12.28.2012

Holy, Innocent, Massacred

The senseless death of children has dampened many Christmas celebrations this year. But this is not the first Christmas derailed by the sorrow of incomprehensible loss. Too many mothers for too many years have quietly retreated from holiday dinner tables, tears of immeasurable grief staining their cheeks.

Matthew tells us in his gospel that even the very first Christmas was quickly shrouded with the brutal reality of untimely death. Herod, angered by the wise men's deception, ordered the death of all children under the age of two in and around Bethlehem. The inconsolable grief, the wailing and the lamentation of the mothers in Bethlehem echoes in the empty heart cavities of mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers who have lost their own holy and innocent young to massacre, cancer, careless driving, and war. In many church traditions, December 28th is set aside as the feast day of the Holy Innocents, a remembrance of those children murdered in Bethlehem so many years ago.

The Massacre of the Holy Innocents by Pieter Brugel, 1565-7
Today, the church sits in lamentation in the midst of celebration. Yes, our God is with us. Jesus, our Emmanuel, has been born, but all is not well. His presence breaks into the darkness in our world, but the kingdom is not yet fully known, the darkness not fully expelled. The brutality of being human has not yet been fully removed. Senseless death makes this all too apparent, too real, too painful.

Today is the day that we name the truth of Christmas: Bethlehem was not still, it was not lost in deep and dreamless sleep, the hopes and fears of the people of Bethlehem were met by the sword of a tyrant's army. This is the day that we put down our red cheer and don a grieving purple. This is the day that we can say that Christmas does not answer all our hopes and our fears, but brings an entirely new set of hopes and fears. This is the day that we remember honest celebrations do not tell lies of avoidance and denials of pain.

Today is the day our faithfulness is kept honest.

Faithfulness in this world of violence is not a life miraculously devoid of physical, emotional and spiritual anguish. Faithfulness shares the grief of the mothers of Bethlehem and Newtown and Durham and Syria. It knows incomprehensible loss, but does not claim to understand it or know its cause.

Faithfulness faces the brutality of our world and denies it the final word. It enters into places of bitter sorrow and abides with the brokenhearted. It rejects violence as our way of life and declares the mercy of an Incarnate God to be the truest mode of being. Faithfulness in this world names the truth of our pain and names Jesus as its overcomer, Messiah, Savior.

The feast of the Holy Innocents reminds us to pray in the midst of Christmas celebrations, Come, Lord Jesus, have mercy upon us.

12.10.2012

When we photograph our food

As an instagram-endowed people, capturing every beautiful moment of life in pixelation is part of the way that we make meaning in this world. We morph the images with filters and cropping, casting an instantaneous nostalgic sheen on the moment as it is happening. Our desire for belonging and beauty is constrained and distorted until it squares-up with the pre-imposed proportions of a tiny screen.

This phenomena and its absurdity is profoundly evident in our desire to photograph our food from this angle, with that filter, with the drizzle of sauce and a fork perched on the side of the plate. All this so that our faithful friends and following might know that what we eat looks as good as it tastes. All that while knowing that your animal-style burger from everyone's favorite West Coast chain is only a teensy bit less uninteresting than tomato plant flowers.

But this is not the wail of an uninterested and still complicit social media user, this is the wail against the injustices of which I am quite guilty.

When we photograph our food and declare it's greatness into the cyber-abyss, we lose sight of food's primary purpose in our lives--creative sustenance. Food becomes an object of our ego and not of nourishment. Food becomes about our individual greatness and not about the planet and the people that made the nourishment possible. The act of eating food is not only intrinsic to our body's survival, but it is a declaration of dependency on fertile soil, farming hands, and skillful kitchen work. The act of photographing food deadens our hearts to the nourishing and communal activity of growing, making, and eating it. It removes food's creative and sustaining qualities and morphs it unto yet another distorted device of exerting our wealth and privilege.

