Hello Friday: All In

Hello Friday is a look over my shoulder at the events of the past week. I notice what was life-giving and then share it with you, a week-ending examen. Maybe you’ll find something in it that brings you life, too; maybe even try your own.

A tornado ripped through our favorite beach getaway last year, a sleepy bay town on the picturesque Oregon Coast usually shielded from such trauma.

Whether we would join our grands and their parents this year was up in the air until the last minute when we decided, “we’re all in.” We would leave and return when they did; eat and sleep and play when and where they did; stay in the rented house together and be present for the entire six days. All of us, all of them, all in.

We skipped last year, opting for a different beach, but when we rounded the curve and saw “our” beach, inhaled the ocean air, I remembered the magic of the place. The green, translucent mug declaring in gold letters, “I come to the sea to breathe,” has survived several rounds of cupboard clearing. It’s still my fave. (I also remembered getting lost after dark in the state campground just up the road because I turned the wrong direction leaving the shower building…but, um, that’s a story for another time.

I’ve been reading Richard Rohr’s Divine Dance and Ian Cron’s Chasing Francis. Both books have a lot to say about Francis of Assisi and his way of living all in, and seem to be watering a thirst in my soul of which I wasn’t even aware.

I watched someone kite surfing (watch this!) for 30 minutes today. It made me wonder what would happen if I lived every day abandoned to the flow of God’s Love, Power and Goodness the way this surfer rode the ocean’s breakers, kite to the wind.

It wasn’t all romance and reflection– there were two-year-old twins in the cottage and more “hangry” kids ranging from six to thirteen. That’s a lot of cereal, tuna and chips! And lots of sand, wet towels and sunburn–with plenty of screen time thrown in. Salted caramel ice cream (nooooo!) was less than a block away and the beach, just four.

Can you ask for more? Yes. Yes, you can. Awareness. Awareness that it is all gift, lavished on us as abundantly as the water that fills the sea. The gift of:

  • My daughter’s belly-laugh over Jen Hatmaker’s latest book, Of Mess and Moxie
  • Running down the sidewalk to take in one more effusive sunset
  • Fragrant morning coffee at Bread and Ocean
  • Sticky hands in mine helping littles across the street–fourth day on the same jawbreaker notwithstanding…
  • Snuggled next to Mr S watching Lion on the Kindle late into the night
  • Petting EVERY dog on EVERY leash–and they are legion

Equally life-giving was a quick day trip to visit another family campsite.

PNW: Grownups’ playground

Good eats and glamour

Our favorite meat market

New to me: Kombucha…Yumm!

Finally, on Wednesday, Genesis 28 gave me this phrase:

“Surely the Lord was in this place, and I was not aware of it.”

And you? What has given you life this week? Where was the Lord in your places?

The End.

Advertisements

It’s Not Complicated: How the Liturgical Year Can Simplify Your Life (Lent, Pt.1)

“What’s a good Charismatic girl like you doing in a practice like this?!”

EngageHere we are, well into the new year. Advent, Christmas and Ephipany are behind us, the first period of Ordinary Time is nearly over and Lent is just around the corner.

A couple of years ago, I worked through Engage (Kai Nilsen & others), Renovare’s 2014 Lenten Guide, and what I experienced stuck with me. That’s one of the things the liturgical year does. It provides natural markers for those special moments in your journey, like photos next to that giant sequoia you took on your recent road trip (which I almost posted the picture of but was scared off by Getty’s copyright infringement notice…!)

The spiritual practice of observing the liturgical year, the church calendar, has allowed me to engage more fully with the essence of the story of God without adding to its complexity. Yet I encounter a range of responses when I talk about its value :

  • Fascination with its symbolism and unfamilar vocabulary
  • Curiosity, but with caution
  • Ambivalence within their own views
  • Perplexity over mine
  • Resistance
  • Disinterest. Period.

In my case, the ordered simplicity has helped me unwind a tangled accumulation of theological threads. As an Enneagram 4, notorious for our skills in creating chaos from clarity, it has been helpful in ordering my life around stated beliefs, something Barna’s research says we Christian types apparently aren’t so good at. On the other hand, Jesus was quite skilled at living with focus and great intention.

So…About Lent

Lent is not native to my formative Protestant tradition. Growing up, I heard it most often associated with Mardi Gras, the huge party filled with unspeakable iniquities  that served as its kickoff the night before. Therefore, Lent was implicated in the trangressions. Bummer. Because it’s much, much more.

In reality, Lent is the 40 days before Easter set aside for an honest look at our human condition, emphasizing our mortality and the need for repentance, or turning, from our selfish orientation toward God. It begins on Ash Wednesday, with a reminder that we will not live forever as the beings we now are, and that to experience our God-designed wholeness here and the best of life hereafter, we might consider looking to something outside of our mortal, finite selves; that we need–and have–a Savior. That’s the reason for the cross-shaped ashes drawn on the forehead. And yes, it feels weird and it gets in your hair and doesn’t always wash off easily–just keeping it real–in the way doing so keeps it real, which we don’t usually think of ’til someone we love dies in a rollover or loses a child.

Abstaining from sensory pleasures of some sort, prayerfully chosen, holds space for more focused reflection and an increased awareness of something more important than, say, the next episode of Blacklist–or whatever you’re currently binging on. Sorta like not texting at the dinner table so you can join the conversation…Archaic, I know.

While these are routinely practiced by those intentional about their life with God, setting aside time each calendar year, guarantees that we won’t get accidentally occupied and conveniently forget–a sort of spiritual Alzheimers. It means we participate with the community of Christian faith around the world, many traditions, at the same time. Engaging in such activity is an overwhelming prospect for some. Apparently that’s what all the partying is about–one last dance before the lights go out.

Living the God Story throughout the calendar year, reminds me that observing the life of Jesus creates clarity where I cloud most everything with complexity. It’s noteworthy that Easter follows closely with its promise of resurrection and new life. Now THAT’s what I’m talkin’ about.

Thank you, Sweet Jesus, for being so uncomplicated! I am in desperate need of such a Savior. And such a Savior You are.


BONUS:

Engage is available to download this year for a small donation to Renovare and is an accessible introduction to the lenten journey. Great for doing with a small group of friends.

Next time, an example of How Jesus Was Uncomplicated. 

Trendy (NOT!) Reading I Recommend

Books become best friends ushering us into places we would never have gone to have experiences we could never have imagined with people we might never have known. And by default we become best friends with their creators, as well. Therefore, “many of my best friends are dead,” is a lament often heard.

I worked in a Christian book store for a number of years and saw firsthand the rise and fall of fads and trends in spiritual thought and teaching. The number of personalities ready to hold forth on special niche topics–I suppose I could be considered one of them–can be overwhelming, staggering, tiring. Continue reading