Intimate Love Can Require Extraordinary Courage

This morning I came across something quite beautiful that was posted on Face Book. Rosa Lee Timm, an outstanding Deaf actress, posted a clip of a wedding. This clip was of the vows that a woman wrote for her soon to be husband and it was incredible. Unfortunately there aren’t any closed captions for this clip that has gone viral on the internet. In Rosa’s comment in the status box above the clip that she shared she explained that she doesn’t know what this woman was saying – but that it certainly looked like a powerful message based on her husband’s reaction. She commented how she admired the beautiful and massive hairstyle of the bride, and I agree! It’s dynamite! Feel free to see for yourself by giving this great looking couple a gander. Back in the day, if I had known about flower covered archways I might have put more eggs in that basket – this one is beautiful! So – the film shows an extraordinary to look at couple who generously share parts of their unique wedding online. What the bride says is about far more than young love though – it was about the reality that accepting life’s greatest experiences often requires an extraordinary amount of courage to endure the worst patches as well. One doesn’t have to be Christian, as she is, to know this to be true. It’s a universal thing – if we are going to experience even a slice of a full life we need to dare to leap, and experience fall, after fall after fall. And intimate relationships are the messiest and most wonderful experience of all: Marriage, parenting, grand kids, nieces nephews, friendship, siblings, pets – it’s all a gamble. Anyway – I enjoyed knowing that I’m not the only relational chicken-sh*t on the planet and the video warmed my heart. BBbGXzPCAAACd-4For those who can’t hear what she said, this is some of what I jotted down from the video: “…sitting with this piece I wrote called “I Waited for You” I realized that you are my sequel. You are what I asked for, and I will be content with whatever the will of God is, and He chose somebody strong enough to deal with me…. I waited for you. Did you know that I’m not her and that I partially agreed to the wait because I didn’t believe that you existed in the first place? But in the slight, rare possibility that you did, you would definitely not want me, because I’m not her. …I choke on words like ‘want’ and ‘need’…I am the one that fairy tales tell you to stay away from. I was never Cinderella…I was never the Princess. I was the fire breathing dragon…yet you chose to knock on the door of this castle: my heart….unaware that an invisible fortress had been built, due to much more experienced pain than a sting… I was in a relationship with pain…and I loved him but I hated him, because pain had been faithful for years... beauty to me was incomplete…there was no heart in the house tonight.. nights like this I would wish and pray ‘Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name, please allow the clouds to gather and the sky to to turn to gray, lead us not into temptation…Oh how I wish that it would rain so that when I look into the sky I can see my reflection’. …(after I met you) I stepped out into the sun. He is the one that knows me. He knows me. He has the ability to foresee and He still loves me. So, I stepped outside…only to see you outside my door and I was terrified… Why couldn’t I believe that your hand placed gently on the back of my neck calms me. I hate the way my heart became a defiant teenager. I got tired of the fight and decided to prove to you that you too would leave…I kept asking myself ‘who are you’ while climbing the attractive Mt. Everest of your mind. I attempted to hike a little higher to take a peek at your soul…your condition of unconditional is where I fell…

your love is too much…

it’s hard to breathe when anyone gets close…stand close and let me inhale your exhale…you collect my tears like wilted, wet bible pages…you remind me that as long as I stay close to Him I’ll never thirst again..

I remember

staring into your eyes for the first time

and it was like

staring into the back of the moon,

only to find out that IT shines too.

You are patience like a tailored suit…we are not Romeo and Juliet…but we too are a beautifully written tragedy…but we will continue and stand in His word and drink Truth… I know they told you ‘good luck’ with her…may the Lord continue to orchestrate this beautiful complex chord progression… today I will let my ‘yes be yes’, and my ‘no be no’, and today my ‘I do’ be ‘I do.’… I vow that I won’t tap out, I won’t give up...I vow not to say things like ‘you complete me’ because you don’t..in Christ I have been made complete…this will be my constant reflection because death on that cross was the greatest display of affection.

