Thomas Merton calls the believer toward emptiness, his mystic leanings showing like a slip. However, Merton's love of emptiness by no means implies vacancy. He considers that if one empties themself of self, the natural outcome is inclusion of all others. Thus the irony of empty meaning full. Come on, you gotta love that.
My goodness, I didn't realize you all were in here.
1. I will not answer chain letters, in fact, this FaceBook ice-breaker very much resembles a chain letter in the way one is “urged” to send it to 25 “friends” with the blah-blah to continue the m. m…, oh never mind…
2. Sorry. Random point number two: my ability to speak too soon, too much, an exaggerated sense of being right, however, in counterbalance to this outburst, rest assured, I may never call you by name because I am phobic about calling people the wrong name.
3. But really, I think I am nice.
4. Genuinely pleased to meet you; I am a dyed in the sunshine optimist: I wake up happy, I am nearly always happy and rarely disappointed.
5. This allusion to disappointment brings me to the fact that when I was small my greatest wish was to be ballerina, play the piano, and be a car-hop at the A&W. Mind you, if I didn’t have a type A dominant vanity gene that made my true heart long to one day be considered beautiful, then the ballerina part wouldn’t be hard at all. I still think that kind of movement is the human form at its finest. But my father was right—ballerinas have few prima jobs after 25 and the best beauty grows through pain.
6. My skin is letting go.
7. Intellect was the highest value in our family, yes please, mind over matter.
8. Iowa Basic Skills tests in fourth grade determined I was not as smart as my older brother and sister in math and science. I scored well in English. I asked my mama what I could do with THAT and she said, “You could be a writer.” I could think of nothing more boring than being a writer unless it was being a minister.
9. Even so, at age 3 I would don a tutu and get my music box. In front of the big picture window I’d dance whenever the sun went behind a cloud. Sometimes God was pleased and the sun came out.
10. I made it through two years of confirmation in the Congregational Church without being able to answer the question, who is Jesus?
11. Young Life answered that for me in high school. Slid into faith like a leotard, well, perhaps faith, doesn’t exactly slide on, but it fits like tights: sucks you in, keeps you warm, and you can still see who you really are.
12. The best evidence of God, no, the best evidence of Love, came from a prayer I prayed for five years before it was answered.
13. OK, I admit it. I wrote poetry and played the guitar all through college. Didn’t sing loud enough to be heard and never showed the poetry to anyone.
14. I resigned myself to not take art in high school because I didn’t think I had the “gift”, only took an art class in college because I couldn’t get anything better than a C in Anthropology, my major. The best thing I’ve learned in my whole wide life (not counting the revelation about Jesus) is that you can LEARN art. Makes me happy just thinking about it.
15. It makes me happy to help people find that they can do what they never thought they could.
16. Green—celery green to be specific.
17. I’ve prayed, please please can I be a good singer in heaven?
18. I cry nearly every time I sing.
19. Did I tell you how much I love Dana? More than that. Much more. What does that mean—to the sky and back?
20. I have dreams that I can fly.
21. I have a black hair that grows out of my chin like a witch.
22. Dogs more than cats only by a whisker.
23. The older I get the more literal I take the Bible. I’ve already put my eggs in that basket, what, do you think God will reprimand me for great expectations?
24. I have been praying another certain prayer for a long long time…
25. Is there anything better than climbing into a warm bed?
And waking next to the one you love most in the world?
Addendum: I love to laugh. Good humor is one of life's best remedies (BTW bathroom humor is NOT humor. A cheap imitation). I am amused at so much in this world, but I find it exceedingly difficult to explain said amusement. Case in point: while at a lake cabin as a child I was following a friend down a narrow path around the lake—tangles of undergrowth all around. Suddenly she stopped and bent over (as I ran into her). Without a word she reached down and pulled the tongue completely out of her saddle shoe, held it up momentarily, then bent over and pulled the other one out of the other shoe. She didn’t laugh. I am still amused forty-four years later.
Perhaps you’ve all heard the saying: In essentials, unity. In nonessentials, liberty. In all things, charity (love).
Once we are agreed on who Jesus is, these are the rules of banter about how we then shall live.
So let me toss this out into the fray: I am troubled by social justice. Between “be good” and the “do good” I fall distinctly in the “be” category. My mama accused me of being a sandbagger (to downplay or misrepresent one's ability in order to deceive someone—or in my case, reduce expectations of useful labor). I would choose worship over work any day of the week.
Nonetheless, my heart has been wrecked by seeing my abundance and easy load sidled up to the rubble of other’s lives. Social justice. There is no social justice. But I must engage.
CS Lewis writes in the Screwtape Letters, a dialogue between demons on how to thwart God (the Enemy): “… we want very much to make men treat Christianity as a means; preferably, of course, as a means to their own advancement, but, failing that, as a means to anything—even social justice. The thing to do is to get a man at first to value social justice as a thing which the Enemy [God] demands, and then work him on to the stage at which he values Christianity because it may produce social justice. For the Enemy [God] will not be used as a convenience…”
Tis a conundrum, is it not? We are called to give to the poor. And even that can become a god of sorts. Abandon social justice issues? I think not. Hey—I am going to Kenya later this year. But am I directing God toward that injustice or his he directing me? Who gets to be the hero? Don’t kid yourself—I know the right answer to those questions but pride, oh my, there you are haunting me again.
"I believe that God made me for a purpose..., but He also made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure....” — Eric Liddell
I take no pleasure in running. But I am captivated by the thought of God making us good at something (even good at something as unnecessary to life as running); that there is a chance He delights in seeing us recognize how He made us; that He fully wants us to use what He gave, to completely enjoy it. (Not to the exclusion of being productive, but along side it.)
I’ve never been quite clear on the role of an artist—either in this world or the next. I console myself by quipping about my imitations of the heavenly Creator.
Can you imagine God being delighted, not in your striving toward being more like Him, but in being more like YOU?
This seems almost too good to be true.
(And why does my puttering in the studio now feel like worship?)
Down I-90 across Montana, miles and miles of nowhere to pee, seventy-five mile an hour sagebrush, and suddenly a bird who can fly that fast. Like the lady in the pickup, who won’t let you pass, casually looking ahead as if there is no game of acceleration soaring down both lanes, you swear you catch a glance of yellow eyes. *
(And all those warnings about the tongue being uncontrollable. Oh never mind.)
A woman who plays with rocks, wood, wire and words, wants to be like her Father, who made extraordinary things out of dirt.
Please leave a thought or two—whether it is iron sharpening iron or just a nod, we learn from each other.