Tag Archives: waiting

Practice Resurrection

wildflowers in the abandoned field near our house

wildflowers in the abandoned field near our house

Like every year, I spent some time this morning meditating on “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front” by Wendell Berry.  For several years, it was my job to read it aloud at our Easter service at Mosaic.  Coming back to it every year is like hanging out with an old friend – and the poem speaks a little differently each year.

This season is about the unexpected – about God making all things new.  Perhaps at first there is fear for us – like there was fear for the women and other disciples.  But we choose hope. Not hope in the absence of despair, but in the face of it.  This is not the cheesy, superficial hope that quotes Bible verses like a tiny band-aid on a gaping wound – but the deep abiding hope that in honesty and anguish continues to seek the God who makes all things new.

We choose to practice resurrection.

Manifesto: Mad Farmer Liberation Front 

by Wendell Berry

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion – put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Amen.

Advertisements

Lenten reflections

Lent colors
The first Ash Wednesday service I ever attended was pretty sad. Not just sad because we were  thinking about mortality and repentance – sad in the sense of a failure. I was helping to plant a church and while we’d had an exciting public launch – 5 months into it our numbers had dwindled.

I was leading music that night and was setting up the slideshow for projection in our 4th floor attic room. But just before we were to start, some folks from our host church came to take the projector for their own event. So there we were – the 6 of us singing while crowded around an old, donated laptop. We read some prayers and reflected on our mortality and our need for repentance.  We received ashes.

Lent that year was so challenging.  I was fasting weekly and gave up music in the car so that I could pray instead.  It was probably too much all at once, but it made me very aware of my need for God. Take away a little food and my music and I was keenly aware of my how much they were coping mechanisms for me.  At church, Lent was hard too – our numbers were low and we wondered if we would ‘make it’ as a plant.

But that Lent season ten years ago became a powerful time both in my life and in the life of Mosaic.   Something outside of ourselves was at work. Our Holy Week services were incredibly powerful for our small crew.  With Resurrection Sunday there was new light.  Literally.  There was an incident where a candle caught the tablecloth on fire…

Once, my 3 year old niece was upset at being given a time-out saying “This is terrible! I don’t know what’s going to happen next, this is terrible!”  In that, she captured the human condition.  We don’t know what will happen next and we can’t control it.  Lent reminds us of this – time in the wilderness.  Coming face to face with our limits.  Dealing with our dependence on food, caffeine, music, or whatever it is.  Waiting longer than we want to for a dating relationship.  Losing a loved one.  Facing transitions.  Hoping for children.  And we can’t know when the light will come until it does. As Florence + the machine says, “It’s always darkest before the dawn.”

The season of Lent reminds me that wilderness seasons are a part of life.

So as I sit with Lent this year, I come up against my limits and I am at the same time grateful and impatient.  Grateful because I am reminded that I am but dust – I am limited.  I have little control over circumstances.  I can choose to be grateful.  But I am impatient also for the dawn.

—————————————————————————————————————————-

I am using the website http://www.pray-as-you-go.org as a guide for my Lenten prayer times.  It has audio of a prayer and reflection time that I have found very helpful in ‘holding the space’ for meditation and prayer.  

Advent, revisited.

My poor, neglected blog.  It’s already Advent again, and I haven’t written anything in months.  But, it’s because I’ve been busy – waiting.  But actively waiting – making preparations for a wedding in the new year.  Isn’t it strange how sometimes waiting feels active, and sometimes it feels passive?

I was in a meeting with a staff a couple weeks ago where I talked about the difference between actively waiting and passively waiting.  And I realized, that passively waiting feels most powerless, and it’s where my heart goes when I’m tired.  Anyway, the actively waiting has been very busy – and while I’ve had lots of blog-worthy thoughts, there has not been much energy to write.

But now I’m procrastinating during a seminary paper and thought I’d just put this up here.  I have a thing about Advent, and not listening to Christmas carols during it.  It short-circuits the waiting, I think.  On December 1, someone told me “Merry Christmas!” and that December was for Christmas music.  I beg to differ.  Most of December is for Advent music.  The waiting, sometimes active, sometimes passive – the difficulty, the day-to-day.  Too often our American Christianity focuses only on the easy, the celebration, the triumphant parts of the faith.  And there is so much more than that.