I’ve learned that He loved me enough to give me you, and so I vow to you my last breath.”

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Ash Wednesday : Your Work Will Be Rewarded

k2773601For those of us who observe Lent, today is a day that we are asked to be brave and remember that some day we will die. It is Ash Wednesday. We remember that we aren’t perfect, and as Christians, we need to renew our awareness that Jesus offered His life in order that we may stumble into God’s light….but not alone. God doesn’t want us to be afraid of failure – but the relentless pressures of life, even the most basic stuff, sometimes feels just like a black smudge right in the middle of my noodle.

So, sometimes I imagine my worst fears, my greatest burdens – I dredge them up and then close my eyes and imagine that I am in a row boat with Jesus. Some days just the undone heaps of laundry are enough to send me into an anxious flurry of worry. But, the boat image – it always helps.

The President of Saint Ambrose University wrote something interesting in an online Lenten reflection:

“The great Psalm 51 is perhaps the ‘classic’ articulation of our awareness of our sinfulness:

‘Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness…For I acknowledge my offense, and my sin is before me always.’

We know that we are need of forgiveness: from God, from each other, even from ourselves. In God’s dealings with humanity as seen in the Scriptures, we see that God asks us to DO something in order to show a sincerity in our search for forgiveness.

I also found some related quotes, and have been pouring through some photos which, to me, don’t smack of failure one bit.

“Time is the coin of your life.

You spend it.

Don’t let others spend it for you.”

Carl Sandburg

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“Nothing strengthens authority

as much as

silence.”

Leonardo da Vinci

whole wrld

“But as for you,

be strong and

do not give up,

for your work will be rewarded.”

2 Chronicles 15:7

Litany: Billy Collins

Litany by Billy Collins

You are the bread and the knife,

The crystal goblet and the wine…

~Jacues Crickillon

 

You are the bread and the knife,

the crystal goblet and the wine,

You are the dew on the morning grass

and the burning wheel of the sun.

You are the white apron of the baker,

and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

 

However, you are not the wind in the orchard,

the plums on the counter,

or the houses of cards.

And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.

 

It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,

maybe even the pigeon on the general’s head,

but you are not even close

to being a field of cornflowers at dusk.

 

And a quick look in the mirror will show

that you are neither the boots in the corner

nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.

 

It might interest you to know,

speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,

that I am the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.

 

I am also the moon in the trees

and the blind woman’s tea cup.

But don’t worry, I’m not the bread and the knife.

You are still the bread and the knife,

not to mention the crystal goblet and – somehow – the wine.

Quotes about Windows

Aside

The “photo of the week” word is windows. Saturday chores start in just a few minutes and I look forward to working on that project.

I do most of my good thinking while staring outside.

In the meantime, I found some interesting quotes.

Poor Tennessee…always a scardy cat:

“We all live in a house on fire, no fire department to call;

no way out, just the upstairs window to look out of while the fire burns the house down

with us trapped, locked in it.”  

―     Tennessee Williams,     The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore

A “Come to Jesus” perspective that I prefer:

“Bare heights of loneliness…

a wilderness whose burning winds sweep over glowing sands, what are they to HIM?

Even there He can refresh us,

even there He can renew us.”  

―     Amy Carmichael

This quote brings images to mind that remind me of the hours and hours of BBC dramas that I watched over the long winter school break:

“Every face, every shop, bedroom window, public-house, and dark square is a picture feverishly turned–in search of what? It is the same with books. What do we seek through millions of pages?”

―     Virginia Woolf,     Jacob’s Room

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I like this quote the best. Windows are about feeling safe, eh? :

“It is not real,” he whispered.

“This place is only a thought that has grabbed hold of you.

It cannot harm you.

You are not of this place, and it has no power over you.

You do not need it, nor do you owe it your allegiance.”

I nodded,

listening only to his words and not to the rattling of the windows,

which had begun as soon as we stepped inside.”

