Revel in the Revelation

My thoughts are jumbled up and caught in the midst of a deep knowing and a precipitous drop into a wild learning that I’ve been searching for these past five years. 

Everything has been layering into place to get me to here.

Right now. 

Revealing this. 

I’ve been taking lessons from my own body. Learning to trust it when it says yes, and no, and wait, and rest. Maybe everything was simply too loud, before. 

And now I’m listening for the gentle voice of my own being, created, good, and whole, and returning to fullness. 

I became thin, a veil to my own self, and rather than thickness I’ve built into this fullness, even as my milk runs dry and my tears run dry. 

From the thin place I entered, I have been guided to a place to understand my own theology of touch. 

I’m learning where the yes comes from. I’m learning more about how the yes has been closed off and told it was inappropriate and shamed and negated and gaslight and relegated to the smallest portion imaginable. 

But I am not settling for crumbs. 

There is more than enough to go around and I will help you get your enough while I seek my own. 

And I will listen to the gentle rhythm of the rain and my heartbeat and the wind in the trees and the rushing of the creek and I will dance with my whole self. 

Dance like my five year old and my two year old and dance like I’ve learned it already and like I’m creating a new kind of dance and there is only the true way to do it if you are dancing with the creator of the dance. 

There are no wrong steps if you are trying to listen. If you are able to say you are sorry. If you are willing to confess where you have been wrong and where you have hurt others and if you are willing to be contradicted with grace and learn. Learn. Learn. 

Then. 

Then we can move together and learn to hear our bodies together and listen to the voices that have been ignored out of ignorance that claimed it was innocent and now. Now we have seen that what is harmful is not holy, now that it has been revealed as the opposite of good, we can turn to the revelation and see. Actually see. 

And now that we see, we can help others see. And as we reveal our full selves, we dance and sing and twirl and party and circle around with joy and pleasure. We Revel. We cultivate this joy that cannot be denied or shut up or blocked out or dissipated or disappeared or ignored. Rather, we move, sing, embrace, listen, experience, breathe, and rejoice in this freedom. 

Nothing is created out of context, and I want to acknowledge that this is a response to what I am reading and hearing and listing to in this current time. Right now, my conversation partners are adrienne marie brown, Prentis Hemphill, Monica Byrne, Heather Willet Olsen, Kate Bowler, Sarah Howell-Miller, and Rose Eveleth. I wonder what I will learn next.

Trust

One, two, three. One, two, three.

Last week, I went dancing after a terribly long day. I pushed myself too hard, for too long, and in too much heat. And against what should have been better judgment, I went dancing anyway. I go Contra dancing every so often, and it is a lot of hard, good fun. It is lively, energetic, and fast paced. Not for the feint of heart.

And I went, after a day at a theme park, in the middle of the summer, with a high heat index, and I didn’t do such a great job at getting all my meals in either. Like I said… possibly against my better judgment.

I went because I knew that one of my favorite live string bands would be playing. I was fairly certain that at least two very good friends would be there. I was not having a migraine day. So I went to go dance.

After an hour or so of spinning up and down the room, we break for a waltz. I was in dire need for water, but I really like the waltz as well, and so when someone offered to dance, I took him up on it.

A waltz, if you’ve not had much experience, is something that needs to be felt just as much as danced. Dancing in a waltz is more like an experiential expression of the pulse of the music than a forceful counting of steps and beats.

I have had enough practice in dancing a waltz, and in following the lead, that even though I was barely hanging on, I was easily led around the room in a gentle, graceful weaving motion through the song.

There are two roles in a partnered waltz. There is lead, and there is follow. I generally dance the follow, though I’ve practiced the lead in the main contra a few times. I have found that if you dance follow to a lead that is exceptionally good at communicating, then it becomes beautifully easy. I could have danced it with my eyes closed. I may have a little while there. I was being led around the room, flowing with the music. The music and my partner helped me journey gracefully through the dance.

Even though I was tired and worn out, the dance gave me energy. My partner helped me experience the music, not by force but by a gentle leading. I was able to walk through the simple steps, weaving in and out of a full room of people, now this way, now that way, twisting and turning about in concert with my partner. I danced to the music. I spun. I was practically on my final bits of energy, but I was filled with the music.

I think, sometimes, that I learn more about the church in a group of contra dancers than I do in Sunday morning worship. I learn about God and love and following a lead through the example of a gentle guiding hand. I practice the fellowship of community in dance and in celebration of our lives. I use my entire body to feel the music and respond to the melody and harmony and beat. I wish that the Church would look like a contra dance more often. Everybody listens to the caller, and we all respond to the music. When someone missteps then those around them gently guide them back into the rhythm. The dance would fall apart if we all chose to stop listening. We are all moving in concert, but we also are all doing something slightly different, we are responding as individuals and doing different spins and turns, but we all come back together. We move and flow through the dance, and it works because we work together.

For a dance to feel smooth, you have to give weight. Do you remember as a child clasping hands with a friend and leaning back and spinning? The main element of contra uses the same type of motion. It is difficult to give into this spin when you are a beginner. If you don’t have practice at it, and if it has been a while since you were playing and spinning as a kid, then it’s tough. It is difficult to give in and let your partner support your weight. It is difficult to take your partner’s hand and support their back at the same time.

There has to be a time when you just give in. You have to have faith that your partner will support you, and hold you up. You have to trust your partner.

