Becoming Thin

I am nine months pregnant.

Complete strangers have zero compunction in asking me whether I’m having a boy or a girl… they don’t ask if I’m expecting anymore, they assume I am. It’s ok, I am, I’m housing our next generation in my body, and I am physically reminded of it nearly every moment.

I have increased.

My normal clothes stopped fitting in July, I misjudge distances between my growing self and doors, I sway with each step (I won’t deign to call it waddling), and I consciously step so that I don’t lose my balance with the shift in my weight.

I am growing a child.

As I play host to one child, I am still tending to my energetic two year old day in and day out. For nearly a year and a half, she has been my primary focus of care. I stepped away from my chosen career and turned the majority of my focus on her, my husband, and our respective relationships. My field of influence has shrunk significantly. I went from leading a weekly worship service of three hundred to partnering in a family of three.

My life has narrowed.

My friend and acquaintance circles have shrunk, conversations I have with those outside my home are rare, and I am just as likely to discuss my daughter’s eating habits as I am to discuss current events. I spend more time reading for pleasure than I have in the past, but I have also begun to memorize entire movies and seasons of television shows that my daughter enjoys.

I have bared my life down to essentials.

I have distilled what is possible into what is needful and necessary. In part, this is because I am physically slower. I need to rest far more often than I had become accustomed to. I have more limits on my body right now because of how my daughter is taking up the space provided for her. Some weeks I consider it a grand accomplishment to purchase and prepare our family meals.

I am becoming thin.

Not in girth, obviously, but in preparation for ushering a new life into this world.

There is a concept in Celtic Christian theology called a Thin Place. It is where the veil between the world and the Kingdom of God is the most transparent. It is where God and the world meet. You can sense one in a cathedral or in the wilderness. It is where the holy breaks into the mundane. It is where wonder and awe inspire people to worship. It is where the soul sings. Screen Shot 2017-12-19 at 9.16.09 a

I am preparing to create a thin place.

When my daughter is born, I will be ushering her into this world. Parts of my body will thin and move out of the way and my womb will work incredibly hard and labor to bring a new child into existence. Her soul will enter this world through our partnering and my family will expand our love to welcome her into our lives. We will witness an incredible act of God in the midst of the blood and sweat and tears of delivering a child. We will be spectators to the extraordinary as our daughter breathes her first breath.

Pain and joy are inextricably linked in childbirth, as I will undertake incredibly hard work in order to meet this person that I have been carrying in my own flesh for nine months.

That day is coming soon. But it is not yet here. For now, I continue to live my narrow life where I focus on essentials so that when the day comes to create a thin place, every part of me is ready to be fully present for meeting our daughter for the first time.

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Listening for Peace

We have a depressing drought of peace these days. I have to avoid the news before I center in the mornings or my mind is filled with woe and terror rather than peace and hope. For all the places where I’ve heard the world is not at peace, there seem to be another hundred lying under the surface where the news just hasn’t reached me yet.

For all that the world is not at peace, I don’t suffer much for it. I can spend a day off social media and have a wholly better feeling of how my world is doing. My grocery run is not interrupted because the immigration policy in the country is falling apart. My gas receipt might be a bit higher because of a flood that has devastated the fourth largest city in the nation, but that is the only way that my day to day life is affected. My children are not going to be targeted by police because their skin color is assumed to be a threat.

If I ignore what is going on, then my life is hardly affected at all.

But crying peace when there is no peace is not peace at all.

“They have treated the wound of my people carelessly,

saying, ‘Peace, peace,’

when there is no peace.” Jeremiah 6:14 NRSV

Simply because I am not in crisis does not mean there is peace.

And yet I seek peace.

Not peace in the absence of a storm, but peace in the midst of the storm.

Sure, I’d like to not have to worry about how much my health insurance costs and whether or not our daughters will afford to go to college or whether or not a tornado will hit our house but I seek peace in the midst of all of it.

Sometimes peace comes when I take action. It’s one of the reasons that I have marched and stood vigil and been present to hear the voices of others who are not like me nearly a dozen times in the past year and a half.

Peace is an action that we create with our words and with our bodies. We carry peace into places that have no peace and grant peace to others, if we respond with grace and patience.

