Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Listen Up, Y'all!

If we are going to be in community with one another, whatever form that takes, we have to learn to listen to one another.


If we are going to grow, to take deeply honest looks at our faults, to repent and turn in a healthy direction, we have to be willing to hear one another.

If I ever hope to become a wise elder, I have to first be wise enough to slow down, to listen, to hear, to process… these things precede all understanding.

Questions are healthy. Not having the answers is ok. Exploring the mystery together is growth. Listening together to how the spirit is moving, challenging, illuminating – this is an essential practice of the body of Christ.

When we fail to listen to those who feel their voices are being silenced, we dismiss their experience and receive their challenge as a something negative to be sneered at, rather than something valid and valuable from which we can grow.

This is a common response to those of us who speak from the margins of evangelical Christianity about issues around gender, race, and sexuality, and it’s an effective one because it appeals to something most of us value deeply: Christian unity… far too often, the “stop-being-so-divisive” line is used by those in power to diffuse, or even silence, difficult conversations about why things might need to change… I don’t like being divisive. Believe me. But I don’t like being silenced either.”
~ Rachel Held Evans, “On Being ‘Divisive’…”

When we fail to listen to those who feel their voices are being silenced, we miss out on the beauty, honesty and healing that can come when we release our tight grip of control, and step out into the risky unknown of growth and change.

"To me, the marginalized are those who, for all kinds of different reasons, are on the border or edge of whatever groups or systems they are part of. They are not in the center where the power and resources flow, but instead are in the white blank space that lingers on each side of the center… So much beauty emerges from the margins, and I get to see it almost every day. Truth so pure that it is like gold. Beauty so glorious that it can’t be matched. Honesty so raw that it pierces souls. Healing so deep that it transforms the most hardened heart.”
~ Kathy Escobar, “Truth from the Margins”

Adam McHugh, who has an upcoming book on listening, recently tweeted, “We are, in large part, a result of the voices we choose to listen to. Pick good and diverse voices.” And also, “If the people with power in your community do not practice listening, odds are no one else will either.”

Who am I choosing to listen to?

How am I practicing listening?

Am I willing to learn from the voices that are speaking into my life?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Live Everything

“But if the truth is to be told, let us not leave out any part…”
Life is Hard, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros

"…be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer."
Letters to a Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke

“We don’t live or become real if nothing ever happens to us.”
– Madeleine L’Engle

“Real isn't how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don't mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,' he asked, 'or bit by bit?”

“It doesn't happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.”
The Velveteen Rabbit, Margery Williams

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Color, Snappy Weather & Flocks of Birds

We interrupt this blogging hiatus for a cross-post on every blogger’s favorite subject: autumn.

I realize that the autumnal equinox was technically on September 22nd this year, but it’s the transition to October that usually seals the deal for me.

While every seasonal change is well and good, and brings with it something new, what I love about autumn is the feeling of shedding – of shaking off the old, letting go of what is no longer nurturing.

(Never fear – I also still love lattes, cozy blankets, anything pumpkin, and all other requisite fall activities and accoutrements.)

I’ve posted it before, but I am drawn back every year to my favorite literary excerpt about autumn, from Kaye Gibbons’ The Life All Around Me by Ellen Foster:

Watch me walk, I carry my hands to the sides. I don't lurch or slope. There's not a hunchback dome on my back. I can walk rested in the shoulders and loose armed, or I can walk with dignity, like a queen. After three years here, it's only loose ends left to manage, but when the list of things you have left to do on yourself includes items such as healing from terror that comes and goes and frequently gets in your way, it looks like the large job of work it still is. The good news was I was on the brink of October.

If you think about October's role in the calendar, you'll see it was custom-created to relieve the sensation of unsettledness and the mingling fears and needs that still edged in if I took a brief vacation, and let my mentalities go lax the way people my age who don't have to feel old as vampires have the privilege to do. October promises a difference and brings it, the changes it says are coming always come. When the air crispens, it splurges on symbols, dropping beautiful proof at your feet. It doesn't lie or leave out, saying death will be around eventually but only because life was already here, and here's some color and snappy weather and flocks of birds flying south to allow you to breathe deeply in trust that the universe knows what to do and when to do it. There won't be haywire shocks to wound the sky and shatter down another dose of jagged edges. October knows you've had enough.

Also (because: October.) I feel the need to pay homage to my home state, in which I always find beauty:

"You Run Deep In Me" - Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism from Jones Film Video on Vimeo.

Here’s hoping the blustery winds blow in some much needed blog inspiration – it’s way too quite around these corners, y’all!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

On icons & holding meaning...

What objects hold meaning for you? Y'all come on over to the Camp Lovely blog today, where we're talking about icons and the idea of things that hold meaning beyond themselves.

