Let’s Talk Turkey

Millions of people will wake today either smelling or anticipating the smells of turkey and all the trimmings.  The anxious clanking of silverware will give way to laughter and discussion.  Plans for the inevitable practice of consumerism will take place as hefty papers are splayed across diningroom tables, nationwide.  Online quibbles and arguments of who wins the most brownie points for closing their doors on Thanksgiving will cause online traffic jams.  Others will lobby to begin the shopping as soon pumpkin pie has digested.  All of this will take place, somewhat unaware of life going on in other places and homes.

‘Tis the season, and today will mark the airwaves playing nothing but Christmas carols, the invasion of gaily colored red and green decorations will tantalize.   Giving, giving, giving….’tis the season.

Recently I listened as store after store came together to donate full meals for families.  What a wonderful gesture and thought.  What a wonderful moment for those who can receive it with gladness.  I wonder, however, about that donation.

A full meal, or even a frozen turkey, would be a welcome gift to some…I repeat, some people.  The intention under which these items are gifted are done so in the most well-meaning attitudes.  What about those who cannot or do not look at such a gift as a wonderful opportunity to gather, cook, eat, and enjoy.

Let’s look at the simplest of gestures.  The turkey, the trimmings, the anticipated tastes almost make most people’s mouths water.  Ah, most people?  I wonder if a reframe is needed here.  Who are those most people we are assuming accept this? Take the well-intentioned  meal; turkey.  Does one have the ability or the means to cook such a bird?  Do they know how to make such a meal, are the necessary utensils, pans, ovens, or stove tops there to aid them?   Do they have a home or a family to share such a feast?  Have we stopped to consider whether these basic items are in place before we collectively extend gracious gifts?

Have we stopped to consider the populations who comprise more and more of our neighborhoods?  Is turkey and all the dressings part of their tradition?  Do they like turkey?  What traditions does the family bring with them as they share stories at table?  What are those stories and what can we learn from them?

Now some will counter here and say, but they have stood in lines to receive these donations, who are we to question what is happening?  They purposely stood in those lines, they took what we had to offer.   That is wonderful!!!!  Are we looking at some of the blanket assumptions we may operate out of as holidays approach quicker each year.  Are we extending these gifts out of a true desire to care for our brothers and sisters who may need a helping hand?  Or, are we extending these items to help us feel as though we have done something for which we can be proud?  Do I clean out my closets and hand someone else the clothes I am planning to get rid of anyway because my heart yearns to do so?   Do I do this because I truly want to come along another, grab them by the hand, listen to their story, and journey with them?  Is it easier for me to give an object or write a check, rather than climb in the muck of real life with another?  Is it easier to stay disengaged and protect my emotions and possessions?

It hurts to think of that.  It bothers me to reflect on how many times I have “given” someone something, not because I wanted to help, but because it would make me feel good and like I had done the “right thing”?  I don’t want to admit that I feel better giving away my cast-off clothes to someone I assume wants them…Did they ask for my clothes?  Did we have a jolly time cleaning out my  closets, giggling about inane fashions better left to history?   Do I really know them well enough to understand who they are, what they like, and do they have any ownership of what they have received?  Ownership, that is a new and somewhat uncomfortable concept.

Does that mean that people want to have a say in what they receive or how it is given?  That does not necessarily sit well.  I want to give, I want people to receive.  The problem there is that the focus is on what I want.  I have it to give, what else would you have me do?  I cannot answer that. there is no easy solution.  As lines for aid and assistance grow longer and longer, as commercials cry for an end to hunger and poverty, what is the solution?

Maybe, rather than looking at a solution to the whole problem, we need to reframe that too.  Why is it occurring?  Why are the lines down the sidewalk, across the road, and the donations dispersed in less than an hour?  Is this helping?  Is there a time when Helping Hurts?   Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert challenged and continue to challenge my thought process in their book:  When Helping Hurts, how to alleviate poverty without hurting others and yourself”  Does that concept require a new way of looking at how I help others?  Is my aid doing more to keep people set in a particular situation because I need them to be there?  Do I need them to be there?  Do I really, unconsciously want and need them to be there for me to help?  Is that the healthiest way to approach my brothers and sisters?  Do I even know that I could hold such a philosophy?  If so, that does require that I do some serious thinking about my motives.

At the end of the day, that is quite a drumstick to tackle.  It is huge and somewhat messy to pick up and eat.  Do I even like the drumstick? Can I content myself with a safe portion of comfortable mashed potatoes and dressing?  Am I content with eating a portion of the feast which is before me, or will I consume that which I know is a known quantity?  Can I approach the questions at hand as an opportunity to expand the items on my plate?  Or, do I sigh with a happy smile believing what I see before me is the best and hassle free way of loving the people who cross my path?

I close in grateful contemplation of the freedom to wrestle with such issues and for those who hold me to these tough questions.  I ask not one question of others that I do not ask myself, and there is no comfortable answer.  My obligation is to love my neighbor as myself….in the best way that honors both of us.

blessings to you and yours,

cahl

Surreal

I have been thinking about death lately.  Now, don’t give me the eye roll and think, oh great, here we go.  Stay with me on this one as I brainstorm some ideas with which I am wrestling.

In the last year some pretty special people have either passed or are in the process of passing.  I am not sure why I cannot say with certainty that they died.  It feels almost like a sware word, or like on Harry Potter, the name which shall not be spoken.  I began thinking about my life, the fact that I recently turned another year and what that means.  I also thought about the process of transition from here to the next.

Now, I have taken my grief and bereavement classes and achieved the requirements for pastoral care and counseling.  They never really prepare a person to walk through that journey with another person.  So I thought about what it must be like.  The idea is daunting to say the least.  I mean, one minute you are there….doing whatever it is we are to do.  Then the next moment, what?  Is it like instantaneous?  Is it like the blink of an eye and then a transition occurs?  I don’t know.  I would venture to guess few, if anyone, can answer that question.

I think about those moments where an accident occurs and upon reaching the scene, and knowing there is nothing that can be done, what does that instant moment look like?  I believe there is a life and a destination when we leave this place and time.  I  do not believe that we are random or out of reach from a Creator who has a Divine plan.  I believe that something awaits each of us, something magnificent and unimaginable.  It is almost too much to consider.  In the situations where a long and painful illness occurs, is that last moment steeped in understanding and an absence of pain?  How does one know that this is IT?  How do we know that the transition is approaching, medical assessment aside?  Is there a definite sign?  Is the person passing accepting, much more so than those present?  What is their knowledge of that moment?  Is it resignation or a release?

All this thinking has me contemplating life as well.  In a surreal way I have, at times, come to a real understanding that I AM HERE.  I exist.  I have height, depth, movement, thought, and capability.  Not by mere coincidence I am here in this time and this place.  No one thinks the thoughts I have, the moment I have them. As individual as an eternity of snowflakes, so am I.  That is mind-blowing.    I have touch and an awareness of all my senses, I have not been created an animal, incapable of works, emotions, dreams, and actions.   I hurt, emotionally and physically, I walk, talk, interact, sleep, eat, drink, any number of menial tasks.  Are they really as menial and insignificant as many of us believe?  I think of those who are not able to perform the simplest of action or thought.  What does the world look like?