Access to nourishing food is not a given in our world. Hunger and malnourishment is a reality on our planet, in our country, in our communities. The privilege of copious consumption is to be confessed and not to be flaunted. Food is to be shared in the flesh, passing the plates and casserole dishes around the table, not on the screen, as a scrolling image of roasted vegetables and grilled meats. Food is the simplest way to nourish another person, to bring meaning and purpose to your relationship with them.

Food is the means by which God continues declare Jesus is enfleshed in this world, nourishing the people. When photographed, the body of Christ appears simply to be bread, no filter or accoutrement can morph it to appear otherwise. But when passed from one hand to another, the bread is the body of Christ, nourishing hearts, minds and souls so that they the nourished will go and do the nourishing--one weeding and water, one inevitably messing baking session, one meal at a time.

No photograph can ever do that.


12.06.2012

Beauty Pageants in Wartime


“Be glad and rejoice, for the Lord has done great things.” Joel 2:21

There are times when I read those words in the midst of great sorrow and I wonder who are these rejoicing people? Who are the people of God who feel as though ‘great things’ have been done? Can they not see my brothers who are suspected of crime simply because of their skin color? Can they not see my sisters who struggle to feed their children while working tirelessly at low-paying jobs? Can they not see our mothers wrenched in grief at the loss of their children to harrows of war? Can they not see our fathers demeaned and discouraged at the loss of meaningful work? Can they not see our neighbors and friends spatting endlessly? Where is God in the midst of this crazy mucked–up world? Why would I rejoice?

Between the years of 1992-1996, the city of Sarajevo in Bosnia-Herzegovina was decimated by years of warfare and siege. The people who managed to survive the fight and live in the city lost access to water, electricity, gas, and public transportation. In 1993, in the midst of this unimaginable anguish, people of the city gathered in a basement, avoiding sniper fire and held the Miss Sarajevo beauty pageant. Participants carried banners that read “Don’t let them kill us.”

Beauty pageants in wartime seem futile and silly. But in 1993 in Sarajevo, the Miss Sarajevo beauty pageant was a gathering of hearts and minds in resistance against the evils and anguish of war. It was a moment to celebrate the gift of beauty and life and to remember that life is not mere survival. Taking time to celebrate life told the world that the people of Sarajevo were not giving up.

Imagining life in Sarajevo in 1993 is next to impossible for me, but the wreckage of life isn’t far from my doorstep. Sometimes, the holiday season doesn’t turn my heart towards warm gratefulness, but towards embittered pain. Rockwellian images of peaceful tables full of turkeys and smiling families remind me that life isn’t as it should be, or what I want it to be. Despite these vast differences, the people of Sarajevo remind me that pain, fear and fighting (whether in war or in our families) is not the final word on life. The prophet Joel, who gave us these words to be glad and rejoice, also gives us these words of the Lord, “You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel that I, the Lord, am your God and there is no other.” (Joel 2:27).

God exerts a real and abiding presence in the midst of Israel, proclaiming that death and sorrow and hunger and fear for the future are not the final word. God does not leave His people in pain, but enters into our pain and bears it with us. This isn’t an abstract idea, but a real and living person in Jesus Christ. We can take time in the midst of our lives and our struggle to be glad and to rejoice because we do not struggle alone. Whether Thanksgiving and the impending holiday season is a time of easy rejoicing or wrought struggle, we can peel back the corners of our daily existence and see that there is God with us, Immanuel. And for this God, we lift up our hearts and say a Great Thanksgiving.

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This post originally appeared in the Duke Youth Academy Holiday Newsletter. You can read the rest of the newsletter here.

12.04.2012

1:18:33:18

The concluding conversation of one of my courses this semester centered on marks of discipleship. What makes a disciple of Christ? What makes someone a Christian? As informed as a room full of graduate students studying scripture could be, our conversation sat at the brink of mere speculation. Informed speculation, but still just speculation. The mystery of the fate of the rich young ruler, Zacchaeus, the woman who anointed Jesus' feet with her tears, and so many others forced us deeper into scripture, asking what Luke wants us to know about following Christ.

