To the Dads

Totally enjoying cooking Mike’s Father’s Day breakfast with the ghee a friend gave me.  It smells sooooo good. I still haven’t successfully made a “pretty” omelette, but they taste pretty delish, so I’ll keep trying!

I’ve seen this floating around a lot lately, but I thought it was worth re-posting. It’s kind of like the idea of godparents taken to the next level. When author and father Bruce Feiler found out that he had a rare form of cancer, one of the worries that ran through his mind was, “who will father my dauthers if I die from this?” Feiler then formed a “Council of Dads”, a group of six men who knew him well, that agreed to do their best to share Feiler’s voice and help teach his daughters the life lessons he would have. It’s a beautiful story, and I think one parents could all learn from – one of the great things I took away from it was that we don’t have to wait until we discover we have a life-threatening illness to form this kind of support network for our children. Even while I’m still on this earth, there will be times I won’t be able to be there for our daughter, but I hope she will know she has other women, women I (and she) love and trust, whom she could go to for help and advice and comfort.

Anyway, I just wanted to thank all the dads and would-be dads out there like Feiler who are so cognizant of how they are shaping their children. It truly is a gorgeous thing to see – a man, fathering. Your presence and intention are invaluable gifts. May your day be filled with much joy and, as I’m sure it’s needed, rest.

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A Burning Bush

Today, on a too-early Saturday morning, I unashamedly (well perhaps a little ashamedly) plopped Little J in front of some Franklin the Turtle so that I could bumble around for the french press and coffee.  Somewhere between my first cup and breakfast for my daughter, I picked up this Bibly study course I’m doing together with a dear friend and neighbor.  Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God is not normally the kind of reading/studying I do.  I mean, just the title alone sounds pretty daunting, maybe because I’m too much a product of post-modernity. How can we ever really know, much less do, this vague and nebulous will of God?  Lately, I’d have to feel like Charlton Heston (who is my iconic Moses) being spoken to by a burning bush to believe I’d ascertained God’s will.  Or…I might just wonder if I’d been slipped a particularly strong hallucinogen…anyhow, that’s beside the point.

The point is that since the death of our church, my friend and I both have felt the need for a little fellowship, and since we live right across the street from one another and this course was one she was interested in, I figured, why not?  I was desperate to share some God-talk with someone (besides my husband, who never seems to shut up about the Most High. But I digress…).

I should back up.  The “death of our church” is probably not a phrase you hear thrown around that often.  Some background: In college, I fell in with a group of Christians who wanted to meet outside of more institutionalized expressions of Church.  “Open, Participatory Meetings” is what we sometimes called them.  We were pastor-less, unbound by a denomination, and in love with Jesus and the idea of community (via something like the early church in Acts). We were each other’s church.

Fast-forwarding a bit: we all eventually graduated and each went our separate ways, but still we couldn’t shake the bond that had formed over all the singing, eating, and sharing we had done.  Some of us made a decision: We would move to a city where we all felt reasonably comfortable (yet challenged) in pursuit of our dream of community.  No co-housing, but getting into the same neighborhood – or at least, fairly close to one another – was the goal.   And against all odds, we did, and we were joined by some who hadn’t been in our college group, but shared the same aspirations of living “church life” that we did.

But like all organic things, our church lived, and it also died. This is something that still gives me pause – there is no one reason I can give to pinpoint “why” this happened. I hope the answer of “it’s complicated” will suffice. Though even in our death, I’m still in love with those folks and the light of God I see in each of their eyes.

Needless to say – or perhaps I do need to say it – I’m now a little ruined for organized religion. So when I find myself doing a Bible study like the one I’m doing, and said Bible study actually speaks to me, I take note, and consider it my own miniature burning bush.

Are you still with me? I’m not used to myself “talking” so much – if you know me, you know that I’m a stereotypical introvert… i.e. no one would ever call me gregarious.

