Thursday, May 29, 2008
Monday, May 26, 2008
The other enforced silence that few acknowledge is the silence of God. God's written word is THE ONLY way God speaks/spoke to His followers and any supernatural interaction is strictly exposed to be that of self-seekers and people who's faith just wasn't strong enough to "get in the Word". This was the silence that stalked me. This was the silence that confused.
Because you see, if you place a child in silence long enough God meets them there. In those hours of enforced quiet in church, three times a week I learned silence - but God somehow didn't know the rules. Far too often He kept me company, a willing companion alongside my dumbness.
I quickly learned in my teen years that this was not acceptable and spent most of the rest of my adult life in fear of mental illness for "hearing voices" or swallowed in the shame of self importance - who did I think I was that I was so special that God would speak to me? I quickly learned that those silent times needed to be filled with fantasy and day dreaming to keep my mind from sinning and hearing God.
Silence can be golden, but this silence was the shiny, stainless-steel of a bullet that lodged itself in my soul.
The tight fist of control this sect enforced had squeezed the life out of me, it had convinced me that I was completely broken. Born into the wrong body, given the wrong gifts and suffering under the delusion that I was either crazy or so puffed up that God would love me just like He did Moses or Peter - enough to show himself to them, and me. My shame was magnificent and as shiny as that silver bullet of enforced silence.
After we were kicked to the curb in our at the end of our first paid ministry at a Brethren church we were free, we didn't know it yet, but the violence of that encounter would have been the only thing that would have severed our commitment and devotion to that small sect of faithful believers. We loved them. They were our life. They are not mean, evil people, just sincere fellows laboring under a very heavy load of really ugly theology. It is a mean God they serve, and we loved him too, but we were now free we began to explore the big, wide world of the church.
We had spent our whole lives judging other Christians and faith systems. We truly believed WE were the only ones with THE TRUTH and the others were just playing games with their faith and God.
What a wide world exists on the other side of that door. We had no idea how vast and varied the kingdom of God truly was. I am unable to say that every experience we had was grand and glorious. We were still us and that boat we sailed just couldn't seem to stop rocking. We made many friends and found much grace and eventually floated that boat to the shore of a community of true folk. Honest people who don't take themselves so seriously, but do take God seriously. They are all such individuals - no homogenization here.
We had spent our lives trying to look like those around us, chipping away and folding ourselves up - but to no avail, we were horrible at being anything but ourselves. Here we found characters, I guess it's the ocean air - but as we saw each individual honored for their uniqueness and loved for their quirks we realized that we were home. Finally home.
Here we can be us. I can be me. I am so very different than anyone that I have ever met. I have found many kindred souls along the way - but there was just too much Heidi to "knock off" to fit into the cookie cutter. And here I am loved. Truly loved. Quirks and all. I am amazed and honored to be a part of this small group of people who think really B.I.G. thoughts.
This Sunday I will be preaching. It's not the first time, but somehow it feels like it because they know me now. They've lived life with me and they still asked me to teach. You see, I am a teacher. Silence inflicted on those of us who are teachers is brutal. Long ago I was told that if a man learned something from me, as a women, it meant that I was usurping creation order, not that I was a good teacher.
This Sunday I will be given the honor of standing in front of a room of the most unique people - and telling my story. Talking about story and using what God has gifted me with to play my part in this body of believers.
I opened my email this morning to this quote from Margaret Wheatley - it's where I got the blog title from. I didn't awaken with any intention of writing this post - but when I read these words I realized that I was truly beginning this process publicly, in my community face to face, and so following with my virtual community seemed fitting too.
Silence is a beautiful thing, I now embrace it fully as a time to meet with God. I now know that when he speaks to me that I am not crazy, it is a gift and I honor it as such. And I also know that breaking the silence by using the other gift He's given me is just as important.