―     Rita Murphy,     Bird

A Post from Last Summer about Tired Hands

What a lucky couple of finds amongst a shoulder full of Monday confusions.

1: A photo from last fall that I took in the morning, but to me, looks like a setting sun:

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2: A couple of minutes to re-read a poem I found last summer. This summer I am reading the poem from the perspective of an American Sign Language (ASL) student. I hope to reboot my skills in a month or so, and for one reason and another, I re-read this poem from a Jesuit point of view. This time, the speaker in the poem became Jesus, and the hands became those of an ASL interpreter WannaBe.

Here is a link to the poem by Erin Bertram. It’s an encouraging poem. Hope the same is true for you.

Nelson Mandela quotes and Random Photos

“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling,

but in rising every time we fall…

100_2666

 

“When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in

he has no choice but to become an outlaw…”

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“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged

to find the ways in which you yourself have altered…”

8

 

“Lead from the back – and let others believe they are in front.” ~ Nelson Mandela

 100_3590

Mandela quotes found on Good Reads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/367338.Nelson_Mandela

Forgiveness Friday: Sometimes It Takes Going Through the Roof

Maybe the reason that life puts pebbles in our shoes and smudge marks on our eyeglasses is that we are living in a cosmic comic strip with only five windows, and the last one always contains dialogue that says: “I can’t do this alone.”

I mentioned the other day that I wanted to find something to put on my desk as a tactile reminder that self-doubt will keep me from experiencing what someone described to me in a letter during last year’s Lent.

The letter says:

“God is present in all things and “everything is grace.”

I found a perfectly snarky reminder to continue this work of allowing myself to experience what is good and real, rather than to spend my whole day in repose due to my pebble injuries and blurred vision. Here is JerkFace in full glory.

Perfect if I do say so myself. What a snot, eh? The fellow at the store said “you can keep him at your desk and at least one of you will be relaxed.” Exactly. JerkFace hasn’t a care in the world, and is full of high falutin’ criticism, smack talk and derogatory sass.

The only problem with my find is that this little thing is so stinking cute and so me. This is the version of me that turns my family blue in the face. One of them told me in no uncertain terms just this morning:

“You just check out and we can’t even figure out

anything about you.”

It’s true. Much of the time I am enveloped by some sort of dark struggle, or recovering by way of a triple blanket bed cave with a book. Anne Lamott describes this need to give pain a full-fledged examination:

“And I felt like my heart had been so thoroughly and irreparably broken that there could be no real joy again, that at best there might eventually be a little contentment. Everyone wanted me to get help and rejoin life, pick up the pieces and move on, and I tried to, I wanted to, but I just had to lie in the mud with my arms wrapped around myself, eyes closed, grieving, until I didn’t have to anymore.”
Anne Lamott, Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year

Thankfully, SweetCheeks, my desktop compass toward grace in the form of a desk decoration is much bigger than silly little JerkFace.

What would I do without my family who is willing to forgive me and call me in out of the rain time after time, cartoon strip after cartoon strip? Just like in this weekend’s Gospel story, they are always there the next day, ready to haul my sorry can to some new spot in the sand as the tides ebb and flow.

With absolutely no exception, this weekend’s Gospel story is my favorite. In the story

3 …four men tried to bring in a paralyzed man on a stretcher, 4 but could not reach Jesus because of the crowd. So, they removed the roof above Jesus, dug through the ceiling, and lowered the man.  (Mark 2)

Can you even imagine this? Oh come on, don’t be a jerkface, let go and imaaaaagine the drama of being that guy on the stretcher. Or the people underneath trying to follow the rules and wait in line, and then someone cuts in line by way of the roof?

I have a painting in my office made for me by an Appalachian artist name Charley Kinney. He made it for me when I told him that this healing story was my favorite gospel tale. At the bottom of the painting Charley wrote: “Christ healen peple.”

The drama of the story is epic, but what is transformative is the message.

Jesus says to the man:

9 “What’s easier to say: ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or ‘Get up, pick up your stretcher, and walk.’ 10 So you’ll know that the Son of Man has the power to forgive sins here and now,” Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and told him, 11 “Get up, pick up your stretcher, and go home.”

