silence.

06/22/2011

“It is not the case that a man who is silent says nothing.”

(Anon)

“Moving from silence into speech is for the oppressed, the colonized, the exploited, and those who stand and struggle side by side, a gesture of defiance that heals, makes new life and new growth possible.”  (bell hooks, Talking Back)

“Regardless of position, profession, or race, silence is the most common response to sexual harassment despite the stress of remaining silent.  Susan Ehrlich Martin tells us that harassment is never totally absent in any position and that it increases for those women whose impressive occupations appear to be direct challenges to patriarchal authority.” (Cheryl Glenn, Unspoken)

“The dominant group in a social hierarchy renders “inarticulate” subordinate or muted groups (any of the traditionally disenfranchised) and excludes them from the formulation, validation and circulation of meaning.” (Glenn, Unspoken)

“I speak but I cannot be heard. Worse, I am heard but am not believed. Worse yet, I speak but I am not deemed believable.” (Royster, “When the First Voice You Hear Is Not Your Own)

“… I had only just then realized how hard it would have been to explain myself. I could not chatter away as I used to do, taking it all for granted. My words must be as slow, as new, as single, as tentative as the steps I took going down the path away from the house, between the dark-branched, tall dancers motionless against the winter shining.” (from ‘She Names Them’ by Ursula K. Le Guin)

 

one of the courses i’m taking is ‘southwest literature and film’. my reading list includes local and regional writers including the poet jimmy santiago baca. we received our reading list months ago and i am happy (and shocked!) to admit i actually did most of the reading ahead of time. perhaps i turned a new page in my scholastic patterns where i leave procrastination behind? we shall see.

i read baca’s poetry first, then his autobiography. both are gripping. his story is an amazing story of brokenness and redemption. i highly, highly recommend all of his poetry and his autobiography: A Place to Stand.  read them together. at our welcome dinner tonight they announced he will come for a reading of his work. i heard this might happen, but when it came official, i got tears in my eyes! i am so excited! ok, so i had tears in my eyes a lot as they explained all of the courses (i wish i could take them ALL…well, except the gothic and chaucer ones). plus all of the opportunities to learn outside of the classroom: lunchtime discussion groups on classroom strategies, To Kill a Mockingbird, film viewings, traditional fiesta dances, repairing old churches with adobe mud… on and on and on…

back to baca.

he writes a lot about nature, particularly the rio grande river. nature is healing to him. this resonates with me. personally, one aspect of nature i love is it’s healing beauty, but also it’s uncontrollable power. nature is soothing but also terrifying. sometimes putting me at ease means putting me in my place.

one of my most terrifying encounters with nature was a snowshoeing trek in colorado. i told no one where i was hiking. i went alone up to 12,000 feet in an avalanche warning area. at the start there were tracks of previous snowshoers and i ran into two women on their way down, spoke with them for a moment, and proceeded upward.  here is a picture of the trailhead:

the tracks stopped well before the summit.  i continued. i walked past an avalanche warning sign and realised i had absolutely no gear to use nor knowledge of how to survive in these conditions. i did not care. in my mind i had come too far to turn around.

some people do reckless things in their teens. i saved them for my twenties.

the wind became fierce. i’m guessing 30 mph sustained and up to 50-60 mph gusts. i kept walking even though there was no trail. eventually i could see the summit. there was a lake at the top. i wanted so badly to make it to the top to see the frozen lake. there was no path to get there, just a 50 foot hillside covered in snow.

i made it about 20 feet up the hillside. the wind blew so hard i literally could not take a step forward. the snow felt very deep but very unsteady under my feet. the top layer was crunchy with ice and i felt like a sheet could break off easily, sending a cascade of underlying powder (and me) down the mountain. i stood there for a moment encapsulated by fear. i knew i could not go any further. i took this picture:

i have yet to experience another moment of utter beauty and complete terror so taoistically bound.

