i get it…why people turn to alcohol in the face of unspeakable pain…or why they pack up and leave for someplace else, with no plans to return for a long, long time. you escape somehow; you let the darkness overtake you and the demons welcome you into their embrace. because let’s face it: some days sobriety sucks. and those days are the ones that drag by…this week is the one that passes in agonizing slowness…and sobriety does suck.
when i choose to feel my pain…or when it just damn well overtakes me…i’m nowhere different than i was three years ago. they say it gets better with time, and maybe in some ways it has. in others, though…no. not one bit. if i could sleep straight through this season (the one that, ironically, gives birth to new life all around us in nature) and wake up when it’s over, i’d be ok with that. but then, the pain would still be there, like it always is. there’s no way around it; there’s no way to avoid it. there is only the way through it. this is my everest. and i haven’t yet reached the summit.
so meg scott phipps is out of federal prison and under house arrest. i’m sure you’re wondering “so what?” well, as i was watching the news yesterday, i learned that while she will never be able to go back to her old job (practicing law, working in a government office), she is moving on to a new one. she will be the minister of education at her church. now i’m going to spare everyone my soapbox on the quality (or lack thereof) of christian education, especially in the church. instead, i’d like to point out that a church somewhere has employed a convicted felon who served prison time as a staff minister. talk about grace…forgiveness…redemption. would that we all be so grace-full.
that’s the title of a book on a friend’s shelf. i have no idea what the content of said book includes, but the title is thought provoking in and of itself–particularly since it’s been a topic of conversation at my house lately.
we all have different personalities, different ways of being. why should we have to conform in our respective prayer lives? could that be why it’s so hard for many christians to spend time in prayer? it’s very hard to do something you don’t want to do…and prayer, let’s face it, is something many of us don’t want to do…because we don’t like to do it because it seems to be ineffective…dare i say pointless?…for so many of us. and maybe that’s because we aren’t praying as we are…according to who we are. there is no prescription for prayer. it simply is what it is and, just as we are all unique, it takes on its own flavor…all of which are pleasing to God. where we came up with this notion of how to pray…of praying in a specified way is beyond me.
the same friend with the book on her shelf informed me that her church (methodist by the way) was going to have a prayer labyrinth out from 8:00 friday night to 8:00 saturday morning. so al and i went to walk the labyrinth. i have always found that to be an effective time of prayer for me…if for no other reason than that i get to spend some time in silence, something i don’t get to do as often as i like or should. i realized something last night as i was walking back out of the labyrinth…
the first time i experienced a prayer labyrinth was in div school in an experiential spirituality class. i sat and watched someone walk through…she was a dancer and moved along the path as a dancer walks–gracefully, carefully, intentionally, beautifully. it was such a beautiful sight i have since tried to replicate it. the problem is, i don’t move at my pace, in my way. i am dancing someone else’s dance and that does nothing for me in the long run.
dancing someone else’s dance can work for awhile, but ultimately, i have to find my own rhythm…my own way…my own dance.
a dear friend reminded me that qoheleth said that as well as meaningless, meaningless, everything’s meaningless. and he’s right. we do need to eat, drink and be merry…for tomorrow…or the next day…or a few days after that…or, if you are lucky, years beyond that (which, let’s face it, really are only a blink in time) we die. when you really stop to think about the wisdom behind the writing (it is after all part designated as part of wisdom literature), it’s not as nihilistic as it first sounds.
my dear, wise qoheleth,
you are correct. we do not have long on this earth…though many days seem agonizingly long. so what’s the point? why bother? why should we work so hard and so long? for what? to say we did…what? to have the money for the stuff that at the end of our lives we leave to someone else who will probably keep the meaningful stuff and sell the rest on ebay or in a yard sale? why do we spend so much time walking around, half dead as zombies…making mudpies when we could be swimming in the ocean? why don’t we eat and drink and make merry each day? why don’t we spend time making meaning out of who we are and what we love? if we really don’t have much time on this earth, in this life, then why don’t we live more abundantly for whatever we do have? we should eat, drink and be merry, with those whom we love, as much as possible…no, more often than that. for tomorrow, who knows? eat up. drink up. be merry. carpe diem. what are you waiting for?
i’d seen it many times before…people being hurt by the institutions (and/or individuals) who claim to be God’s representatives here on earth. that is usually what keeps people out of church, by the way…those of us who so often misrepresent Christ. and then it hit really close to home last week.
i am tired of people/institutions “representing” Christ in ways that do not reflect the Christ i see in scripture. for baptists especially who tout sola scriptura when it’s convenient or when they are trying to make a point…yet they don’t seem to really read that which they carry as their banner. now, i freely admit that i am not the foremost on biblical scholarship, nor do i know the ins and outs of God. at the same time, i do try to represent Christ in a way that, hopefully, is a truer representation…because just as those who seek to be rescued from Christ’s followers, i too am tired of how the institution and the individuals therein treat people who are honestly trying to figure this whole thing out.
in other news, i did experience an institutional worship experience that was diverse in as true a sense as i have seen in a long time. sunday of course was palm sunday and there was much rejoicing in worship. i also am proud to say that i attend a church that includes within it churches from several different ethnic groups: chinese, farsi, african. all of those churches worshiped together this past sunday morning and it was beautiful. it wasn’t a showcase, at least not as much as it typically is when you incorporate that many ethnic groups. it was a worship experience that was the most inclusive i have seen lately. a sharp contrast to the exclusivity i watched last week. two thumbs up for those who planned that service. it was a microcosm of what i think it will be like when we as a resurrected people are worshiping together before the God who made us all the unique and different creatures we are.