Monday, July 28, 2008

Lime in the Coconut

I'm not usually one to post videos. But this is a favorite in my house. Great senseless song. It makes my kids laugh.

And me? It makes me laugh too. Sometimes it also makes me cry. The combination of innocence and a strange presence of maturity and knowledge-to-come in this child's aspect produces my flux of emotions. Maybe you have felt such tensions at different times... joy and sorrow all wrapped up in a single experience?

As it turns out, lime in the coconut is the perfect name for this... sweet and sour mixed together. Drink it all up. Laugh and weep, in the same swallow.

Labels: , ,

Monday, July 21, 2008

Looking for Father

Empty Field

Sweet Ann asked me to tell her about my experience of God. And I found myself saying this...

Personally, I have struggled with addressing God as Father. I think anyone who reads Stone Crossings will completely understand this struggle. For me, God as Lover is actually safer and more inviting. The tenderness, gentility, and deep longing implicit in that image speaks to my heart and wounded soul.

After Ann posted her piece, complete with my answer, I found that my soul took pause. I need to get past this, I thought. I need to experience God as Father.

In a way, I realize this has already begun to happen. During my year of outdoor solitude, there were many days when I felt it was Father who was present. The kind of father-God we see in Moses' blessing to Benjamin...

The beloved of the LORD rests in safety— the High God surrounds him all day long— the beloved rests between his shoulders. Deut. 33:12

Yes, under my pine tree, feeling lost and alone and plagued by failings, there were many days when I felt the immediacy of that blessing... felt like I was a beloved child getting a piggy back ride on a daddy's shoulders. Of course there were days when God came more as Lover. Or, believe it or not, even sort of as Grandmother. This reminds me: I have not read The Shack, but I hear that God the Father appears (disturbingly so to some readers) in the form of Black Mama and, later, Hippie Guy.

All this has left me musing. What does father really mean? In life? In the bible? For how we experience God?

I guess you could say I'm looking for Father.

Empty Field photo by Sara. Used with permission.


Sam's More Randomonium
LL's Father, at Love Notes to Yahweh


Ted's book club post 12 Clefts of the Rock: Responsibility

Labels: ,

Monday, July 14, 2008

Walt W. and the Love of Jesus


Visiting with my new pastor and his wife, on a warm July night, we talk about everything. Friendship and love, writing, preaching, how to make to-die-for zucchini snacks... and how God speaks.

Somewhere between talking about our kids and chatting about the challenges of marriage my pastor says, God speaks primarily through His word. And just as I begin to assent, there's a little catch in my throat. I... I'm not sure I agree... my voice drifts off. I've been thinking about this very thing as I struggle to write my next chapter in God in the Yard.

I am thinking about how God spoke to me about the importance of family, through seeing the lost and homeless on the streets of Washington, D.C. I'm thinking about a filmed art piece called The Way Things Go, in which sometimes imperceptible changes caused a chain reaction of events, that caused another chain reaction, and so on... and God spoke through that too, about life and living it consciously and well.

Maybe more than anything this night, I am thinking of Walt Whitman, an unlikely bard of the inexpressible love of Jesus. There is this poem, see, and it manages to speak of grace. The inexplicable ability of Jesus to see us as we are and not turn away, to gently touch all parts of us, both glorious and inglorious. Reading this poem makes me weep, and I find myself practically laid out flat with the wonder of what it means to be loved, really loved, graced by Jesus.

I pick up a paper-thin zucchini, dripping with vinegar, sprinkled with salt and fresh ground pepper. I turn it over on my tongue and let myself revel in its texture. I smile at my pastor and his wife, and bite into the words of God to my heart. Love, grace... in a fresh, ivory, green-bleeding slice of zucchini...

Red Design photo, by Sara. Used with permission.


Andrea's gentle Book Review

Ted's book club post Goldsworthy's Wall: Sacrifice


LL's Word, at Love Notes to Yahweh

Labels: ,

Monday, July 07, 2008

Can Nature Cure Technology Fatigue?

Split Maple Leaves

The greener the setting, the more the relief.

This is the tentative conclusion of new studies that explore directed-attention fatigue and nature's ability to provide restoration. Directed attention is the kind that purposely focuses on a task (like writing this blog post!). It differs from fascination, a meandering kind of thinking without particular goals, that tends to arise in natural settings.

While too much directed attention can encourage impulsive behavior, agitation, irritation...inability to concentrate, fascination helps a person work better and think more clearly.

The studies compare other types of relaxation like taking walks in urban areas, sitting quietly or listening to music to spending time in natural settings. The natural settings produce greater focus, more positive emotions and reduction of anger.

This explains a few things. It explains a statement I made to my spouse last year, while I stood gazing over brilliant green fields. It's so healing, I said. I feel like I'm actually having a physiological reaction. Maybe I was. It explains too why this past year of going outside daily was perhaps the perfect ending to the prior year, when I wrote a book and came out that experience with great lethargy, irritability, even sadness.

All this talk of the restorative power of green spaces makes me want to lie down in green pastures. Literally.

Split Maple Leaves Photo, by Sara. Used with permission. Info on nature studies is from pp. 101-103 of Last Child in the Woods.


LL's Designing with Biophilia in Mind
Maria's Small World for Not So Small People


Ann Voskamp's Finding Grace in Hard Places
Ted's latest book club post: Old Stone Church: Love

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Arguing with Lauren Winner

Mourning Doves Talking

Every so once in a while, I reread a book I love. Recently, this has meant delving into Lauren Winner's Mudhouse Sabbath. This week, upon rereading, I discovered that I said things in Stone Crossings that could be construed as being at odds with Winner's thoughts on Sabbath. She says... for the sake of future productivity is at odds with the spirit of Shabbat. ... [the] problem with the current Sabbath vogue [is] the fallacy of the direct object. Whom is the contemporary Sabbath designed to honor? Whom does it benefit? Why, the bubble-bath taker herself, of course! The Bible suggests something different. In observing the Sabbath, one is both giving a gift to God and imitating Him. Exodus and Deuteronomy make this clear when they say, 'Six days shall you labor and do all your work. But the seventh is a sabbath to the Lord your God.' To the Lord your God. p.11

And here is what I said...

Back in the time of the Israelites, God had a novel way of building discipline, emptiness and want into the lives of his people. He mandated the Sabbath— once every week, once every seven years, once every fifty years....These Sabbaths each had specific purposes, but I believe they also functioned to teach us what my grandmother knew: emptiness, want and discomforting discipline are channels through which bounty can ultimately flow.

After all, looking back to the seventh-day Sabbath, we see that a vacuum of work prepared minds and bodies for productivity. And in the seventh-year Sabbath, we see that letting the land lie empty prepared the ground to burst forth with produce. Finally, on the fifty-year Sabbath, we find that the discipline of turning over accumulated slaves and property could prepare the heart to remember who really owned the "cattle on a thousand hills"... ultimately deepening dependence on God.

Reading these two quotes, this is what I think today... It is possible for two things, apparently in conflict, to actually be true. This comforts me. I wasn't in the mood to argue with Lauren Winner.

"Mourning Doves Talking" at the Smithsonian. Photo by L.L. Barkat.


Ted's latest book club post

Labels: , , ,