Each of these little saint medals holds a special meaning for me - stories of lives lived in faith, pieces of their stories that resonate with my own.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Attention Happy Campers!

We're launching a crafting community today, and we want to sign you up for camp! Camp Lovely, that is! So y'all come join us for campfire stories, craft swaps & tasty snacks! Be sure to like us on Facebook & follow us on Twitter & Pinterest.

photo credit:

Monday, June 10, 2013

modeling listening

"The Christian helper needs to realize that he or she is not only watching and promoting spiritual growth in the other, but necessarily also earnestly pursuing it in his or her own life. This is not only because we do God's work effectively in the measure that we are united to him, but also because we can hardly ask others to do what we will not take the trouble to do ourselves. Jesus never did. And any kind of helping is so largely a matter of modeling. One thinks of the words of Emerson: 'What you are thunders so loud I cannot hear what you are saying.' Yet even where our words are concerned, we affect others more sometimes by offhand or incidental remarks than we do by our most careful and concerned discourses. The quality of our offhand remarks is largely determined by the quality of our lives.”

~ Thomas N. Hart, The Art of Christian Listening

Monday, April 15, 2013

On Loosening Our Grip...

It’s been on my mind a lot lately, but it kind of got annoying on the way to work this morning: 

There’s no settling down, there’s only driving down state… so I drive…” ~ The Old 97’s 

There’s no settling down… 

It was already gnawing at me from the movie I sat curled up on the couch watching yesterday, Catch andRelease – all about how messy & fallible & unpredictable life & love can be, and how we pick up those pieces and keep trying. 

Life can’t be controlled… 

And, then, this gem of a reflection posted today: 

                A Moveable Feast 

I longed to know my place… 

This has been a season of being unsettled. And I have a strong wish-dream of stability that I have inflicted upon every season I have passed through. It manifests itself in my desire to control situations or, at the very least, myself. 

There is beauty in stability. It is good and nurturing and healthy. It is not, however, (nor has it ever been) my reality. And the fantasy that it will one day magically appear and nothing will ever go sideways again, keeps me from living fully and vulnerably in the daily moments and opportunities as they present themselves. 

I become Jay Gatsby, living in that always imagined yet never realistic future: 

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter - tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms further...  And one fine morning - So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

So tonight I’m gathering with some folks for an informal “Beer &BrenĂ©” night. And I remind myself that people open themselves up to vulnerability, and change, and uncertainty all the time, and live to tell about it. I can look back on my life and see all the ways that interruptions & disappointments have shaped me and helped me to grow into the person I am today. I like the person I am today. So why would I shy away from taking chances? 

I’ve written a lot about anxiousness and control. And I write a lot about stability and rootedness. But I think, perhaps, I’ve created for myself an unnecessary ideal – an unconscious belief that if I can just get to season X, then all my rhythms will fall in step and nothing unexpected or jarring or stretching will ever creep in again. That’s utter bullshit. 

I love what Holly says in her poem above: “…perhaps, I should think of everywhere as the place that I might stay forever… for then there will always be a table upon which bread can be broken and new wineskins can be filled.” 

May we learn to hold loosely as we settle in to moments and seasons. May we not become like house plants that wither if their location suddenly changes. May we allow our roots to be nourished in each place we are planted so that, as we are uprooted and replanted, we continue to grow and flourish and bear fruit.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Spring Break

I know, I know... it's still winter.

But I'm kind of on a sabbatical over here until we're well into spring. I need to do some pre-spring cleaning (of my writing desk & my writing mind). In the meantime, you can wander over to Barefoot Bohemian and enjoy my annual celebration of the Valentine season (What do you mean that's not a liturgical season...?)! Love y'all, mean it, see you soon!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Confession: I Miss My Congregation Today

The process of letting go of what was Eikon is just that - a process. And some days it hits you unexpectedly, in seemingly innocent moments. I don't know what those moments have been for others, but I'm sure they have happened. This morning, it was prompted by glancing at an article on learning styles:
Chances are, there are tons of doodlers in your congregation. And wanderers, ponderers, frantic note takers and artists as well. People learn in drastically different ways, yet most church services are set up for auditory learners - those who learn by hearing.
At Eikon, not only did we honor different learning styles, we honored different teaching styles - from the graphic designers to the mystics to the academics - we all engaged one another from our paticular strengths and styles. My comfort zone (though I certainly used other styles, as well) was captured by my friend Don:

That's really all this post was for - to create a space to be vulnerable for a moment. To admit "I miss this," even while acknowledging "we made the decision we had to make as a community." I want to continue to hold that space, to allow others from the community to exist in that tension between looking back & moving forward, and to know they are not alone.