“click,” said the camera….then i hauled my little ass down the mountain.

when i was a kid i used to feed the horses at night. in the early darkness of winter nights, i let into my mind the idea someone was hiding in the barn waiting to get me. i would run as fast as i could from the barn to the house. i hated when we left the horses out because it meant i had to stop to chain the gate. but if we left them up, i could sprint right through. i knew i looked ridiculous.

high tailing it down this colorado mountain, i think i looked about the same. looks aside, i’m certain fear feels the same whether you are eleven or twenty seven.

on our adventures around new mexico last week, julie and i took a great drive along the mighty rio grande. we wound along its banks for a few miles and came upon a very old wooden bridge. i slammed on the breaks and pulled the car off the shoulder. the bridge was condemned, sagging and plastered with warning and no trespassing signs.

naturally, it becokoned me.

i saw what i think was a fox scamper across the length of the bridge. i tiptoed out a little ways and could hear the creaking of the old wood, which was at least beautiful if not stable.  i went back to the edge. i thought about it for a moment. i judged the situation and gave julie my camera.  i’ve heard it said you should do something each day that terrifies you. i decided this would be the event of the day.

the wood creaked and the river roared underneath my feet.

beauty and terror.

peace and fear.

infinite and finite.

i don’t regret it for a second.

now back to baca.

this poem is one of my favorites of his and comes to mind as i think about my walk across the river:

This Day
I feel foolish,
     like those silly robins jumping on the ditch boughs
     when I run by them.
            Those robins do not have the grand style of the red tailed hawk,
            no design, no dream, just robins acting stupid.
They've never smoked cigarettes, drank whiskey, consumed drugs
as I have.
            In their mindless
            fluttering about
            filled with nonsense,
                 they tell me how they
                       love the Great Spirit,
            scold me not to be self-pitying,
            to open my life
            and make this day a bough on a tree
            leaning over infinity, where eternity flows forward
            and with day the river runs
                       carrying all that falls in it.
            Be happy Jimmy, they chirp,
            Jimmy, be silly, make this day a tree
            leaning over the river eternity
            and fuss about in its branches.

so, i’m hoping to make this summer a tree.

the truth is, the life i lead is eternal. there is time to open it up to my fears and my joys, to be happy and silly…

which is why i need to go to sleep pronto so i can wake up for the traditional first day of class 530 am sunrise hike led by our loco (local) alfredo!

go read baca. you won’t regret it.

i’ve returned to charlotte, with stops in south carolina and georgia.  all places i’ve at one time called ‘home’.  i was ready to return, and overall sigh a contented exhale of joy, peace and contentment to be here (and there).  though i’m constantly reminded through moments of sadness, loneliness, awkwardness, insecurity, exhaustion, frustration that none of these places are truly my home…

this great poem says it much better than i.

Travel Advisory

Remind yourself, when you wake to a strangeness
of foreign lights through blowing trees
out the window of yet another hotel,
that home is only where you pretend your from.
What’s familiar sends you packing,
watching for “some lost place called home.”
You’re from wherever you go.

Don’t admit what you’re looking for.
If you say to a baker in Bremen, to a barmaid
in Provence, “Back home we think of you here
as having deeper lives,” they’ll shrug you wrong
and won’t respond. And then you’ll know:
they’re strangers too. Broken and wrinkled
stones and skin, brush strokes and chords,
old streets and saints you’ve read about,
flute-notes in the laughter of foreign children,
the nip of the local market cheese–
there’s a life we almost knew once.
Watch. Just let it in.

The return ticket will take you only
to the town where you packed to get on the plane.
It never missed you. You’ll notice
alien goods in your kitchen, wind in a wall,
losses in the middle drawer of your desk.
Even there, the strange is the cup of communion
you drink; that dim outlandish civitas dei
you’re a citizen of never was a place.
Remember not to feel too much at home.

by Rod Jellema

Everything sad is coming untrue.

I repeat this to myself often.  This truth gives me great comfort today and many days.  The truth is rooted in scripture, and given layer upon layer of beauty by a pastor, a fictional writer,  a musician and a tree:

Literature:  J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

Sam believes that Gandalph died.   At the very end, Sam having slept for quite a while and then coming to consciousness, Gandalf stands before Sam, robed in white, his face glistening in the sunlight, and says:

“Well, Master Samwise, how do you feel?”

But Sam lay back, and stared with open mouth, and for a moment, between bewilderment and great joy, he could not answer. At last he gasped: “Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself. Is everything sad going to come untrue? What’s happened to the world?”

“A great shadow has departed,” said Gandalf, and then he laughed, and the sound was like music, or like water in a parched land; and as he listened the thought came to Sam that he had not heard laughter, the pure sound of merriment, for days without count. It fell upon his ears like the echo of all the joys he had ever known. But he himself burst into tears. Then as a sweet rain will pass down a wind of spring and the sun will shine out the clearer, his tears ceased, and his laughter welled up, and laughing he sprang from bed… “How do I feel?” he cried.” Well, I don’t know how to say it. I feel, I feel” –he waved his arms in the air– “I feel like spring after winter, and sun on the leaves; and like trumpets and harps and all the songs I have ever heard!

