No Boxes

I believe in God. I believe in a Reality so big I can neither name nor describe it. People throughout the ages have tried to use human language to describe the Power that creates and each time we fall short. I don’t want a nameable, describable God. I don’t want a God small enough to fit comfortably in a human created box. My God is, to quote Buddy the Elf, “Ginormous!” and beyond. Not big in size, per se, but big in concept.  In fact I’ve often thought that God is in-between: you know…nothing is solid, everything has space inside it from the heaviest metal to the smallest neutrino, and that space in-between is where I sometimes think God lives. And then I shrug my shoulders and confess I have no idea, the concept is too big for me. I have felt the Presence, which in my experience is complete joy to the point of weightlessness. Or so it felt at the time, well, at least that is the best way I can explain it. Otherworldly is a clever term that comes to mind as well.

Jesus, on the other hand, I can completely grasp. The idea of God desiring his creation so much as to try on a human suit and have a walkabout makes sense to me. I’ve wished to be other creatures in the past so as to commune on their level. And the idea of God suffering in solidarity makes me appreciate God all the more. I can’t say to God, “You don’t know how I feel,” because indeed God does know. Been there, done that, God lets me know. Jesus, God in a human suit, is all about love. Love the most unlikely, unlovable person and you experience real joy.

Jesus loved, lived with, and hung around all the folks who didn’t make the “A” list. He loved and cared for the freaks, the outcasts, the weirdos, the aliens. I’m supposed to continue doing that in order for his love to live out. And, occasionally I succeed. Sometimes I fail miserably. The institutional church is really good at failing to follow such a path. The Church as the body of Christ has done amazing good for an enormous amount of people; from disaster relief to holding someone’s hand in times of trial. As an institution the church has wrecked amazing amounts of harm; from the Crusades to the exclusion of the LGBTQ community in the larger picture to simply ignoring those who don’t look like us in our hometown churches.

As to my own example of being excluded, I keep thinking of the Bishop’s comment, “I wish some things in your past were different.” Well no shit, Sherlock, I wish the same thing sometimes. I can look back in my mind’s eye and wonder what on Earth was I thinking? But you know what? My past made me who I am today. My past allows me to understand the folks who are right now going through the same drama trauma I went through. The beauty of it is I got through it. I turned around and stopped the actions that were creating a miserable life for me and those around me. You know who helped me through that “Slow Turning,” as John Hiatt would say? People who had been through similar crap and turned around, not people from the church who all their lives dressed, acted, and smelled like minty-fresh Christians. Nope, the ones who helped me were the ones Jesus would have been hanging out with, the ones who needed him. That is the kind of God I want and at its heart I believe this is the God the Church wants as well. I pray that we both find what we want.

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Retreat!

Contemplation time.

After Monday’s talk with the Bishop which reaffirmed the idea that the Church does NOT believe I’m called to the diaconate, he suggested I look deeper to my calling and ask for clarity to the root of it; take some “time off” whatever the hell that means. I had a bit of a cry, talked with friends and advisors and came to the conclusion I should become a mystic in the realm of Evelyn Underhill. And God, with her sense of humor, brought me to Holy Eucharist Wednesday morning and who do you think the Episcopal Church honored that day? Yes, Evelyn. So I decided to take a break and on Thursday emailed Tom if one of the hermitages was vacant. He wrote back, yes there was one still available. The Evelyn Underhill cabin. So here I am at the Evelyn Underhill cabin at The Hermitages at the Valle Crucis Conference Center reading “Worship” by Evelyn Underhill.

Reflection Redirection Midsection Objection Detection

Could of sworn I just heard a loon. No loons here in the mountains of North Carolina – must be some sort of windstorm whistling trick.

This seems my free-form time of writing so I’ll just go with the flow. Which makes me laugh thinking of dating someone named Flo – how cool would that be! But I suppose no one but insurance sales advertisement characters are named Flo anymore.

Back to the reason I’m here. Who is not listening? Me or the Church. I vote the Church, but mainly because I don’t like being wrong although I can, at least, admit it these days when I am. There was a time when that would not have occurred to me. I don’t think it’s that I’m not called to be a deacon; I have a deacon’s heart, I have a love of serving others and sharing my understanding of the Good News. I think perhaps the Church is afraid to have someone like me on their team. It’s quite alright if I show up and cheer for her, it seems quite another to have me on her roster. Fear permeates the world. I could be wrong, but I don’t fit the mold of pretty Episcopalians. I’ve had a “wild, wild life” to quote David Byrne, and that doesn’t look proper enough I suppose.

