Friday, April 29, 2016

For When It's Time to Go

"Gate" by James Newbery licensed under CC BY/ Cropped from original, filter applied


When it’s time to go,
You’ll know.
Because the burning in your heart
Will rise up a holy flame,
And you will find the strength
To melt through bars
Of fear, of doubt,
Of shackled status quo.

When it’s time to go,
Lord help the ones
Who try to hold you back
With doubt and accusations.
Say what they will,
You know the truth
That sets you free
From labels, whispers, machinations.

When it’s time to go,
Set out boldly
Take faith, take heart
Take Love and freedom with you
Into the places they were
Always meant to be,
To desert, wilderness,
War-torn wild places.

Oh, dear one,
The world is bigger than you know,
With living rivers always
Flowing towards the sea.
Remember who you are,
The one who trusts, the one who hopes.

Go out and live.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

A song for the weary

"Fa├ža" by Jeronimo Sanz licensed under CC BY/ Cropped from original

"Sing to me,” I said,
“Because my soul is tired from the battlegrounds.
From voices shouting over broken bodies
Of wave-washed children,
And I’m drowning in seas of apathy and fear.
My heart is spent from weeping for a people
Whose children lie on cold and unjust streets,
And as we argue over words
Their names scroll out indictments we ignore.”

“Sing to us,” I pled.
“Because this world is sick from stench
Of war and hatred, greed and pride,
And the songs it sings are voices that declaim,
With wrath-dipped poison in each word.
We need to hear the quiet voice
The servant song that breaks with tears of grace,
That binds the wounds and heals the hearts
And pegs the circle wide for all to sing.”

“Sing to us,” I begged,
“Of a world born new and a kingdom coming,
One even now already on its way.
Sing to us the songs of hope,
Of setting our boats out against the tides,
With God-flung stars to lay our course
Our chain of voices grows and swells
To sail in darkness, lights aglow
Bearing strands of mercy towards the night.”

Thursday, January 14, 2016

One Word - 2016

"Over the middle" by Matt   licensed under CC BY/ Cropped from original

On a January day, exactly one day after my thirtieth birthday, I splashed through icy puddles and a cold, relentless rain as I made my way from the campus parking lot to the orientation and registration building. I was thirty years old and I was shaking up my life to go back to school. I already had an English degree in my pocket, but degrees in English are fairly useless when you determine in your final semester that you were never meant to be a teacher. When you're still too unsure of your voice to think of yourself as a writer. For nearly ten years I'd been a clerical worker in a dental office, and the shine was gone. I knew that it was time to look forward at the rest of my life and make some changes.

At first I played with the idea of library science. It seemed a natural fit, was there anything in life I loved more than libraries and books? I researched library science programs, accumulated a folder of college brochures, studied for and took the Graduate Record Exam. There was only one big problem, the limited number of schools offering library science programs would require moving away from everything I held familiar with no guarantee I would return. Texas? Washington D.C.? Philadelphia? Kentucky? Where did I want to land? I looked at apartment costs. I considered city size. I thought about jumping into the unknown and being truly alone. I chickened out just short of actually submitting my application anywhere.

Still, doing nothing was not an option, at least not a viable one, so I looked at computer science programs at the local state university. This was safe. This was reasonable. This was risk with a safety net attached. I started off slowly, a few prerequisites at the community college. Trigonometry scared the hell out of me but somehow I survived it. (OK, I survived it thanks to the two aspiring engineers who formed a study group of sorts with me.)

One application process, one acceptance letter, and one financial aid form later led me to that dismal January day.

I learned a lot in the two and a half years I spent getting that degree. I learned to always, always, always arrive early to give myself enough time to find a parking space. I learned that I was good at accounting (and so I switched my major). I learned that technological advances could make registration a whole lot drier and faster, but possibly more frustrating, as long lines were replaced with phone systems that sometimes crashed. I learned that I was better at writing group papers than anyone else in my group, so I either needed to just write the thing myself or be prepared to edit a LOT. Mostly I learned that I was capable of more than I had imagined. I was, in fact, capable of being braver than I had imagined.

And yet, most of my life has been an exercise in taking the 'safe' route. Because truly, that's what the accounting degree was. Safe. Predictable. Boring. (Sometimes I refer to it as soul-sucking when I'm feeling dramatic.) It was a way for me to move on with my life while not really moving ON with my life, while still clinging to my little safety rafts. Sometimes I've kicked off from the raft, but panic always brings me back around. I'd rather cling to the safety of what is than strike out into the unknown of what could be.

And so we come to my One Word for 2016. Brave. From the moment I picked this word over a week ago I have seen it echoed again and again across the internet. It seems that 2016 really is the year to be brave.

I don't have any specific goals for 2016. (Except for 'drink more water and do more yoga' because I am reasonably certain I can handle that.) What I have, instead, is a desire to look for the areas where I need to be brave.

Sometimes for me that looks like just trying a new class at the gym. Doing something that I'm not good at and not worrying about what people will think. Not worrying that I might not belong.

It might look like calling someone up for a coffee date, or even inviting people over to our house for dinner. (Insert panic attack here.)

It's certain to look like being brave enough to pursue my passions, to risk rejection, to dream of what could be.

I want to live 2016 not clinging to my safety nets, not choosing the predictable, safe, boring route. I want to live it imagining what might happen if I stepped out of 'easy' and into 'brave'.

This morning my journaling prompt asked me to describe a journey and how the first step felt.

I think that the first step is often just giving voice to a thought, Setting it out where the light can shine on it, That first step is equally terrifying and freeing. Both a letting go of our safety rafts and a grabbing on to the hand of God. Trusting that the one who imbued us with our dreams, the very essence of our being, will not let us fall.

Yes, it might rain. There may be puddles to wade through and crazy parking lots to navigate. You may be cold and wet sometimes and wonder what exactly you are doing.

Be brave anyway,

Where do you need to be brave this year? What are the safety rafts that you are holding on to? What does letting go look like for you?

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Peace


It's Christmas Eve. The presents are wrapped, the stockings are hung. It's Christmas Eve, and I'm waiting.

I'm waiting for that promised peace in the midst of a darkened world.

I'm waiting for peace for the refugee, peace for the broken, peace for the outcast, peace for the children.

I'm waiting for God to show up.

This is the glory of Christmas...that God shows up and his favor rests on us all. Rich and poor. Jew and Gentile. Wise and foolish. God's favor lands smack dab in the midst of our ordinary lives, and there is peace.

We don't always see it, do we? Sometimes it is small, so very small. As small as one baby in one town on this great big spinning planet.

But that baby changed everything, didn't he? Born in pain and blood, born for pain and blood, love stepped into our world. Love keeps stepping into our world, in the midst of the breaking and the pain, the sorrow and the blood.

Love keeps on being born. When we reach out our hand to the outcast, when we lift the children up, when we sit with the broken, when we welcome the refugee. Love is born anew.

I don't have God all figured out, and most likely never will. But this much I know to the very core of my being...Love walked among us, and Love brought and keeps bringing peace.

I'm waiting for the fulfillment of that peace.

May the peace of Love made one of us rest upon you all this Christmas, and may you love with all of your heart, and all of your mind, and all of your soul, and all of your strength.