During my adolescence I attended two different churches. The first, a Baptist church with more than a thousand members, took pride in its identity as a 'Bible-loving church where folks are friendly,' . . . I learned the Bible there. It had a loose affiliation with the Southern Baptist Convention, a denomination formed in 1845 when Northern abolitionists decided that slave owners were unfit to be missionaries and the Southerners separated in protest (!).
Friday, August 29, 2008
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
A few of her nonfiction books I truly believe were sent from Heaven during a dark time. Not depressed. Not angry. Just dark . . . foggy, awkward . . . I was living in a dark house, and for some reason I painted our living room a dark navyblue. That blue is the color I feel when I think about that time. Newly married, feeling like a fish out of water for so many reasons . . . (Yesterday Jim was taking some things to the trash and I gave him a painting I did during that time. He looked at it and said, this painting perfectly describes you during that year. It was dark blue, a still life that didn't know where to go).
Madeleine came in, turned the lights on, cozied up the place, handed me my Bible and little bits of magic fluttered out.
She died last year just before my second daughter was born.
A few of my favorite Madeleine quotes: (these are all taken from Walking On Water, but other non-fiction books I love are: The Rock that is Higher, Bright Evening Star, and Madeleine L'Engle, Herself).
We are afraid of the Transfiguration for much the same reason that people are afraid that theatre is a “lie,” that a story isn’t “true,” that art is somehow immoral, carnal and not spiritual. The artist must be open to the wider truths, the shadow side, the strange worlds beyond time. . . .
The Christian holiday which is easiest for us is Christmas, because it
touches on what is familiar; and the story of the young man and woman who were turned away from the inn, and had a baby in a stable, surrounded by gentle animals, is one we have known always. I doubt if many two or three year-olds are told at their mother’s knee about the Transfiguration or the Annunciation. And so, because the story of Christmas is part of our folklore (we might almost say), we pay more attention to its recognizableness than to the fact that the tiny baby in the manger contained the power which created the galaxies and set the stars in their courses.
We are not taught much about the wilder aspects of Christianity. But these are what artists have wrestled with throughout the years. The Annunciation has been a favorite subject of painter and poets, because gestation and birth-giving are basic to any form of creation. All of us who have given birth to a baby, to a story, know that it is ultimately mystery, closely knit to God’s own creative activities which did not stop at the beginning of the universe. God is constantly creating, in us, through us, with us, and to co-create with God is our human calling. . . .
In literal terms the Annunciation can only confound us. But the whole story of Jesus is confounding to the literal minded. It might be a good idea if, like the White Queen, we practiced believing six impossible things every morning before breakfast, for we are called to believe what to many people is impossible. Instead of rejoicing in this glorious “impossible” which gives meaning and dignity to our lives, we try to domesticate God, to make his mighty actions comprehensible to our finite minds. . .
It is one of the greater triumphs of Lucifer that he has managed to make Christians (Christians!) believe that a story is a lie, that a myth should be outgrown by puberty, that to act in a play is inconsistent with true religion.
. . . he did not spend a lot of time looking for the most qualified people, the most adult. Instead, he chose people who were still childlike enough to leave the known comforts of the daily world, the security of their jobs, their reasonable way of life, to follow him.
For the past several generations we’ve forgotten what psychologists call our archaic understanding, a willingness to know things in their deepest, most mythic sense. We’re all born with archaic understanding, and I’d guess that the loss of it goes directly along with the loss of ourselves as creators.
But unless we are creators, we are not fully alive.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Sami feels the need to blare this cd of Cheerul! Christian! Children! shrieking Cheerful! Christian! Children! songs every waking moment. I suppose it is my own fault for not ever slipping the cd into the shredder where it belongs . . . (The chorus of one song actually chants, "Everybody talkin' 'bout heaven ain't goin there . . . " Which may be true but why are these white kids so happy to sing about it?). It amazes me that many of the parents who choose this kind of music are parents who believe in censoring everything that their children lay eyes upon, not even thinking about the wack-o spiritual messages that stuff like this sends. We used to own the DVD but those kids were just TOO scary, we won't let our girls watch it.
So all of these Sunday School children are shrieking about everyone who ain't going to heaven, Sami is shrieking at the baby for playing with her toys and the baby shrieking at me to be fed . . .