What does it mean to follow Christ in 21st century North America? I am pretty sure that owning one day, 18 hours, 33 minutes and 18 seconds of Christmas music isn't part of Christian discipleship. But I do. I have 36 versions of Silent Night that could play for over 2 hours in consecutive, non-stop Silent Nighting.

It's ridiculous because I don't even like Christmas music that much. I am not one of those nutters that starts playing Christmas music before Thanksgiving and then has to get her fill mid-July because "OMG, it just makes me so happy." I like Christmas music an average amount. Which is to say, I like Advent hymns the most and if Perry Como comes on, I'll probably crank it up. At the same time, I listen to other music in December because I can only take so much sugar in my ears.

And yet, my computer houses a lot of Christmas music. The majority of it lauding the coming Savior's birth who will radically change the world, bringing peace and making all things new. Apparently, my consumption of audible bytes stands outside of this newness. I'm fairly certain the song I've listened to the most in this engorged collection of holiday tunes, Christmas (Baby Please Come Home), drives a muted, subtle, and dulling wedge between my heart and the Lord who came into this fierce and wild world to save all of us. I stand convicted of my own ideation of discipleship, a rich young ruler believing herself to be a follower of the law but cannot sell all of her things, turn away from her commercialized Baby Jesusware and follow Christ.

I don't even know how to follow up that paragraph without relativizing the seriousness of the situation.

Lord, have mercy.


10.11.2012

Dissemination vs. Discernment in Catechesis

Last night, I caught a moment of Nate Silver's Fresh Air interview. He shared that according to IBM, 90% of the world's data has been created in the last two years. After fumbling around a distinction between knowledge and data (are videos of cute kitties real knowledge?), Nate explained how discernment is the critical task of education today. Information abounds, but how do we know what to believe?

This is why catechesis is essential to our life as Christians. In the ancient church, catechesis was a process of discerning one's calling and life as a Christian. It length varied from 40 days to 3 years, but consistently included mentoring, conversation and teaching on Christian beliefs, rigorous prayer, rituals of initiation (baptism!) and a commitment to ongoing instruction. Catechesis wasn't indoctrination, trickle-down education, or memorizing the Five Chief Parts (questions and answers!). Catechesis was the beginning of a family relationship between the believer, the church, and God.

Tim Keller recently announced the release of "The New City Catechism." Frankly, I have mixed feelings about this. In the announcement, he affirms the relationality of learning, but frames the relationship between the teacher and learner in a hierarchical manner. Some people have knowledge. They will disseminate it to others:
The practice of question-answer recitation brings instructors and students into a naturally interactive, dialogical process of learning. It creates a true community as teachers help students—and students help each other—understand and remember material. Parents catechize their children. Church leaders catechize new members with shorter catechisms and new leaders with more extensive ones.
Discerning truth doesn't seem to play into the educational pedagogy behind the creation of the catechism and students don't shape or help the teachers, parents or leaders. At least, it not in Keller's presentation of it.

This mode of disseminating facts via questions and answers that someone else has created doesn't work for most people. It especially doesn't work for our brothers and sisters in poverty and pain. They don't need someone who is educated and resourced (in a particular kind of way) to write their questions for them. We each have our own questions based on our own experience. We need the wisdom of the church to walk us through the ways God has answered the questions of the people through the person of Jesus Christ and the history of the people of Israel. We need help filtering faithfulness from funk.

The problem with a question and answer format proposed here is that it presumes to ask our questions for us. It offers definitive, even irrefutable responses in a world filled with a plurality of opinions and options. If I disagree with this "irrefutable response," I can simply go on and create my own set of "irrefutable responses." The challenge for the church today is finding a way to offer discernment and wisdom for the broad spectrum of people in our churches and denominations without claiming to speak the questions and without claiming the ability to answer questions satisfactorily for all people.