Back to the bleary-eyed Saturday morning. I ran across the verse that talks about denying yourself and taking up your cross to follow Christ. It made me feel squirmy and uncomfortable, as I always do when reading or hearing these words (Luke 9:23), and as I’m sure the original listeners must have felt upon hearing them.

I’ve usually thought about these words in the context of the material realm, which, I believe certainly is appropriate encouragement in our consumer-driven culture. But I think the reason why they’ve never sat well with me personally is because growing up, there were times when I was denied some very basic needs – I mean stuff that’s pretty low on Maslow’s hierarchy, stuff like the security of food, home/shelter, and family. Now, as an adult, I will neglect to take care of myself and opt to take care of others.  Not because I’m a saint, but because I think I’m very susceptible to genetic pre-dispositioning – nurturing comes naturally to me, and if I’m brutally honest, I don’t think it’s worth it to spend the time on myself. Denial could be my middle name.

Not healthy, I know.  But, hey, Jesus is the one who spoke these unhealthy and unsafe words to me, right? (Resentment, much?)

Thankfully, I was graciously struck by the idea that perhaps denying the self doesn’t necessarily mean a material or physical denial on my part.  Perhaps it means denying my self, my ego’s neverending self-talk that perpetuates destructive patterns in my brain. Perhaps my cross to bear is the cross of discipline, the discipline it takes to allow for the space of transformation by the renewing of my mind. The discipline of a regular practice that continually invites the spirit of the loving, life-giving Creator into my mind and heart.

Ready…set…

Am I really ready for this?

Because this sounds like something a lot easier said than done.

One day at a time, and…

Go.

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Evoking the Joys of Childhood

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Thanks to NPR, I recently discovered some great kid music. Justin Roberts‘ music is so wonderful – it brings tears to my eyes! I think the songs are so evocative in their stories of childhood, which are honest and innocent and happy (mostly). Love him!

I didn’t think I’d still be saying this in 2010, but he has a Myspace page that’s probably the best way to sample some of his music. (I wonder what I’ll be telling little J about Myspace and the turn of the 21st century when she gets older…?)


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Falling Slowly

Ohh, I love this movie. The Swell Season is amazing.

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Jasmin & Julia

I finally got it! It’s making everything tastier…

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Norah & John

One of my favorites teams up with an artist I saw in their humble beginnings before they ‘made it’…can you guess which is which?

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Daughters of Eve

The biblical narrative of earth’s beginning has always been a compelling one.  Whether you believe in a literal Garden of Eden, home to Adam and Eve, a snake, and that darned fruit beckoning so sensuously from the Tree of Life, or think it all belongs in the realm of metaphor and myth, you’ll be drawn in by the novel Eve: A Novel.  Elissa Elliot’s lyrical re-telling of the first story is a complex, multi-perspective glimpse into the lives of Adam and Eve spanning from Creation to the murder of Abel.  Reminiscent of Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent, Elliot’s Eve is haunting, richly imagined, and calls into question the Sunday school version of the creation story.

The story is woven through the points-of-view of Eve and her daughters’ Naava, Aya, and Dara.  The relational and intimate tone allows Elliot to paint a picture of Eve as wife and mother, nomad, sometime idol-worshipper, abandoned one, and more often than not, mourner.  Lucifer’s seduction of Eve is a particularly provocative telling, and raises a number of interesting theological conundrums.

There are also some poignant scenes between Elohim, creator God, and his wayward children.  The image of Elohim killing the lamb that is to provide a fallen Adam and Eve a covering for their nakedness is as disturbing as it is beautiful.  The idée fixe of Eve is one of longing, and as we witness Eve grapple with being expelled from her first home, Elohim’s seeming absence, the growing conflicts between her children, and the reality of eventual death, we can’t help but recognize her pain and her triumphs as our own.  Ultimately, Eve’s appeal is its unflinching portrait of humanity that is infused with much needed grace.

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