If I am as individual and un-reproducible as I believe, what is my obligation in this time and in this place? How does one embrace a life of lived fulfillment and not existence?  How is that possible?  If it is one steeped in existence, was that a moment in history missed?  Is my definition of a life lived exceptionally limited by my small world and after life knowledge?  To expand that would require?  Am I willing to jump into that mix and explore the necessity of our impact on one another and the world around us?  Am I willing to think of the legacy I choose to leave behind me, or am I content to remain quietly moving from place to place until the inevitable happens?

I don’t know, I pray this is not morose or depressing, but an invitation to thought and contemplation.  These are not questions with easy answers, nor are they ones that I can answer for anyone else.  As I rejoice in memories of those who have died (ouch) and those who are actively dying, I think also of the meaning of the here and now and what lies beyond what we see.

shalom,

cahl

 

You can Drive, 55!

Ok that title may eek my age just a bit, as do famous car scenes from Ferris Bueller and License to Drive….(always a sucker for the Corey Haim and Corey Feldman duo!)  The idea of certain rites of passage have come to mind lately as I continue to age.  Blame it on a bday up and coming, with 40 looming ahead next year, or maybe it is simply watching and observing that has me thinking.  At any rate, this idea of driving has me not in the passenger seat, nor back seat driving ( I always hated that!).  The topic brings me front and center, with seat belt on, ready to tackle the concept.

I remember when I was a kid and the idea of driving a car seemed so foreign to me.  I could not imagine someone getting in this beast of a car and traveling with effortless ease to a certain destination.  They made it look so easy.  I laugh because my parents and brothers would often remark that I could not even direct a push mower in a straight line, much less the rider lawn mower.  Although, in hindsight, my deficit did make for some interesting lawn patterns…   I watched and marveled at how adults and many young people handled this machine, one that appeared so daunting to me, with never so much as a thought.  I vowed I would never own one, never step behind the wheel, and certainly never  have the need for such vehicle.  I don’t know what I was thinking.

Most young people can begin driving at the tender age of 14, honestly pretty young, compared to many countries whose 14-year-old “rites” include celebrations in coming of age, naming ceremonies, vision quests, and the list continues.  While our brothers and sisters in foreign lands experience something which ties them closer to family and faith, we allow our teenagers an opportunity to escape those clutches we call family.  Hmmmm, maybe there is something in that?

I watch my 2 children, growing fast, hankering for independence, a chance to strike out more and more on their own.  While I welcome some “mom alone time”, I have to admit a certain lump in my throat as I watch them head out together to the pool.  One so happy on his bike, the other gladly aboard his scooter.  They know not the tears I choke back, watching them, realizing my “mommy” moments are rapidly flying.  Both have already commented how they cannot wait to get their own car, to be free.  Uh, not if I can help it.

So, I watch the teens around me and the way they handle this privilege.  Oddly, they do not look at it as a privilege, but a right or a rite, if you will.  Speeding down main street, music blaring, heads and body  parts hanging out the windows, they display none of the fear which I am sure their parents feel at times.  A burning desire to escape the bonds which they find repressing, the times away just hanging out grow longer and more frequent.  Escape from what, I wonder?

Are they escaping that childhood in favor of something more fun-more free?  How many adults would like to take them aside and tell them to embrace these moments as they are too fleeting.  Are they running from a home which has become unbearable for whatever reason?  In that, have we somehow lost the concept of family, allowing it to become something antiquated and unattainable?  Are they then escaping a house, in search of a community that embraces their individuality?

Maybe I am over-thinking this.  Maybe it is nothing more than an appropriate moment in our lives which must take place so the next generation is prepared to step up to the plate.  My gut tells me there is something more, though  I have to admit that when I began driving, I was terrified to make a mistake-right hand turns were a cinch, but the lefties threw me for a loop.  The interstate was a foreign land that promised too fast traffic and certain death.  The largest town from mine was about an hour away, with an expanse of streets and exits that was sure to confuse me.

I learned, we all do.  I gained confidence and this driving gig required as little thought as breathing.  Now I have to admit my disregard for many of the safety measures I once observed so carefully.  It was not until a couple of years ago when a friend mentioned to me, “put on your seat belt, I don’t want you hurt.”  Hmmm, I had never really thought about it, my safety and confidence in my own skills never motivated me to think that I would be anything other than safe while I was in a car.  After all, I had dodged ice storms, torrential rains, wind, and country roads more times than I could count.  What was the matter with traveling from here to there unstrapped.  Now clicking the buckle is a natural and I will not move an inch until my boys are safe.

I admit a bit sheepishly that with the constant of travel for me, I have become more than a little lax in what I do while driving.  There was a time I checked all mirrors, tuned the station, and double checked the windshield wiper before starting on my journey.  Alas, I now check my phone, watch for messages coming in, plug-in my Spotify- making sure that I have the right tunes for the 1/2 hour trip to my office.  I have been known to move the rear view mirror and apply my make up if running late.  Yes, I have even texted more times than I should admit and have used vocal text in lieu of typing messages.  I have taken this privilege for granted, never realizing the life altering impact my actions could have on someone else, much less me and my family.  Some may read this and admonish me for such behavior, they would be right in doing so—I am beginning to tailor my habits towards more consideration of others’ needs versus my own perceived ones.

Then I think of my parents.  They are getting on in years, in their 60’s and 70’s, respectively.   I remember the ease with which they traveled, keeping us safe, never anticipating anything befalling us.  It never did.  Now, there are activities my children have which my mother will not attend because it may put her on the road in the dark.  There is a part of me rankled at what I believe is an excuse to chill at home.  Then again, maybe it is a true fear, one that she would rather not express often, one that limits what she is able to do.  I watch my father, his apparent disregard for stop signs, speed limits, and those around him.  Maybe it is not disregard, but an inability to pay attention to that many stimuli at once.  This person, who I have watched juggle strenuous work for decades reveals a deficit that elicits laughter and mockery from family, yet also limits what he can do.  That privilege earned so long ago, which allowed them to escape, now wanes and entraps them once again.  Whoa, deep thought there.  The older my parents become, the less likely they will be to hop in the car and head out for no particular reason.  Interesting paradox, that as I come of my age, I crave moments when I am alone in the car, radio blaring, singing at the top of my lungs.  It is a stress reliever a source of decompression from work, home, or thought.  An escape from something I have allowed to become mundane?  Maybe.

These rites, seemingly unimportant in the moment, have more impact than we believe.  What if we treated this right with the reverent attitude that comes not of owning the newest wheels in town, but a moment of honor and responsibility?  Could it be a moment where our kiddos experience their own metaphorical vision quest?

Not having the next thought appear, I will put down the pen on this one.  Until the obsession to write strikes again,  I bid you be careful and watchful out there…

Shalom dear ones.

c.

