Regretting my assholic self

I've been an asshole to myself lately. How's that for real? Lost 20 pounds last year, probably gained 30 since. I have been indulging in self-loathing, and also trying to get a spiritual handle on the fact that I have to have mind/body/spirit in more harmony. Right now the flesh is outracing the spirit. But, I just read a quote referencing Anne Lamott's book, Operating Instructions.

"You don't have that kind of time," spoken by Anne Lamott's dear friend, terminally ill with cancer at the time, when Lamott asked her if she thought the outfit she was trying on made her look fat.

I think I'll quit being an asshole to myself. I think Anne Lamott's friend, dying, knew exactly what was what.

Wish you a very slooooow day

...The way of holiness is not achieved through hurriedness, busy-ness, or instant production. The way of God is the way of waiting.

...For those of us who are rushing through our days at break-neck speed, an ordinary way of becoming holy may simply be to practice slowing down. Do the dishes more slowly in the morning, drive more slowly to work, handwrite a letter rather than pushing buttons quickly on a computer, walk from your car into the store more slowly, eat more slowly. These conscious acts of slowing down, ready your spirit for the moments of grace, moments that we might not see if we race by too swiftly.



Stations of the Cross

The last few days I have been caught up in work for my church. One interesting thing I've noticed is that I'm getting braver about expressing myself, as though I'm hearing this permission from God to let myself go more than I have. Not just by making graphics using Homer and Marge and Monica and Chandler to represent our week about marriage, though that was fun.

A bigger, more serious thing was that J. brought a Stations of the Cross printout to our last Creative Collaborative meeting, and Lee decided it'd be great to do this on Good Friday. I wasn't sure that it was enough time to do things with the creative integrity I thought it should have. More than that, though, was my feeling that the Stations exercise just didn't feel like Threads. I didn't like some of the language, and there were parts of it that seemed to make people feel more guilt about Christ's sacrifice for us, rather than being drawn to him for his great love. I was unsettled about it. So I posted all my thoughts to our group discussion board. Fortunately J. was accepting of my critique, and of course asked for my help. Rather than just sitting together and hashing over the Stations that she had, I decided to spend yesterday afternoon writing my own. I can't take credit, though - it was culled from various resources, with God inspiring a bit of it to fill in the blanks. With the tight deadline I had to also be mindful of using rather simple experiential elements, lest we have people pulling their hair out. Last night I sent this out to the half dozen people on our Creative team, and I have no idea what anyone will think. But if you care to venture an opinion or revision, (and they'd be most welcome, of course!, I have the Word doc online here.


The Diner Church Revisited

Today I went alone to the local diner Brenda and I frequent. Rhonda, the angelic looking waitress with her big blonde curls and enormous blue eyes asked if Brenda was coming in, and I had to tell her that Brenda is home now for a week or so under a doctor's care. Rhonda had told us last week that she had bought us something. How remarkable that this waitress would care so much about her customers as she does. Rhonda's the one who worried about one of her elderly customers when he didn't show up for a few days, and found out where he lived and knocked on his door one day. He'd been in the hospital, and I'm sure he was so touched by her visit. Rhonda's a feisty one though, too. About two weeks ago a couple she waited on did a "dine and dash" without paying their bill and Rhonda ran after them into the parking lot yelling, "Get the f**k back here!" I laughed so hard when she told me that. When she gave the police the license number it turned out there were several outstanding warrants for the man's arrest.

So when I went in today and explained why I was alone, Rhonda went out to her car and came back to my table bearing two gift bags. Inside each was a small white figurine of an angel with pink roses at the base. Rhonda said that she knew that things had been difficult lately for us and that sometimes we need something to make us feel a little better. There, in a little diner, was such a presence of God and Church. For some reason a little while later Rhonda started telling me more about herself and how she'd been a drug addict until two years ago. She got clean because she was afraid of losing her kids. I told her we have a lot of people in our church who have been addicts or in rehab and we talked about Threads and I invited her to come and told her how amazing the people are there. When I left I gave her my business card and said to call me, or just come into church and ask for me and someone will find me. And then I said, Oh, I don't mean to keep going on about my church so much, and she said no, I think you were meant to. And I said maybe it was the angels.

So I walked out of that diner with two little gift bags holding dollar store angels, feeling blessed by such a beautiful expression of how God wants us to love each other, and thinking about Darla and her coffeehouse idea and what community is truly meant to be.


Jesus Wanted

Mat (or M@ depending on his mood), Threads elder, youth group leader, wacky, wild energy guy and lover of Jesus, is now podcasting. He said my poster jumpstarted his newest message. I don't think he's had many people listen to his podcasts yet - I hope some of the teenagers in our youth group do soon. I'm sure he'd appreciate a visitor and comment or two if you're in so inclined:



Journaling as a Spiritual Practice for Lent

Another gem from explorefaith.org. Week one is really over, but I just found it, so...
Lent is a time to be intentional. It is more than giving up sweets for 40 days, or trying to be more devout. It is really a time to look seriously and intentionally at our lives – who we have been, who we are, and who we are becoming. Journaling is a way for us to embody this intention, because it gives us an environment for delving deeply into the bottomless well of our souls. Each week during Lent, take the time to use the journal as a spiritual practice for looking into the wonder you embody.

Week 1: Receptivity
We become so habituated to the routines of our lives, that we can find ourselves shut off from what is new, what is challenging, what takes us to the edge, what causes our heart to thump and our breath to shorten. Lent invites us to clear the channels – open the gates – unbar the doors that keep us safe and stuck in the comfortable patterns that are so familiar. Take time this week to consider how you are closed off to new experiences and begin to crack the walls that hold you enclosed.

Journaling Questions
What patterns are keeping me bound in routines that are shutting me off from the wonder and dynamism of life?

· In my work?
· In my family?
· In my community?
· In my soul?

I struggle still with being too reclusive, and using the Internet too much for some kind of relationship with others. The fact that I work full-time certainly prevents me from leading too solitary an existence. There's a balance I need to find - I enjoy solitude, but too much of it seems to lead me into depression. I've also neglected myself health-wise lately, and it's leading to a self-loathing that was so intense yesterday that it scared the hell out me. I opened up about it yesterday to my 16-year-old. Part of me felt bad for hitting him with such an adult conversation -should teenagers know that their parents can be that broken? But he accepted it with aplomb and wise words; healing words, at least, assuring me that I do have worth to him and to God. In that moment I needed a confessor; one who was wrapped in flesh and who loved me. I am finding that speaking my truth out loud helps direct me down a healthier path - my solitude has sometimes led to hiding things about myself that do best when exposed to light and the living waters of human solace and understanding.



How apropos for me that this is the first reflection on the first day of Lent at explorefaith.org. Just reading "be still" created a stillness within me. How powerful can be one image or one word.

I don't like giving things up for Lent, I like adding things on. I plan on adding more stillness, more soaking in God, steering myself a little from the chaos that I use as an excuse not to spend time with him. I want to try and love others more. I want to love big, and to make room for God to be visible in me. I have some stuff to shovel out in order to let him in.

I want to keep learning how to listen when people need to share things with me, even horrible things. The detective wouldn't let my sister's kids see her body because she was beaten so badly. I'm learning that sometimes you need to hold things in stillness, let the pain speak without marginalizing it with words, let silent love and compassion flow from your heart and eyes and envelope the torment, as you envelope and embrace someone in your arms.