Archive for the 'love' Category



17
Nov
09

flying around corners

Since I last posted I have flown to many places in circular patterns as well as straight lines and U-curves. Last weekend I flew (actually) to New York for a meeting of the MennoNeighbors, a group of Mennonites currently putting our heads together to work toward securing the next step our denomination must take in social justice: inclusivity and the embrace of diversity. It was a fine weekend, met very interesting and wonderful people. Didn’t have time to see much of Manhattan, but we got a lot done (I think). Then flew home and attended a lovely party with new friends. Yesterday, I crashed under the weight of water logged wings.

Today I literally turn the corner on safety and turn 71. Those who are yet healthy and under the age of 60 may not understand what I am about to share concerning corner-turning, but hang in there with me and time-travel a bit.

My 70th birthday was bittersweet. We thought we were going to be received into membership at the church we were attending. It was to be a prodigal son  sort of thing. Dear old friends were invited to attend and were just waiting for the date to be declared. My  singer/songwriter  friend was going to play and sing for us. Significant persons in my encounter with faith were looking forward to being there with us. After 3 decades in the desert, this was an important event of covenant renewal for us. Of course, as we know, it never happened. Instead, we had some people come and celebrate my 70th birthday, including one dear old friend who flew in from Albuquerque. It was an amazing evening. On the other side of this movie screen, I was recovering from a Rituxan infusion  (lymphoma maintenance treatment), feeling ill and heart-broken. That was 70 for me…a little formidable but a cornerstone of age that I managed to slip through with more or less dignity.

This year, I turn the corner and face the east, the road to 80. There is no stopping it. The years go so quickly and cancer patients all know that time becomes a different entity in the remission stage(s). For me, it is not a loss of youth, it is an anxiety about time itself…time to do as much as I can to make a difference everywhere I go…to leave a legacy that is positive and helpful, especially to my daughter, partner and all those whom I have loved, love and maybe love me too. But even more than that—to leave the spot of the world that I stand in better off than when I arrived—better off because I chose to struggle toward wholeness without holding back. Sometimes that looked foolish to me as well as to others, but I never had a real choice. It wasn’t heroic. It was just an energy seemingly written into my DNA, completely outside voluntary action. Completely intuitive. I take no credit. It just was what it was. Chemotherapy changes DNA. Mine did in some respects, but not in this one. Praise God!

This is a sad time of year, and it is nearly Advent. I am mourning losses of my own and that of persons who have touched my life and now are gone. This includes all persons I’ve known who have died of terminal illness as well as those gone through an accident of timing. They all live in my heart. The first is my sister, who died last year of lymphoma at almost 81, 2 days before Christmas. She was like a mother to me. I talk to her often and think she is waiting for me somewhere in time and sacred space. This is a comforting thought. I am young and old at the same time because I got such a late start at 40. My young friends don’t understand my old heart and some of my old friends do not understand my young heart, but if I walk along with Jesus—the premier young/old, male/female one, I just feel like me and that is the best place to be…walking along the Sea of Galilee with all the others.

So I gather myself together, dry my wings off and prepare to circle the sky with wings of prayer. I am the Sacred Bird of the North, made in God’s image and preparing to join the great procession of Sacred Birds when called…but for now, I have so much more to do…so much more of Galilee to walk. May God grant me time enough to die with no regrets at all.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow….

I want to walk as a child of the light. I want to follow with Jesus…

30
Sep
09

let’s be creative for a change

I am a member of an online listserv whose purpose is promoting open dialog on various aspects of LGBTQ inclusion in the Mennonite Church (MC USA).  This subject has been kicked around for the past 30 years in this denomination—one that is not given to hasty decisions, obviously! Much of the time the members of this broad based group contribute erudite views—all very worthy and many quite thought provoking. But sometimes I get tired of the effort, because inclusion is a no-brainer for Christ followers.

For the past numbers of days the subject of focus has been homosexual desire vs. homosexual practice. The other day, in the midst of a flurry of intellectual postings, one of the members—Natalya Lowther—posted a view that totally took me by delightful surprise. She set forth a slightly unorthodox view, but reasonable nonetheless, with insight, clarity and creativity, and has graciously granted me permission to re-publish here on Called By Name. More from this author (including her profile and raison d’etre) can be found on her own blog:  http://www.pinwheelfarm.blogspot.com

Having been raised by a physics professor, when I hear the word “orientation” I think of magnetized particles orienting themselves  towards magnetic north.

Magnets are attracted to one another because of this shared alignment.

Magnets are attracted to iron because it has a potential for shared  alignment.

But whether magnets are “mating” with other magnets or with iron, they are always “practicing” their orientation. The physical force of the attraction is weaker the further they are from what they are attracted to…but it’s inherently there and functioning at all times.

People are attracted to God, and to other people, when there is a shared alignment. Mentally, intellectually, physically, emotionally.

Unlike magnets, our various alignments can be at odds with each  other…we may think that because we are aligned physically with  people of the same sex, we must be misaligned with God. But I do  not find that to be so. We can also use some senses to restrict the  alignments of other senses–the mind putting the flesh into subjection, artificially, by force. But then we are at war with  ourselves, creating chaotic conditions. Such a condition is not  sustainable, not healthy. Put the “south” poles of two magnets  together, and incredible force is needed to keep them in proximity.

In my life, I seek the natural alignment, the harmony, the sympathy  among all parts. If my life, my soul, my spirit, is given freedom  to fully express its natural orientation towards God, then the  other orientations that appear “not of God” will naturally tend  towards a natural alignment that does not conflict with that  primary orientation, even though it may not fit some artificially  imposed “norm.”

