Faith, Family, & Focaccia

A faith and culture Mommy blog, because real life gets all mixed together like that.


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The Lessons of the Waves

waves in context

I breathe in beauty to the rhythm of the waves,
their sound and power washing clean my mind
of trifling concerns and numbing stress
I’ve brought here to this shore.

The surging tide, a sharp, in-rushing gasp,
it fills me full of light, and sea, and foam,
a rolling, tumbling, crashing, deep inhale
of boundary-breaching awe.

And, just as fast, it turns to quiet ebb,
a lacy coverlet for flat-smoothed sand
gently pulling back, like a caress,
a soft and cleansing sigh.

I feel the power of this rush and pull,
feel how it trains my soul to match its dance,
how quickly this vast truth of ocean waves
reforms my flighty, earth-bound mind.

But, in that truth, the ocean stays aloof,
her surging unconcerned with my small form.
She moves and sings for her own reasons
and in her own regulated time.

She pays no mind to me and my regard;
cares not that I am learning from her waves.
I’m just a bit of carbon, barely moored
by gravity along her restless shore.

And yet… that gravity controls her too.
Her pull and rush is trained by greater might.
We both are held, and rocked, and shaped
by our Creator’s laws and breath.

Her disregard is nothing to God’s sight:
the knowledge that I’m seen and known and loved.
I can receive the lessons of the waves
while holding also to a deeper truth:

The affirmation of my love-filled worth.


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My Voice and Not My Voice

I have not been posting here much lately because most of what I have been writing has been sermons. Every once in a while I post those here, but sermons are really meant to be heard. They lose a bit in translation when they are read on a page (or a computer screen or smart phone). They can still communicate… but it’s different. When I preach I try to put a lot of meaning into inflection, pauses, and emotional expression. My voice is part of the sermons.

Well, this past Sunday’s sermon was recorded, which gives me a chance to share a fuller version here. A version that includes my voice.

At the same time, it’s not entirely my voice. This sermon takes the perspective of one of the characters in the gospel story (Mark 3:20-35) – the perspective of Mary, the mother of Jesus. So often we hear the Bible stories through the lens of finding the lesson – how do we boil this down to a theme or challenge that we can apply to our own lives. This is an important function of scripture and of sermons, but it is not the only meaningful way to engage a biblical text. Sometimes hearing them as a STORY – a story with human characters to whom we can relate – allows us to engage in a different kind of learning and challenge.

I hope that this sermon-story gives you a chance to hear whatever voice speaks to you.


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The Balance of Breathing

rock balancing

Photo by Pille Kirsi on Pexels.com

The Spirit is whispering behind my ear –

Divine respiration-inspiration, Ruach, Pneuma

calling me to draw her in,

draw close,

draw breath,

to share the air She spills out from her generous soul,

to train my lungs to dance the rhythm of Creation.

Persistent inhale-exhale of all life.

 

I need to practice, to re-learn, the litany of breathing:

in and out in sacred balance,

call and response,

receive and give,

embrace-release,

let Her inside and speak her name aloud.

 

The rhythm is so simple,

the common language of all animal and vegetable life.

Whatever else our differences, we all share this:

this in and out;

this every minute interchange of CO2 and Oxygen;

inevitable partnership;

most basic pattern in the dance of life.

 

But, my step stutters.

I’ve lost the cyclic rhythm,

forgotten that with every hungry gasp

must follow gift;

that each exhale must leave me empty,

needing to refill.

 

Sometimes my breath gets stuck in inhalation.

My lungs don’t have capacity for infinite expansion.

I cannot hold it all,

and, if I try, I will explode,

betrayed by my blind greed for more.

More knowledge,

or experience,

or lies that whisper my deep worth is measured by inflation,

the ability to hold it all.

And so I keep inhaling ‘til I start to shake

with fear, exhaustion, grief for my own limits.

 

But, also, I can err in breathing out,

can give until I’m empty and still push for more;

can, somehow, mistake my lungs for a sweet well

replenished from within,

despite my long experience of going dry.

Or else, misdiagnose each need that eyes or heart perceive,

prescribing, as though medicine, whatever I exhale,

forgetting that I have metabolized what I took in,

and my breath carries poison intermixed with life,

which needs to be diluted by a greener source of air.

So, I must learn, again, the rocking, rhythmic step,

the dance that nurtures life in every form:

the in and out in sacred balance,

call and response,

receive and give,

embrace-release,

let Her inside and speak her name aloud.

 

The partner-dance of Spirit-breathing life.


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Poem: A Deeper Voice

My voice is getting deeper.

I am learning to give it time to rise up from the depths,

to speak with the sonorous reverberations of reflection and experience.

It used to come more quickly,

to beat staccato rhythms on the surface of my life,

tap-dancing with a light and pretty step,

meant to impress, entrance the audience,

and thus to hide the frantic drive

the constant shifts,

to balance on unsteady feet.

I used to hear all questions as a call to know the answer,

deny uncertainty,

fit my voice into the cadence of the scripted response.

A quick reply defeats the skeptic monster hiding in the pregnant silence,

the threat to birth exposure,

the messy, infant fear:

“I am a fraud…. I have nothing new and true to say.”

