Saturday, December 23, 2017

Awakening at Advent

At the sea
Before day breaks
Under the cover of night
The sky meets the sea
And you can tell they were 
Once one
Like the gong of a tuning fork
The ebb and flow of the waves resonate
Calling us all back to union
Awake, O sleeper
You too were once one
Arise and remember 
Your true position in the earth
Separation is an illusion
Your fragmented soul but a myth
In Him you live and move and have your being
The Divine among us
Within us
One with us
His name Immanuel
To remind us of what we have forgotten
To awaken us from our slumber
Peace on earth
You are joined to all
Goodwill toward men
Creation is begging 
For us to remember 
This moment requires
That we get it right
Even as light nears on the horizon
Through the lens
It still looks dark
Perceived as the end of a thing 
Yet we know it to be more
An invitation 
A door
What will you see when you look upon the darkness
Pause and remember 
What is easily forgotten 
In the light of day
Immanuel has come
Immanuel has risen
Immanuel is one with us

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Grief and the Incarnation

The Regret. The Missing. The Longing...sometimes the longing is so sharp, I cannot swallow pass the ache in the back of my throat. I understand now how easy it is to reimagine a better relationship when your loved one has passed. My value for authenticity and truth will not allow me to reinvent my story. But, I can tell you there are days when my head needs to hear aloud the voice I still hear within the walls of my heart. To hear his laugh. The way he said, “Chile...” or rolled his eyes into the top of his head as he smirked his lips...

I understand with a little more clarity the longing and missing of the Trinity. To remove anything that obstructs the flow of Love, even if it meant the incarnation of the Son in the pursuit and restoration of mankind. The dogged, relentless pursuit to swallow whole the lie of separation that created this longing. To erase the line between missing and communing. To see the fulfillment of interconnectedness, “that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us...”

Immanuel came and the host declared, “Peace on earth and goodwill toward all men.” Lazarus died, and Jesus wept. He that is peace also grieved. For Mary, for Martha. For me, for John, for you. He was moved by compassion. 

In the stillness, I’ve learned to feel what I feel. To not run from the tears, the regrets, the missing or the longing. I’ve learned to choose wholeness over cutting off the sorrow and further fragmenting my ‘self’. And after I dance with grief, I hold my thoughts at a distance and ask, “Is that true?” Immanuel came to remove the misperceptions that obstruct us from seeing Truth as He is. I weed the lies from the soil of Love and allow Truth to flourish. This keeps my grief from running amok and casting me headlong into shadow sickness.

People often don’t know what to say when a person is grieving or how to give space for the sadness. We are not a society that has learned how to be with. Anything abnormal wakes us from our slumber of certitude and makes us uncomfortable. People are uncomfortable with the unpredictability of grief. 

As uncomfortable and unpredictable as much of the populous in the presence of Immanuel, God with us. He stirred up things, brought desires to the surface, blew the lid off falsities and egoic power plays. Thoughts that were hidden within the recesses of one’s heart seemed to rise to the surface like dross. And yet, just as many (if not more) were drawn to Him, drawn to His freedom, His mercy, His love. His authenticity. His permission. His invitation. Drawn into with-ness.

Strangely, I find these things in the fire of grief. Memories rising unbidden to the surface like dross. Things being stirred and brought to the surface. The lid blown off the falsities I erected, others I perpetuated through my agreement. 

But, I’ve learned I can sit in the fire of grief and not be consumed. I can hold the longing and the missing and not be overwhelmed. And even on the days when it aches to swallow, my soul says, “It is well. It is well.”

Peace on earth and goodwill to all who grieve. May you experience the blessedness of Immanuel this advent season, and may every obstruction and misperception that stands between you and comfort be swallowed in His presence that  you might feel His love flowing toward you. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Cut Glass

My dad always stood between my mom and I. More buffer than bridge, he kept us from colliding and clashing. Himself a small fury if provoked, sobriety transformed him into a peacekeeper. 

Years of bad stuff loaded on top of dysfunctional, unhealed wounds had forged deep pain and created wedges so immense, I convinced myself they would exist into eternity. 

Days before he passed, I held his hand as he stared into my eyes. He was past the point of speaking, but I knew what he was asking. Could feel what he was saying. Time was too precious to waste with words. It didn't matter anyway. The apologies on my tongue felt fake, trite and useless in that moment. 

The truth is, he saw. He knew. He had been the buffer. He could see her part in it, and he could see mine. He never called either one of us out on our stuff. But that day, he held my gaze long past his ability to keep his eyes open, clasping my hand until sleep took him. And, I knew. I knew what he was asking of me. I knew what he needed to go peacefully. 

