Things. And in order to stretch into those areas, there has to be some give in my schedule, and in my spirit. 

I promise to keep you posted as the year progresses. Should be interesting, right? Let me know your word for 2015, if you have one, and tell me what you think it means now, as the year is new. Maybe we can check in again at mid-year and in December and see what we’ve learned. What do you think?

Linking this with Bonnie, the FaithBarista 

We Are What We Do — SheLoves

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m over at SheLoves today, with a small story celebrating how well my parents did marriage. You can begin the piece here and then just click here to read the rest . . . .
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All my life, my parents lived out what it means to be married well. Each of them came from homes that were dysfunctional in different ways and they worked hard to create a life that made space for one another, and for each of their three children. They provided room to grow and flourish, to laugh and cry, to ask questions and to live without finding all the answers, a space in which to live out the faith that brought them together and kept them together.

They were, however, very different people. My mother was (and is, even in her increasing confusion) highly social, quick to speak, and emotionally more volatile. Dad was quiet, almost to the point of shyness, very slow to speak and he usually kept his emotions to himself So, of course, they adored each other! And they brought out the best in one another, too. Most of the time.

No marriage is perfect and theirs certainly was not. But they worked at it, with a deep sense of commitment and a daily decision to hang in there, even when things got difficult. I will be forever grateful that theirs was the home into which I was born and that theirs was the marriage I got to see up-close-and-personal during the twenty years I lived with them.

I don’t use words like ‘devotion’ very often. Something about it feels old-fashioned, maybe? But as I think back on their 63 years together, that is the word that rises to the top: they were devoted to one another. In many ways, I think they saved one another. I know my father felt that way about my mom’s vivacity, her beautiful laugh and her sharp sense of humor. And my mother was astounded by dad’s deep intelligence, his musical skills and his genuine kindness. Somehow, they filled the holes in one another’s personality and together, they built something beautiful.

My father has been gone for almost ten years now, and when she remembers that she was married, my mother misses him very much. In fact, I would say that she never quite got over his death.

The last three years of dad’s life were difficult, and as he spiraled downhill from Parkinson’s disease and chronic atherosclerosis, I watched as my mother tenderly cared for him. Yes, she was impatient at times and she was exhausted most of the time. But she completely embraced her role as caregiver, helping dad to bathe, change clothes, eat. It was both painful and beautiful to watch.

They lived about three hours away from us during those years and I drove down as often as I could to visit. Ten days before he died, my father had to be taken to the nursing facility at their retirement community and I stopped by to see him on the way home from a pastor’s conference. If there is one thing making pastoral calls helps to teach you, it is what death looks like. When I walked in that door, I knew he was not long for this earth. . .

Please join the conversation over at SheLoves today . . . 

31 Days of Looking for the Little: Remembering

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As this 31-Day Challenge draws to its close, it seems fitting to go back to where we began: with a picture of my littlest grandgirl’s shoes.
They’re not resting on our warm wooden floors in this shot. Instead, they’re sitting on the concrete deck of the swimming pool at the condo we rented on Maui. You can see some mud stains from all the rain puddles left over from tropical storm/hurricane Ana, which almost truncated our trip before it began. 
I remember when that original photo triggered the idea for this entire series, and when I do, I am grateful for the inspiration, and even more, for the process of writing each of these small pieces. I cannot remember a time when I’ve had more fun blogging than I have this past month.
It’s a really good thing to remember, isn’t it? Scripture admonishes us to do that very thing — over and over again. To recount our story, to tell it to our children and our grandchildren.
And it’s that idea which is behind the Ignatian practice of examen, a daily discipline that has been adapted in all kinds of ways by all kinds of people in the last few centuries.
Because of the particular journey I’ve been on the last few months, my nightly version is short and sweet. As I drift off to sleep, I call to mind every blessing of the day just past, beginning with small things and moving through to the bigger ones — like my husband and my family and my faith. 
It’s just a small thing, this nightly remembering, but it has been the single biggest part of my own recovery, both physically and emotionally. Spending those few minutes being grateful has done more to restore health and sanity than any other single thing I’ve done. 
And it starts with remembering . . .
Just Wondering

Doing the Work

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Life is such an interesting, beautiful, terrible mix, textured and rich, sometimes overwhelming and difficult, but laced with grace and beauty, often in surprising ways.

I wrote a back-to-school blessing for my husband last week, and he is back at it full-tilt, bringing treasures to share, stories to tell, strong arms to push swings and build forts.

This morning, he brought this beautiful nest, discovered in a plant hanging outside our window. It held two lovely small eggs within, abandoned by their parents. For some reason, this loveliness was a powerful reminder to me that sometimes life doesn’t happen the way we plan or hope or imagine. Sometimes the eggs never hatch, no matter how beautiful they look.