A gesture of love is anything we do that helps others discover their humanity. Any act where we turn to one another. Open our hearts. Extend ourselves. Listen. Any time we're patient. Curious. Quiet. Engaged.... Conversation does this---it requires that we extend ourselves, that we open our minds and hearts a bit more, that we turn to someone, curious about how they live their life.Ending the silence out of love is right and good. When it divides and keeps us apart silence is anything but golden.
Speaking to each other involves risk. It's often difficult to extend ourselves, to let down our guard, especially with those we fear or avoid. When we're willing to overcome our fear and speak to them, that is a gesture of love. Strangely, what we say is not that important. We have ended the silence that keeps us apart.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Thursday, May 22, 2008
If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem.
But I arise in the morning torn between
a desire to improve (or save) the world and
a desire to enjoy (or savor) the world.
This makes it hard to plan the day.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Reconnecting with friends from college has been fun, but at times it is also difficult. We went to a very conservative, Plymouth Brethren Bible college - and one of the hardest parts about that is that there have been some who have written us off as heretics because we're no longer a part of "the fold". It's incredible though to me because back then my relationship with God was so one-dimensional and mostly just show - now that we've been written off my relationship with God is real, 3-d and dynamic.
Another difficulty happens because many times we don't bridge the conversation with others because of our own fear of rejection. We'll never know that they might be a lot closer to us in their own journey than we imagine them to be - but because of the fundamental "in and out", "black and white"-ness of that denomination it can make conversations awkward.
One of our friends has crossed the divide with enough friendship and courage to ask some questions though and that means so much to me. I have been trying to articulate some real answers, but because they are so foundational putting answers into words isn't as easy as I'd like it to be. I'd much prefer to sit over a cup of coffee and interact with a face, eyes and another's story than to place something in black and white here on my blog. But this is the medium of the day and Texas is just too far away right now, so this will have to do.
He saw my quotes on my Facebook profile and my sidebar here on my blog and asked me some deep questions about truth and what it means to be a "storyteller of redemptive truth". I think if I could/can articulate this I'd be a happy woman - so taking a first pass at this might help me in this reconstructing process.
Here is the quote he asked about:
and run away from the one who has found it".
I have NO idea who Andre Gide is, and I could look him up - but that would defeat the process of me actually putting my thoughts down, so I will save that for a later date.
This quote articulated for me my much of my deconstruction process. I didn't kick things all apart so that everything would be destroyed. I deconstructed my beliefs and theology because I realized that the very FOUNDATION of what I was taught had fatal flaws and if I didn't get to the roots the regrowth would always have tainted leaves.
This quote gave words to the idea that I have bristled against for so long. I left bible college with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biblical Studies - I spent four years of my life learning everything I could about God, the Bible and theology and left convinced that I had all of the answers, surety and knowledge that would help me face every problem, answer every question and root me into a life of growth that would draw others to it. What actually happened though was the exact opposite.
A decade of trials, loss, depression, addictions, infertility and closed doors that devastated us and left us without community, deep scars from churches who believed these same things, and more questions than we ever had.
Why were the "fields ripe for harvest" and we weren't in ministry? Why were the teenagers we were volunteering with getting pregnant and we were unfit to bear children? Why do people learn when I teach but because I'm a woman I'm unfit? Why is God silent? Why did God ordain all of this mess? Why didn't God stop the violence that happened to me as a child? Why do I have all of this knowledge and so little wisdom? Why is this all in my head and not in my heart? Why, why, why, why?
I began to suspect that the things that I had been told all of my life were "THE TRUTH" might not be the "whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so HELP ME GOD!"
The thing about hitting bottom is that it strips away everything. All I knew is that Jesus said that I could know the truth, and that it would set me free. So the first stone I kept for my new foundation was freedom. Not a wanton "I can do anything I want" carte blanch, but the inner freedom where I actually had solid ground beneath my feet to stand on.
The only way I can articulate what that quote means to me is with story. I have asked God for an image or metaphor to explain what this means to me because my words are so inadequate. So far this is what's come to me.