Suddenly, the cheerful children are silenced. Sami found this. We all stopped what we were doing. The baby smiled. Sami smiled. I uncurled myself from the fetal position under the table. Calm came over the kitchen. We relaxed, and played, and made it through the morning.
It reminds me of a message that Pastor Jeff preached at a Bible conference a few years ago. I'm sure I'll entirely destroy the message if I try to repeat it, but I remember the gist being that the question isn't if something is "Christian" or not, but whether it is "true." The fruit of Mozart is transcendent beauty. True. Cheerful Christian Children? That's a lie. Christians were never meant to be so fruity. Or so clean. Or so proud of themselves. This form of Christianity is dangerous. I want to protect my children from these kinds of Christians, and this kind of "art".
Monday, August 25, 2008
For so long it seemed this little dancer was waiting . . . waiting for the music to start. Waiting for the dance to begin. Just waiting. Little Fourteen Year Old Dancer. At Fourteen, there was only waiting. Dreaming and waiting. Eighteen, breathless waiting. Twenty, wishing and waiting. Twenties of waiting.
I know now, the music all around her she was always dancing.
It is that still place in every woman every fourteen year old dancer.
It is the wonder of it.
And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
So this morning I am sitting here in my quiet house, thinking again about what life is all about, where are we going, what is the point . . . really, what is the point? I read Prov.21.21 this morning: He who follows after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honor . . . Jim and I have been wrestling with the fact that life isn't as forgiving as we'd once thought, there isn't time for many second chances, not enough time for all of those dreams we had. Now we have kids and every decision we make seems so much more permanent, with such greater consequence. Somehow when we weren't looking middle age reached us, and now the question we're asking is, Is it over for us? Has the time come already to begin settling in and preparing for the next generation? And then we both panic. No not yet!
So back to the Livesays . . . I'm reading her blog this morning and life is hard, really really hard, and they must deal every day with frustrations that I know nothing about . . . but then I click back on my Google Reader and read about "Smart Shopping." "Five Minutes for Fitness." God help me this can't be all there is.
Once again I am reminded of how much is lost in our well-decorated, clean and orderly and lonely culture . . . I read the Livesays or other friends in Haiti and in other countries, how difficult days are . . . but they've got it . . . they're really living, really alive to the beauty and pain of it, right there in the marriage of mercy and truth, giving themselves to something so much bigger than themselves . . . finding that life that is truly life . . . it means something different for everybody, but we've got to find it. Maybe it begins with following after righteousness and mercy. That's a good place to start. I can do that anywhere. I can do that today.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
So Wise Woman number one!
My sweet friend Becky, whose blog is Mama Drama, is a friend who comes to mind often lately, so I'll start with her. One reason that I think so much about her is the fact that we just moved our two girls and all our stuff into a two-bedroom apartment. Our new home is great. We love it, we really do, and as long as there isn't one thing out of place, no toys on the floor, no dishes on the counter, and the sun is shining, it doesn't feel cramped at all! This is why I think about Becky.
Becky moved away recently (far, far away why God, why??), but when she was here she and her husband and three girls lived in a shall we say quaint (tiny) two-bedroom house. Somehow, Becky was able to work her magic and make hers one of the most comfortable, welcoming homes I have ever been in! She and her husband have a gift for hospitality and they did not allow their small home and three girls to keep them from having big, spontaneous parties. All the time.
Becky also has a true gift for homemaking. She bakes her own bread every week, she gardens, cans, whips up made-from scratch meals and desserts without even thinking, did I mention she used to sew her own clothes? How many women in our generation even know how to do these things, nevertheless do them regularly, and all without acting like it's any big deal. I never felt judged for my Ragu pasta sauce when hers began in her garden and ended on her homemade pasta. And over it all is a grace and kindness that makes everyone around her feel welcomed, relaxed, at home.
So thanks to Becky, I do not think of our apartment as small or with limitations. I know that making a home is much more about the spirit of the home than it is square footage. And from her I have been reminded of the joys of keeping a home, the creativity that is required to make a house a home, and the simplicity of that magical combination of good friends and food.
If I could make a reward for the best blog of the person who doesn't have time to blog, it would be Becky's Mama Drama. Someday, Becky, you really need to share with the world some of your homemaking tricks. You are truly a wise woman, and you have "built" a wonderful home.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
I site one of the reasons I hate the television so much from one of my favorite authors, Barbara Kingsolver, who says, (from her website), "She counts among her most important early influences: the Bookmobile, a large family vegetable garden, the surrounding fields and woods, and parents who were tolerant of nature study (anything but snakes and mice could be kept in the house), but intolerant of TV."