 

all-Consuming

I awoke the other day to start reading a new book, felt the warm blanket around me, saw the dreary weather and promptly –fell back to sleep.  It was the kind of sleep where you are not really sure if you are sleeping because you can still hear what is happening around you, but eyelids are too heavy to open.  Reality meshes with REM and a psuedo understanding takes place.

As I untangled dream from reality, a phrase lodged itself into my mind.  “I am hungry.”  What?  I took a quick sip of my now cold coffee and turned that sentence over and over again.  “I am hungry.”  Is was clearly not a question, but a definite declaration.  Hungry, but for what?  Is it just a hunger for food, space, time?

I looked up the synonyms for Hunger–the list ranges from a hankering or craving, to a famished starvation, or a deep need, wish or passion.  Most closely related to food, the word hunger implies an absence of sustenance.  I clearly had eaten something that day, had consumed coffee- so my body was not in want of anything.  The statement would not let me go, it continued to gnaw at me.  I look around at all that I have:  2 loving and rambunctious boys,  health, a roof which keeps me and my family warm, a job that I do not consider a job-but a mission, 2 degrees twhehat have been earned with hard work and honor, friends that I love and that I call family, and a desire to do more and be more.  I asked a good friend today whether we can hunger for something without knowing what it is.  They replied that that is what advertising is for.  I wonder though, if we don’t know that something exists, do we yearn for that?  How do we know that we want it, or that it is missing?  Do we first have to see or experience what is missing before we know we hunger for it?  I really do not know.

I have spent most of the day mulling this over and I have come up empty handed.  I wonder if hunger looks and feels like that never-ending hole that we clamor to fill and we never do.  If that is true, then we all hunger.  I witnessed friends of mine recently posting about their vacations and time spent with their families. I read the post, dumbfounded.  How can someone want to go anywhere with their family on purpose?  That people would choose to get in a car or a plane to spend concentrated time with more members of their family for long periods of time astounds me.   I simply cannot understand how this takes place or how one plans such an event.  I do not know what it means to spend that kind of time with siblings and cousins and family.  I know I have seen parts of what it must look like, yet the fear of the unknown stops me cold.  How can I replicate something that I have not experienced and if I do, what if it fails miserably?  Rumor has it that behavior is perfectly normal.  Normal people plan trips together and spend time making memories.  Huh, who knew?  I didn’t, yet I have looked at pictures that others have shown me, most of the time I choke back a big lump and I cannot control the surge of emotion that creeps to the surface.  Usually I blame it on acid reflux and tell myself to quit being a cry baby and develop a stronger back bone.  Yet, there it is.

There are times I desire more than anything to never be content.  That sometimes sounds so trite to me, that I should be ok with what I have now.  I believe I should be ok with the status quo, but I am not.  I want more.  I want more life, more color, more passion, and more truth.  I want to look at the world as it is and not be content to leave it as it is.  I want to stop congregating around coffee tables, in nice circles, talking about people who have changed the world- or the possibility that someone else can do it.  I yearn to be part of something on fire and exciting.  I want to be on fire and exciting.    I hunger for truth, for real conversations about real issues that matter, and I desire to find solutions.

There are other areas in which I crave.  Areas where I have no experience, but desire to do it differently.  I hunger for family, connection, and a release.  I yearn for a time when the holds of guilt and the talons of the past will relinquish their hold on my outlook and set me free to pursue areas that make my soul sing.  I cannot wait for the moment when the brave part of my personalit takes front and center and motivates me to step forward in confidence to speak and write on behalf of those who cannot for themselves.  To be a voice for those who cannot speak, or have not found theirs yet is something that has been with me for as long as I remember.  Try as I might, no amount of random blogging, casual poetry fits, or singing my heart out in the car satisfies the need that I feel.  No amount of watching other people interact with their families sates my desire for a peaceful respite and comfort.  I also hate admitting that I may need or want anything…yet I know better than my own misgivings.

I could go on and on, but my thoughts have somehow jumbled onto one another and my youngest son is out of bed for the 2nd time asking me to find Deadpool in his Marvel comic characters book.  I am not exactly sure who that is, but I do know….the hunger of my son to find this description is more important than my next sentence.

Until again,

Shalom,

cahl

In ReVUE.

What can I say…I did not watch the ball drop at midnight, I imbibed no alcohol, I did not situate myself amidst major crowds, I am…boring.

I played Words with FRIENDS, beat my mother for the 6th straight game, wrestled with both my boys, and cuddled my pug till  fell asleep at 10 pm.  I was at work at a gas station bright and early, listening to large groups of men complain about their lives, wives, town, and occupation.  FUN  Then another group comes in, spending their whopping 75 cents while discussing their upcoming colonoscopies and the prep they must endure to undergo such procedures.  I wanted to scream at them that I have done at least 6 of them in my life in the last 10 years, but I opted to keep quiet this time and simply observe.

I watched this morning as the Facebook posts reiterated the plans people have for the upcoming year.  I have made no plans, no definite ones anyway.  I have things I would like to see happen, but I find if I make the plans, they have a tendency not to come true and then I am left feeling guilty about my lack of initiative.  I have hope for the first time, I think the first time I can remember.

It has been a whirlwind of a 2012.  I can honestly say that I have learned more this year than in years past.  So, what did I learn?

Well, graduating from Seminary does not mean that one has an instant pass around the Monopoly board.  There are many hoops to jump, some man-made, some that require time and contemplation.  At the end of 4 years, I have read more, analyzed my psyche’, written more papers, and questioned myself more than I have in any other year.   What I thought I would be doing, where I thought I would be going, I am not.  Fortunately, the ride is taking me some amazing places, so I ought not complain.  Although the planner in me would like a bit more control…

Family is not what I thought it was either.  I am not sure what my definition is, but suffice it to say that what I thought and the reality are 2 different animals.  I have people to whom I am related that I have not had contact with in decades.  There are immediate family members with whom I have not talked with or interacted since 1993.  I find that sad, but am coming to a different conclusion.  I also have other family members that I can go months without speaking to them, I hear about what they are doing, but there is no conversation.  I find that sad too.  However, I think I may be growing up a bit.  The other day I said aloud that I was done trying to put myself on someone else’s radar.  It hit me that the only one who suffers when I try to do that is me.  If I am not on the radar to begin with, their life is unaffected and unruffled in relation to my existence one way or another.  If I try to place myself in a position where I may be noticed, whether with affirmative or negative responses, the only one who gets hurt is me.  They still remain unaffected and I am left holding the empty bag of my expectations.  That was a rather painful realization to come to this week.  That means there will be a response…I will withhold my connections with those people and wait for their cue.  Am I a horrible person?  No.  We just do not see life in the same manner and I am sick to death of trying to make myself fit every stinking mold out there so that someone else feels comfortable with me.  To quote Popeye “I am what I am.”

Family looks different…there are people who have traveled hours to see me preach, they did not have to do that.  I have people at the station where I sub who have asked me to officiate their weddings.  I have 2 scheduled for 2013 already.  Preacher ME!  I have brothers and sisters who have no blood relation to me, but who chose to have more to do with me than my family.   That is by their choice, not my force.  They have shown me time and again what community looks like.  WE are willing to climb in the muck with one another and get dirty…and love each other through it.