For me truth is like water - catching it is nearly impossible - the best water, the most life giving water flows free. What so many of the modern theologians and teachers try to do is FREEZE the water into little cubes that can be studied, kept in a safe place and carried out at times as if to say "HERE IS THE TRUTH", see, we found it, it's right here, we can see it, touch it, taste it, KNOW IT because right here we have THE TRUTH.
Those little ice cubes leave me cold. They no more represented the ocean than saying the word "blue" tells you what color the sky is after a storm. I began to realize that the fluidity that truth is, the kind that sets me free cannot be found in those little ice cubes - parts of it might be there, but so much is lost in the specimen. Truth, I found, is to be experienced on the great, grand scale like the Bay of Fundy, not in the little trays I keep in my freezer.
So in keeping with my metaphor I would translate the quote like this:
and run away from those who trap it in their kitchens."
My favorite author, Parker Palmer, uses a phrase in "A Hidden Wholeness" that I like, he says "Tell the truth, but tell it slant" He doesn't mean anything shifty by that - what he is talking about is using stories to articulate the truth. Metaphor and images can many times express a thought far more rich and true than our feeble words are able.
This is why Jesus told stories. They're portable. Each hearer throughout the centuries has heard them told again and again - and they are alive and rich and full of life giving water. The first time I hear it I take away something rich and life giving. The next time I am blessed by something fresh and new - each time the story is alive and breathing, not frozen like a specimen in a lab. It's like speaking in italics - making room for the spirit to breathe life into the words.
That is why I run from those who claim they have it all right, figured out and encapsulated for my easy consumption. Those ice cubes freeze my soul.
Beloved Beginner - Speaking in My Own Voice
"I just finished re-reading Confessions of a Beginning Theologian (which I’ve quoted before here and have posted a brief reaction to on my Reading in 2008 page). It’s an autobiographical book which describes the author’s journey from a fundamentalist upbringing to becoming a professor of Systematic theology. So much of what Fraser writes about her struggle to find her own voice and to speak confidently (without fear of what other people think) resonates with me. And it resonates not just in the context of being a woman who is venturing into the male-dominated world of theology, but also in the broader context of day-to-day life and relationships. Take the following quote for example:
I began finding my public voice…. I began speaking from my heart. Reluctantly, I gave up my lifelong habit of watching myself out of the corner of my eye. I stopped trying to phrase things so that no one could possibly disagree with me. Word by word, I learned to speak just as I was — not as I thought I ought to be, and not as I thought others wanted me to be. I began paying attention to others’ responses and mine, instead of rushing ahead to the next thing I wanted to say. It was like learning to dance. Practice, practice, practice. Three steps backward, one step forward. (Elouise Renich Fraser, Confessions of a Beginning Theologian, 1998, IVP)
Oh how I wrestle with that same issue: wanting to phrase things in such a way that no one will be hurt or offended, so that no one can misunderstand or disagree. This is not because I don’t have definite, strong opinions about a variety of issues, it’s because I am sometimes uncomfortable with the impact that my words may have on others. Even here, on this blog, there are topics I stray away from because I know that there are those among my dedicated readers who probably disagree with my way of thinking about certain issues. I’m challenged to stop being afraid of my own voice and to learn to join the conversation in a new way. I’m pondering what that might look like at this stage in my life."
Monday, May 12, 2008
Saturday, May 10, 2008
In his Letters from Prison, Bonhoeffer shared something of great importance,
"I often ask myself why a 'Christian instinct' often draws me more to the religionless people than to the religious, but which I don’t in the least mean with any evangelizing intention, but, I might almost say, “in brotherhood.” While I’m often reluctant to mention God by name to religious people – because that name somehow seems to me here not to ring true, and I feel myself to be slightly dishonest (it’s particularly bad when others start to talk in religious jargon; I then dry up almost completely and feel awkward and uncomfortable) – to people with no religion I can on occasion mention him by name quite calmly and as a matter of course..."
