Archive for October, 2009

28
Oct
09

and the winner is…

Hello everybody,

The Bennie Award-72 I am pleased to announce that the Blog Comment Award has been won by non other than…Mr. Ordinary Mostly… for bravely going where no man or woman has gone before. He has written a candid and insightful, comment to my post, “Please leave a comment” (September 25, 2009). What a guy!! OM gets the Brave and Handsome Bennie Award for… yes… you guessed it: bravery in leaving a comment!!

So, anyone else out there want to try for the Baby Kitty Bella Award or the Grumpy Old Frank Award? (Neither baby talk nor grumpiness need be a prerequisite for winning.)  Yours truly, Called by Name

28
Oct
09

catalyst or cadillac

Not long ago  a member of the Menno Neighbors listserv asked me if I would attend the yearly meeting in New York City. I replied that I wouldn’t be going and gave several reasons for my decision. The first had to do with being an intuitive/heart person and not much of a strategist. The rest of the reasons had to do with scheduling, which I now, in sounder mind, see that I have muddled up in the same fashion I managed to make myself a year older than I am (Oct. 20, 09 posting).

My MN friend replied that non-linear types are needed as well and why not lend a hand? As the day wore on and more little promptings crept in from other corners, I began to pay attention and felt a tiny bit chastised. So I shared this with my partner, BD and friend, AD at dinner and got more admonition to attend. This time the tone of it was inescapably reasoned and direct. More chastening. When the four winds bring the same or similar message to me, this is  how I know the Lord is trying to get my attention. Well, their urging and AD’s offer to go along with me put my intuition into drive and I set about checking on the details of this event, my own calendar and so on. As I said, the calendar problem had been my chemobrain/aging  folly. Little by little the whole thing took shape and the NY meeting is now on my calendar. I will be going despite my dislike of traveling anywhere that prevents me from sleeping in my own bed and bedroom! I am grateful to be going with AD and not completely alone. But I have the feeling that eventually God will send me somewhere on my own and I will have to deal with that…but not this time. Whew!

My hesitation about this meeting…that I wouldn’t have anything to contribute beyond my own passionate nature—that I would not be able to back up anything I said with facts and resources that the thinking/mind people generally want to hear was silenced by the Holy Spirit who whispered: Fear not…I have called you by name…the deep waters shall not overwhelm you…  I heard that in my memory and in my soul. It was a call to once again step out beyond my comfort level and trust that I will be given all that I need to be there in a helpful way. I was reminded in yet a different light that  God so often endows the least with much to carry forward. It is a good place to be as long as one doesn’t take God’s gifts as one’s own doing—always a pitfall.

I am reminded of an encounter I had with a healer in 2007, several months after my last chemotherapy cycle, who told me clearly that I was a catalyst…that was my place in life, to be a catalyst. We deferred to saying Cadillac instead, being somewhat uncomfortable with the fallout from catalytic action, but apparently this was prophecy because that is pretty much all I am called to be, as I have no great solutions of my own to the various problems currently making their way through my life. Some readers will recall the  extraordinary battle for membership in my former congregation, which ended in pain and agony for us and many others as well. Since my encounter with the Divine during my cancer treatment, I have gone through many high rivers, They have hurt and agonized me, but and none have overcome me. In fact, God has drawn nearer and I sometimes wonder if I am the same person I knew for most of my life. Chemo changes your DNA; God changes your life and the Spirit finds a home within.

So…catalyst is good. I can live comfortably with that, because it’s like yeast…biblical yeast. Last night, in my Sacred Space prayer book, I read

What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it? It is like a mustard seed…  (Luke 13:18-21)

The meditation following suggests another image of the Kingdom:

…yeast in dough, working for good even when unseen. Lord, I feel safer as yeast, working invisibly and unnoticed. I do not look to see results, just to know that I am an active part of your kingdom.

Yeast is a catalyst. I am content to be just that and leave the fine tuning to those who do it best.

22
Oct
09

God promises

It’s a cold, wet and dark morning…perfect lead in to Advent, a liturgical season that I am incredibly fond of. I love Advent…the waiting, the hoping, the light in the darkness. I have been working on a beautiful Advent display for my new church family and look forward to installation day. Such joy to have gifts to give! Such a humbling thing to have been given them at all! But I notice that God often chooses to give the most to the least.

Last night as I was reading one of Richard Rohr’s books on contemplative prayer, called Simplicity, I came across this profound, yet very simple description of redemption on page 93:

God promises us a spacious place within—and that’s the place we call the soul. We don’t save our soul; we discover it. We don’t go there and try to make ourselves holy; we wake our souls up. We’re already united with God; the problem is, we don’t believe it. Thus the central issue is always trust. It is “allowing” God to give Himself to me apart from being worthy of it. As wonderful and unbelievable as that is, it is also very humiliating for the ego self. (Thus) the natural temptation is to find methods to make ourselves “worthy.”

A spacious place within… I like the sound of that.

Creation-1

20
Oct
09

on being alive v.2

2000 years ago: Sell all you have and give to the poor. Then come and follow me.  (Matthew 19: 16, 21, 22)

2007/2008: Come follow Jesus with us. (Local church banner.)

Last year we answered that call by putting our house on the market, having an estate sale, giving away whatever usable thing was left, and giving many pieces of art to family, friends and acquaintances. As it turned out, the church didn’t mean us, but we didn’t know that until after we’d gone and done all of this. So here we are following not a church, but the man from Galilee…leaving behind a lovely house with a For Sale sign out front and no buyers. All in good time I suppose.