My boys are the 2 most precious and best things I have ever done.  Sometimes I struggle with how I am doing as a mom, priorily learned methods of parenting sneak into my head, but I work like a dog to make sure they are loved.  Not a day goes by that I do not tell them at least a million times that they are loved.  I hope it is enough to cover them when I fail to live up to all they think I am.  It is amazing to see how they are coming into their own and becoming the people they are meant to be.  It is also humbling to see some of my personality visited on them…that mother’s curse is certainly alive and well in these two.

Health is something that has plagued me the last 38 years and it looks like I may have a handle on it…FINALLY!  From my past biological parents, I had suffered a lot of internal damage which causes much inflammation and scarring.  To make a long story short, there was not a day that I did not double over with stomach pains, cramping, and a host of other issues.  I have had every colonoscopy in the book, eaten radioactive eggs, done more barium drinks than I can count, and had most of my insides that are not major organs removed.  All that is left are those that HAVE to be there and my appendix.  I entered into a drug study as a guinea pig and it looks like the drug is actual drug and not placebo.  You have no clue the relief I feel not having a stomach ache every single day.  I told a good friend the other day that I was ready to give up, I was ready to give in and let it overtake me.  I will write more about that later.  From the physical sense, I felt trapped in a body that would not let me do what I wanted, did not give me the energy that I needed, and I wanted nothing more than to crawl into my blankets and lose myself.  I still have a ways to go to heal all the damage that has been done, and a good share will never be healed, but I feel better than I have in years and actually look forward to next year at this time.

Understanding people alludes me, but I am learning.  I am more apt to listen and watch than I am to respond.  I am choosing more carefully what I respond to and in what manner.  As a candidate for Ordained Ministry in the United Methodist Church, I hold to the concept of Social Justice with all that I am.  I am watching closely what I see and discerning what I hear and what my response should be.  There will be times of action, of contemplation, of learning, and of surrender.  I hope that I am wise enough to know the difference and to heed the counsel of those I trust.  More times than not, my impassioned heart and mouth can get the better of me, I need to temper that with quiet confidence and allow that to lead.  As I age, I am less tolerant of intolerance and find those who intend to hurt simply because they can not worth my time or energy.  I am coming into a more working knowledge of what ADVOCATE means.

2012 has taken me for a ride…catapulted me to depths of understanding and confusion that I did not think possible.  There has been loss, joy, frustration, forgiveness, understanding, and resignation.  I am more hopeful for this year…I am gonna try and just BE for a while and see how that goes.

SHALOM

cahl

 

 

Open REAL EYES to REALIZE what is before us.

According to a recent Pew poll released on in Oct 2012, the United States has dropped below 50% of the population subscribing to a Protestant faith.  The numbers show that the US is now at 48% down from 53% in 2007.  The largest group to see growth is what researchers call, “The nones.”  A similar report dated October 2012, more than 13 million atheists and agnostics and nearly 33 million claim no particular affiliation.   About 20 percent of U.S. adults say they have no religious affiliation, which is an increase from two decades ago when about 8 percent of people were deemed so-called “nones.” Nones are described as young college students, second career individuals, and those just beginning their families somewhere in their middle 30’s.  Most would claim they have a spiritual faith, but as one man stated, “Saying that you are an atheist no longer carries the stigma that it did in years past. More and more are recognizing that you can be good without a belief in a god.”

This leaves the field wide open in terms of Christian faith.  Instead of shrinking back in disbelief at these statistics, I consider this a wake-up call to action for us whom we call brothers and sisters in the faith.  Colin Hay, musician and lyricist offers these words in opposition to this call to faith and may provide the backdrop for many of the feelings society is facing.

All around is anger
Automatic guns
There’s death in large numbers
No respect for women or our little ones
I tried talking to Jesus
But he just put me on hold
Said he’d been swamped by calls this week
And he could not shake his cold

And still this emptiness persists
Perhaps this is as good as it gets
When you’ve given up the drink and those nasty cigarettes
Now I leave the party early, at least with no regrets
I watch the sun as it comes up, I watch it as it sets
Yeah, this is as good as it gets

Can you feel the desperation, the loss of hope resignation in these words?   If the above poll numbers are true, this is the feeling that our young people are experiencing—believing the present conditions are as good as it gets.

BUT!!!!  We know something different, my brothers and sisters.  WE know a different reality and a more solid truth don’t we?  We know that this is not as good as it gets.

Turn with me to John chapter 14

Jesus said to his disciples, “Don’t be worried! Have faith in God and have faith in me.[a] 2 There are many rooms in my Father’s house. I wouldn’t tell you this, unless it was true. I am going there to prepare a place for each of you. 3 After I have done this, I will come back and take you with me. Then we will be together. 4 You know the way to where I am going.”

5 Thomas said, “Lord, we don’t even know where you are going! How can we know the way?”

6 “I am the way, the truth, and the life!” Jesus answered. “Without me, no one can go to the Father. 7 If you had known me, you would have known the Father. But from now on, you do know him, and you have seen him.”

8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father. That is all we need.”

11 Have faith in me when I say that the Father is one with me and that I am one with the Father. Or else have faith in me simply because of the things I do. 12 I tell you for certain that if you have faith in me, you will do the same things that I am doing. You will do even greater things, now that I am going back to the Father.

 

There is hope and redemption in those words, I invite us to consider what the Message gives us in further? – paraphrased (might be a better word) translation.

1-4 “Don’t let this throw you. You trust God, don’t you? Trust me. There is plenty of room for you in my Father’s home. If that weren’t so, would I have told you that I’m on my way to get a room ready for you? And if I’m on my way to get your room ready, I’ll come back and get you so you can live where I live. And you already know the road I’m taking.”

5 Thomas said, “Master, we have no idea where you’re going. How do you expect us to know the road?”

6-7 Jesus said, “I am the Road, also the Truth, also the Life. No one gets to the Father apart from me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him. You’ve even seen him!”

8 Philip said, “Master, show us the Father; then we’ll be content.”

And then we’ll be content.  Ah, there it is.  And THEN, we’ll be content.

Will we be content after a tumultuous election?  Will we be content with a higher paying job or a better car?  Will we be content if more people love us or we add more FRIENDS on our Facebook page?  How about when all the moments of frustration cease?  Will we be content?

What will it take?

It takes the command that Jesus gives us in verse 11.

11 Have faith in me when I say that the Father is one with me and that I am one with the Father. Or else have faith in me simply because of the things I do. 12 I tell you for certain that if you have faith in me, you will do the same things that I am doing. You will do even greater things, now that I am going back to the Father.

We become content when we take off the blinders and REALIZE how to look at our world and God’s people with REAL EYES.  That sounds like a tall order, so there is an implicit help given in that command from Jesus.  There is a Spirit (an Advocate) which Jesus promised would always be with us, to empower us to see others as Christ sees them.  WE are not alone, we have power in the Spirit to realize that this is not as good as it gets.  There is more.