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It’s been a week of gray days mixed with sunshine, extreme fatigue tossed together with energy spurts. I drove my car for the first time in three long months last week — and the adrenaline high from that joyous event carried me through two overly busy days that led to a crash-and-burn I’m still recovering from.

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The next day brought a sobering morning when my mood matched this sky. But the following day, there was a delightfully delicious morning celebrating this blond child, the one who now has her Poppy for a teacher two mornings each week.

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The pre-school hosts a Grandparents’ Tea the first week of school, so I hung out with Lilly for about 90 minutes, watching her agile body climb every piece of equipment in the play yard,

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enjoying her creation of an abstract water color delight, listening to “I’m a Little Teapot,” with miss Lil being the tallest student in the center of the back row of the ‘choir.’ We finished the morning by stringing colorful beads on yarn and then giving each other our creations. (We’re wearing them in that first picture.)

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The entire week felt a bit like this bowl of brightly colored beads — a mixture of bright and dark, shiny and plain, loud colors and quiet ones.

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The mixed-up-ness continued into Sunday, where the text for the day was one of my least favorites anywhere in the New Testament, Matthew 18’s admonition to deal well with conflict in the body. This is a text that has been sadly abused and misused, but it’s also a text that we need to ponder.

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It’s a tough thing, this conflict business. Often easier to avoid or ignore it than to face right into it and try and bring resolution, even reconciliation. There are those days when we feel like a broken pot or a string of barbed wire, and conflicts inevitably arise when one sharp edge meets another. It is never ‘fun.’

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Everything in me resists this topic — which generally means, pay attention, kiddo! — so I did.

I paid attention to the entire morning — the music, complete with a kids’ rhythm band, the prayer, even the announcements!

Fall marks a definite up-tick in events, programs, small group opportunities. The slower summer is good for all of us, but it’s always energizing to see the college students return, to welcome families home from vacation and to enjoy more opportunities to be together outside of Sunday morning.

Every section of the service served to underscore the wonderful/terrible truth that we do this work, this Jesus-following work, together. That’s the way it’s meant to be. When we say ‘yes’ to Jesus, we are invited into community life. And that means there will be wonderful and terrible things ahead. For all of us.

Why? Because we’re human, that’s why. And conflict is inevitable — just take a casual look at the New Testament and it becomes crystal clear that church struggle is nothing new — it’s built into the whole idea. And done well, it can nourish and replenish and bolster the ways we belong to one another.

That text I try to avoid? Well, it turned out to be the perfect one to dive into as this busier season moves into high gear.

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I was grateful that it happened to land on Communion Sunday in the lectionary rotation. That table that we share is all about togetherness, isn’t it? Unless we’re housebound and ill, we are meant to partake of the Lord’s Supper with the community, not by ourselves. And passing the bread, the cup? Offering the words? It’s tough to do that if you’re harboring bitterness or anger.

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Jesus tells us clearly that if we’re upset with someone else in the community, we need to deal with it. Directly.

We are not invited to tell others how p.o.’d we are, and we are not instructed to get someone else to make things right between us, at least not initially.

We are told to work it out between us. To talk, discuss, apologize as needed, and to forgive. If we can’t manage it privately, then we invite an elder or two to come along and help us. And if that doesn’t work, then the entire leadership team is made aware of the difficulty. And then? Well, this has always been the sticking point for me.

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Then. . . we’re to treat them as ‘pagans.’ I have always felt like that was an extreme and unexpected thing for Jesus to say! Until Pastor Don helped me remember that Jesus treated the pagans with a lot of loving attention and grace!

Tax collectors? Women? Adulterers? People on the edges? 

They all were offered grace. GRACE.

Those who continue to hold a grudge of some kind may choose to disassociate with the community. But if they do, they are still loved, still welcomed back whenever they are able to return, and held before God with tenderness and concern.

We welcomed new members on Sunday, as well — another piece of sweet timing. And the elders laid hands on them all, as the entire congregation affirmed our desire to support and encourage each one. A rich morning, reminding me of the mixed-up-ness of life together and calling me to do the work, to welcome others, to seek reconciliation wherever and whenever possible.

Streaming out into the warm sunshine after the service felt good and refreshing. And as the afternoon sun began to set, we came back and enjoyed a magnificent block party to kick off the new year. Bounce houses, taco truck, badminton, face-painting for the kids and a fun photo booth. 

This is life, and we are woven together as we live it together. Sometimes the work of weaving is painstaking. And sometimes it is glorious and exhilarating and fun.  ALL of it is good.

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Joining this with Laura Boggess’s Playdates with God, Jen Ferguson’s SoliDeo Sisterhood, and Jen Lee’s Tell Your Story – so grateful for these friends along the way.