All the host laughed and wept, and in the midst of their merriment and tears the clear voice of the minstrel rose like silver and gold, and all men were hushed. And he sang to them, now in the Elven-tongue, now in the speech of the West, until their hearts, wounded with sweet words, overflowed, and their joy was like swords, and they passed in thought out to regions where pain and delight flow together and tears are the very wine of blessedness.”

Pastor:  Tim Keller, The Reason for God

“Jesus spoke of his return to earth as the palingenesis. “I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things (Greek palingenesis), the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne.” This was a radically new concept. Jesus insisted that his return will be purged of all decay and brokenness. All will be healed and all might-have-beens will be.

Just after the climax of the trilogy The Lord of the Rings, Sam Gamgee discovers that his friend Gandalf was not dead (as he thought) but alive. He cries, “I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself! Is everything sad going to come untrue?” The answer of Christianity to that question is – yes. Everything sad is going to come untrue and it will somehow be greater for having once been broken and lost.

Embracing the Christian doctrines of the incarnation and Cross brings profound consolation in the face of suffering. The doctrine of the resurrection can instill us with a powerful hope. It promises that we will get the life we most longed for, but it will be an infinitely more glorious world than if there had never been the need for bravery, endurance, sacrifice, or salvation.”

Musician:  Jason Gray, song “Everything Sad is Coming Untrue, Part 2”

The winter can make us wonder
If spring was ever true
But every winter breaks upon
The Easter lily’s bloom
Could it be everything sad is coming untrue?
Could you believe everything sad is coming untrue?

Broken hearts are being unbroken
Bitter words are being unspoken
The curse undone, the veil is parted
The garden gate will be left unguarded

Could it be everything sad is coming untrue?
Oh I believe everything sad is coming untrue
In the hands of the One who is making all things new

When the storm leaves there’s a silence
That says you don’t have to fear anymore
The trees look greener, the sky’s an ocean
The world is washed and starting over

[Listen to and read more about the song here (i think the best of the song starts at 2 minutes):  The Rabbit Room]

The God of the universe, Revelation 21:

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.”

Tree:  The Beauty of the Former Things, Liss, EnglandIMG_7326

L’abri

10/01/2009

I just returned from ten days at L’abri, which is French for ‘the shelter’.  L’abri Fellowship was started by Francis and Edith Schaeffer at their home in Switzerland and now there are several L’abris all over the world.  I attended England L’abri in the small village of Gretham about an hour southwest of London.

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It’s hard to explain, and therefore comprehend, what L’abri is until you’ve experienced it.  I will say I had high expectations and reality was both different and more than I expected.

A major theme is space.  There are families who live there who make it their work to create space, shelter, saftey for people to come and be human.  At L’abri, being human includes physical work (gardening, cooking a meal for 25 people, cleaning toilets, dusting baseboards), mental exercise (reading, studying, thinking, asking questions, being challenged), recreation (volleyball and cricket at daily tea breaks, going on walks), being creative (arraging flowers, playing music) and relating to other humans in community (sharing a room with 10 other girls, eating meals together, serving meals, doing dishes).

So, it’s not a retreat center.  You don’t go to “get away” and be alone.  However, you do get to get away from some things we busy ourselves with that eat up our space- both physical and mental.  So, no internet (except on a shared computer and only a few times per week), no tv.  It’s amazing what our spirits do when left to wander…it really forces you to reckon with your emotions and thoughts and fallen natures of our hearts.  No hiding from others or from God…

So, here’s one day:

7:30 AM : Awake

8:00 AM:  Breakfast in the dining room with everyone.  Toast, jam and hard boiled eggs.  Tea.  Morning devotional reading by one of the workers from Dietrick Bonhoffer’s “Life Together”:

“The serious Christian, set down for the first time in a Christian community, is likely to bring with him a very definite idea of what Christian life together should be and to try to realize it. But God’s grace speedily shatters such dreams. Just as surely as God desires to lead us to a knowledge of genuine Christian fellowship, so surely must we be overwhelmed by a great disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and, if we are fortunate, with ourselves. By sheer grace, God will not permit us to live even for a brief period in a dream world. He does not abandon us to those rapturous experiences and lofty moods that come over us like a dream. God is not a God of the emotions but the God of truth.

