04 March 2018

Keeping a Holy Lent: Day 19

Forget your perfect offering. 
There is a crack, a crack, in everything. 
That’s how the light gets in.   - Leonard Cohen

Nothing in this world is perfect.
Not you, not me, not anyone or anything.
And yet, we spend so much time trying to act like we have it all together.

I wonder why we do that.
I know you don't have it all together.
You know I don't have it all together.
So why do we pretend?

What is it about human nature that encourages us not to be our authentic selves with people?
I wonder if this is a human thing or a uniquely American thing.
In either case, it wounds the body of Christ.
When we presume that we aren't cracked, fragile human beings, we don't see one another the way God sees us.

Because here's the thing:
if I act like I've got it all together and I've made something of myself, despite the cracks I know I'm hiding, 
surely everyone else can too, right?
When their cracks show, that's just a sign of weakness or laziness or lack of motivation or a poor work ethic, or something!  It's definitely not that we're all fragile and we are all full of cracks.

I've been thinking a lot lately about my own struggles.
Lent is good for that.
I don't just mean my mental health; I mean I have taken this season to think about who I am at 41 years old and who I want to be, both now and in the future.
I've been thinking about all sorts of things:
my health,
my career,
my family,
my home, 
the books I read,
the television I watch,
the money I spend,
the money I don't spend,
the friends I keep.

Because it all matters.
I know that some day, probably not too far into the future, I'm going to look back on my life and wonder where it went.  I'm going to realize that it is time for my professional life to end and I am going to have to find a new identity.  I don't want to be surprised by that day.  I want to slip so seamlessly into the next chapter of my life that it barely feels like it happened.  I want to do that because I was prepared for it.

And so I begin now.
I begin thinking about the cracks in my life.
Not to repair them, but to examine them for what they're worth.
What the cracks teach me,
what they illuminate in me,
what they allow to escape.

No one wants to be broken and wounded.
But we are.
And it is high time we own that.

03 March 2018

Keeping a Holy Lent: Day 18

“Scoop up a big messy pile of an idea, invite some people over, and see what you can move together.”
Rebecca Hale

What a whirlwind of a 3 days it has been!
I've been at an area gathering of the leadership in the 8 Southeastern regions of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in North Carolina since Thursday.
It has been utterly amazing.
We've had hard conversations about the future of the Church.
We've had a lot of laughs.
We've had more snacks than we should.

We've made friends and colleagues; we've deepened relationships.

That was the hope.
But the hope was also that we would find a way to figure out what conversations most needed to happen in our Regions and in the Church.
We did that.
We got there.

And now we have a plan to work on them.
For that I am so excited and so grateful.

On my drive home today, I was thinking about what had just happened.
In our very first session, my friend Rebecca said,
"Scoop up a big messy pile of an idea,
invite some people over,
and see what you can move together."
Man alive, did we have some messy stuff to tackle.

We're not there yet.
And it will be a while before we get there.
But we have learned that with a little help, we can move mountains.

Over the course of the next year, a new team will lead us.
A new group of people will pick up the mantle now and help us think more about the future of the Church.
I'm so excited about it.
There's a movement of God happening in our midst and it is nearly palpable.

What about you?
Is there a big messy pile of an idea that you might be able to tackle with a few friends?

Because if the last 3 days were any indication, this world could be a much better place if we could all do that.

What stirs your soul?
What do you want to change?
Do you have an idea of how to change it?
Because if you do, now is the time.

The world needs you to begin moving mountains.
I need you to begin moving mountains.
Mountain-moving is hard work.
But, when done correctly,
it is always worth it.

02 March 2018

Keeping a Holy Lent: Day 17

We all live off his generous bounty,
 gift after gift after gift.
    We got the basics from Moses,
        and then this exuberant giving and receiving,
    This endless knowing and understanding—
        all this came through Jesus, the Messiah.

John 1, The Message.
I don't always use The Message because it is an interpretation rather than a translation.
But sometimes it is good to hear familiar words from a new voice.

We live off Jesus' generous bounty - gift after gift after gift.

I needed that reminder this week.
I needed to be reminded that it's not just a one time thing.
That there are gifts around me in a million different ways.

