Archive for July, 2009

28
Jul
09

job’s rocky road

Has anyone out there lived the Book of Job besides me? I never realized that this particular book of the old testament…Hebrew Bible…was about faith until I started living it last spring. Job’s road is definitely not about the American Dream. It is full of rocks and stones and slippery places—like black ice—very treacherous.

Before I found myself living Job’s story, my partner of nearly 33 years and I were invited to come follow Jesus with the church we had happily been attending. Do you know what we did? Of course you don’t, so I’ll tell you: we sold heaps of things and gave away even more, then we put our beautiful Frank Lloyd Wright house on the market and moved close to the church that was inviting us in.

No sooner did we move into our downsized little cottage close to the church, than our world began it’s tilt-a-whirl character. The church didn’t seem prepared to accept us after all—two older women in covenanted partnership. That’s when the road less traveled became the rocky road detour to the Job story, starring my partner, Big Dawg and me. We walked, ran, skipped, tripped and tip-toed along that road until it became so very dark, one would think a total eclipse had occurred. Job’s song dogged our feet and caught in our throats.

Fast forward to today and where are we: church refugees wandering and wondering how our story—the one the congregation never even heard—became the Job story sandwiched in with Exodus.  We are wondering where the nearest rest stop might be, or better yet, a bed and breakfast. We are also wondering if this Job story will ever end for us, or if there are Cliff notes somewhere that we can study and shoot on through to a happy and faithful ending.

YHWH 1x3.5

27
Jul
09

what’s in a name?

Are names important? If so, why? This morning when I received an email from my dear friend, Crazy Horse (who is neither crazy, nor a horse, but is at times strange) concerning the naming of a soon to be adopted pet. The name mentioned was very disturbing to me, so I responded with an epistle about how not to name your pet and why good names are important. This advice was unsolicited and somewhat balllsy on my part, but lately I can’t seem to stop speaking out as though my opinion really matters all that much in our world—currently spinning backward. So I lowered my weapon and let ‘im have it. Both barrels on why we need to name out pets lovingly so that we are inspired to treat them lovingly and respectfully. As a fine topper, I threw in the Golden Rule as the standard by which we should care for our animal friends. Nothing like a little guilt when needed…like seasoning a stew.

Well, I think my views are right-on, BUT…they were not requested. In fact, I think CH might have been pulling one of my short legs. Clearly, I didn’t think of that at the time since I was knee-deep (not a long way down in my case) in serious personal thought. As the day wore on and my heart and soul accumulated many more thoughts accompanied by numerous emotions, I came to realize that I may have offended dear friend CH, so I wrote an apology, expecting a course correction, and went upstairs to eat dinner.

One and a half hours later, I sheepishly crank up my computer…sheepishly because some in the household think I have a computer addiction…and lo, and behold CH has sent a reply. I am told that no offense was taken and that my spouting off is a beloved quality (today anyway)! Do I believe this? Might as well, for today anyway. Tomorrow is another day and that’s all folks.

SY00013_

24
Jul
09

120+ interesting minutes

So the interview is over and I am glad to have received the grace to participate without worrying it to death. It went well and I am now quite a few hours older than I was when it started! Funny how time measures our lives forward and backward. There are a million things I would have liked to have said but the final product will be only 3 minutes, so no point in thinking about those million things. God knows all about them…the struggles, the heartbreaks, the poor choices, the joys and sorrows. When you get to be a golden oldie (senior citizen) you’ve left quite a trail.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the past year, how it’s been one of the most painful of my golden life. I even felt that I’d rather have 6 chemo cycles than relive any part of it. But…time! Time is a slippery bit of illusion. One wakes up and finds 7 or 8 hours have past like the turning of pages in a book, bringing up the next chapter. So today, I woke up and didn’t think much at all. Just went moment by moment doing things, waiting for the interview to start and be over. Now I’m thinking and it’s still a painful year lodged in my mind’s vision, but maybe my God will do something wonderful and green shoots will rise and sway gracefully in the breeze that is the Spirit of God.

I am an idealist and an ardent proponent of being alive while alive and doing my best at most everything I’m given to do. That includes speaking my truth and having my voice…the one God gave me and encourages me to use audibly. So I did that this afternoon. Only broke down once…when I talked about being a church refugee and not knowing how I will use my worship gifts. I can feel tears when I think about how much I have lost and how much my former church has lost. There are no winners here. It is a pointless stalemate. God does not laugh. God cries as I do—for the senseless loss, like dead bodies on the battle field.

Ah, but you wanted to know how the interview went, right? He was pleased. My dear friend who came to watch was pleased, and I have no idea.

Respectfully submitted.