Only that fellowship which faces such disillusionment, with all its unhappy and ugly aspects, begins to be what it should in God’s sight, begins to grasp in faith the promise that is given to it. The sooner this shock of disillusionment comes to an individual and to a community the better for both. A community which cannot bear and cannot survive such a crisis, which insists upon keeping its illusion when it should be shattered, permanently loses in that moment the promise of Christian community. Sooner or later it will collapse. Every human wish dream that is injected into the Christian community is a hindrance to genuine community and must be banished if genuine community is to survive. He who loves his dream of community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial.”

8:45 AM : Reading in the “Morning Room” (my favorite room in the house)

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9:30 – 11:00 AM :  Study time.  Here are things I read/listened to while I was there:

The Healing Path by Dan Allender

Beyond Identity by Dick Keyes

Are Women Human?  by Dorothy Sayers

Collected works of Emily Dickinson

Cash:  The Autobiography by Johnny Cash

Some Hemingway short stories

Mars Hill Review (a literary journal with essays, poems, short stories, music reviews.  all around goodness.)

Forgiveness:  Lecture series by Dick Keyes

“Ifs” by Amy Carmichael

11:00 :  Tea Break on the lawn.  Tea, volleyball, cricket, frisbee tossing or chatting.

11:30 – 1:00 PM Study/reading

1:00 PM:  Lunch with half of the students/workers (about 12 of us).  Anyone can introduce a topic.  Topics at lunches included:  How do Christians live out their gender/sexual humanity appropriately?,  What can we expect from God?,  Is it fair to generalize about people groups, gender, age, nationalities, etc?  What’s helpful/hurtful about generalizing?,  Considering the Levitical Jubilee law for modern society- what could we apply today?  How could we treat the poor?,

3:00 – 4:30 PM:  Work time.  Weeding the gravel driveway or helping cook dinner.

4:30 PM:  Tea break.

5:00:  Back to work.

6:30 PM:  Dinner with half of the group in a home.  No formal topic, just conversation.  My favorite meal was a butternut squash and red lentil stew with rice and fresh bread.  My favorite dessert were baked apples with crushed cardamom and sweetened yogurt.

8:00 PM:  Evening activity:  Lecture (topics included:  What is spirituality?, The gospel of Mark, The book of Job)  or film followed by discussion (Babette’s Feast).  OR free time:  going to local pub, painting/drawing/art time around a table while others played guitar/piano.

In the midst of all of this I was introduced to new places around the world:  Hungary, Norway, Romania, Slovakia, Canada, Brazil, and Scotland and enjoy the familiarities being around people from my neck of the woods:  South Carolina and Tennessee!

In summary, perspective was the theme of my time there.  My eyes were opened to the sheer enormity and amazingness of this Earth and every thing and every one in it.  Ultimately, a renewed sense of the enormity and glory of God.

I’ll never be able to convey the experience to you.  If there is even an inkling in your heart from reading this that you might enjoy or need time like this, you should go.

but freedom comes on may 31st…the day my costco membership i used for work expires!!

(choirs of angels sing)

no longer will i have to face the temptation to buy this every time i go in there:

muppetshow1-cov

actually, they have the whole show boxed set, not just season one…and i look at it longingly every time i go.  too much, too much!!!

it takes a special artist to create things for children that tug at the heart strings of adults too.  i wonder how jim henson did it and i think he just honestly saw so much dignity in even the littlest lives and worked really hard to get people to believe it was in them.  not a bad gig, huh!?  so beautiful and silly and fun and true all at once!

this is probably my all-time, most favoritest.  i needed to hear it today, maybe you do too.

It’s not that easy being green;
Having to spend each day the color of the leaves.
When I think it could be nicer being red, or yellow or gold…
or something much more colorful like that.

It’s not easy being green.
It seems you blend in with so many other ord’nary things.
And people tend to pass you over ’cause you’re
not standing out like flashy sparkles in the water
or stars in the sky.

But green’s the color of Spring.
And green can be cool and friendly-like.
And green can be big like an ocean, or important like a mountain,
or tall like a tree.

When green is all there is to be
It could make you wonder why, but why wonder why?
Wonder, I am green and it’ll do fine, it’s beautiful!
And I think it’s what I want to be.