Anyway, to help me remember that, I have listened to my Advent playlist from last year – reposted below, but with an additional song that I added after posting this last year.  Makes me smile, looking back on that late add – but it means more to me than romantic love – in the end, the truest love prevails.

“A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes, does various unessential things, and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent.”   (November 21, 1943) – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

1. The Laugh of Recognition – Over the Rhine – ‘c’mon boys it’s time to let it go // everybody has a dream that they will never own… it’s called the laugh of recognition when you laugh but you feel like dyin”

2. Bitterness Hotel – Martha’s Trouble ‘well i don’t know how I got here, it’s not where I want to be’ (a lovely band I met in college – they moved from Houston to Birmingham)

3. Long Lost Brother – Over the Rhine – ‘I thought that we’d be further along by now // I can’t remember how I stumbled to this place’

4. Only God Can Save Us Now – Over the Rhine ‘who will save me from myself and the night’

5. Remembrance – Balmorhea my favorite hometown band – I especially love 2:20-4:00 here.
6. The Waiting Room – Sixpence – ‘when will it happen, baby? // it could be near, but then maybe it could be far // here we are in the waiting room of the world’

7.The Cure for Pain – Jon Foreman – ‘I’m not sure why it always goes downhill, why broken cisterns never could stay filled’

8. Some Peace Tonight – Martha’s Trouble ‘Let me run and hide from the fear that is in me // My head is spinning and I need some peace tonight’

9. First Breath After Coma – Explosions in the Sky 3:20-4:20 is a great section, but for this playlist, the 4:20-5:30 is right on, and then the melody at 5:30 always sounds a little like ‘o come let us adore him’ to me…

10. Windmills – Mutual Admiration Society (orig. by Toad the Wet Sprocket)‘there’s something that you won’t show, waiting where the light goes // and anyway the wind blows, it’s all worth waiting for’

11. The Revolution Choir – Alex Dupree and the Trapdoor Band there is a land it is full of giants // but do not lose step and do not be frightened // cuz there is a great fire, it came from the mountains // we wait in the watchtower, just tryin’ to keep it lit //it cannot be too much longer’ (I miss singing this with my Mosaic family.)

12. All is Full of Love – Death Cab for Cutie (orig. by Bjork) ‘you’ll be given love, you’ll be taken care of… you have to trust it’

13. Keep Your Eyes on the Prize – Mavis Staples – ‘got my hand on the freedom plow, wouldn’t take nothing for my journey now // keep your eyes on the prize, hold on’

14. Travelin’ Thru – Dolly Parton ‘Oh sometimes the road is rugged, and it’s hard to travel on // But holdin’ to each other, we don’t have to walk alone …//  oh sweet Jesus if you’re listenin’ keep me ever close to you // As I’m stumblin’ tumblin’ wonderin’ as I’m travelin’ thru

15. Tension is a Passing Note – Sixpence but tension is to be loved // when it is like a passing note // to a beautiful beautiful chord’

16. God Believes in You – Jill Phillips (orig. by Pierce Pettis) ‘when you swear you don’t believe in him // God believes in you… blessed are the ones who grieve // the ones who mourn and the ones who bleed // in sorrow you sow, but in joy you’ll reap’

17. Brave – Miranda Stone Look at me, I’m being brave // Look at me, I’m being brave // Look at you, you’re being brave

18. Up to the Mountain (MLK song) – Patty Griffin ‘Then I hear your sweet voice, oh // Oh, come and then go, come and then go //Telling me softly You love me so’

19.  True Love Will Find You in the End – Daniel Johnston, covered by Mates of State   Don’t be sad, I know you will // Don’t give up until // True love finds you in the end

this too shall pass (transition edition)

Today, I want to move back home to Austin.

It’s been awhile since I’ve felt this way – so there is definitely some celebration in that.  Seriously, there is – I’m not just being optimistic – God-knows that’s near-impossible for me anyways.  So despite the general tone of this post – I am also reminding myself that hopefully these days will get fewer and farther between.