So I have a question: what rules have you come up with regarding your kids and television? Any ideas for what to do instead of turning on the tube? I'd love some advice on this one!
Sunday, August 17, 2008
I believe that if you can laugh at yourself, it probably means you like
yourself, deep down inside, and you know that you're no better and no worse than anybody else. You'll probably have fun in life. And most importantly, you're more likely to forgive yourself when you're not always honest and you're not always caring.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
So I do not trust myself to post this morning as I am not safe doing anything involving complete sentences. But I found this treasure from Chambers this morning and I have to share:
Despise not the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of
Him. Heb 12.5
It is very easy to quench the Spirit; we do it by despising the chastening of the Lord, by fainting when we are rebuked of Him. If we have only a shallow experience of sanctification, we mistake the shadow for the reality, and when the Spirit of God begins to check, we say- oh, that must be the devil.
Never quench the Spirit, and do not despise Him when He says to you- “Don’t be blind on this point any more; you are not where you thought you were. Up to the present I have not been able to reveal this to you, but I reveal it now.” When the Lord chastens you like that, let Him have His way. Let Him relate you rightly to
“Nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him.” We get into sulks with God and say- “Oh, well, I can’t help it; I did pray and things did not turn out right, and I am going to give it all up.” Think what would happen if we talked like this in any other domain of life!
Am I prepared to let God grip me by His power and do a work in me that is worthy of Himself? Sanctification is not my idea of what I want God to do for me; sanctification is God’s idea of what He wants to do for me, and He has to get me into the attitude of mind and spirit where at any cost I will let Him sanctify me wholly.
God I will not despise this chastening. I will not give up. God help me, I will not give up. Oh God what wicked ugly things still are alive and well in me. What bile, what bitter water comes out of me when I am chastened. When I reach the end of my self, the end of my own spirituality, I am destitute, and naked, and wretched, and a liar. God the cock has crowed, and my true self is revealed. I have forsaken you, and fled. I have denied You, denied your power in me, allowed the life of Your Son to be crucified. Again. I have failed You. Trust. Your mercies are new. My pardon is granted I am forgiven help me Oh God I want to step out of this filthy flesh and into Your new life make me new make me holy. I will not despise this chastening God help me I will not faint.
Friday, August 8, 2008
I've had this weird alter-ego since I was a kid, after I read all the Little House on the Prairie books, that I was Laura Ingalls, and for some reason my twisted imagination frequently (still, at 30 years old!) wonders what She would think of life today, how freakish our URLs and WIDGETS and BLEEEEEEPS would appear to her, and how simple and nice her life on the prairie must have been, with the exception of all those cold winters and wolves and losing Jack of course. The truth is? I want to BE Laura Ingalls! I was born in the wrong era! I was never meant to deal with bleeps! I want to live in a log cabin that Pa built and sit around the fire at night with all my blogger friends having REAL conversations!!!!
Maybe I am a little tense today.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
However. The one piece of furniture that I have always wished for, that has caused me coveteous thoughts and to lust over Pottery Barn catalogues, that I would sell half of Jim's books for? My own kitchen table. Brand-new, so that every dent and scratch and watermark will be our marks, worn-in by our own elbows and books and coffee cups. I dream of those scuff marks, of that history to be made over the course of days and seasons and years. I want it big enough for lots of company, but small enough for good conversations and long games of Rook. The center of our home. The place for spilled milk and two-more-bites and my all-too common new and failed recipe experiments. A place to spread out projects, for crayons and then homework, candles at dinner, big bowls of fruit in the summer, warm loaves of bread in the winter, Christmas cookies, Valentines, Birthday cakes. I can't wait for my children to grow-up around this table. The place for all those important family discussions: the first day of school and learning to be a good friend and sorting out disappointments and where you will go to college and why no, you may not work at The Gap. A place to drop the mail, find a recipe, to wait for dinner, to set, clear, and then do it all over again. It is where friends congregate, where relationships are repaired and where we say Grace. All of those daily, ordinary miracles that are just waiting to happen around a kitchen table.
And so, after saving up and thanks to an Andreas warehouse sale, this much-anticipated table is ours! I thought that I would share in pictures a few of the ways we are breaking in our fabulous new table!