There is more heaven here on earth than we allow ourselves to see and hear.  Yet, the louder voices of desperation, rejection, hurt, anger, and hate seem to engulf  our spirits, wanting to fool us into believing this is all there is.  How have we responded?

For some, for the many whom the “nones” are watching, we have embraced the voices of slander, malice, anger, and hatred…creating a hell on earth where we mistrust one another…we operate out of fear instead of the promise that there is more.  We do not serve a God of fear; we serve a God of…redemption, love, and compassion.   I believe that we have forgotten this.

In the non-profit that I work in in Sioux Falls, I have the chance to see in a practical way, the essence of the Spirit moving in places and doing things I could not see otherwise.  I see people coming together in a garden, slinging compost, laughing and building—together.  GROUND WORKS operates out of a mission to practice being a great. does this break off here? …where have we heard this command?

“I tell you for certain that if you have faith in me, you will do the same things that I am doing.  You will do even greater things, now that I am going back to the Father.”

The mission question you ask of yourselves today is answered in that statement.  How do you remain faithful?—by doing the things that Jesus did and practicing the things that Jesus said.

I cannot give you a nice, neat method to perfectly sewing up your faith and keeping it intact.  I would be doing you a huge disservice if I told you that the older you get, the easier it gets.  It doesn’t. I look at my own children, who so easily embrace the world they see and I am amazed at it.  When did my filter become so polluted?

It became polluted when I decided that the world and its opinions means more to me than seeing people for who they really are==as beloved children of Christ.  It became tainted when the voices of the multitudes screaming that getting my own is more important than loving the least, the lost, and the lonely.  It became dirty when I embraced the belief that poverty is shameful and those who are impoverished are somehow less than me.

Have we forgotten that we are all poor and that the poor in spirit inherit the kingdom of heaven?  When did poverty become a 4-letter word meaning something that we eliminate or cut out of our society?  When did following Christ mean that I have the right to sit in judgment over anyone for any reason?

It didn’t.

When I asked my former seminary professor how to write a sermon a number of years ago, he smiled at me and said, “Go, look in the mirror and ask that person what they need to hear.  What does she most need to hear and what does she need to see the most today.  When you are quiet and allow the Spirit to convict you, the message will come to you.  That is the offering you bring-no more no less.”

See, I told you it does not get any easier, the older that you become.  It gets harder to force out the ingrained methods of thought and deed to be present in the Spirit and to do the things that Jesus did.

Ok, so what did Jesus do?  A couple of years ago, I served my first unit of Chaplaincy at Avera Behavioral in Sioux Falls.  I worked over 1000 hours journeying with children, teens, men, and women living in the midst of hell.  I heard their stories and the Lord revealed something during that time.  It is a mantra that I believe is at the heart of all that we say and do.

People want to be seen, to be heard, and to be loved.  Let me repeat that.  We want to be seen, to be heard, and to be loved.  And the third time is the charm—I want to be seen, to be heard, to be loved.

If we take that principle and the command that Jesus gives us –to remain faithful we do the things that Jesus did, the rest becomes pretty clear.  So, what did Jesus do?

Jesus showed up.  At a well, in a garden, on a sea, on the road, and in the home, Jesus was present.

Jesus saw.  He saw the diseased, the forgotten, slandered, abused, and mistaken.  He saw them for what they are==beloved and blessed children of HIS Father, he saw them as brothers and sisters of great potential and light and love.  He saw them for what they could be instead of what the world was telling them they are.

Jesus heard.  He listened to the words of the heart, the ones we keep hidden and he responded.  He heard the stories from people desperately wanting healing, to those empowered to simply touch his cloak, he heard and embraced their humanity and spoke to them in it—not content to allow the lies of the world to fill their heads, he came to deliver a promise of something sweeter—something more divine.

Jesus loved.  Pure and simple.  There is no other act of love than to see us through REAL EYES and REALIZE the way to save us would be to die—to give up his own humanity so that we might believe and do the things he did and follow the things he said.

Sounds like pretty easy application, right?  So, you’re saying if we show up, see, hear, and love===all the rest will take care of itself….RIGHT!!!!!

To do this requires more of you and me than we initially believe.  It requires all of us.  The song that you heard this morning as we were walking in speaks to this.

I am the only one to blame for this
Somehow it all ends up the same
Soaring on the wings of selfish pride
I flew too high and like Icarus I collide
With a world I try so hard to leave behind
To rid myself of all but love
to give and die

Where are we in this?  Where have we given in to selfish pride, to arrogant love of self and what we can do?  Where have we forgotten the ultimate sacrifice of love covers the world’s hurts than any amount of money or man power can?  When did we begin believing that we alone can do anything?

Do we really want to do the things that Jesus did?  Do we really want to see people with REAL EYES and realize them as precious human being that a Savior loved enough to give up His own life?  Do we really want to hear their voices and to love with the same love that Jesus loves us.  Do we even want to admit that Jesus loves “them” with the same fervor and passionate love that He lavishes on us….we are the chosen ones, aren’t we?

In the gardens in Sioux Falls, Jesus has shown us Himself.  A couple of weeks ago a young 13 year old girl who resides at the Children’s Home Society came to a catered meal and took center stage to share a poem about what a garden means to her.  She talked of a seed being planted and
watching it grow.  She talked of a place where she can go when the entire world is happening around her.  She said, that (a garden) is, “A place that needs me to stay alive.”

Does she realize that she is the seed- that place of great potential and opportunity?  Does she see herself as the seed in need of care and love and growth?  Does she know that Jesus can be the place where she can run and hide a place to go when sad or glad?  Does she know that Jesus needs and wants her to stay alive==that HE desires for her to live and BE alive—to be seen, to be heard, and to be loved?

Do we know the same?

Do we know that to be faithful means to believe that GOD wants to see us, to hear us, and to love us?  Do we believe that to realize that promise means that we are to see with Real eyes the world around us, and we are to respond.  We are to love with the heart of Christ and to do that we have to adopt the heart of Christ.

We have to see with the eyes of Christ, eyes that see beyond poll numbers, political affiliations, social and economic strife to the heart of each individual person…to recognize that their soul is to be cared for and loved==just like ours.

We have to hear the words that are said and to those unspoken.  We have to listen beyond the rhetoric and the pat and easy responses we give on a daily basis.  We must hear their stories, to hold those stories, and to honor them as precious…after we have heard them—really heard them we can hear how beautifully our stories intersect with one another.  We have incredible impact==we have the chance to turn the tide toward Heaven instead of Hell.

We have to love with the love of Christ; fierce and on fire and smoldering and peaceful all at the same time.  A love which consumes all the darkness and forces light into the hate and drives it away.  A love that embraces poverty as desirable because it means we are in the presence of the Risen Savior.  A love which knows no limit to compassion-knows that no amount of money or power or control can take the place of being held and seen and heard and loved.

Ladies and gentlemen, let us not grow weary in the race set before us, my same seminary professor has become a life mentor to me and reminds me often that what we are doing is a Marathon, not a Sprint.  This is not a race that has an out the gate running start or an ability to maintain that pace for the duration.  It is a marathon of building of seeing with REAL EYES what we can REALIZE in Christ.