Doing the Work – for SheLoves

It is always a joy to contribute a monthly essay to SheLoves magazine, one of the most welcoming places on the internet. This month, I was asked to bring something a little bit different – to write about spiritual direction as a part of a special week on mentoring ministries. Please follow me over there to read the entire piece. 

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They sit in the red leather chair. Or they’re across the country, taking to me by Skype. Either way, I sit in my small study, settle deep into my hand-made, craftsman-style armchair, a lit candle by my side, my spirit ready, waiting.

They come to be heard, to be seen in ways that are welcoming and formational. I come to learn, to listen, to pray. And what we find is a kind of newness, a refreshing reminder of God’s presence and an ever-increasing willingness to do this good work. Together.

Spiritual direction is what it’s called. Companionship-on-the-way is what it is. Long a practice of the ancient church, surfacing in the 20th century in broader and wider corners of Christendom, this partnering together is holy ground, a sacred place where one person, trained in a variety of disciplines, prayerfully listens to the life of another, asking gentle questions, pulling out threads, weaving them together into a new idea, a new question, a glimpse of what the Spirit is doing.

I am relatively new to the whole idea of direction. I first began to hear and read about it in the late 1980s. I learned that direction is not therapy, though it incorporates many ideas and even techniques from that discipline. It is also not pastoral counseling, something I did quite a lot of during the seventeen years that I was a pastor. It is its own unique animal, a thing not quite like any other, a process that is hard to describe, difficult to encapsulate.

I began direction for the first time when I moved to Santa Barbara in the late 1990s and continued with it for three years. I took a break from that process for a while and then, about ten years ago, a new boss suggested I look into pursuing certification as a director myself, and a seed was planted, deep in my spirit.

 So come on over and join the conversation, okay? Just click on this line . . .

Gettin’ on That Mat — A Deeper Story

It’s time for my monthly contribution over at A Deeper Story today. The editors chose to put this on the family channel – see what you think.

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Matthew’s gospel has him showing up by the lakeside. Mark and Luke talk about an overcrowded house and the removal of roof tiles to get the guy into the same airspace as the Rabbi. And all three of these gospels talk about the friends, the ones who cared about the paralyzed man.

His friends.

The ones who carried him when he couldn’t walk anywhere under his own steam. The ones who laid him carefully on that mat, who got inventive when access seemed to be denied, who believed in his healing for him.

His friends.

Surely one of the most beautiful of words in the history of the English language: friends. For most of my life, I’ve been gifted with some great ones. People who have met me in the middle of the pain, in the squishiness of the mess, and in the moments of joy and silliness, too. Sisters, and a few brothers here and there, who have walked life with me — the dailyness of it all, the twists and turns, the routine and the unexpected, the predictable and the not so much.

People who know me, who get me, who hold me accountable, who call me on my crap, who encourage me when I’m down, who shoot holes in any hot air balloon that may be surrounding my head at any given moment in time. People who love me, all of me: the too-muchness of me, the outloudness of me, the bossiness of me, the loud laughter of me, the realness of me.

There have been times when the faith of my friends has carried me through some scary, dark times. When the prayers of others have had to be all the prayin’ there is, because I ain’t havin’ none of it. When the kindness of my friends has saved me from myself, from the hurtful remarks of not-friends, from the pain that comes along with the option of living here on the planet.

I’m not at all sure why this is true, but sometimes trouble comes in batches, when painful situations pile up like a rugby scrum, and hope has a tough time finding its way into the center of the throng. It is those times when the truest friends miraculously show up, when they gather round, bring in a meal, send a care package, make a phone call, drop an email or a FB message. . . 

Please join me over at A Deeper Story to read the rest of this piece.

Offering Welcome . . . Starting with Me

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The wisdom of illness for me always seems to come with the slowing down and staying present. I don’t believe these experiences come to teach us “lessons” as if God were some great schoolmarm in the sky. But out of our radical vulnerability arises an invitation to ever greater gentleness, to tenderness to the needs of our bodies. This is inner hospitality at its most intimate.
– Christine Valters Paintner, Abbey of the Arts

I am struggling with the truth of these words in a profound way these days. “Inner hospitality” is something I say I believe. And most of the time, I truly mean it. It turns out, however, that I am a desperately slow learner, one who ‘knows’ things in her head long, LONG before I know them in my heart and in the rigors of day-to-day life.

I am impatient by nature, anxious to keep moving forward to whatever the goal of the moment may be, and I’m finding it extraordinarily difficult to be patient in the midst of this particular period of waiting. Most especially, it is difficult to be patient with me.

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We heard a sermon this morning that reminded us of our primary identity as followers of Jesus. Underneath every other label we might choose to slap on our personal lapel, this one is the truest, the dearest and the most important: I am a child of God.

I will say that I am feeling peculiarly childlike (or is it child-ish?) these days. I feel small, markedly helpless, dependent on the wisdom, strength and availability of others. 

And I do not like it at all. 