Just reflections, not clearly followed through but a beginning sketch.

Blessings,

Natalya Lowther, Lawrence, KS

Sacred Bird of the North

18
Aug
09

closure

Last weekend a number of friends from our former congregation came together to meet and greet and enjoy each others company. Nothing unusual about that, except that this is the congregation that now exists in painful division  after the effort to extend membership to my partner and me failed in the most miserable of ways—on Pentecost Sunday, the day the Christian Church celebrates the gift of the Holy Spirit poured out upon the followers of Jesus.

Our friends came to see us and each other to affirm and enjoy. Each one had something to give to the evening and each one had something they mourned, but mourning was mostly absent, except for a few forced smiles and the sense of sadness that wafted through occasionally. Gatherings like this are all about closure and they are as bitter sweet as they are comforting. Closure is what we do in our society. We seek closure, as though anything can ever really be finalized, categorized,  shelved and forgotten—not even death. I don’t think anyone went home that evening feeling good or released from the issue that fills the space where we used to stand. I think we said goodbye in a dozen different ways—all of them leaving a stain in the heart.

My partner, Big Dawg and I are making ourselves at home in another congregation, but we can’t help the sense of knowing that what went wrong went horribly wrong, and the price to be paid will come due for everyone. As an idealist, I struggle with this. As a Christ follower, I see everyone’s tears melting into God’s tears and then…

.

Do you think God goes for closure? I don’t.

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.

13
Jul
09

something for everyone

Today I was going to write about how all three of our kitties went scurrying into hiding places (which of course we think is adorable of them), the minute they saw the landscape crew in the back yard.  After checking email, I’ve decided to write another reflective piece about us—we imperfect human beings—imperfect compared to animals which were made perfect and remain so (except where humans have meddled).

My subject is the “acceptance of same-gender-covenanted-couples-into-membership” issue has been kicking around in my denomination for about 30 years. In our local church we had inadvertently become poster children for it this  past year—the first half privately and the second half publicly. One day, amid the confusion of bells, whistles, hoots and hollers, the roof fell in disastrously on everyone, leaving a wake of division and pain. We  were down to our last nerve and had to leave. It had been our year of living dangerously. Now truths,  half-truths and quarter truths abound, but mostly there is grief,  anguish, division and a bit of scapegoating.

If you’ve ever seen one of those old movies where a person boards the train and looks back from the window as the train leaves the station, while the beloved other person runs after it just trying to hang on a moment or two longer…that’s how some of us feel (at least that’s how I feel). The person in the movie running to keep the other in sight knows full well that he/she may never (or will never) be reunited again, and yet for those few running steps, there is hope. “I believe; help my unbelief!. (Mk 9:24)

We walked in hope with the leadership through many months of dark rain clouds before the congregation entered in. When it did, the clouds increased and the weather turned stormy. Fear and uncertainty made itself at home. Eventually the sky turned a deep, dark, gray and the rain came down in buckets. We were drenched with rain. There was no shelter. The joy we’d come aboard with had turned to deep sorrow and that is how we left the congregation I had come to love—in anguish.

Several people left as well, or are on hiatus. It’s difficult to know the difference. The church lumbers on in an effort to heal itself, but the fatal flaw is still front and center. This congregation does not seem to want to see it. Our denomination believes in the priesthood of all believers, but one very important prerequisite for this is found in Matt 18. It is chock full of good advice for priestly believers, especially verses 15 to 17. Without the humility to give and receive counsel, we are locked in to our own views accompanied by the fear that keeps us from walking in another’s shoes. If we cannot do this, we remain separated while appearing to be united in love as the Body of Christ. Because fear cannot exist alongside love, we cannot agree to disagree except in love (I John 4:18). This is a conundrum…people clinging to their own views and beliefs…not accepting our account of the past year as our truth…not walking in our shoes or those of their neighbor.

So, when good folks go scurrying about in fear and denial, beliefs stack up like firewood, while those who were first encounterers go unheard…unbelieved. Careful! Don’t anyone drop a match nearby.

Oh, and did I mention hate mail? Yes, during that last, fateful, stormy month we received an unsigned letter telling us that there was no place for us in the Kingdom of God at all. The next Sunday, this was gently referred to as a letter of condemnation. Needless to say, the priestly congregation didn’t understand what such a letter could mean as it was so graciously understated. There is so much already being swept under the rug…something for everyone.

We grieve. The friends we leave behind grieve. And for what? So that everyone could have something…a sacred cow perhaps??

Emoticon_Rose_1.42K

BTW, Cats are okay now. the patio is taking shape and the sun is shining without fear.

27
Jun
09

walking on water

Leaving no footprints is a neat maneuver when walking on a rainy path. What you have to do is levitate a bit, you know…walking on water. Anyone can do it, but few try. What you have to do is look straight ahead, not down, not up…straight ahead. If you falter you just start again and keep on going. I’m sure that if I do leave one or two prints behind, God will cover them with his breath and Grace will be mine.

Tomorrow I expect to have gotten completely across the bridge, wet or dry and I will sing praises to my God who made me inside and out: his beloved child. Still, I mourn for the congregation that couldn’t hold on to me…me and my partner of 32+ years. They are mourning and we are mourning and God loves us all.

I will lift up your face. I will cause your light to shine.

I will take your empty life, I will fill it with mine.

Emoticon_hands_2K copy

My partner…of 32+ years writes songs of praise and songs of longing. She has a beautiful voice and she sings to me. My partner and I will walk across the bridge together tomorrow… and we will rejoice!




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