I carried peace on my wrist for a year after my 14 year old cousin, Harper, committed suicide. I needed the reminder that peace comes from God, not from external circumstances. I still carry the reminder: “and all shall be well” on my wrist, a reminder from Julian of Norwich that even when the world is crumbling around me, God speaks into the chaos.

“They treat the wound of my people

as if it were nothing:

‘All is well, all is well,’ they insist,

when in fact nothing is well.” Jeremiah 6:14 CEB

There is a world of difference between “all is well” and “all shall be well.” Everything around us is in turmoil, lives are ending, and yet that is not the end of the story. God speaks peace into a world that hungers for it, and though we are not there yet, we can see glimpses of hope around us when people show up to help others, when gifts are given without expectation of payment, and when homes are opened for those who have lost everything. Peace and hope are here, but it is hard to hear them whisper with all the other noise around us.

See, I Am Making…

“See, I am making all things new.” Rev 21:5b

“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.” Isa 43:19

It is a new year. New things are happening. My daughter is learning to ask for her favorite food, find her nose and eyes and ears, and tell us she wants more of a game or story or hugs.

Other new things are happening. Things that feel like a wilderness and dry and weary land. New forms of discrimination are being ratified into law, new fears are being made manifest, and new people are being placed into office.

But see, God says, look, I am making all things new. Whether you are drowning in despair or buoyed up by hope.

I am making all things new.

The new year is a time when are given an opportunity to consider if there is anything we want to change about our lives as we proceed through the months. Folks make new years resolutions. We consider our past and who we want to be in the future.

The future is unknown and unseen, ready for our interpretation and formation. We create the future with everyone around us. We choose whether we participate in creating community or division. We choose whether we build up or tear down. We choose whether we love or hate.

I want to create more love. But it is hard. I have a history. I have patterns I’ve already developed. I have hurts and scars and broken places that are tender and sore. It is hard to create more love when bruised.

But I have hope.

I have hope that the hard work is worth the time and effort it takes. I have hope that the people around me want to live in a better world as much as I do. I have hope that the grace I learn to offer to others will allow them to live with more grace in their lives.

I have hope. I know the path is being created. New things are coming.

Promise

Promise is the sister of hope. She is given and creates a home for grace.

We have been given a promise of hope in the form of new life that we can live now. We need to live into it a little bit more each day. The promise extends past those who are consciously awaiting it, the promise shines into the darkness.

The promise that we celebrate this season is the pure embodiment of light eternal. It is a light that shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it. The light does not go out.

Tonight is the darkest and longest night of the year. The Solstice comes tomorrow before the sun rises. We have less than ten hours of daylight where I live. And the daylight that I do have is heavily laden with clouds banked against the sunlight. Darkness cloaks the day early and remains far after I arise from bed.

But there is light.

Exciting things are in store.

Family is coming to celebrate, new presents are being purchased, and my favorite day of the year is only 4 days away. I know I’ve written about my favorite day before, but in case you missed it, my favorite day is Christmas Eve, and this year I get to do the whole thing with my closest family, a gift that we haven’t had in five years.

The days are dark and covered with shadows but light and promise peek through, illuminating times of joy and hope.

Five and a half years ago I promised to love and cherish the partner that has walked with me through valleys and over mountaintops. We keep learning from each other, encouraging each other, extending grace to each other. It’s not always simple or easy, but the promise that we made together those 66 months ago have found us a better and stronger team together. Remembering our promise.

Prayer to Thrive

God we draw near to you today in faith and trust. Make your presence known to us as we receive your word through all our worship. As we gather, we pray for the people of this church, that as we learn to thrive emotionally, we will be open to granting and receiving the support we need to live wholly in you.

We give thanks for the ways that God blesses others through us as we are faithful givers to the mission that we support as a church. We pray for the people of the Charlotte area as we join together to collect food to fight hunger.  We pray for the people of this nation, especially the community of Flint, Michigan as they grapple with the injustice surrounding their water crisis.

We pray for the children of the world, for their safety and health in all circumstances, especially as their families leave homes torn by war.

As we draw close to you, heal us in body, mind, spirit, and relationship. Lead us to act as your people in all places and at all times.  Amen.