As a person who thinks about the church and her people regularly, as someone deeply concerned about the most faithful practices of forming disciples, I have to pause and ask if 16th century catechetical models are the best, most faithful practices for today. I have to wonder if the questions of someone else (who is likely more educated than me and the rest of us) will push me deeper into relationship with others and with God or if they will simply register as "more minimally information" on my radar. Not because the answers given aren't full of truth, but because the mode of learning isn't transformational.


9.04.2012

Helios

The sun rises every morning, but on particularly dreary gloomy days, I look up into the sky and I feel cheated, betrayed by the lack of everything that the sun is supposed to be.

The sun is supposed to be gracious, offering her rays to the plants and to the trees so that they might grow lavishly and verdantly. The sun is supposed to illumine the day so that crimson may redden and white may be purified. The sun is supposed to make the daytime a time of celebration and activity and life.

When she hovels in her cave of stratocumulus clouds and hides from her daily tasks, I resent her very existence and beg the night to quicken its arrival.

How dare the sun promise and not deliver? How dare the sun avoid me while she piddles the day away tinkering with raindrops and lightening storms? How dare the sun abandon me?

A grimace is chiseled in my face at the impertinence of the sun, but beyond the stone of exterior disapproval in dark corners of my internal being, I am disappointed and dismayed at the severe fastidiousness of my faith. And I wait for a new dawn. This dawn will be the sign of the umpteenth chance.

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This post was written alongside the good people of the Creative Collective on the topic, "Sisyphus." Read their work here.

8.21.2012

On My Way

I changed the keys on my ring:
Church hallways and front doors for bikes locks and office entrances.
Four steps later, that front door was shut and I shuttled on.

Miles and miles, many over the course of these days:
Bridges between land, tears beween laughter.
Bono's aged lyrics drive me through these seas and waves of land.

Between the sips of tea and smiles with friends:
Reading and writing. Writing and reading.
Maybe tomorrow I will go home.

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This post was written alongside my fellow synchrobloggers at the Creative Collective on the topic of "Are We There Yet?" Read their posts here.

8.16.2012

Simply Sit

I spent the summer working at St. Luke's United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas.  I did all sorts of things (i.e. preach my first public sermons) and ate more TexMex and Vietnamese food than should be legal. One of my ministerial assignments was to work with a community/organization that is forming within the walls of the church reaching out to the youth of the Southwest Houston, particularly youth who have been affected by the gangs of the neighborhood. My job was simply to sit, to hang out with the guys and be a present, encouraging, non-domineering authority figure.

Considering my previous school-work-homework-sleep-repeat pattern of graduate school, being a professional hanger-outer was a bit of challenge, in the best sort of way. I learned how to turn off my achievement detector and tune into prayer and simple joys. There were young men who took very personal steps, taking pride in their appearance in a different way, speaking more clearly, initiating conversation with adults, and setting new goals for themselves. Their transformation challenged me to consider how our friendship was transforming me. I became a person much less likely to dole out judgment on anyone. I became a person insistent on the necessity of the Holy Spirit for personal and community transformation and in prayer for it. I became a sister, never wanting to give up on anyone, overly excited about the smallest thing.

God didn't dramatically change the trajectory of my ministry. I am still called to think through Christian formation and theological education. I am still called to think about the equipping and empowering of the people--paid and volunteer, educated by institutions and educated by experience--particularly with the young people of the church. But this calling has a renewed attention to systematic injustices and the failings of the church to reject these injustices. I see more clearly that the church is called to care for the unheard, the ignored, the silenced, whether they are military service members and veterans, the incarcerated, the severely impoverished, those who do not conform to gender norms, or anyone else rejected by the pristine nuclear family ideals. I see more clearly that my work is to reveal this calling of the church to her leaders. I see more clearly that this work is not a task of the church segmented and separated from her discipleship, worship, and fellowship tasks, but integrated into her fibrous, fleshy being.