-jim henson-

broadcast delay

05/28/2009

i have a delay.

it has up-sides, for ince, kitchen fires:

  • in college, while pulling something out of the oven, my oven mit caught on fire.  i calmly announced “my oven mit is on fire” while i held out my hand, fingers aflame, walked through the living room and out to the Berkeley Place concrete porch where i could stomp it out.
  • a few months ago while sitting in my living room reading, my roommate D calls out from the kitchen, “we have a small fire.  and it’s ok.  do you have an extinguisher?”  i call back, “yes, it’s under the sink, but just try keeping the oven closed.”  i finish the page i’m on and walk into the, now fire-less, kitchen.  then we have a good laugh because we realize how eerily calm we both were and wonder if it may be less than safe to have two of us quasi-stoics under the same roof.

so, basically:  if you get in a car accident, fall off a horse or become lost in the woods, i’m the gal you want with you.  i can count the times i’ve truly been scared to the point of not thinking clearly on one hand.  and it was terrifying to feel that way.  (i.e. clicking up the hill of my first roller coaster ride on the scream machine at six flags.  begging to get off, my dad calmly reminding me that it was too late for that.).

blessing as it may appear, there is always the other side of the coin.  if i go on a trip, though i know what i experienced, it may be weeks or months before i feel what i experienced.  and explain it?  certainly a few weeks or months more.  so back off, i’ll post pictures and tell you about it when i’m good and ready :)

or i may not miss you for months after you’re gone, so i certainly won’t tell you that i anticipate missing you.

it blew my mind when i told a friend about my moving to england and, with misty eyes, her instant response was telling me she would miss me.  i completely believed her.  i felt so loved, even though i totally fumbled the response.  by fumbled, i mean i basically sat there with my jaw open, marveling at her ability to communicate emotion instantly.  (note:  find friends like her to have in your life!)  in my head/heart struggle, my head naturally overpowers my heart.  it’s just the way i was made.

we see this idea of head/heart and the outworking of love, related to loving God in Matthew, Mark and Luke.  i don’t think it’s a coincidence that in all of those accounts, the first vehicle for loving that’s listed is heartmind always comes later.

as most of my life thus far was spent exercising my thinking muscles,  i now find myself in a season of exercising my atrophied feeling muscles.   sometimes (ok, most of the time) it feels like too much.  like i’m clicking up that roller coaster again, looking for a way to get off.  but again, it’s too late…thankfully!

my training aids?  the trifecta:  poetry, music and art.

take something like Easter week, for example.  i know the events of palm sunday, passover, good friday, resurrection.  at one time, knowing was enough for me.  now i want to know and feel the events.  no longer am i content with head knowledge versus heart knowledge.  we all need both.

here is some good stuff i enjoyed around Easter:

“death be not proud” by john donne:

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou are not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.
Thou’art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy’or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.


“between worlds” by hyatt moore:

and it’s no coincidence i’m just getting around to sharing this with you…a full two-ish months after easter.

baby steps.

don’t get me wrong, i love south carolina.  i called it home for 1/7 th of my life to date.  but i just don’t know what to make of it sometimes….

statistics from a day at Landsford Canal State Park, where tillman and i left our cares forgotten among the thousands of blooming spider lilies which only appear for a few weeks each spring.  no prose today, just some observations from the great state of south carolina.  conclude from them what you may:

  • number of miles i had to drive to find a gas station once my gas light came on as i exited the interstate:  16
  • number of gas stations i found: 1
  • number of gas stations with “pay at the pump”:  0
  • number of semi-automatic rifles in really fancy cases i saw being viewed inside said gas station:  1
  • number of times google maps did me wrong trying to get to the park:  2
  • time spent at the park:   120 minutes
  • time it rained at the park:  110 minutes
  • number of other people also viewing the lilies:  approx 70
  • number of people running to get out of the pouring rain:  0
  • number of people with european accents (german, irish, you name it):  7
  • number of people who ogled at tillman with eyes or words:  approx 60
  • number of ogglers who were grandmothers with rain caps and said “oh my word!  what a cah-ute puppy dawg”: 4
  • number of people who said “well now, your dog is bigger than you!  hardy, har, har.”: 4*

(*this grand total is now up to about 57.  every person thinks they are the first one to point it out.  i used to be able to say, “actually, i still outweigh him.”… until march when tman hit triple digits.  i’m drinking shakes and pumping iron to try to catch back up.)

  • number of spider lilies:  thousands.

“…I went out from myself,
leaving my cares
forgotten among the lilies.”

John of the Cross

google maps = wrong.

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of this blog, two of my favorite things:  poetry and song.

these both struck a chord with me this year, so they were tapped for this portion of the journey.

the song:  the perfect match by chelsey scott

chelsey scott the little boat ep

chelsey scott "the little boat" ep

the poem:  messenger by mary oliver

i highly recommend both!