I forget that.
I forget that a great hug is a gift.
I forget that a rich food, full of flavor, prepared for me, is a gift.
I forget that a warm sunny day is a gift.
I forget that my opportunities to worship in a variety of churches are a gift.

It's a generous bounty!
So much goodness exists in this world.

It's easy to get bound up in the heavy.
In the travel.
In the altered diet.
In the loneliness.
In the anxiety.
In the uncertain parts of life.
In the bills.
In the checklists.
In the daily-ness of life.

It's easy to forget the gifts we have been given.

Today, I am simply grateful.
Grateful for the little things that are gifts.
And grateful for the heavy things.
Because they remind me that the good days come, too.

Keeping a Holy Lent: Day 16

"Love Passionately and Hold Lightly" ~Rebecca Hale

(This is the post for 3/1, but I had wi-fi issues where I am and couldn't upload it.)

I'm at a gathering of the eight regions of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the Southeast portion of the United States.  The purpose of this gathering is for our regional pastors and our regional leadership (volunteers, elected, paid, etc.) to talk to and with one another about what it means to be in collaboration with one another.

This has been a night of collaboration.
It has been a night of hanging on and turning loose.
It's hard to be a church in transition.

It's hard to be church.
And it's hard to be region in a world that is changing faster than we are.
In these 8 regions, we have so many of the same things.

And we're asking the questions about how we could better be the church by being in relationship with one another instead of always trying to reinvent the wheel.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow when we will dig deeper into those questions.  But tonight we held space for talking and getting to know each other.

When my friend Rebecca said that the best way to be in relationship with one another is to love passionately and hold lightly, it caught in my heart, my mind, and my throat.

What would our world look like if we lived our lives like this?
What if we loved passionately all the time?
And what if we held lightly to that which we think is "ours"?

What if we were willing to say, "Yes, I'm willing to let go of my favorite campsite because yours is in physically better shape?"
What if we were willing to say, "Please teach me how to be more racially inclusive; I would rather not invent something you have done so well!"

What if we were not so worried about paying our own bills and keeping our own stuff, but were more concerned about making sure the mission and ministry thrive?

What if ...?
What if ...?

This model can be spread across businesses, homes, churches, organizations, committees, boards, adn so many other places.

What if I turned loose of my parenting style?
What if I turned loose of my favorite pew in the sanctuary?
What if I turned loose of my intellectual convictions?
What if I turned loose of my passion for KY and opened my heart to the work of TN?

What if ...?

May you find new hopes and new possibilities.
And may you turn loose of that which you don't absolutely need to have.
So that we may all be better.

28 February 2018

Keeping a Holy Lent: Day 15

My therapist asked me today if I was depressed.
I told him I didn't know; that I'd never been depressed before.
What I do know, though, is that it has been a while since I have had any joy in my life.

Joy is elusive like that sometimes, isn't it?
It's hard to capture.
Maybe that's what makes it so special - because we don't anticipate it.

I find joy in places where I can be authentic.
With little children,
in the garden,
with Chris,
at the ocean,
with my tribe of people.

A few weeks ago, my tribe was here.
They were all in my house 3 nights in a row.
The toddler, the elementary schooler, my middle schooler, and their parents.
We gathered, we laughed, we cooked, we talked, we played.
And it was so good!

It made me realize how much I was missing joy.
Because for 2.5 days, I had it!

Winter is always hard for me, partially because joy finds me in the sunshine.
Winter in Kentucky lacks sunshine: most of our days are gloomy and cloudy.
Not only does it keep me from finding joy, but it feels like the clouds are absorbing the little snippets of joy I do find!  It's exhausting and frustrating.

So here is what I'm learning today:
take those moments when joy surprises you, and cling to them.
Make them happen when you can.
Take the time to be intentional with your people.
Make the appointment to get together, even if you have to schedule it a month in advance.

And when you get those times,
savor them.

Know what brings you joy so that when it is present, you won't take it for granted.
Take advantage of every opportunity you have to capture joy.

My hope is that in doing it,
in being more aware of the small moments of joy,
that I will see that it isn't so elusive after all.