In the end, it doesn’t matter. In the end I will do as I am directed. My fear is that I misheard. And if I misheard in that instance, what about future instances? Can I trust that what I hear is the Holy Spirit? Or am I delusional? Please don’t answer too quickly.

That was a woodpecker clearing the forest. Maybe I’m the loon.

Sliding Doors

Great movie, Sliding Doors. And something I’ve thought about for as long as I can remember. What would my life look like if I’d have done this instead of that? Even today, choices are chances and I have to choose. And sometimes I’m not even the one who makes the decision! For instance, being declined to become a representative to the Episcopal Church was not my choice but it is what it is.

Now some things in my past that I thought were tragedies turned out miracles so I really can’t say that this declination is a bad thing. It just feels that way right now. The Bishop told me to lick my wounds so that I will do here http://vallecrucishermitages.blogspot.com

I’m sure there in the future I will wonder what would have happened had I become Deacon Dawn, but maybe by then I’ll just laugh at my foolishness!

Forgiveness

So yesterday I was up at 5:30, sat for my 20 minutes in Centering Prayer, ate breakfast and then drove to Winston-Salem for the Food Bank Conference. Got back to the shelter at 4:30, worked until 5:45, met a friend for dinner, back to work at 7 and left around 8:45pm for home. Showered, checked my email, visited with my husband and went to bed.

Around 1am I realized I did not blog. I thought about it and decided that it would be OK. I would write today and the world would not come to an end if I missed one day. The difference is…when I’ve tried journaling before, if I missed a day I managed to make that an excuse for stopping all together. I’m a different person now. Turning round ’til I turn round right.  Now, I still didn’t sleep much after that, but it wasn’t because of not journaling. It’s because I don’t know where I’m going now that I’m not heading towards the diaconate. But I’ll be alright. I’ll find my way again. I DID manage to post of Facebook a GOOD NEWS, which is my Pentecost pledge, if you will, that I took all for myself. Since the Holy Spirit has arrived (traditionally, if not actually) and we are to speak the Good News, I thought a little post on FB would be a good way to do that. So far it has gotten positive response which is, of course, Good News!

And I’ve found self-forgiveness for my non-blogging. Woo-hoo! Spiritual growth, man!

Turtle Wax

My hopeful meeting with the Bishop was just a consolation meeting. I got the Turtle Wax, I did not get what I wanted, learning that even though the Commission on Ministry had decided they did not hear a calling for me to the diaconate, that the Bishop had. Alas, it was not so.

The Bishop says to call my Parish Lay Discernment Committee together again so they might help me find my deeper roots in lay ministry.

I cried and now I’m just tired and wished I had written earlier so I don’t have to now, but I made my committment and I’m sticking to it.

It was harder this time than when he called the evening after they made their decision. I guess I really wanted to hear a change of heart. But, I must remind myself, that I really wanted my ex-husband to change his heart when he divorced me. And my life that I have now could not have existed had we stayed together.

The Bishop said to lick my wounds and read “The Long Loneliness” by Dorothy Day. What the Bishop says, I will do.

As you wish…

Enough Already

I’m tired of being in the desert. I miss my old life of inspiration and joy. I’m tired of being tired. I was really hoping that Pentecost would jump-start my Muse. My longing for the Holy Spirit is still just that, a longing and not a be-longing.

I go to church, I read, I pray, I meditate, and yet I still feel nothing. There are shadows in the periphery but nothing of substance. I sense something so close, like a dream that slips through the blinds when the light peeps through. I know there is life beyond this desert. I can smell it like rain in the distance, but there is nothing falling on my barren soil.

Come Holy Spirit!

Come and fill me!

Wake up my sails and blow me out of the doldrums.

Create in me a clean heart o God and renew a right spirit within me.

