Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Minneapolis, Snow, and Christmas Eve... in that order

Minneapolis was wonderful. WONDERFUL. See evidence here....

My Auntie Cheryl and Uncle Andy own and Direct a Ballet Company....

They put on the Nutcracker for Christmas every year...

This year I went to help out...

And I met Allen for the second time. (He is a dancer... see below.)

Dancer... see.

No worries, I am cute too. Gorgeous actually.

and I love my cousins...

And my aunt and uncle. I am one happy girl

Snow is horrible. HORRIBLE. I can't get my car out. I can't drive anywhere. It's making for a very disappointing Christmas Day.

Christmas Eve is sad. Why is that? I have a few suggestions: 1. It was so fabulous as a child that grown up Christmas's cannot compare. 2. I am not where I am meant to be. 3. I couldn't go to church and will also miss Midnight Mass.

It seems that every year Christmas Eve gets more and more disappointing. I always think that the next year things will turn around and Christmas will be happy again. But the next year comes and it is only more disappointing. My Nephew, of course, made this Christmas wonderful... but I worry. I worry that the day will never come when I am completely happy on Christmas. I always think that eventually something or someone will be in my life that will change all of this for me. Of course, if you notice what happened in Minneapolis, you'll notice that I should be happy, but happiness is over a thousand miles away. and much to young for me.

Christ is the meaning of Christmas. Today I spoke with a man, an LDS man. I was angered by his treatment of my faith. He so wanted to force me into a doctrine, into one church or another, and then show me how that church was wrong... all the while saying he was not judgemental. However, if he does not believe I will be in Heaven, how is he not judging me. He kept asking me questions and not allowing me to answer them. He would cut me off. Finally I cut him off. I told him I was done with our "discussion" and that I did not appreciate the way he had so lightly disregarded my knowledge, my degree, my religion(s), and my faith. He treated my degree as if it were nothing. Nothing. As though he should know better than me what scripture said merely because he was LDS and I was not. I was horrified. Now I feel ashamed to have been so proud, but still there is that small part of me that wants someone to recognize the hard work I put in. The five years I spent earning that degree in Theology, so that men could respect what I had to say about God.

I have always had great respect for the LDS church and their idea of tolerance. and love... especially within family. That is not gone from this one man, but I have gained a renewed appreciation for how to approach topics of God and Religion. I know I've done what this man did before... turning people away from God with my zeal and my desire to show them how right He is ... how right I am. Back in my days of "righteous zeal", I too would have shamed my Church in the name of Christ. I am saddened at how torn we are. On a day when the masses, of all denominations and faiths are celebrating together, separately but all at the same time... the birth of our Lord and Savior, I am crying- torn and alone- because I cannot see how my desire for ecumenism will ever play out to favor the world, or Christ, or even just me. I pray that some day it will be for some good... and not just pain in my soul and confusion and anger in the hearts of those around me. It must be right somewhere, for someone.... or else I should give it up entirely.

Monday, December 15, 2008

wandering through the hearts icey regions

These last few days have been apart from others in the recent past. This look at Gomer I am doing is beginning to get to me. I remember why my heart so understands her heart.

This has been a time of trying to capture some balance between idyllic faith and informed religion. In this search for peace I have lost such large portions of my soul that I feel I have not been breathing properly for some time.

The pressure to know exactly the answer of how to be a protestant who is catholic who is protestant and still devoutly catholic has weighed, and does weigh, so heavily on my very skin that I am debilitated and cannot move with Jesus. This grieves me.

The pressure to be happily married, or happily dating, or defined somehow by my relationship or lack there of has moved me (or forced me) to a place of acceptance of all that is NOT me. I know I won't give in to love until I meet that perfectly flawed one, but I will date to appear sufficient or stable or normal? until that time comes. That is disgusting and so not who I am.

I have been Gomer. I have seen her in me since I found she had once existed. The ways I have used sin to excuse myself, or to be myself, to free myself. my SELF. my independent need to claim something in me for me alone. This is why I sin on purpose. This is why I run after things I know I don't want. This is why I am Gomer. why she is me. Why we are we.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

left at the interstate and straight on til morning

I miss Redding.

Things I miss:
Big Timing Small Town.
Father Avram's stupid jokes.
Father Michael's fastidiousness.
Father Davis's unexplainable love and reverence.
Newness. every day newness.
Forced Community.
Mark Carter.
Craig Slane...

I think the next time I go, I will drive. Just to have the time to myself. Yes. I've decided. How wonderful is that.

I very much miss having SO many people in my life that can just relate to where I am in life. Not only people my own age, but professors and friends who so understand the intellectual and spiritual tension I am thinking through... without answers, but offering dialogue and a cup of coffee. I even miss just having time for that. To just sit and process together, purposefully. I miss that everything and everyone was 15 minutes away. I miss knowing that I had something important to say.

well... that last sentence was enough reality for me at the moment. (I love how that happens. I am processing along in a normal way, and finally I say that one thing I've been trying to get to the whole time, and the reality of that one thought stops me so quickly, I have to catch my breath and run away.... like right now.)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Men of Misunderstanding

Today a married man told me he thought we had a special spark and that I was trouble. Tell me how that happens, when I barely know the man.

Today a gay man stroked my face, told me I was gorgeous, and that he loved catching my eye. That was certainly interesting.

Yesterday, a woman asked me if she could meet my handsome boyfriend. Turns out she was referring to my brother.

Two days ago, I watched "The ideal husband"... a movie taken from the play written by Oscar Wilde, in which every relationship is at one point or another completely misconstrued for something it is not.