I end with an adaptation of the Jars of Clay lyrics you heard earlier.  May this be the prayer to remain Faithful—doing the things that Jesus did, in the manner in which He did them.
We look beyond the empty cross
forgetting what our life has cost
and wipe away the crimson stains
and dull the nails that still remain
More and more We need you now,
we owe you more each passing hour
the battle between grace and pride
we gave up not so long ago
So steal our heart and take the pain
and wash the feet and cleanse our pride
take the selfish, take the weak,
and all the things we cannot hide
take the beauty, take our tears
the sin-soaked heart and make them yours
take our world all apart
take it now, take it now
and serve the ones that we despise
speak the words we can’t deny
watch the world we used to love
fall to dust and thrown away

Take our world apart.

Surrender

I obsess.  Incessantly.

Sometimes I obsess about the most inane moments, situations, comments, or other sundry items.  See, i even made that really long sentence because I cannot use the word “things” in writing…. Cannot end a sentence with a preposition, nor will I patronize a store with incorrect spelling or grammar in their advertising.  I find it belittling to people, and if they want my money, they should treat me like I am an intelligent person making intelligent purchases.  Even if I want to spend my money on drivel, I still want to make an educated choice about said spree.

I find myself incarcerated by what I believe I must do and be for other people and yet consumed by a desire to bust out of the bonds of my making.  It is exhausting to say the least.  If I sense for a second that someone is angry or upset with me, I spend the rest of the time trying to figure out how to make amends, take the blame, or smooth over the situation.  This has not served me the best as there are simply some moments that cannot be amended.  There are also some circumstances that are not mine to own or to take the blame.  I am learning, slowly, Slllllowwwwlllly that there are times when I have extended the white flag and it is not received, that is not my fault; that there are items which others must own–if they chose.

I fixate on the future, believing that there is a destined something out there that I have to, have to, have to find.  That I will not rest until this something is spelled out in perfect and glittery letters and that I can follow a prescribed set of steps that will get me “there”–whatever that looks like.  That is also exhausting to the extreme because there will never be this utopian moment of “arrival”.  I will never reach the mecca of perfection and someday I will stop trying so hard to reach it.  Maybe.

I fret and stew about the  smallest infractions that I have committed, whether it be a missing comma in a piece of writing, or a forgotten date, my lack of providing all that I should to all I should.  I worry incessantly about what I could do and that it is never enough and will constantly be compared and found lacking in terms of what I should do.

I struggle to fit a set of standards and expectations that I have and that I believe others have for me, without having a clue as to how to attain them all at the same time.  I dream of a time when clouds part and sunshine streams in and I can breathe, in and out, and then in again–peacefully.  Ahhh, silly me, what am I thinking.  That is not what life is about….it is a set of struggles and obstacles and how one engages with them that is the real testament.  I try each day to make it better than the last one I lived.  Today I might have failed BIG time, I prolly did.  Maybe I did not….Maybe I semi-mastered one area and let another fall.

I heard the word surrender today.  That word has always presented barriers for me, maybe others too.  When I heard it and saw the scene in which it was used I was amazed.  This person asked the other to surrender with him in that moment.  To let go and let whatever was going to happen, happen.  What a concept.  He was in love and loving enough toward that other person to surrender the dreams they had together to help one another realize who they were independently.  He asked her to have enough faith in them to surrender.

I never have been good at that.  Growing up the middle child only girl in a talented and hard-working household meant that I had to fight for my place.  I fought hard to have a voice whether I needed to or not.  Later, being trained as a public speaker and a debater did not lessen my ability to surrender in any form.  It meant that I was better at it, could sniff out an opposition’s weakness and was going for the jugular in the most eloquent and snarky-smart fashion.  I did…I did it well.  Being in a family of incessant over-achievers meant that I did not let my guard down, did not let anyone know my fear, my weakness, or my desire to be average.  It became so that there was never a desire to be average, because that meant certain failure.  Standing out, making a name, and being more than an individual was as addictive as the Purple Passion my generation drank till they were stupid.  I had to have it…had to be outstanding, had to have the last word and it HAD to be better than any one else’s in the room…or else I would make myself pay.  I did–often.  I never surrendered, never gave up, never quit.

Now that funny word–surrender , lingers in the back of my mind.  Festering and picking at the vestiges of thought, calling me to examine what it looks like, inviting me to cloak myself in its embrace.  You see, I envision the talons of defeat and ridicule associated with that word.  Yet, there is something calming and oddly freeing about wrapping in its comfort.  Is there comfort there, is there freedom?  I admit, the thought of exploring that is a bit daring and daunting.

Surrender—hhhhhmmmm.  Whatever does that mean?  Anyone else willing to journey that with me?

Game on?????

cahl.

 

Here Piggy!

I was busted (in a general way) last week for a photo.  At first I really like the composition and the lighting that I saw, and then my heart sank as I looked at the profile and saw the same frustrations that I have always seen.  I tend to shy away from profile shots that reveal some of the natural disproportion that exists facially.  There is little that I can do about it anymore, but the issue of image seems to be a recurring one that many of us women deal.  It is a never-ending cycle of contentment and contempt that twirl concurrently to drive us into a torrent of torture, depending on the situation.  While men can age regally and become even more distinguished with the touches of gray…we tug and pull and yank them out in an effort to stave off the clock a little longer.  Where the male can sport a more portly figure, I find myself ashamed of the area where my children were carried and I cannot lose.  Instead of embracing that as a badge of courage and strength and life, I suck it in, refuse to eat 3 meals a day, and curse myself when I grab a caffeine beverage.  I am not the only female to suffer day in and day out in a self-imposed corset of too tight jeans just so the extra female softness is not revealed.  When a more female form with hips appeared I did everything to eliminate them…if I could still, I would.  I can’t.

Pure body image aside, it is the photo and what occurred in my gut after I took it that is more the issue.

I am terrified of what will occur in the next couple of days.  I will sit before a professional photographer ( i have not done so since I had my braces off and could still wear my graduation dress from high school  I was 24)  and I know this woman who will snap my head shot for more than a simple website.  I have had the dream of writing and speaking and now storytelling ever since I can remember.  I have spent the last 4 1/2 years snapping pictures of other people, events, and moments–all for the benefit of telling a greater story.  Now, as never, I feel called to bring words to other people and with that comes showing my face, and I am terrified.

See, I am great if I can hide behind beautiful worded verbage, I can create a tapestry of creativity and mix together words and senses and feelings so that there is no question as to who is writing…the only thought is of the person reading.  I do that on purpose.  All my make-up is done well, my hair fixed in a manner that would distract and pull the eye up, my clothes always well put together, and if I have on my glasses–they are sure to be ones that have a flair.  Nothing that is commonplace or traditional….I do that on purpose.  I talk with animation ( i do come by that naturally) and my hands are always on the move, emphasizing a point–and drawing the attention away from my face….away from the center part that many concentrate on in initially meeting me.  There is nothing more I can do to fix it.