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And now I’ve finished “Stalking the Divine” by Kristin Ohlson and that gave me hope in a general, religious way. The kind of hope that most people go through some sort of desert in their journey. I know this, we’ve talked about it in book groups and Christian education class, but I hadn’t heard it lately so it had slipped off my Teflon-coated brain. A re-minder that it is just a phase and phases go just as sure as they come.

And because I’m an addict of ALL sorts, I immediately went over to the bookshelf to see what I would read next. Which, lucky for me, turns out to be Anne Lamott‘s “Bird by Bird.” Which means, of course, that I’ll be clicking away here with little vignettes in order to  write my one-inch picture frames of life. I don’t know that I’ll be able to write at the same time each day, but I’m cool with that. I will, at least, be writing every day. Yea!

Could you give me direction?

Attended the last class of Community of Hope, an Episcopal based 14-week training for lay pastoral caregivers, then there was some nice retreat time with a meditation on the Sabbath. We started the retreat listening to Barbara Brown Taylor and I couldn’t help wondering when the last time she heard those words, but that is between her and her Higher Power.  As Kitty likes to say, “I ain’t judgin’, I’m just sayin’.”

After the retreat I spoke with a woman about spiritual direction. I’ve had a lovely lady deacon as my spiritual director, but she lives part-time out-of-state and I am at a point in my life where I want someone I can see on a regular basis. So I asked Jane and we will begin as soon as she sends me an email. Yea! She seems just what I need: positively focused, Spirit led, and willing to challenge me with reading, journaling, and questions. Plus, she lives about half an hour away!

Now my question is, can I make this blog my journal? Am I willing to be as open and honest here as I am supposed to be in a journal? Is it incredibly egotistic to journal in public? Albeit with no one reading my blog, how public is it? hahahahaa!

As I am told on various occasions, more will be revealed!

Hello Gov’nah

My boss was all atwitter today with Bev Perdue, the Governor of North Carolina, stopping by our homeless shelter to have a quick look. My boss is a politician, I am not. I don’t remember people’s names, I don’t like playing favorites, and I mostly believe that Jesus’ actions were on the socialist edge. So I don’t fit well in the political scene. In fact, I can’t join the Rotary Club because I won’t pledge allegiance to a flag. Not the US flag, not even the Episcopal flag.

I like my country, don’t get me wrong. I’ve travelled enough to have seen how easy we have it here. But for me it is God before country. Sometimes I think I should become a Quaker, and for all I know I may end up there. I do like oatmeal!

Well Stuff My Head

Shield of the US Episcopal Church, colors from...

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I’m writing only to fulfill the obligation I made to myself, that being that I would write everyday no matter what. If you’ve read any of this at all (and I’m guessing you’ve not because it is sheer drivel) then you know that I lost my Muse and have nothing to say that soothes me. But I like to think I am a woman of my word and so here I type even though I feel a head cold coming on, hence today’s title.

The best thing that happened today was coming across a very entertaining blog of which I hope to figure how to post here so that if you accidentally wound up here, you can go there. http://emberdays.blogspot.com/2011/06/in-which-postulant-completely-loses.html is the address, but I don’t know yet how to embed it. (UPDATE 6.10.11 I think I managed to get it linked. Inch by inch…)

I found it as I was searching for the dates for Ember Days on the Episcopal calendar. I did eventually find the actual dates, but more importantly I found entertaining writing. Now if only I could figure out how to link…it’ll happen, just like grace.

Waiting for the Wind

Maybe my tiredness is due not to lack of sleep but lack of Muse. Maybe I’m brain-dead which is causing me to not sleep. When I’m more creative I sleep better, right? Hard to tell, it’s been so long since I been creative or slept well. I can tell from my actions (or lack thereof) at work that I am not happy in my job.

I’m happy to have a job, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that, well, I’d like to make a tangible difference. Now my friends will say that I AM making a difference, after all, I work at a homeless shelter. I make sure that around 65 folks have staff available 24/7 and there is toilet paper in bathroom and the washing machines all work, blah, blah, blah. I sit back in my office and write thank-you letters to people for giving us, “three pillowcases,” or “11 canned goods and a box of macaroni and cheese” and I do not feel that it matters. At all.

I tell the women I mentor in Alcoholics Anonymous to make a gratitude list when they take off down that road to depression. But me? Nah, I just want to whine and wait for the wind to blow my Muse back into town.