When I left middle school ministry in the church to attend school full time, I didn't know what would happen while I studied and died to my perfectionist ideals. Sitting at the threshold of the two-thirds mark, I am overwhelmed by all that has been given to me in knowledge and experience and opportunity. Anticipating this place in ministry and life would have been impossible. Looking back it is all that makes sense, God is at work in me and around me. Looking forward, it dares me to dream for even more. If studying and simply sitting can accomplish so much within my heart, what else could be in store?

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This post also appeared on the Field Education Blog for Duke Divinty School. Read other student reflections here.


7.31.2012

There will be food

I have a post up on the Duke Divinity School Field Education blog about my encounter with God's provision in Southwest Houston:
This summer I have served at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas. I have worked with the worship ministries, the education and discipleship ministries, and with a new ministry of the church called reVision. ReVision is a ministry of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church with adolescents in Southwest Houston who are on probation for gang-related activity.  

When I arrived in Houston with my fellow Duke Field Education Students, we told that at every reVision event there will be food. If someone is hungry, our supervisor explained, there is no use taking them to do anything. We eat because the ministry strives to meet each person’s most basic needs and in hopes that this will build trust and relationships between youth, staff, and volunteers. As time passed, I realized that I had yet to attend a single church event that didn’t have food. It wasn’t just reVision, but the entire church that lived by the motto, “There will be food.” 
Read the rest here.

7.24.2012

A seedling desire

Suddenly, several months ago, a new desire crept into my consciousness. It was a desire to stay, to sink my roots deeply into the ground, to cast a shady branch or two over a singular plot of land.

It surprised me. I've always felt unbounded to space, beholden to an ethereal definition of purpose. The sense that I have been called to the work of the church led me to dream, think, work, live, and breath within her fleshy walls and kept me unharnessed to any earthly plot of ground. This calling kept me from laying bricks in my self-definition, kept me from digging holes in the ground and planting foundations in my vocation. Readiness to serve and grow, flexibility in the manifestation and location of this service was valued above most everything else.

And then the desire to stay was born like an "I didn't know I was pregnant" child. No warning, no symptoms. Just birth. Painful, lively birth. All of the sudden, I am contemplating how I might be serving the church as a steady, stable, rooted, shade tree rather than as a migratory, carrier pigeon.

Nesting, planting in the dirty soil of the church is a scary thing. What if I grow tired of the plot of ground that I choose (that is chosen for me)? What if the people that sit beside my tree attempt to cut down my branches? What if the birds in my limbs poo on my pretty, well-placed leaves? What if this plot of land doesn't work for me? What if I don't work well for this plot of land?

Alas, the desire and its questions remain with no real place for implementation. Another year of school looms large and blocks my view of life's horizon and this tree that rests on it. The secret, unfolding life of this seedling desire remains to be seen, but, now spoken, is no longer a secret.

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This post was written alongside my fellow synchrobloggers at the Creative Collective on the topic of "The Secret Life of Trees." Read their posts here.

5.15.2012

Depixelation

I type in "www.facebook.com" into my internet browser. It's been a month since I've visited. I deactivated my account on a whim after I realized that there was no way I was going to make it through the end of the semester with the world's most insipid time suck readily at my fingertips. 

Now I am typing it into my url bar and my browser can't seem complete the task. This is irritating to me because I want to log in as quickly as possible, find the account deletion page as quickly as possible and get back to cleaning my bathroom as quickly as possible.

I thought I would feel compelled to reactivate my account after the semester ended and time felt less constrained, but the opposite has in fact occurred. I feel less compelled to keep up with my pixelated relationships and more compelled to spend time with my friends in private email, phone, and face-to-face conversations. I picked up a rigorous praying schedule. I even mailed a hand-written letter for the first time in months.

I'm still waiting for facebook to finish loading. My impatience is mounting.

