Posts Tagged ‘Belonging



10
Jun
10

family plan

Many, many months ago, while Darling Daughter was grieving over the break-up of a year long romance (a handsome man with commitment aversion). I gave her my best advice which was to pray for the right person to come into her life. I had done this myself 30 some years before with positive results. It was the best I had to offer. So what happened? One Sunday at her church, during the passing of the peace, the man sitting in front of her turned around to perform the accustomed handshake, hug or whatever, and both were smitten: love at first sight. Very romantic, I would say.

Now this is no ordinary answer to prayer because DD is in her early 40s. The baby clock had ticked itself down to unlikely and she had given up all hope of ever having her own family. I in concert with her, had entirely given up hope of ever being a grandmother. Young readers will not understand this granny thing. I didn’t until I entered my 7th decade, when I began to sense that grandchildren would be even better than cats. And that’s saying a lot!

Well, to make this story a bit shorter…this man turned out to be a widower with 2 young daughters—not divorced—widowed. Dear God, how kind of you to bring an entire family into Darling’s life. Just add water, stir gently and set in the sun to bloom. This is all very exciting for DD, the children (Miss Green and Miss Pink) and the prince…not a frog…whom I shall call #1 Son until I come upon a better name. I have several favorite youngish male friends who are dear to me, but no actual sons, so clearly he is the first and receives a crown or something.

Wedding preparations are underway for July 3. Ms. will turn into Mrs. Big Dawg and I will become grannies and except for the messed up world we live in, shall live happily ever after. We are off and running. Last week, Saturday, the girls came over for the first granny visit. We had mac and cheese in bunny shapes which they loved…“Can we have more?” Then BD and I did arts and crafts with them and had a lovely time. Immediately after they left BD and I went out shopping for supplies for the next visit and set up their own cabinet in my studio. Are we crazy or what? I will not be able to resist showing pictures, so stand by. Here we go…

Miss Pink on the left—5 1/2

Miss Green on the right—8 1/2

#1 Son (a.k.a. the Captain)

Darling Daughter

Balloons have no names

This photo was taken after Miss Green’s violin recital.  Great, huh?

And here is Miss Green in a pensive pose after playing Perpetual Motion brilliantly.

22
May
10

Pentecost Sunday

Tomorrow is Pentecost Sunday. It is a day of commemoration and celebration of the 50th day following the resurrection of Jesus—the day (according to the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 2) that the Holy Spirit was given to the apostles and other followers of Jesus. It is considered to be the birth of the Christian Church.

Today, as I prepare to dress the altar in my current place of worship, I am painfully reminded of Pentecost Sunday, 2009, a day that began beautifully and joyously in the church I was attending, but ended in gut-wrenching pain and confusion for Big Dawg and me, as our request for membership was euphemistically burned at the stake. The church was in turmoil. We were in shock. The young, inexperienced pastors were immobilized, despite having been largely responsible for the disaster. Since that time nothing has been okay. There has been no respite, no core reconciliation and no going forward. This church has added another sad chapter to it’s history of passive/aggressive behavior. And we languish in the field wondering where we will ever find a comfortable fit in the Body of Christ. There is something so glaringly wrong with this picture. BD and I initiated and expressed forgiveness to the pastoral leadership, yet no confession of responsibility has reached us…sorrow for loss, but not accountability.

I live in a church world I do not understand. There is a bedrock of discipleship, but it is in dire need of a face-lift. No one likes change, but change it must and eventually will. The question is: how many dead and mangled bodies will be piled up along the way? I’m feeling pretty mangled right now. I’m so messed up that I actually miss the church that threw us out! But it is not the same and one cannot go backward. Everything changes and everything stays the same. What a conundrum! I am once again a bird on a wire, and it’s not a comfortable place to be.

At the church I currently attend, I am accepted, but I do not feel affirmed. They don’t seem to see the difference. It’s a cultural thing, I guess. Teutonic peoples are very different from demonstrative middle easterners. When AD was with us, we were a unit. Now I am feeling alone. They tell me it takes longer than a year to feel a part of things. Now why on earth—in God’s Good Church—should that be the case? Why indeed? I have no acceptable answer, but it appears to be my problem.

I am a mass of painful memories, losses and lack of purposeful direction.

If you have a suggestion, please pass it on.

My prayer is very simple: Please help me.

02
Feb
10

life since then

I have not written since the eve of our membership ceremony. So much has happened since that day. I will start by sharing with you in this posting, the words I spoke to the members of my new congregation, and thereby bring you up to date on that part of my journey.

Membership Sunday, January 24, 2010 – Naomi

I am not a newcomer to pain and disappointment. I did not live a charmed life. It was as a single desperate mother that I came to Reba Place Fellowship in 1972. I had come to the end of my road——what I knew how to do to survive. My first experience of worship at Reba was amazing. Most everyone will tell the same story: It was the abundance of love that drew me in; it felt unconditional and I sorely needed a place to lie down. Life at Reba had its ups and downs. It was a mixed bag, but one thing was certain: It was discipleship 24/7. I became a Christian there in the Immersion Method. Whether guided or misguided, we lived Matthew 18 in households of various sizes. There were a number of painfully misguided events that were personally devastating to me, but on the whole, I don’t believe I could have had a better grounding in Christian life and principles than I received at the Reba “boot-camp.”