But today is one of those days.  Perhaps it was getting lost on my way to the main post office three times.  Or the fact that I had to go to the main post office because my tiny apartment mailbox got full with other people’s mail (my old mailbox never got full, nor did I get other people’s mail and dangit – I miss my house).  Or that I woke up 4-5 times coughing last night because of allergies/super-dry-air and I’m tired of not feeling good and just plain tired.  Or that it’s beautiful and about 90 degrees outside and I miss that and there are no snow cones to be found here.  And no fireflies west of the Rockies either.

Or maybe it’s because I heard a gorgeous sermon yesterday at Kevin’s church, and it’s been forever since I heard one of those.   Well, except that I was in Austin last Sunday for Carrie’s ordination and that was a beautiful, beautiful sermon.  Or maybe it’s that my birthday is coming up and there’s nothing like a birthday around people who love you, and most of the ones I know live 1700+ miles away.  And I just got back from there.

But this too shall pass.  I just got done telling the new Stanford graduates this week that I think it takes at least a year or year and a half to make the transition out of college.  I thought I’d get bonus time for being so far out of college and having a grip on my life.  But, I guess not.  It’s always easier to tell other people what it’ll be like than to live it oneself!

Thinking back, I know there were hard things about moving to Austin 10 years ago.  You long-time friends can feel free to remind me of those in the comments.  It’s never easy to make new friends, or find a new church, or learn a town whose streets change names at every other intersection (Austin, not here).  I like to think that it was easier 10 years ago though, when so few of my friends were married and had no kids, when they had more time.  To be fair, I also wasn’t trying hard to finish a master’s degree back then.  But, this too shall pass.  Or at least, I hope I’ll pass my classes. 🙂

This too shall pass.  I don’t think I’ll forget how to get to the main post office again.  Hopefully it’ll be another long while before I have a whole day where I want to move home.  But hey, I thought of something that I don’t miss from Austin.  Giant roaches.  I haven’t seen any here, and for that I’m really glad.  Just thinking about them gives me the shivers.

A few weeks ago I taught on Elijah (the super-prophet).  So in line with that, for now, I’m gonna go make a breakfast taco for myself and drink a Mexican coke.  Then, a nap if I need it.  And then I’ll talk to God.  I heard he knows all about Austin.  😉  It’ll get easier to BREATHE here too.

advent playlist

Confession – I don’t really like Christmas songs.  Yes, there was an altercation (read: throw-down) with Leon after a carol game at last year’s Red River Staff conference.  And then when I was a kid, my sister and I decided to sing all the Christmas carols we knew in the car… in July.

I’ll have to think more about why I don’t like Christmas songs… but suffice it to say I don’t make Christmas playlists.  But I decided to make an Advent playlist – sorta inspired by this Dietrich Bonhoeffer quote about Advent and prison (and he would certainly know).

“A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes, does various unessential things, and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent.”   (November 21, 1943)

1. The Laugh of Recognition – Over the Rhine‘c’mon boys it’s time to let it go // everybody has a dream that they will never own… it’s called the laugh of recognition when you laugh but you feel like dyin”

2. Bitterness Hotel – Martha’s Trouble ‘well i don’t know how I got here, it’s not where I want to be’ (a lovely band I met in college – they moved from Houston to Birmingham)

3. Long Lost Brother – Over the Rhine ‘I thought that we’d be further along by now // I can’t remember how I stumbled to this place’

4. Only God Can Save Us Now – Over the Rhine ‘who will save me from myself and the night’

5. Remembrance – Balmorhea my favorite hometown band – I especially love 2:20-4:00 here.

6. The Waiting Room – Sixpence ‘when will it happen, baby? // it could be near, but then maybe it could be far // here we are in the waiting room of the world’

7.The Cure for Pain – Jon Foreman – ‘I’m not sure why it always goes downhill, why broken cisterns never could stay filled’

8. Some Peace Tonight – Martha’s Trouble ‘Let me run and hide from the fear that is in me // My head is spinning and I need some peace tonight’

9. First Breath After Coma – Explosions in the Sky 3:20-4:20 is a great section, but for this playlist, the 4:20-5:30 is right on, and then the melody at 5:30 always sounds a little like ‘o come let us adore him’ to me…