I was born with a deviated septum.  Yes, most people would use that as an excuse to have a nose job…I could not use that as an excuse.  It grew as I matured and took up the greater part of my left nostril.  Due to the premature nature of my birth and some organic recreation while I was in utero, there are some things that did not have a chance to form as they might.  Be that as it may.  I remember years and years of ridicule for that damn septum.  I hated it !!!!  I hated my face with it in it.

Unfortunately, I also loved animals.  Uh, huh?  What?  My uncle and aunt lived on a farm and I spent time out in the barns with the animals…I seemed to have a way with them-I still do.  Out in the pasture I would tramp around with the Guernsey cows and the pigs.  The pigs–damn pigs.  Of course I was a reader too, so Charlotte’s Web ranked amongst my favorite books as I fancied myself a young Fern–complete with a Wilbur.  Damn.

From that love my uncle gave me a small pig pendant on a velvet string of purple–keep in mind I am not a girly girl and the cousins I hung with were male as were my brothers  ( of COURSE my brothers were male–they still are).  So here is the one girl amid at least 5 guys..and my older brother catches sight of the gift, looks at me, points at my nose and starts to laugh.  From there the nickname Piglet took shape.  Now my mother will tell you that it was out of love and endearment that I was so named.  Uh, no.  The whole school called me Piglet…the kids on the bus oinked at me, called me Piglet and oinked as I got on the bus, off the bus, and walked into the school.  Classmates would offer to pick the “booger” out of my nose and one extra special gentleman put an extra large set of tweezers in my locker so I could yank it out of my nose.  The same tweezers we would use at the lake to remove hooks from the mouths of fish after they had swallowed them.  I hated it. Never went on a date, no prom…nothing.  I hated it, it sucked.

I remember entering college and not weighing yet 1oo pounds and yet knowing that I was not facially pretty enough to make a show in theatre.  I remember being on an intercollegiate debate team and people telling me I was talented, but something was always sticking out of my nose.  Guys even told me I was a blast, but they would never date me with how I looked.  Nice.

Fast forward to student teaching sophomores and I went under the knife to remove the septum.  My number one reason was so that I could stand up in front of those speech students and actually teach them.  I knew the score.  It was a tough surgery and the recovery was not one I ever want to repeat.  May I just state for the record that breathing was much easier without half of my cartilage obstructing my nasal passage.  The Dr. who did the surgery was amazing and kind, and I was fully recovered the week that I started student teaching…the students were none the wiser.

Fast forward about ten years later and I decided to go under the knife again.  This time I was so tired of people asking what kind of accident I had been in or if I intended to fix my face anytime soon.  The oinking began again, only in a different tenor and with a different mantra.  Damn.  I could smash the front of my nose against my face…there was simply nothing there.  I sat opposite the same Dr.  he could do nothing…so he transferred me to another.  Pictures taken, molds made, more pictures taken, surgery explained.  Hope rose….and fell.

From the surgery I awoke to the Dr apologizing to me that he was not able to do more. “There is simply not enough cartilage up there to piece anything together.  I tried, I was on the phone to Mayo, asking them what to do as I was in the operating room.  It seems you have what is called Binder’s syndrome.  A macclusion of the mandible and maxilla.  To do the kind of work I wanted to do I would have to insert whale cartilage or take from your hip.  I did what I could with what we have.  I am sorry.”

No need to be sorry….you did what you could with what you have, it is more than what was done earlier.  Thank you for trying….thank you.

Oink oink, come here little piggy.

Now, in  a couple days I sit opposite a woman who will snap my picture to display on websites, on brochures, and God willing, a book or two someday.  I am good at telling the story, you see.  I have known this woman since I saw her in theatre with my older brother…I envied her cool and beautiful confidence.  She was kind to me while having no reason to be nice to a kid sister to a high school prodigy.  She was kind to me.  Now she tells me that she wants to bring out the beauty that she knows that she will see behind her lens.  Lord, I hope she is right.  Oink, oink….may the piggy sleep.

The lyrics and the media video I posted speak to a spot that I know I am not alone in filling.  I also turn another age later this week (about which I tried to blog earlier) and something tells me that the instances of pics and media and book ideas and my birthday are not mere coincidence.  I hope that I am strong enough to weather the week with grace and good humor.  If I remember, Wilbur, was SOME PIG….may it be so with me.

thanks for reading the longer post…i needed to write.

SHALOM dear ones….

cahl.

BUT!!!! i HATE to FLY

“Delta flight out of Sioux Falls leaving at 12:35 pm August 7 has already been delayed.  Please refer to check in times when you arrive”

GREAT!!!!  Just what I wanted to hear, leaving for almost a week, on my own, knowing the last time I took a trip by myself I was going to North Carolina, 3 months pregnant, and my luggage was lost for 2 days.  NOOOOOO!  This is not going to happen again!  Yet, here I was, back at an airport, flying back to Asheville (yes home to filming of the Hunger Games), and this time my son is 5 and I am no longer pregnant…and I have included a change of clothes in my carry-on.  HAve I mentioned that I LOATHE flying?

So, the stage is set for what looms ahead, my last trip to the east firmly in my mind, I anticipate with massive trepidation what will occur.  While I yearn for adventure and creativity,  i tend not to do well when it comes to flying.  The take-off and the landing are the spots that get me the most, I try to hold my breath as soon as I feel the descent.  I find that this is not a wise move, since a DESCENT could last longer than the actual flight.  I am learning to re-vamp my strategy–slowly.

I sit at Joe Foss airport and wish to god that I had a pair of ruby-red slippers, maybe if I could just click my heels together…I could magically transport.  Maybe if Madeleine L’Engle is correct, I can tesseract my way to North Carolina….maybe, just maybe.  No, the plane is now 1 1/2 hours late, having a mechanical issue and the part needed did not come in FED EX…ok, then, send Harry Potter’s owl to fetch it…DO SOMETHING!

Restless passengers eye one another, I check my ticket for the umpteenth time and vow that no matter what, I have my will in place (at least verbally) so should something happen to me….my love ones know what to do with my earthly possessions.  AS IF i had any earthly possessions…I just graduated Seminary, the Federal Government owns me!

FINALLY we are to board, and I walk down the ramp, no one feeling the confusion and apprehension that I feel.  No one suspects that I am terrified to fly, or that I have left the 2 most important people in my life with their father….I KNOW they will be fine.  I also know that I HAVE to make this trip, that it has been gnawing at my guts for a number of years and months since I received finances to make the trip.  Truth is, I fell in love with NC 5 years ago and the trip I am making is to an International Biblical Storyteller’s Conference.  Storytellers?  ME?  Me.

I look for my seat, silently thanking the airline gods that I am able to find the seat (the correct one) and stow my carry-on luggage (which can hold a small pug—-not that I would know) and buckle my seatbelt.  The person next to me is ….a kid.  Well, not a small kid, but compared to my age and station, he’s a kid.  We talk

He is on his way to interview for another summer internship with Monsanto,he has been in Nebraska all summer with them and the package they give these interns is amazing…car, gas, living expenses, food, lodging, and a credit card for the summer.  HELLO!  Here I smile quietly to myself as I introduce myself as working for a grassroots community development non-profit which specializes in school teaching gardens.  The exact opposite of the agriculture hemispheres collide and I think what more odd moments could happen on this day?