Judy and I met at Reba Place and have been life partners for 32 years. Devotional journaling was an everyday event. During one of these times in our last few tumultuous months at Reba, we each received a word, or prophecy, that we were not to worry; and that God had given us to each other for the purpose of becoming the full persons he intended us to be.

Living this out was not possible at Reba and we eventually had to endure a painful leave taking. It was with this vision at the center of our life together that we journeyed through the next 30 years in a kind of Ruth and Naomi relationship, searching for an acceptable version of what we’d left behind.

Judy and I have been true partners through many deep waters. We’ve had many challenges as well as blessings. We survived and prospered in the secular world, but we never found another spiritual home for worship.

Now at the beginning of my 7th decade, having survived round one of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and the recent experience of church non-acceptance, I believe I am finally growing up and into the child God made me at the moment I was conceived. It has been a hard road with many rough stones, but here by the water, I build an altar of praise and thanksgiving to the One God—faithful life-giver, stone smoother, transformer and charmer who has indeed Called me by Name and never let the water overcome me.

After all is said and done and the fire has been laid to rest, I see that although only grafted in and not cradled in, I am a Mennonite and one day, just once, I’d like to wear a little white bonnet—to stand under it, just to know what it feels like to be so represented by honor.

I am delighted beyond words to be here…to lay down the gifts God has given me to give to you. It is an enormous blessing to be part of the wheel of life, turning and coming round right.

23
Jan
10

life goes on

I had a few rough days and nights as my last post reveals. By Thursday I was nearly undone from sleeplessness and despair. A phone call to my fine feathered friend, whom I shall call the Empress Bird (EB), and another to her dear partner, Queen Bee (QB) brought enormous relief. In the evening Big Dawg and I spent a couple of hours with EB, a person much like me, and through sharing back and forth, all my feelings that had no place to go were witnessed and released. One more time, the waters were not permitted to overcome me. Empress Bird spoke many life changing things to me and I heard them somewhere inside of my own silver lining.

When we left, I had two recordings in my hands that Queen Bee made for us—one for Adopted Daughter and her pain, and one for me and my sleeplessness . My recording was 100% helpful. I slept like a baby. Got rid of some nasty fears through dreams, and am now convinced that whenever I hear the sound of QB’s voice I may just become dumb-struck! AD used hers last night and says it helped her so much. We are grateful receivers of God’s gifts…the miraculous and the useful…we are open mouths for all that God sends any which way it comes.

Tomorrow BD and I will become members of our Little Church That Could in the city and AD will rejoice. Many of our friends from here and there, across the years and recent, will be there. Songs of our hearts will be sung and we will share with everyone what it means to us to have come this long, long way. We will rejoice  as endings fold themselves into new beginnings. Our good friend will come and sing Here by the Water for us…a song about the rough stones we are…stones only God can smooth, only God can make holy. That is our story, BD’s and mine…rough stones in the river of life.

Called by name….you are mine.

Cairn was built by Todd Friesen with love

Composite was made by Naomi with love..

24
Dec
09

christmas eve

It is late afternoon on Christmas Eve and all through the house not a person is stirring, not even a cat. The laundry is done and folded with care in hopes that my loved ones will have something to wear.

Ah, the memories of childhood…that advent of wonder. The sacred world begins to turn a new page on the first Sunday of Advent each year. As a child, I didn’t know that  Christmas was more than Santa, presents, family and fun.  I love Advent from start to finish. It’s just Christmas Eve and Christmas Day that bring a lump to my throat. Family, you know.

Yesterday I marked the first year anniversary of my oldest sister’s death from lymphoma. She was a mother/sister and a cancer buddy to me. A week ago, I learned that my adopted daughter’s cancer has returned. She and I are also cancer buddies—she having been diagnosed two months after me in 2006. She’s has three recurrences in three years, while I spent the past three years recovering and achieving remission. The past week has been full of challenges, both painfully sad and amazingly joyous. I am thankful for God’s grace and the love of friends. This small, chosen family of ours is standing in the wind…holding on tight, even as we let go, as we must…as we all eventually must.

I will write more about this as we go. Right now, it’s time make merry. It’s Christmas! And at midnight, even the animals speak!

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…

09
Nov
09

preparing to take off

Last post, I was a new bird on a new wire. Today, I am 3 % less new, but getting plenty weary of wire sitting. I am preparing to fly once again. Beware: bird leaving wire and heading out. Remaining birds wave good bye and promise to keep me in their prayers. That’s how it goes, isn’t it? Much easier to pray for someone than actually touch them. I don’t believe God intended us to sit on wires. I believe God makes circles and invites us to make them too. I like circles…always have. They are so lovely…big ones, small ones and everything in between.

Soon I will trip the 70th wire and turn 71. Time to fly. Like my friend, bigvoice, I’ll be looking for the blue above the cloudy sky. Sometimes it takes a leap to find you still have wings. Spread them wide and fly great big circles in that great blue sky…at least once in a while….

Sacred Bird of the North




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