10. Windmills – Mutual Admiration Society (orig. by Toad the Wet Sprocket) ‘there’s something that you won’t show, waiting where the light goes // and anyway the wind blows, it’s all worth waiting for’

11. The Revolution Choir – Alex Dupree and the Trapdoor Band there is a land it is full of giants // but do not lose step and do not be frightened // cuz there is a great fire, it came from the mountains // we wait in the watchtower, just tryin’ to keep it lit //it cannot be too much longer’ (I miss singing this with my Mosaic family.)

12. All is Full of Love – Death Cab for Cutie (orig. by Bjork) ‘you’ll be given love, you’ll be taken care of… you have to trust it’

13. Keep Your Eyes on the Prize – Mavis Staples‘got my hand on the freedom plow, wouldn’t take nothing for my journey now // keep your eyes on the prize, hold on’

14. Travelin’ Thru – Dolly Parton ‘Oh sometimes the road is rugged, and it’s hard to travel on // But holdin’ to each other, we don’t have to walk alone …//  oh sweet Jesus if you’re listenin’ keep me ever close to you // As I’m stumblin’ tumblin’ wonderin’ as I’m travelin’ thru

15. Tension is a Passing Note – Sixpence but tension is to be loved // when it is like a passing note // to a beautiful beautiful chord’

16. God Believes in You – Jill Phillips (orig. by Pierce Pettis) ‘when you swear you don’t believe in him // God believes in you… blessed are the ones who grieve // the ones who mourn and the ones who bleed // in sorrow you sow, but in joy you’ll reap’

17. Brave – Miranda Stone

18. Up to the Mountain (MLK song) – Patty Griffin ‘Then I hear your sweet voice, oh // Oh, come and then go, come and then go //Telling me softly You love me so’

now playing:  see above! 🙂

P.S.  Over the Rhine’s new album The Long Surrender was my soundtrack for a little photographic walk today.  I guess you can see the influence.  Here’s a picture from today.

these are the the flowers in my neighborhood

winter in my neighborhood

day one

It’s the beginning of a new year.  Advent kicks off the church year with the wonderful season of …. waiting.  Not Christmas, but waiting.  We wait for the Kingdom.  We wait with hope.

A few years back my church did an interactive ‘waiting’ liturgy.  It started with everyone being given a number, and then taken in shifts to a waiting room area complete with magazines, chairs, and muzak to wait for your number to be called.  Inside the liturgy space there was time to sit, and places to write things we were waiting for.  Or at least, that’s what I hear.  I didn’t make it – I was on a business trip and had booked my flight to arrive in plenty of time for liturgy.  But my flight was severely delayed.  I had my very own waiting service in the DFW airport.

I’ve told that story before, and felt clever for saying that last bit about my very own waiting service.  But I was thinking about it again tonight and had a new realization.  At first I was just disappointed –  it was a special experiential night I was missing with my community.  It could not be recreated.  Then I was angry – I had planned so well and worked out the flights in order to make it to church.  And finally I was just tired from travel, and wanted to be home, but was stymied by the airline delay.

But I still knew that I was going to get home.  Yes, I’d miss something that I really wanted to be at.  But I didn’t doubt that I’d make it back to Austin – even if it took longer than I thought it would.  There would be other liturgies and more time with community.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to have the long view of things, and not just focusing on the current circumstances.  It’s hard.  Especially when the long view is long like lifelong, or til-the-Kingdom-comes long.  That is a long delay.  And even though my parents did a good job teaching me the concept and practice of delayed gratification, I feel the disappointment, anger, and fatigue today.

But maybe I need to remember that I will make it home.  And what a home it will be.

If you’re interested in more on Advent or the Christian calendar, here are two resources: I’m again using Living the Christian Year: Time to Inhabit the Story of God (by my friend Bobby Gross) as a way to sit in this Advent season.  And I’ve also appreciated reading Richard Rohr’s daily meditations.  That link takes you to a subscribe page, here is an example – today’s Advent meditation.

now playing:  The Waiting Room – Sixpence