Relationships frustrate me over and over again. I feel that when I am most straightforward, those around me misunderstand my intentions. However, when I am shielded, guarded, misunderstanding also occurs, generally from my own lack of communication about where I am comfortable.

Tell me how to be in this world. How is it possible to be comfortable in my skin and with myself, and yet uncomfortable with the confrontation that causes? I would like to understand my options for how a relationship could be before I engage in them. Like shopping: you can choose relationship A, which will be fun for two weeks and then end badly, relationship B, which will be boring for a year before you get comfortable, or relationship C, in which nothing in particular happens but to all outward appearances, you are in love.

I prefer shopping and books to relationships today. Sweet.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Graven Images

My soul is full of graven images:

My brother's face as he carried my bleeding four year old body across the street to the waiting ambulance.

My pastor's face the first time I FINALLY called him dad.

My ex-boyfriend's face the first time I kissed him.

My mother's face over and over seeking to understand that part in me she cannot quite get.

My grandfather's face as he blessed me on the day of my Confirmation.

Mt.Rainier on a sunny day, when I know it will rain the next.

The Simpson Skyline at sunset.

The Portland skyline at night.

The Seattle Skyline in the morning.

Julie. Tim. Wedding.

Jonathan VanSchenck as he rode his bike next to my car the day I moved out, screaming as he went, "I LOVE YOU BECCA!"

I hold fast to these images of love. I have been thinking lately, how very much I need the outward signs of love, in order to aptly remember God. I KNOW HE DIED TO SAVE MY SOUL... but... that's so ordinary some days. It is never ordinary, but there are days when my heart so needs to be tangibly touch, sought, filled that I crave these more ordinary moments of beauty. I don't think this makes me weak or spoiled or sinful. I hope it just makes me human as God created me to be.

There was a time in my life, when I could not find these graven images. I could not find them anywhere, and so I could not remember the love of God. I could not figure if he actually loved me. I thought he must not. Then I taught preschool. Lately I have craved the love I found there. Children are the best place to find ordinary extraordinary love.

Again I find myself in a place that could easily be the unloved place. This time though, I know better. I don't have my preschoolers to fill me up, but I have my graven images. Graven images of Christ's love. They keep me warm, but they must not be enough... the only way for me to continue in community and not let these images be sin is to share them... and continue them. Otherwise they become something religion only inside of me.

I have been reading the autobiography of a man named Dwite Brown. He is the father of the priest from Redding who so inspired me. Today I read this, "...modern people think that religion is an inner experience, but not an outer reality. The effect of this idea is to move God inside each person, and to make God's traditional outer position as King of Creation something old-fashioned or poetic. In the older Christian idea, a person could learn what God wanted, from the Bible or the teaching of the church. But in the modern idea, the only way to know what God wants is to look within oneself, and whatever one finds in there, is only for oneself."

I am so guilty of this. Guilt Guilt Guilt. Outward religion is not just poetry, not just something nice to look at. Not merely a graven image. NO. It is sustenance, breath, love. Oh yes. Not only outward and physical... oh how that haunts protestants... neither though can it be inward only. Balance is key again. Bringing balance is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. But Balance is what I want.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Mass and Mystery

A few weeks ago a friend wrote a blog that made me cry. The Ideal of Perfection, he titled it. I've been thinking quite a bit about perfection lately. I abhor it and strive for it simultaneously. I don't want it pressed upon me, or expected of me, or least of all, to find it in someone else. And yet, in some ways it fascinates me. Failing perfection is both a crushing and freeing feat.

There is no place perfection is more freeing than in Mass. The Mystery of Christ and the Community of the Saints brings a settled feeling that if perfection were attainable, this would be the only way it would be worthwhile... shared amongst the devoted, obedient, and severely flawed created lovers of He who is beyond, outside of perfection. However, I can say this: Commitment to obedience is SO much easier in the Catholic church. It is almost not even a thought, it is so simple. It is built in to the structure of the Catholic Life, and therefore, it is not a freedom or a choice. If you choose Catholic you choose a life bound to the pursuit of perfection... always knowing you will fail. The Protestant church does not include built in obedience, but built in Rebellion. They cry again and again "Not your way but MINE!" Each generation protesting something in the generation previous so that they will never cease to be protestants. So that Obedience must consistently be a choice, a daily battle, a constant struggle, an uphill climb battling elements which will most certainly steal your soul, so that when you finally reach the perfected moment of Mountain Top Spirituality, you see clearly that this is not what Christ meant by "Be holy as I am Holy."

Timothy's blog brought back to me some part I've lost. LEX ORANDI, LEX CREDENDI: branded into my skin, forever borne on my arm for all the world to know that I commit to this: As we pray, so we believe. I know that Catholicism and Protestantism will never be one church. I know there will always be some resentment, hesitancy, and ill-will between them. I know that neither is perfect and so neither can my commitment be perfect. But no where does this impossibility give me the freedom, the right, to say, "Well I can't be perfect. I can't be obedient to both churches, so I will throw up my arms and run with wild abandon into sin." Not that this is my mentality. More often, I feel more at home in myself consciously choosing sin. Since I cannot be perfect, and because I hate the disappointment of failure, I will choose failure, and that way, I cannot be disappointed... only fractured and depressed.

Today, I am reminded that this is a New Year. Advent has begun. Lent is on it's way, and freedom is not found in perfection, commitment, or obedience, but in my broken and fractured acceptance that I am because He was, is, and will be. Again and Again. I choose Catholic and Protestant, because I choose Christ, Man and God. Obedience and Rebellion. Homousios. Of the same substance. Two sides of the same coin. Separately unattainable. Together truth.