I experience time differently than most, because I am a cancer survivor and (like Adopted Daughter) live my life in a now-is-now fashion. I give what I have and I give what I don’t yet have because I can. In other words, I jump in and say yes to things that feel so do-able in the moment, but after a while my anxiety wings can start to flap. My plate is full…too full, but there is nothing on it that I regret putting there, so it’s a faith walk many times, this giving what I don’t yet have. Walking out to the edge of what I know how to do and taking another step. Keeps me in touch with the All in All, and that’s a good thing. I think walking along the road with Jesus, the man, may have felt this way at times. One of these days, I’ll either get a lot more trusting or too old to harbor anxiety…or both.

And speaking of getting old: The other day I realized that I am 6 months younger than I’d thought. I am not going to turn 72…I am going to turn 71 and that means I’m still 70 with 6 more precious months of time to give and take than I’d thought. That also means that Big Dawg and I celebrated 32 years together last month, not 33. Chemobrain strikes again!

14
Oct
09

on giving heart and soul

Last Sunday, October 11,  Adopted Daughter transferred her membership from the  church-that-wouldn’t-have-us to the  little-church-that-could and does want us—where we are welcomed openly. We have only been there 18 weeks, but AD knew immediately that this was the place for her. She is a cancer survivor with four recurrences in three years. Her life is lived everyday in the immediate now, giving everything she has away wherever it is needed…financially and personally. She is Florence Nightingale, Mother Theresa, financial wizard, business consultant, friend and much more. AD gives from her heart, sometimes at peril to her fragile health, but this giving is important to her. Although she is hopeful, she does not count on next week or next year. She wants to give all she has and make a difference in the world. When she overdoes it, as is sometimes the case, I speak to her as adopted mom, but  she generally does not heed my advice despite my greater age and familiarity with cancer recovery. I take her as she is and pray she has many more years to keep giving it all away. I also thank God for her presence in my life.

Sell all you have and give to the poor. Then come and follow me.  (Matthew 19: 16-22)

16Another day, a man stopped Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” 17Jesus said, “Why do you question me about what’s good? God is the One who is good. If you want to enter the life of God, just do what he tells you.” 18-19The man asked, “What in particular? “Jesus said, “Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as you do yourself.” 20The young man said, “I’ve done all that. What’s left?” 21“If you want to give it all you’ve got,” Jesus replied, “go sell your possessions; give everything to the poor. All your wealth will then be in heaven. Then come follow me.”  22That was the last thing the young man expected to hear. And so, crest-fallen, he walked away. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn’t bear to let go.

Ginko leaves

01
Oct
09

moving on

Last night BD and I spent 2 hours giving an exit interview to the mediators hired by our former congregation.  It was challenging to condense all that happened for us, and to us, in a way that appropriately conveyed the enormous amount of stress we lived with since selling all we had (otherwise known as downsizing), moving to a much smaller house, (while still paying mortgage on the bigger house) to Come Follow Jesus (with them) when we were unaware that the invitation didn’t really include us, a same-gender-covenanted-couple. But we did it by the Grace of God, who desires all things whole and beautiful. The mediators (a man and a woman) were respectful, considerate and gracious, and though professionally low-key, there were a few responses of considerable empathy and/or dismay that were audible. It was helpful to know that what we were sharing of our experience was hitting hearts and minds together…both/and, rather than either/or.

I, of course, apologized for having made my (previous) assessment of our being an after-thought (posted 9/30/09), which was promptly returned with an apology of their own! Their job is to uncover the pieces and put them together in a coherent enough whole that can serve them in making recommendations toward a healing center for the congregation. This is a tall order and we pray that they are able to bring a semblance of healing and wholeness, but we don’t hold an expectation that this church will  embrace an Open and Welcoming/Affirming stance any time soon. My half-full view or educated observation? Time will tell. I have a lot of opinions, but I am also glad to admit error…and I will be most happy and delighted if I am in error here.

Mennonites as a group, do not speak readily of their thoughts/feelings. It’s an ethnic characteristic found in many rural communities as well. BD, although not ethnically Mennonite, comes from a rural background, understands this and has her own habit of unspoken thought. I, on the other hand come from a Middle Eastern heritage and we have a lot to say, even if we don’t know what we are talking about! (I think I’ve harnessed that last part, pretty well though, I hope!) We are openly passionate…unless depressed. Yes, I did most of the sharing, but I can tell you that when BD verbalizes something from the past that really hurt her to the quick, it is very powerful. And so, between the two of us, we put our story out there quite credibly. Praise God!

At the end of the time together the mediators thanked us for sharing our story…i.e., being vulnerable, and we assured them that vulnerability went with the territory, and not to give us more credit that we were due. This was CLOSURE for us…we were finally handing the pitiful story off to persons who perhaps may make a difference. We wanted it to be clear that we would not be telling this story again (hopefully never, ever again), but that we would like to know the outcome of their work with the congregation; we would answer questions, consider meetings, but never again dip back into those painful times on a personal basis. Although we don’t expect Open and Welcoming to be the end result, we hope for a resolution that allows us to visit at will…without tension and questions hanging silently heavy in the air. Accountability is rock-bottom in all of this, but we don’t expect it from everyone, just the major players. That will be enough for us. There are many people there that we love and miss…many who miss us as well. What we want is a semblance of Shalom.

Today I am happy to be free of the burden. We have closure for ourselves. We can journey forward where the Spirit leads. Our desire is One Body, One Spirit, One Hope, One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism and One God. In the immortal words of Rodney King:

Can’t we all just get along?




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