Thursday, May 08, 2008
Spring has finally descended on the east coast, and I knew that getting to the shore was a high priority for me. Things kept getting in the way of that and yesterday I finally had the time, the car and the break to get away. I looked at it as a time to restore my soul. Getting near water always seems to do that for me, especially when there are waves involved. Lake Geneva always had beautiful waves, white caps even. For such a small lake it had noisy waves and I always found peace when I was quiet enough to listen.
Our ocean here in the Bay of Fundy has incredible tides, but most of the time they are noiseless. There are a few beaches though that make noise as the tide comes in. Yesterday morning I knew I wanted to be at one of those beaches. The best one, Jasper Beach, is such a long drive, but the music of the waves in the rocks is like no other place on earth.
Gas prices are high and my desire to sit in the car for a long period was low, so I decided to go to our favorite beach combing spot which is the closest to home. The little town was under construction. They are widening the road for the dreaded natural gas line that has railroaded it's way into our serene little spot on the planet. The trucks, construction and dust was everywhere. I wasn't sure I would get into my secret parking spot to walk to my secret beachfront - so I opted for the boat launch instead.
It's a nice little park with a few picnic tables and an expanse of rocks to climb and comb, and I had always wanted to see if it was as rife with beach glass as I had hoped. It was not. But the smell of the sea and the sound of the water was there and I climbed the rocks and toted my camera in case there was anything that moved me.
The noise of the trucks kept interrupting my thoughts and I began to get frustrated. No glass, beeping trucks and that still, small voice of fear in the back of my mind saying that God wasn't going to show up today. That I was really going to be on my own again, that familiar feeling I seemed to push away all winter.
I finished the beach and started to roam the park. Enjoyed the small violets pushing through the leaves and brown grass as if to thumb their nose at the noise and winter. I remember picking those as a little girl in my back yard for my mother when I should have been napping but snuck out of my window instead.They brought back nice memories.
My tummy rumbled and I remembered my packed lunch and thought that sitting at one of the picnic tables in the sunshine might redeem the day. As I sat there I took pictures to show just how amazing the view here truly is. I am blessed. People save their pennies to vacation in such beauty and it's literally right down the road from where I live now. I was grateful.
The thought of opening myself to my surroundings so that I didn't miss anything came to me again and I said a prayer that I be aware.
I watched as about a dozen ducks came into view. I think they were eider ducks, but I wasn't raised around here, so I'm not sure. They were amazing as they would dive deep, for nearly a minute and resurface down the shore, popping up and floating, returning again to the deep, all knowing where the flock was going, all staying in close contact and all resurfacing together to continue down the shore.
I tried to noodle out the deeper meaning of community, fearful this was the message I was supposed to "get" today. Nothing deeper came. Again, frustrated I gathered up my lunch and returned to the trusty, old Volvo to pack up and head down shore to the glass picking beach so that the day wouldn't be a total wash.
As I walked back through the grass I came upon a pile of old, seaworn bricks. All shapes and sizes, collected by someone and set there so purposefully. I walked on to the car imagining the child who saw them as treasure, but the parent who disagreed and made them leave those precious objects behind. It seemed like such a loss. So much work to collect.
As I got to my car I was struck with the urgent need to honor them somehow. Collecting rocks has always been a bit of a silly habit of mine. The thought came to me that I could build an innukshuk with them. I stowed my gear, slung my camera around my back and returned to the pile and attempted to carry all of the loose pieces to a place of honor. I would regard the time and effort that child (because, who but a child would labor so diligently and have their hard work be shunned so carelessly?) put into collecting these precious objects. Just tumbled old bricks that had floated down shore from the factory that used to employ this community.
Now I had a puzzle. Since moving here I have become fascinated with innukshuks. They are monuments that say "I was here." The Inuit in the north use them as markers for winter travel. Their formation is ritualized and the stones are gathered by the whole community. Each type of formation tells something to those trained to read it.
There is water here.
We went this direction.
Civilization is that way.
To those looking for markers along their path they are life savers.
I have always rejoiced at seeing them along the highway. Tiny landmarks that spoke of someone taking the time to signalize their place in history. The ones we have locally are not those of the great tribes, but they still speak of signposts along the path to me.