Deleting my facebook account feels right. I'm creeped out by the ways they use my information to market to me. Mark Zuckerburg doesn't seem like a reliable CEO. I don't think that CEOs of billion dollar companies are generally the sorts of people that I would hang out with on a daily basis, but I'm doubly deterred by him. I know I am not to judge a book by its cover or make assumptions about people I don't know... but... I just can't get over the fact that he doesn't seem trustworthy. Unless of course my goal was to make money.
Still loading. REALLY?
 
Since I deactivated my account, I've received more personal contact from friends in other places. I've felt less social pressure to be fantastically witty and beautiful in every moment. I've missed details on a few social events and didn't care. I've felt free. I had a good friend who also, independently, decided to delete her account. External confirmation is rewarding.

Still loading. Moved to the ipad. Yeesh. It's like they know I am killing it. Okay, the ipad loaded quickly.


This summer, I am going to work with gang-affected youth in Houston. I've never done this sort of work, but I'm thrilled someone has decided it is an important piece of my vocational formation. I can't wait to meet the guys and play video games (at this task, I know I will fail, but humility is critical) and maybe go to the zoo. I can't wait to share pieces of my life with them and hope that they will feel welcome and safe to do the same. Perhaps I will be compelled to re-enter the pixelated domain in order to keep in touch with them. I'll make that decision when the situation presents itself.

I find the account deletion page within the labyrinth of Facebook's help pages. I feel a little nervous about all of this. But I'm not even tempted to scroll through my news feed. 

Deletion is what I want. I'm not really going anywhere, after all. I'm not deleting myself. My body still occupies the 5' 2.5", 130 lbs. space that it did yesterday and last week and four months ago. Life isn't perfect or even any better without facebook, but it is more bodily, more mindful, and and maybe a little more heartfelt. That makes my life seem more like me.

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Read my fellow Creative Collective bloggers' work on the topic of "Space" here.

3.08.2012

So you want to be a good person...

Yeesh. Who feels like a total jerk for not posting videos and comments and hashtags about international criminals?

Yesterday, many in my diverse social media networks urged me to watch a video and post the video and support the cause. None of these activities are explicitly bad. In fact, they are arguably good things that promote awareness about a terrible situation. However, when I watched the video this morning, I couldn't help but notice how little of the story was about a strong and surviving Ugandan boy and how much of the story was about a young American boy. I noticed how much of the story was about what Americans were doing and how little the story was about what Ugandans and other African people groups were doing. I couldn't help but notice that the solution proposed to ending these atrocious crime was militarized support: more guns, more military, more deaths. I had to look away so often that I regret watching it. I don't need more images of guns, violence, and death in my mind's eye.

There are a lot of critical view on the video, on the organization behind the video, and those who are sharing the video. They range from essays that explore the depth of problems with this campaign to humorous and incisive critiques on how we conceive of activism in the social media world. 

I don't want to rain on anyone's desire to do well by their brothers and sisters. That impulse is good, well-intentioned and important. At the same time, I think that it is important for us to think about how deeply complicated these ongoing militarized crises are and how throwing our social media feeds into a frenzy may not actually be accomplishing the faithful work of loving our neighbor.

I am asking myself this morning if I am ready to ask my government to kill in my name to stop killing.
I am asking myself this morning if I am interested in this issue because it is at hand and because everyone else is talking about it.
I am asking myself this morning if I am actually willing to support Ugandan and Congolese efforts, or if I am more interested in fixing it my way.
I am asking myself what real work should be done to reach true peace.
I am asking myself how I can ask my friends, my brothers and sisters, my neighbors to be aware, to be mindful, and to be active in promoting true peace, not more weapons, not more death.

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This post was written alongside my fellow synchrobloggers at the Creative Collective on the topic of "A Record Scratch Moment." Read their posts here.