I didn't know how I would do it. I didn't think I had enough belief in me or her to even try. And lord knows I've been tested, and I've failed miserably! Dad died and my bulwark collapsed. And we didn't know how to live with each other without him in the middle. We'd never had too. 

But his death required a new kind of living for us both or we would die with Dad and cease to be. Now we had to see each other, be with each other - with no one in between. And that's a scary thing when two people are walking shards of broken glass; fragile, cut, jagged... 

Truthfully, the seeing sends us headlong into grief because seeing one another reminds us both of him and the place where he always existed, as the buffer in between us. We haven't fully mended, and I'm not sure that we ever will. But I can tell you, the jagged edges of the glass no longer cut as deep. The once sharp points have dulled and blunted and I'm no longer running into painful places that send me scurrying. 

Five months it's taken me to finally NOT be afraid of "coming home". Five months to get over the fear of what I could possibly be walking into. Would this be a good visit or a bad one? Would I win at loving and eschew harmful, pain filled words? It feels weird to run my hand along the edges of cut glass and not get sliced. 

I miss my dad with every breath, but the flowers that are pushing up from his cold head is a truth I've finally been able to embrace now that he is no longer between us... she is not my enemy. 

Not that I would have ever consciously deemed her as such. But my defensive posture - fists clinched so tightly my nails bit into my palms and lock kneed battle stance - would not have convinced you otherwise. With dad no longer in between us, somewhere inside of grief and a new reality, I discovered a choice. 

I could continue to seize up and resist or I could allow Love to break open my tightly budded heart. As with a rose, there's always the risk of getting pricked. But I'm slowly saying yes to the beauty and the fragrance of the flower petals despite the risk. 

My mom and I are like a beautiful work of stain glass, and I can't help but wonder how many times the glassmaker cut himself before he learned to handle the cut pieces with delicacy. I had not realized how co-dependent we both were on him to exist with each other. Dysfunction seems so normal when it's your reality. 

How about you? Who or what are you avoiding because the fear of being hurt outweighs the risk of being loved? 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Enough is Enough

Often, we look at "original sin" from the starting point of Adam's actions. In doing so, we miss a huge key to transformation. Adam's demise did not begin when he ate the apple, Adam's sin happened when he believed in his heart that he was separate from God and had to DO something to be like Him, to obtain something from Him. From that grave omission, we have oft repeated this same pattern in society, expecting our doing to produce a certain result.

When people "sin" or act unjustly, we demand they DO something to correct their behavior. We tout "action oriented" solutions as the answer to all the world's problems and attack injustice with a vengeance, willpower against willpower, using negative energy to attempt to bring about good. 

Had Adam believed differently in his HEART, he would have responded differently. Jesus, himself said in Matt. 5:27-28 "You have heard that it was said,‘ You shall not commit adultery ’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 

Don't sleep on Jesus. Just as pain and disease is an outward expression of inner dysfunction in the body, the -isms of today in all their vile expressions are outward expressions of hearts in great turmoil. 

No lasting change to systemic injustices will come without an inner experience of union with the Divine and His creation. A wise person once penned, "guard your heart with all diligence for out of it flows the issues of life." Something happens within before it ever flows outward. If we miss the both/and of that truth, we will fail to rightly respond to the need of our day. 

We do need action that produces results, AND we need action that is borne of hearts awakened to the collective experience of humanity. Whatever I do to you, I do to me. We are not separate from one another. There is nothing more for me to chase or consume or aspire to that would vindicate me trampling over you to get there. The fear of scarcity has us living selfishly and running amuck in chaos. We have enough. We are enough. Enough is enough. 

What am I doing to awaken my heart to love? How am I cultivating compassion  within so that kindness flows out? How am I intentionally participating with the Divine to be a peace maker among humanity? Am I known for what I'm for even more so  than the things I'm against? What am I demanding of myself in my demand for others to get it right? Have I removed the log from my own eye or addressed the hidden places in my own heart before I've leaned in to touch yours? 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Buck Up A Bit

My mom said tonight, "I hope you get to the point where one day you will love coming home." I'm not a liar and I strive to be as authentic and true to me as I know to be, so I said nothing. But inside I was thinking, yea, that will never happen and seriously, before I could finish the thought in my heart, she said, "You know people change." And again, I was quiet. She was right. What could I really say to that? 

I walked out of her room and thought about us, thought about that moment. Why is it that we hold the people closest to us hostage to their worse version of themselves? Why do we allow the pain of our past to be the base through which we judge every present moment? How would I even know if she's changed if all I remember is who she used to be (or more accurately, who I perceived her to be)? 