I have heard that each stone gathered is to be used by the tribe to make the innukshuk. I had 13 pieces (my favorite number since childhood) and they were all shapes and sizes. These were not stones either, they were former bricks, so they were not the types I would have gathered on my own. I would have chosen some long, flat rocks to give stability and arms to my statue, some sturdy legs for a good foundation. Not these random, misshapen lumps. I was tempted to give up. Leave them in a pile for someone else to find. A small ebenezer to still honor the work, but definitely a project that required much less from me.
No. I was determined now. This was my puzzle. As I looked at each one I realized that they were the color of my hair. I had personalized these stones somehow and would feel a measure of failure if I was unable to build them into a statue to stand tall.
As I put the stones together I remembered the conversation I had with my counselor the day before. I went to him in an attempt to untangle the snarls I have had this winter. Getting my assignments and reading done for school has seemed to be an insurmountable task somehow.
I spoke of fear. So much of it unnamed and unidentified. I had told him that sometimes it feels like my head is full of molasses and I am just unable to put two thoughts together enough to build something with. Fear that I wasted my best brain on bad theology, fear that I have nothing "academic" left in me, fear that I will fall back into the bad habit of telling men in authority what I think they want me to say, instead of voicing my own thoughts and ideas; even though these are men who respect and care for who I really am.
And then I spoke of the past few years of deconstruction. How I felt like I had dismantled, torn down and razed just about everything in my quest to find the truth, about God, about myself, even about truth itself.He said that sometimes the deconstruction process is so complete that we sometimes feel like we have nothing left to stand on. That even if we had left a few steps of the old foundation in place that we would have something at least to build on, even if it was a weak foundation. He used that metaphor to talk about building on molasses and slogging through it. He acknowledged that it's a lot of work.
I realized as I played with those bricks that what I was really doing was beginning the reconstruction process. That those bricks were the parts of me that had been dismantled and left strewn about my feet. I puzzled over each piece trying to make them all fit back together. Many times I was tempted to go find those base rocks that would make the process easier, but I knew that would defeat this process.She kept tumbling around me, and I scrambled to catch each piece. I found as I progressed that I had a good solid statue, but that there were some extra pieces left over. I began to feel a bit of a failure and then I realized that as I reconstruct Heidi, and everything I now hold dear, that there will definitely be pieces I won't be putting back into the structure of my theology, belief system and person.
It was okay to leave some of those broken pieces lying at my feet.As I walked away I turned back to see her. To admire my handiwork. I even snapped a picture. Then I realized that I should snap my own picture to mark this place. To say "I. Was. Here."
As I got back to the car another drove in. Up until that point I had the place to myself. As I turned the engine over I saw a father and son get out and a bit of panic crept in. "What if they knock her down?" I just knew she was too tempting to be left standing. And I realized that I had no control over this.
She could be rebuilt and I'm still standing.
Monday, May 05, 2008
Jon Foreman writes:
When my brother and I were kids, my dad used to read us CS Lewis books before we went to sleep. So when we were asked to be involved in a movie based on his book, "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian" - we were honored to be considered.
I wanted to capture the longing that is embedded in much of Lewis' writing- so I tried to think back to what these stories meant to me when I was six years old and write from that perspective. The song that came out is called "This is Home." It's been quite a journey: a San Diego song with strings cut at Abbey Road in London complete with a video shot in Hollywood.
We are so excited to not only share this song with you, but you can hear the song streaming on our website, myspace, and facebook. The song will also be featured on the soundtrack, which is being released through Hollywood Records on Tuesday May 13th in stores everywhere.
This is our first venture as an independent band- so thank you for being a part of this! And thanks again for all your continued support.
- jon foreman
Friday, May 02, 2008
Thursday, May 01, 2008
I'm trying to get down there, so prayers for safety, healthy mom & son and traveling mercies for me would be appreciated.
UPDATE: Spoke with her husband this a.m. and the contractions have just started. Ugh, I hated being induced.