More was in store as we continue to climb in altitude.  We continue to talk and realize that small ag is not a threat to big business, nor is big business the all-encompassing evil we think it is.  They can co-exist and understand one another, if we allow it to happen.  ANYWAY……we talk about what is happening and I find out that he is from a small town in southeastern mn, where lo and behold, a person that I work with daily lives.  Connection 2 established and then a couple more when we talk about people that he knows.  We really do live in a small, small world.

We laugh thinking what an incubator we live in when I start thinking about SDSU in Brookings….my alma mater.  I spent a number of good years there and fell in love with the town as much as I did the people.  There are just some places that have good energy…Brookings, SD is one of them.  We gab of campus and the changes and I giggle thinking of my dorm in Wecota…all the furniture was moveable.  I remembered my first class in BIO Stress Building and my first day at Doner! and the trek from Wecota to HPER in the dead of winter.  He is total AG-buisness….I smile.  He is all of 20 and gets to move off campus for the first time.

Fasten your belts…this gets bumpy.  He describes the house he is moving into with 5 other guys.  I ask if he has invested in Febreze and he proceeds to describe a little mint green house with cute white shutters…well, he didn’t say cute…I did.  Starts to name the address and before I know it he cites a McDonald’s right up the street and a little further up the block used to be a Zesto’s.  1448 7th Street I inquire and he nods.

NO WAY!!!!  That is my 1448 1/4 7th street.  Well, mine and my Jenn’s.  I lived there in college and sat there aghast as he talked of the sliding kitchen door one can hear from every room in the house.  I lived in the basement and wanted to live on the main floor with the hardwood floors.  I lived there as I student taught and underwent my first sinus surgery with Dr. DeSautel.  HE worked wonders.  I laughed and studied and dreamed there, now a house full of 6 boys will do the same.  Those in the basement still have the huge armoire in the large bedroom and a set of pale pink dishes with ivy on them….Compliments of an aspiring theatre major.

Day one on my trip and my first flight sees connections that I could not possibly invent on my way to Mpls.  The flight went on without incident, I forgot to hold my breath, forgot to be scared of taking off, forgot to be scared to fly.

I know that many may read this and disregard my comments as so many coincidence….it wasn’t.  There is no way I could put together that chain of connections in that time and place to reveal to me at that moment.  I could not invent that and I did not ask for those variables to be present.  Truth is, I wanted to be a bit surly, soaking in my discomforture.  i did not want to admit to anyone how excited I was to be going back to NC or to be a Storyteller….or to incorporate my love of theatre, music, writing, and faith all into one arena.  I did not want to admit that anything that perfect existed or that I would be so called to do so.  So called….me, who hates to fly–so called out of the nest.  So called, to fly.

shalom,

cahl

 

 

 

 

 

 

boundaries that bind

 

There are times that the phrase “It is what it is”, angers me to no end.  True, there is an element of release and freedom in that, but there also remain a certain resignation to it.  Does something have to be what it is?    I realize this may be a way existential question for the early morning, but since I am still “Waiting for Godot”, I assume some will let me play with that pun.

I was in a situation recently where i watched an argument ensue over something petty and silly.  I watched and I listened and I recalled all the moments I might have engaged in a similar fashion.  Watching this from a removed position provided me a bit of clarity.  “This argument would be happening whether I was present or not.  These people would be tossing around angry words and frustration no matter the circumstance or who happened to be standing there.”  How liberating for me!  How sad for them.

I wanted to jump in and rescue the conversation, to somehow fix the situation and smooth over the tension.  It was not my place.  That is a difficult moment of understanding, it makes me think of why I would be motivated to fix it.  Are my motives pure?  Do I really want to ease the tension or do I simply want to feel better in this moment?  Would  my assistance make the situation better or worse, and for whom?  Again, these are hard questions with which I wrestle, and I am not sure to what end.

I will say that watching that interaction provided my first AHA moment in a long time.  I remembered thinking that if this would be happening with or without me, then maybe much of what I based my perceptions on were false.  Yowch.  Could it be that what I took on as blame had absolutely nothing to do with me?  If that is true, what do I do with my recent discovery?

A little over a year ago I sat with my full adoption report from the state where I was adopted.  I saw all the narratives about my early months, know all the information about my biological parents, saw the reports surrounding my birth, life, and placement in a foster family, and finally–my adoption.  To say that this was the hardest read in my life would be an understatement.  I looked at it in the first week that I had it and have not referred to it since then.  There is a section in it that describes what an adoptive family would want in a baby, more specifically, the baby they would want to adopt. I smile as I read the wishes and hopes…and then my smile faded as I realize the baby that was described was the opposite of me.  The traits and personalities desired did not match up with what I was told was true of me.  The wishes would never realized in and through me.  I was and am not a calm and quietly complacent person with a lily-white past from biological parents who were simply not able to care for a baby at the time.  In fact, the opposite is true.  I remember reading that description and feeling ashamed–feeling like I had let down the family who did decide to adopt me, guilty that I could never be a pocketful of wishes that any parent would want.  I am what I am, I was what I was, and I can’t change that.

Reading those words hurt like so many knives in my chest, knowing what parents wanted and what I was and the fact they would never match is quite burdensome.  the questions bombarded my head.  Did I waste 37 years trying  to be something or someone I could never be?  Probably.  Did I push and push and push myself to fit a mold that was never cut for me?  Definitely.  Would my adoptive family looked and treated one another differently had I been more of some and less of other?  More than likely.  Can I change it now?  Not for all the money in the world.  Would I change it if I could?  Quite possibly.  Does the answer to the last question hurt worse after admitting it?  Most assuredly.

The moment of that fight mentioned earlier and the descriptions I read a year ago play into each other.  They both could serve to further bind and weigh me down, or I could look at them from the inverse.  ( think all your training on inverse fractions here)  Could I turn the concept on its opposite end and embrace a different answer?  I admit, I loathe math with every fiber of my being….but once I learned inverse fractions and grasped the ease of flipping at least one element, it sure made solving the problem 100% easier.  I could actually solve the problem instead of banging my head against my math book.  Once I learned them, I got along  happily with them and enjoyed working the problems.  NOT that I would embrace pages of them today, however.

That long diatribe on inverse fractions is to say that I am beginning to toy with the inverse of reactions.  Do I need to continue to punish myself for what I could not be–do I ignore the fighting that had nothing to do with me?  Am I ready to consider new boundaries that allow me room to move without guilt and shame?  Am I ready to embrace a blanket of health that covers function rather than dysfunction?  Although the latter feels safer and more what I recall, the inverse provides more room.  Am i ready to clip the ties of bound guilt and fear?    Only my reactions will tell.

Shalom dear ones,

cahl.

 

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