I sat quietly for a while, beating myself up and then I heard the sweetest dose of encouragement from a still small voice. She said, "Girl, buck up a bit. You've made some progress. Life doesn't change overnight. It's an incremental process. Be kind to you. You're here. You're showing up. You're opening up. Start there." 

In that moment, I was reminded that the intellect of pain is a bad place to process life from and guilt is like a vortex. It will spiral you down into a negative space. Thankfully, there are other options that staying in my head or succumbing to guilt. I can own the parts of my mom's words that were true and the parts of me that are true and begin with truth. 

Truth is light filled and leads to reconciliation. Embracing truth deepens our courage. No, I'm not quite at the place where I'm over the heels in love with the idea of coming "home", but I'm courageous enough to show up. 

There's a place of convergence in the pain of your past and your now. A place that is full of invitation to open up to the tender moments and embrace truth with courage. Buck up a bit. You got this. 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Redemption Nears

Last night we sat in our living room with the first two couple friends Doug and I ever made in Georgia, laughing, eating, sharing life. Like everyone else, none of our families have been exempt from moments of tragedy, tension, seeming defeat and bottom feeder experiences that can only be summarized as living in hell. In the laughter last night, the sharing, I felt Father so clearly dancing over and through our moment. "I waste nothing," He whispered.

If it is true that the Lamb was slain before the foundation of the world, then Jesus's incarnation, death, burial and resurrection was always Plan A in the heart of Abba, not a shot from the hip, clean up the mess Adam made Plan B.

This is a crucial understanding to life with God and life with people. For in His choosing, it means Father looked out over creation fully aware of all the messes and heinous hurtful, harmful, painful choices and actions we would rend upon the earth and upon each other and He still decided creating us was worth it.

You. Me. The very good of all things created, we are worth it. And in our worth, He anchors us to Himself in His love with one goal in mind: redemption. To bring us back to Himself. To restore us fully to the dance of relationship with Father, Son and Holy Spirit and to restore harmony once again to all relationships.

I saw redemption in the air last night. That on the other side of hurt and wrong, being judged and passed over, forgotten or misunderstood...on the other side of silence and questioning and feelings of aloneness. All the dark parts of being human and living in relationships, just through the intense parts of the crosses we bear, hangs redemption. And it is for that Jesus endured and why we endure.

Redemption is the joy that is set before us. It is the return of relationship to its rightful place. The place of alignment where you belong, where I belong. Redemption is the place where the weaver weaves and the singers sing and Abba dances.

Wait for it, my friends. Participate with Him, even when doing so feels a little like slogging through wet mud. Redemption is the summing up of all things. Like a conductor striking his baton and summoning the instruments to play middle C, the groaning of the earth is waiting for that moment, that fullness of time when the Master Weaver weaves redemption through your situation. Rest assured, all around He is at work redeeming the world to Himself.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Shine On

The ego demands our participation in either/or. False self says I have to choose. Living from the Tree of Life, we ask the question, what does love look like here? How do I participate with Love? What is love doing? It holds a wider, broader, deeper view than just I. True self says yes, and.

Ego demands that I choose life or death. Love has swallowed death. True self demands no such thing. Ego says we have to choose to celebrate a woman's right to march or tear it down, violently or religiously. It does not matter how we trash it, only that we do. True self says yes, I can hold on to my credo, my expression and someone else's without being critical or judgmental. Ego says I either save my country first or I choose to help other countries at the expense of my own. True self says there is room for both. Yes, I can be other centered and still practice self-care. Ego demands that I choose my allegiance to my beliefs or be accepting of how people live that I don't agree with. True self says yes, there is a place for me to honor my credo and a place for me to honor people, even people whose expression of life and choices are markedly different than mine.

[Jesus] Himself is our peace. [He has] made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity (Eph. 2:14-16).

Love has forever settled the issue. No longer do we have to stand on one side of the dividing wall or the other. No longer do we have to participate with either/or, split into tribes and factions. He has taken us all into Himself, holding us within His Love, establishing peace, bringing reconciliation to humanity by abolishing the enmity that has kept us in darkness.

The only question now is will we receive His love? Will we pause in our fight for right and participate wholly with Love? In Him life was existing, and this life was the light of men. And the light in the darkness is constantly shining. And the darkness did not overwhelm it.

In the stillness of Love, I see clearly that all is not bleak. There is no plane crashing into the earth. The sky is not falling. Every proclamation of darkness stems from the false self.

Yet, Love is not overwhelmed by the sound or anyone's participation with it. With razor beam focus, Love continues to shine Light into darkness, "I am the way, the truth and the life. Awake, o sleeper. My son who was once dead, trapped in his false self, has found his true self and come home to Love." L'chayim. L'chayim(to life).