23
Jul
09

30 good minutes

Tomorrow I will be interviewed about my faith journey for a PBS series called 30 Good Minutes.  When I was first approached for this, I was at the apex of my intention to devote all of my spiritual gifts  in the area of the visual arts to the church I was attending. Since that time…seems like ages ago…I have lost that church and am somewhat of an itinerant artist type, having already made a clean break with the secular art world. Never burn bridges, right? I didn’t do the burning. My partner and I were the ones calling the fire department. The church was not interested in receiving the fire department because it didn’t think there was any need. Now it’s a different story. Many wandering, homeless church folk looking for resolution. I am not alone, but really, except for my partner and a few supportive and loving friends, I am alone. I stand before God asking directions when I should be quietly, faithfully waiting. Transition time.

I am wandering and wondering what God will do with all of this mess. Tomorrow I will be interviewed and I no longer am clear as to what sort of artist I am or why. What shall I say? Am I still committed to providing visual art as a doorway to worship? I’ve lost the church and the people. I don’t know where, or if, green shoots will sprout. I have a new church community, but I don’t know if I will regain the passion I once had for this work. I think the muse is asleep…sleeping beauty waiting for the prince…of peace…to come…and plant that kiss of passion and delight.

21
Jul
09

states of being

Old man in sun-4x4 This is how I would like to be right now…at rest and at peace. Hard as I try I cannot find either of those states of being.  My denomination continues to be at war with itself, which is a strange state of affairs to begin with since it is a “peace and justice” church of pacifist conviction! And what is the problem? Sex: lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender S-E-X! As I understand it, we were all made in God’s image and dearly loved by God. Why? If for no other reason…the image thing is pretty stunning. The usual pattern for creatives is to pretty much love what has been created.  This is too simple an idea, I know, but it just seems so obvious. And didn’t Jesus admonish us to be as little children? Ah, yes, I know there is a deeper meaning, but I’m taking the lesser one right now due to considerable fatigue.

Since the time of Jesus we have had a new understanding of what can be instead of what has been. It’s called The Good News…brought to you by Jesus himself (while he was human). It’s all set down in the New Testament gospels and the books and letters that follow. In the gospels we don’t find Jesus concerning himself with sex at all, so why are we? We are a fearful people. God revealed God’s self in human form, but we can’t seem to grasp the human part of it all. God gave us all of our parts and pieces. This God gave us form and an ability to love and be loved. It is stunning how many times love is mentioned in the New Testament…something like 180 times—maybe more. We are admonished to love, love, love. What is it going to take to make the fearful ones understand that this gender issue is less about sex than it is about love…who one loves and that one loves. Orientation aside, can’t we just come to agreement on the love part of it all? I am naive today. I get a pass.

17
Jul
09

word of mouth

Blogs, listserves, email…have taken over the act of speaking—in some cases, even relating. We no longer have to hear the sound of our own voices to be heard in our brave new world. Communication is convenient, but essentially impersonal. No actual mouths needed, just devices. According to Wikipedia  the phrase, word of mouth is/was “…a reference to the passing of information from person to person…originally referring specifically to oral  communication (literally words from the mouth), but now including any type of human communication, such as face to face, telephone, email, and text messaging.” And there you have it!

Much as I enjoy electronic communication, I miss seeing expressions, body language, touch, sound. Sometimes I talk to the computer. It doesn’t answer back. The TV does a better job of talking back to me, but I don’t like what it has to say. So I pick up my favorite word of mouth device, the cell phone, and go from there.

Ready for a haggard, hackneyed remark? Here it is: I remember when there was just the telephone, that lovely little walkie talkie from the phone company. Anyone remember the phone company? It worked and then it got deregulated along with a bunch of other Armerican dream machines and now…we’ve got a world going so fast it meets itself going forward and hollers “Uncle!” Okay, I know I’m making mass generalities and committing major factual errors, but today I don’t care very much. Maybe I need a vacation…or two.

15
Jul
09

whew!

LionI have been asked to present my work at the Mennonite Arts Weekend in Cincinnati Ohio next February 5-7, 2010. Most sane people will say I have loads of time to prepare and so would I if I were sane. But sanity illudes me much of the time. I am what kind people call, a highly strung individual. Hmm, how high is highly, I wonder? Isn’t there a song about how low can you go? Maybe there’s one about how high can you fly. Me? I fly high…up above the sky, as often as I can (which isn’t all that often, but I can dream). Lately…for the past many, many dreary months I have been tethered to some unfortunate hooha at the church I was attending that filled my heart with angst and debilitating sorrow. I could do no personal work at all and each month that past, I worried that I would have nothing meaningful to say to the MAW attendees grew larger and larger. Yes, that is performance anxiety.

Right now I am flying because today, I managed to plow through the tangles and write a draft of 2/3 of the presentation. Hooray! I feel great about that. I have prevailed. Now I can start selecting the art I want to present and coast for a while. I can even engage in other projects I am asked to do…or that I want to do just for me, without having this performance thing lingering in the back of my mind like a bad conscience.

And what is the topic of my presentation? Well, you are getting to know me a bit by now…it’s Suffering! Okay, not suffering for it’s own sake. Suffering as common ground and sacred space. Something I know a bit about, especially lately. But that’s another story.




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