2.29.2012

Time Draft

The late afternoon snuck in
under the crack
between the door and the frame.
It's a small crack,
somehow big enough that time can't be kept out.

Showers, toothbrushes, real life clothes, food
can't fit in the crack,
somehow time can.

I wonder how many others have
the same kind of cracks
between their door and door frames.
How many headaches and heartaches
have pushed them to stuff
towels
and
sheets
around the cracks,
hoping to keep the draft of time
and light
and wind away,
even if for just a moment more?

Tomorrow, I'll get up
before dawn,
just like I did yesterday.
I'll open the door,
the crack will disappear
into the new and gaping opening.
I'll run and I'll shower.
I'll eat and I'll put on real clothes.
I'll sit with real people and speak aloud.

Time
and light
and wind will help the day make sense,
sitting and swirling and rushing unnoticed.

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This post was written alongside my fellow creatives at The Creative Collective on the topic, "Speed." Read their fantastic posts here.


2.23.2012

Interrupting Chaos

As the people of God, we are faced with a daily choice as to how we would like make God's claim on our life apparent. Oftentimes, I fail. I am impatient and bitter, steady in my self-reliance to get things done. I can do it, just let me alone. My fiercely independent industriousness doesn't have much space for a God that enters into my chaos and the chaos of the world. I'm too busy cleaning it up to notice or even care.

Lent is a time a time of permission to visit the depths of these weaknesses within us: all of our personal failings, all of our corporate failings. Lenten practices remind me to empty myself of myself so that I might notice the work that God has done in this world and is doing in this world. My habits, my posture of self-reliance, my attitude of solitary initiative are called into question when I admit the limitations of my body, that I cannot clean up my chaos and I cannot clean up others' either. 

Lenten practices asks the people of God to embody their weaknesses, their failure, their hunger. In fasting, there is a hunger not only for food and its comfort, but there is a hunger for God and a desire that others might not be hungry. Lenten practices force us to revisit the Incarnation because they ask us to meditate on Jesus' body, the suffering that Jesus endured, and the love that he offered so freely. Our bodies and spirits, like Jesus', are meant for the good of creation and all that is in it.

Lenten practices are not behavior modification, they are incarnate reminders that our chaos has been interrupted. They are opportunities for the church to interrupt the chaos of the world, our communities, our lives. It begs the question, how are you interrupting chaos?

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This post was written as a part of the Creative Collective on the topic "Hunger." Read my fellow creatives' work here.

2.21.2012

Can I pray?



Tomorrow, the Lenten season of the church begins. All of our Alleluias will be buried deeply in their liturgical tomb, wrapped tightly in burial clothes. But I feel like I am burying a shriveled corpse. I haven't had much Alleluia in my life lately. It's been more like Ahhhhhhh! Let me sleep, will ya? This is not the life that I want to live. Not the person that I want to be. Not the sister, daughter, roommate, friend, colleague, student that I want to be. The cultural lack of sackcloth and ashes force and allow me to hide my lament and anger at the state of things.

I'm not sleeping because there are important and terrible things asking for me to pay attention to them. Terrible conditions of my brothers and sisters in far away places, geographically, emotionally, economically. Terrible treatment of my brothers and sisters who, in attempting to be faithful, are derided and excluded for their lives, their views, their hearts by those who claim to love them. I lay awake wondering if there is something else I can do to help myself see another more clearly, if there is something I can do to help them see me more clearly, if there is anything else I can plead to God to do to help us bring healing and restoration in this gaping wound of the world.

I lay awake wondering, but I often do not pray. I do not pray because I'm afraid to go there. I'm afraid that if I talk to God, God will answer me and it will not be beautiful, but it will be cross and nails and stony paths. I do not want to walk down that path. I do not want to cry anymore. I do not want to break. I do not want to lose it.

I do not want, but my want has failed me.

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This post has been crafted alongside my fellow synchrobloggers from the Creative Collective on the topic of "What Moves Me."  Check out their writing here.