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And I find myself wondering — what does it mean to be a child? I mean, besides the relative helplessness and lack of control over the ‘big things’ in life, what does it mean? What did (does) it feel like? What can I learn from remembering/observing what a child’s life is like?

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Here are a few things that rise to the surface as I ponder. I believe these things to be true for most healthy children growing up in caring, relatively functional families, where physical and emotional needs are seen and met and safety and security are the norm. Such blessed children can often be described as:

emotionally open
accepting
unself-conscious 
curious
eager
joyful

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This is not to say they are perfect. Far from it — children are humans, too, and they can be as belligerent, obnoxious, difficult and moody as the rest of us. But, on balance, there are some truly lovely things that emerge in childhood that so often get hidden away as the maturation process sets in.

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As I spent this afternoon reflecting on the sermon and on my life at the moment, I began to search for a spirit of welcome in me, a spirit of welcome for the person I am right now, hobbled by injury and fatigue, more dependent on others than at any other point in my long life since about the age of three.

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How can I reclaim that central identity, name myself a loved child of God, and extend grace and true hospitality to the me I am right this minute?

I’ve spent my entire adult life being ‘big,’ both metaphorically and literally. It’s been important that I be seen as enough — good enough, strong enough, smart enough, acceptable enough, big enough. And I’ve worked hard to earn the respect, even the admiration, of others.

So what does it mean that right now, right this minute, I am ‘small?’ I am ‘less than?’ I am dis-abled?

In the midst of that reality, is it possible that I can reclaim and cherish, the identity of child? That I can embrace the littleness, learn to tolerate the dependency, and then move through this particular slough of despond?

Maybe I can start by studying these pictures. Scroll through them with me again, will you?

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Can I stand still in the light? Can I pay attention to the life that is happening around me? Can I rest on one foot and ready myself for the next adventure?

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Can I enjoy the transience of things, the creation of moments, just moments, of beauty and delight? Can I choose to make the ‘dishwater’ a source of interest and creativity, and leave the dirty dishes aside?

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Every day, can I go on a hunt for treasure, looking for beauty and nourishment in unexpected places? Can I resist the urge to make it a contest — with myself or anybody else! — and just look around and see what I can find?

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Can I make room for, even welcome, all the emotions that are rising to the surface at this time? The pensiveness, the worry, the hilarity, the joyful abandon, the silliness, the wonder?

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Can I re-learn how to be deliberate, to concentrate, to focus? Despite the fatigue of having to re-think every single thing I’m used to doing by rote, despite the lingering after-effects of anesthesia, despite the new demands that this season places upon both body and spirit?

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Can I give myself complete permission to take a break? To veg out, as needed, to pull away for a minute (or 30) and just rest? Not this enforced resting that is so much a part of the living of these days, but true rest — deliberate, well-chosen rest?

The very fact that I have found enough interior space to write this many words is a hopeful sign that maybe, just maybe, the answer to these queries is a quiet, but determined, ‘YES.’

As with so many things in this life, it’s a matter of waiting.

And seeing.

Shall we wait and see together?

 

It’s Not That Easy Being Weird — A Guest Post

One of the best books I’ve read this year is Michelle DeRusha’s beautiful, funny, and profound memoir called “Spiritual Misfit.” I’m honored to be guest-posting for her today, in her ongoing series about being a misfit. Here are the opening paragraphs of that essay . . .

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All my life, I’ve been the one who didn’t quite fit. No matter where I’ve landed in my own spiritual journey, I’ve managed to be the one who is different — quirky, opinionated, on the edge.

I was the kid who had the most memory work badges and sang alto in the kids’ choir at our first church. But I was also the kid who hid out in the caretaker’s apartment, playing with his baby and talking to his wife instead of socializing around the punch bowl with the rest of the 5th graders.

We moved to a new town and a new church when I was 12. The youth group was huge and I went to every thing that was offered.  I landed in the hard-working-leadership-tier, but never in the popular-kids-who-also-have-skills elite. And that was okay by me. I was tall and rangy and not terribly graceful. I was also physically fearful and lurking underneath my loud voice, an insecure, uncertain teenager.

I married young. It was a great decision for us, one that took us halfway around the world to live and work for two years. And I was really a misfit there. A southern California conservative looks nothing like a Pennsylvania holiness conservative and I found that out the hard way. Yet, somehow, we survived and even thrived in that beautiful place.

We had our kids early, and our grandkids even earlier. So for the last 40 years, we’ve been ahead of the curve by a long shot. And guess where that puts us now? Smack dab in the middle of just about everything. We find ourselves sandwiched between ailing parents, home-buying adult children, college-aged and pre-school grandkids.

We’ve found ourselves sandwiched between generations theologically, too — 

Please come on over to Michelle’s beautiful space to read the rest of this weirdness. . .

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