It works best if you trust.

New Things

Look! I’m doing a new thing;
now it sprouts up; don’t you recognize it?
I’m making a way in the desert,
paths in the wilderness.   –Isaiah 43:19 CEB

My Grandmother loved daffodils. She collected them. In all their various forms. Drawings, prints, sculptures, tiles she had painted, prints from artists, photographs, needlepoint pillows with Shakespeare quotations, and, of course, the bulbs themselves.

At my grandparents’ house, especially at this time of year, there are literally hundreds of daffodils blooming, from nearly fifty years of stopping at the roadside and collecting them, and purchasing them, and having friends give the bulbs to the family.

It’s a funny thing about the bulbs, you plant them in the fall, when the flower has died, and when the bulb has drawn back into itself, protecting the parts that grow again. And then you put it in the ground, and hope that you’ve placed it right side up, and wait.

You have to wait.

And then it blooms.

At 216, there are hundreds of blooms. And there are thousands of blooms, everywhere, because it is daffodil season. A new way is being made. See, my Grandmother died a week ago, at her home, with all of her favorite blooms out in her front yard. And these words from scripture, about new things, I read these words at the service in celebration of her life, and I believe them.

Because even when it is hard, even when it seems that I am going to miss her so terribly that I cannot figure out what is next, I know that there is a way being made in this wilderness. A path even in this desert.

Dancing in the wind
Dancing in the wind

And so, I smile, sometimes through the tears, at all the daffodils that I see around me, every time I drive somewhere I see more of them.

I see them out my kitchen window. And they are bright and beaming and saying: Rejoice! We were hiding, but now we celebrate! Come, Dance with us!

Be Creative

It has taken me a while to come to terms with the fact that I am creative. I didn’t think that I was very creative when I was a child. I would watch my mother and my sister, and see their style of creativity, and think: I can never do that. My mother and my sister have creative styles that are rambunctious, vibrant, daring, and improvisational.

It’s like they are playing jazz with life. It is a whole lot of fun to be around, even when it can be a little overwhelming.

And when I compared myself to them, I wasn’t exactly like that, and so I didn’t know how to think of myself as being creative. I liked to have things in order. When I tried to do things on a whim, I ended up being far too heavy handed, and overbearing, and ended up with way too many stickers on my periscope.

My creative style is one of austerity. It has elements of improvisation; you cannot create without being free to the leading of the Spirit. I also follow guidelines that help keep me set toward the purpose I’ve planned.

Clearly, I am creative. I write. I sing (daily). I preach (don’t TELL me that ain’t creative). I knit. And I dance.

I wonder if those who say that they are not creative have set a wall or barrier in front of themselves. Do they think that they have to create something? Do they think they have to create something out of nothing? Only God can do that.

For those of us who claim the gift of creativity, especially as we begin to acknowledge that we have received it from God, we know that we work in tandem with God’s creative work in us. We use what God has given us, we use the materials that we find, we take up raw elements, and we put them together to create something new, something beautiful, something that displays the glory of God.

God creates us. We bear the creative, living Word of God to the world, in new creative ways, each day.

Grace of Enough

Enough! I’ve had it. I can’t take any more.

Enough. There is enough for you and me to share.

Enough. That’s good enough, it will get me through to the next step.

Often, I find that I am working out of a narrative of scarcity. I do not have enough for myself, and so rarely have anything left over to share with anyone. This is not a healthy narrative to have. But what can I do in the midst of it? How do I move from a time and place and experience of scarcity, of having enough to scrape by, to a opening of enough.

Enough is a word of grace. Indeed, there is enough for you and for me, and there is enough to share. But I find it hard to share that grace of enough when I do not receive enough grace for myself. Especially when I do not allow myself enough grace.

I am always conscious of how I could have done more, given more, shared more, prayed more, written more, preached more, cooked more, walked more, I just had more to do. I do have limits, and I am forgetful of how often those limits have been met, and often crashed into. I’m not talking about going outside of my comfort zone, I do that as a weekly, sometimes daily exercise. No I’m talking about my breaking limit. Where I will run because I feel I need to, and I will run until I pass out and collapse. When I feel that there is not enough of me to go around, I keep stretching myself thinner, so that maybe everyone who asks something of me will feel that I have responded appropriately to their need.

It’s an exercise in futility. That’s what it is. There is literally not enough of me for all of this.

How do I take the narrative of enough from one of subsistence, to one of grace and freedom?

I’m not sure, but it might look something like this.

Enough. There is enough of God’s grace to share with those around me. There is enough of God’s love flowing through me, comforting me, and allowing me to comfort others. There is enough time in the day for me to live, and breathe, and I will rest my being in the one who helps me dance in this calling. There is enough of me, that I will share and be able to extend grace to those who cannot find enough grace in their hearts.

And then, when I have given all that I can give, and done all that I can do, God will take my offering, and call it good. And enough.

God does not desire for us to live out of a narrative of scarcity. God encourages us to live out of a narrative of enough, of what we have been given is enough to live on, and that we can share and extend out of our enough so that others might have enough.

I have been given so many gifts and love and compassion, that I can also give out of all the love that has been extended to me. Love is lived into when it is shared and given away, with no expectation of receiving anything back. We share our love with those around us, with our neighbors, both near and far, and we look forward to the day when our faith will be sight. When we will no longer be concerned with enough, because the God of abundance has poured love on us.