Words – high, strident, righteous (or self-righteous) words – were my defense,

building a facade to hide behind,

to awe the people I was too afraid to let inside.

As long as I appear to know, I will be safe.

Safe, but unknown.

Because I have to know myself to find my song,

my true, authentic, powerful voice.

I have to tear-down all the stage displays

and just stand still.

Not dancing.

Not performing.

But finally,

slowly,

breathing deep.

My voice is getting deeper.

I am learning to give it time to rise up from the depths.

There is slower music playing there.

The voice of living water.


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A Comforting Need

Ps. 131 — “Lord, my heart isn’t proud; my eyes aren’t conceited. I don’t get involved with things too great or wonderful for me. No. But I have calmed and quieted myself like a weaned child on its mother; I’m like the weaned child that is with me. Israel, wait for the Lord — from now until forever from now.” – CEB

174

How would it be to know my need as a comfort?

To rest my head in peace,

not from the weight of dragging cares?

To know the calm and quiet of a child

nestled on her mother’s lap,

all unconcerned with things too great and wonderful for me?

How would it be to look on life with un-conceited eyes?

To know the truth

of my own limitations,

and see these limits as a blessing,

nurtured by humility,

that turn me toward the One who meets all needs?

Could I then, with the psalmist, wait for you, Lord?

Seek not to be

my own answer to prayers?

But rather know

my need is as it should be,

and know, as well, that You will never let it go unmet?


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Slow Growth

IMG_0649

One Thousand years, and these great trees have barely grazed adulthood

While countries birth and die

And mountains shift their feet

Whole lifetimes only add a few thin rings

to ponderous span of living wood.

Perspective so diminishing, I stretch and ache to take it in.

 

My heart longs for the stillness hid within their shade.

To breathe the end of haste

To know my being as a rooted fact

No need to overfill each moment of each day

With proof that I have worth.

To feel the strength of standing still to grow.

 

But how can feet that itch to move take root?

What nourishment can flow

From quiet and from rest

That offers neither schedule nor result

And calls the hungry rush a lie?

Can this achiever’s heartbeat slow for open contemplation?

 

And can this heartbeat teach a rhythm of new life?

A slower growth

That does not jump to know, to do, to be

But sinks deep roots

To draw up living water

Stronger for the bonds that tie my life to the Eternal Source of growth.


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A Psalm of Hope

It has been a REALLY long time since I posted. Lots of reasons, and that is not the point of this post, but I am very conscious of how much I need this medium for words today. I need the healing of exploring my own soul and sharing that exploration in the belief that I am not alone. And, what is more, I need the belief that this sharing can be a way back to humanity, and compassion, and most of all HOPE.

And so, this is me sharing my soul. It is written in the form of a Psalm, because a psalm is what I needed today. So, I read the first 24 verses of Psalm 18 (I am very inconsistently working my way through the psalms as a self-care practice at the moment, and this was the next one up) and from that inspiration, I wrote my own.


Psalm January 29, 2017 (Loosely inspired by Psalm 18:1-24)

I said “I love you, God, my source of safety.”

God is the one I can always rely on – the one who is always there, who never rejects me.

God is my support.

I don’t have to prove myself to God.

God protects me from myself and from my need to demonstrate my worth.

I am safe with God.

Because God is so completely trustworthy, I came to God in prayer, begging,

and God filled my soul with the assurance that God is bigger than everything I am afraid of.

I was scared of so many things –

of pain for myself and for others,

of failure,

of coldness in my soul,

of people feeling abandoned and my guilt for that abandonment,

because I am relatively safe.

In my tears and fear, I prayed.

I cried out to God, “HELP!”

And God heard!

In the truth of God’s glory, and power, and perfection, my  fears and tears were NOT too light a thing to claim God’s attention.

God paid attention.

 

And when God responds, that response cannot be ignored.

God’s power, and truth, and righteousness are far beyond control.

God it not tame.

Even when I might get nervous about God’s righteous anger, it’s not for me to hold it back.

God’s love is fierce.

God’s commitment to creation and to each precious person will not sit back;

God will not wait and see;

God will not be conciliatory where there is evil in the world.

God’s love can burn like wildfire when it needs to.

And God’s truth can be as invasive as the darkness –

working where we cannot see

in preparation for the painfully revealing light.

When loud voices speak lies, God will speak louder,

and the enemies of God will be scattered.

They will be exposed in the places they thought they were safe –

in the center of their assumed power –

they will be shaken.

Nothing can resist God’s righteous anger.

 

God does not stay remote.

God has already touched me, grabbed me, and pulled my spirit to safety.

The quicksand cannot pull at me

when God has hold of me.

It tried –

it surrounded me with lies and fears and memory-scars of pain.

But God is stronger and God saved me.

God loves me and shows that I am worth saving.

God knows my failings, but God also knows my heart is turned toward love.

God has given me faith,

and so I seek God’s will,

and I reject fear and self-protection that denies God’s sovereignty.

I seek to know and understand how God’s way of living works,

and then I follow that way, imperfectly, through grace.

And so, God has protected me and given me this life –

to live in joy with love

keeping God’s way.

AMEN