That is faith.

That, is faith.

“Forgiveness is giving up all hope of having had

a better past.”
Anne Lamott

Speed bump after speed bump, fall after fall, stupid pebble after stupid pebble, faith is the confidence that we are worthy of the tender care given to us in the oddest ways, day after day after day.

And then again, on another day.

Forgiveness Friday: Discreet 101

Then, Jesus clearly warned the (recently healed) man. “Don’t tell anyone about your cure! Go! Show your skin to the priest. Then give to the Temple, just as Moses commanded. That should show them!”

After that, Jesus kicked the man out.

Mark 1: 43-44

Huh?

This smells fishy at the first read. Sounds like it’s time for some sack cloths that say:

paranoia will destroy ya.

Special attention could be given to the instruction from Jesus to not “tell” in this weekend’s Gospel story about a leper being healed.

“Telling” vs. “Not Telling” is the main topic of conversation between my ten year old son and I right now. After moving to a larger town and school, our Joe has been exposed to larger and more diverse groups of children. In his mind, he has gone from cozy to mega, but really it is exactly what his dad and I would wish for in a small school and manageable class size.

Initially, our hard work paid off each day by pumping him with the promise that investing himself in a larger and more assorted mix of friends would bring him to a whole new level of happy.

And pay off it did! Though there was more than one tearful bedtime that included “I hate this place…I miss my old friends…no one likes me here,” for the most part his boundless extroversion paid off and his initial goal to have one best friend has expanded to trying to figure out how to manage his large group of best friends.

The flip side? He is in overdrive with trying to figure out what a clique is vs. a group, what exactly defines bullying, and what to do with the fact that girls are not disgusting during every minute of the day.

Which brings us back to the Gospel snippet which began this post.

Here is the whole story:

Mark 1:40-45

40 A leper approached Jesus, fell to his knees, and pleaded, “Jesus, if you want to, you can make me whole again.”

41 Jesus had such deep feelings for the leper, he reached out and touched the man. “I want you to get better. Be whole again.” 42 At that moment, the disease left the man. 43-44 Then, Jesus clearly warned the man. “Don’t tell anyone about your cure! Go! Show your skin to the priest. Then give to the Temple, just as Moses commanded. That should show them!” After that, Jesus kicked the man out.

45 But, after the man left, he talked about Jesus all the time. Because of his comments, Jesus could not enter any town in the open. Instead, he stayed in places where he could be alone. But people from everywhere kept coming to see him.

This morning while reading and listening to this story, I couldn’t help but remember a talk I had with Joe the other day on the way to basketball practice. It went something like this:

Mom: Joe, I was wondering if you know what paranoid means?

Joe: (huge sigh) Yesssss mom, it means to get on someone’s nerves.

Mom: Oh, I think you might be thinking of annoyed. No, I meant paranoid which is when someone worries way, way too much about bad things that people could be thinking or saying about us. Sometimes it’s true that some of that nasty stuff is going on, but almost always it’s not as bad as we think.

This got him talking a little bit about his concern that I was spreading rumors among the fourth grade moms about some of his less favorable transgressions from before we moved.

Which…led to talk #346 which is

The Big Difference Between Private and Secret

Mom: Here’s the deal Joe, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I don’t keep secrets because secrets are about shame and I am nothing but proud of you. I DO keep things private though, and no, I didn’t tell all the moms about XYZPDQ because it isn’t any of their bizwax.

Joe: K. Gotta go. Coach is right there.

So, when the leper who had been healed boogied off to town and bragged up Jesus, he wasn’t spreading a long-held secret, he was just excited. But, the consequence of his lack of discreetness was that Jesus had no privacy and doing his work became complicated and, as we now know, very dangerous.

Glad that I took a minute to soak this story up – I’m sure it won’t be long before I am forced into some awkward mom situation again, and I hope I can keep my word to my kid.