this is the first time I have not been to the Ash Wednesday services. I know, you're either thinking, "first time!? What a crazy lady to always go to that depressing service!" or "gasp! She can't be a TRUE lutheran anymore!"
Whatever. My husband and daughter had to run some errands (read: buy V-day cards for mama), and Shepherd was so cranky tired I was not going to torture church with his fussiness. Instead, he has been asleep since 5:45, and I am hunting down diaconal internship sites for the fall. I must say, so far, the prospects look pretty rad ;)
However, lent has always been a significant time of renewal for me. I relish the chance to watch the changing of winter to spring in the midst of these 40 days of wonder and preparation and intentional prayer. However, I am too busy this year (and too learned) to make a commitment that I cannot keep. Therefore, I have chosen to incorporate two disciplines this season, with the awareness and acknowledgment that I might not be as successful as I would wish, but with the hope that I can be renewed nevertheless. First, I borrowed a 40 Day Journey book by Parker Palmer from the church library. I have hopes that James and I will be able to read the short page a day together and ponder our wholeness in the way that Parker makes so validating and realistic. Second, I intend to pray in color daily - even if it is the shortest, most basic of doodles, I will fight for that creative energy to be spent in prayer.
There. That's not so bad, is it?
(perhaps I should have given up facebook, but I'll leave that for another year...!)
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
In my Christian Scriptures class, we were given a writing assignment that required us to re-write Luke's story of the Prodigal Son, incorporating the mother, who is not originally included. Here is what I came up with:
Margaret was a mother of two sons. Elliott was 25 years of age, and spent many years working diligently alongside his father on the family farm. He spent so much time trying to do what he thought was right in the eyes of his parents and God, that Margaret would fret he forgot to live a little. “He is young,” she would think, “and should find a wife.” But her other son, Lukas, lived enough for the both of them. He was 17 and impossible to keep track of. Her husband Peter hardly ever had a kind word to say to Lukas because he was always finagling his way out of some chore or farm responsibility. Margaret often found herself thinking that she should be stricter with him, but it had taken a long time to have him, for she had 3 stillbirths between Elliott and Lukas. She routinely vacillated between feeling joy that Lukas seemed to be enjoying his blessed life, and worrying that he would find hurt in the world without a sense of obligation.
One day, Margaret overheard Elliott and Peter having a heated discussion. Lukas had asked for his share of his inheritance, and Peter had gladly handed it over to him, so that Lukas might go and get on with his life. Margaret was devastated. She could not believe that her Lukas was gone, out in the world without a single person to take care of him or make sure he was safe. She never even realized the effect this might be having on Elliott. Margaret went into a deep mourning, it was to her as though Lukas had died, and Peter as well. For Peter did not give Margaret’s attachment to Lukas any thought when he agreed to let him go. Meanwhile, Elliott continued working all the chores of the family farm, and also taking on additional tasks to help cover for the lack of assistance Lukas had provided. It was difficult work, and with every forkful of hay, Elliott grew bitter.
Peter did not know what was wrong with his wife. She laid low in the house, weeping and never saying more than prayers for Lukas’ safety in the world. He could not get her to bathe, nor eat more than enough to keep her alive. Her depression was so dark that Peter felt himself being pulled into it, and he began to lose his motivation to work the farm, leaving Elliott to work even harder to maintain things.
While all of this was happening back home, Lukas had swiftly used up all of the inheritance he had been given within months. He had realized that he had squandered a fortune and been disrespectful to what his family had tried to teach him about being responsible to a community. He was so ashamed to have lost everything, that he found himself sleeping with animals and eating from troughs. After five months of living in squalor, Lukas realized that he would likely be accepted at home if he asked for a job as a farm worker and not as a privileged son, and so he began to head back.
Late one morning, Peter was out hanging the laundry for Margaret was too weak to do it, and he saw a man walking in the distance. Upon further examination, he recognized the gait as that of his son Lukas, and he leaped for joy! He ran as fast as his tired legs would carry him and embraced his long lost son, kissing him with excitement. Lukas said, “Father, I have really messed up. Would you allow me to work for money and earn responsibilities here on the farm?” Peter laughed and wouldn’t have any of it. He took Lukas by the hand and brought him into the house to see Margaret. Upon laying her eyes on her dear youngest son, Margaret was filled with the Spirit and began gathering the finest of ingredients from all over the farm to prepare a homecoming feast for him, and a goodbye meal to her depression.
Elliott, however, had seen Lukas coming along the road, and watched his father’s reaction to his brother’s homecoming. He was devastated and humiliated that Lukas would receive such an affectionate response to his behavior, while he himself had been the sole protector of what remained of the farm. He approached Peter and said, “Why would you do this now? I have spent my life doing what I was taught to do, and giving this farm and family all of my attention. Yet, you and mother never prepared a feast for me! But Lukas comes home a mess, and you pull out all the stops!” Peter replied, “Son, you are my rock. You have been with your mother and I through the hard times, but now Lukas is home, and the hard times of depression are gone. Both he and your mother were lost, but now, look – they both have been found!”
Thursday, February 7, 2013
I have been noticing recently, that there are more and more strong women speaking out for gender inclusive language for the Divine, and recognizing that our female sexuality is sacred. I am so honored to know that I can count myself as one among so many of these bold others. For you see, while I know in my soul-gut that this is to be the direction my life follows toward vocation, it is much easier said than done.
But there is a reason I struggle with how to do this "right" or "safely." These growing souls I have been granted the gift of nurturing are daily reminders of how harmful bad theology and un-thought-out theology can become. While many of us who have been raised within the christian church don't recognize ways we may have been oppressed, as a mother I can see BOTH my male and female children oppressed every.single.day by the language we use both in the church about the Divine, and in the world about our bodies.
How would you like to see your church challenge the status quo of God and body language? Do you sense a need for change, or does the way it is resonate with you for a particular reason? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments :)