No Small Act

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It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.
― Leonardo Da Vinci

 

We must learn that passively to accept an unjust system is to cooperate with that system, and thereby to become a participant in its evil.
― Martin Luther King Jr

I’ll be honest. I don’t want to write. I don’t want to say what is on my mind. I don’t like what swims around in there and I am reluctant to burden you with my concern. I try to share my thoughts on hope and fearlessness and finding beauty and being love. But this is new territory we are in. We have a man in our highest office that has not one concern about beauty and love, who thrives on manipulation and creating fear. His one aim is himself.

We are at a crossroads. As a Christian I am devastated by the track our country is on. I am devastated that marginalized communities have to live in terror and fear of deportation. I am devastated by the loss of clean water and the disregard we have for our Native American brothers and sisters. I dread the threat facing  women and our control over our bodies. I despise the cavalier attitude toward climate change and proven science, the disposal of this land we have been entrusted to steward. I hate the lies that have been rebranded as alternative facts. I am utterly flabbergasted that the people who call themselves Christians, the same people who claim to love Jesus, drunk on power, have voted and continue to support a man with sinister motivations. A man who lies. A man who cannot be trusted.

If you claim Christianity. If you claim love as your motivation. If you claim Jesus as the one you follow. If you claim a relationship with our almighty God. If you claim the Holy Spirit dwells in you and you support this present administration, something is horribly wrong. There is a chasm I am afraid I cannot, will not bridge.

If you claim Christianity, please do not validate your support of this man with cases for the unborn and Supreme Court nominees. This ship has sailed, you have lost credibility with rational people. But there is room,  you can join the resistance, you can align yourself with the masses in opposition. You can help turn the tide, you can add your voice. Please add your voice.

As I walked in the Women’s March in Denver on Saturday I was overwhelmed by the spirit of generosity and kindness. People were jovial and excited. There was a heartbeat of faithful resistance for the many things at risk that are so very important. Did I agree or align with every single one of my 150,000 fellow attendees? No, but I believe in the generosity of the people who showed up. There is a desire for hope, for dialogue, for solutions. We long to believe the world will be a better place going forward for ALL women because of our resistance efforts. Why would anyone want to go backwards?

We are in uncharted waters as Americans and I am flailing. Words are few and tensions mount. My salvation is in the practice I have cultivated since I was a young girl – writing, reading Scripture (with the lens of grace and love for my neighbor and myself), meditation. My heart breaks and it gets put back together time and time again, fear quiets and I find rest in this beautiful hour before the house creaks and groans with children. This is all I have. I take in too much Twitter and Facebook, I listen to too much NPR, I have too many conversations to stoke my sanity, but I believe I must. I must try to gulp from the informational firehose that has become our new normal.

My personal prescription may not be right for you. Triggers abound and the most important work now is to conserve, to triage the issues for oneself, to find the places we can make our difference, to align with people that we can support. No action is too small. When I feel helpless I like to call my Senators and Representatives. When I have a burst of energy I like to read about new efforts. When I’m anxious I like to talk with Eric or go to the gym or find a friend to gain perspective. It all matters. Our democracy does not come for free and we cannot claim our complacence any longer. It is time to rise.

Don’t let the overwhelm of garbage discourage you. Take a moment, care for yourself in whatever way works. Make a call, talk to a friend, have easy people over for dinner.

This is our resistance, to advocate and provide for the people under attack in our communities, to advocate for science, to dwell together in love and justice.  Our resistance must be motivated by desire to see God’s Kingdom come, here, now on earth as it is in Heaven. This is our work and it happens one decision at a time. No act is too small.

 

*A couple resources for you:

  1. Call your representatives. Here is a fantastic resource to keep track of the issues, who to call and their contact information. I have not seen anything this good: www.5calls.org
  2. Start thinking about changing Congress, www.brandnewcongress.org is a fabulous movement designed for us all to nominate our qualified friends and family to fill the 400 seats coming up for re-election in 2018.
  3. If you’re feeling triggered by the gas lighting of America by a manipulative abuser, you are not alone: https://medium.com/the-stories/trump-alternative-facts-and-abuse-52b30e03b962#.ijou9zkur

 

Life After Inaugurations

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Learn how to weep not in way that paralyzes us but moves us more in the way of action.

-John Philip Newell

I used to road bike a lot. I pedaled my way through the backroads of Boulder County, climbing into the foothills, grazing the neighborhoods, cruising through the farmland, counting the uptick of miles on my odometer. Training for an Ironman a few years back meant large chunks of time in the saddle. For hours leading up, I would be a bundle of nerves and dread, fearing I’d get lost or pop a tube or run out of fuel or be miserable. Once I tossed on the clothes and buckled my helmet, loaded the hundreds of gel calories in my pockets and clipped my pedals, I was good to go. Within a mile, the voices quieted, nerves calmed, heart rate eased, shoulders relaxed and I was able to settle in for the long day’s ride. Rarely was the ride as horrible as I anticipated.

Our local roads can be steep, abutting the mountains. Some of the climbs are a challenge to even the most experienced of riders. From a distance the inclines appear daunting, unmanageable. But as I approach and begin the climb, perspective shifts. The hill seems flatter. What once loomed as an impossibility becomes possible upon arrival. Isn’t that true for most things? The dread of the unknown is worse than the moving through?

I have in the course of this season, with the nomination and election of Donald Trump, dipped my toe in the pool of despair. I have succumbed to the temptation of hopelessness. I have accepted the pull of disappointment, moodiness, sleeplessness and fear. While uncomfortable, I am grateful, for my experiences have revealed a deeper understanding of what many experience on a constant basis because of skin color, sexuality, race, religion, disability.

As the uphill approaches, my perspective shifts. The Inauguration looms, yet my dread begins to diminish. None of this good work will come easy for people motivated by love, justice, kindness and wisdom, yet the job becomes clear. Fight. Fight for people who don’t have the voice. Fight for people who need relief. Fight for justice and generosity and love. People are mobilizing. Creativity is flourishing, and resistance will not be futile.

Opportunities are presenting themselves, opportunities to get involved, to defy and resist the bigotry and misogyny that have been uncovered among our people. Benevolent forces that favor the brokenhearted, that defend the oppressed and the underserved are rearing up. We get to open our eyes and take stock of our communities, our neighborhoods, our homes. Light has shined and while it has not provided a flattering view, we now know. We now know the racism – not just in them, but in us. We now know the fear and the systems that hold people down, we now know the sexism and misogyny. We now know that eight billionaires are as rich as the world’s poorest half. We now know many are not safe in our churches. And we now know that a good lot of our Christians care more for “family values” than for the least of these.

The light has shined, we are no longer shocked by information, we now get to do the good work – caring for our brothers and sisters. We get to do the good work of defense and protest and calling our government representatives and fighting for equal rights. We have a job, a purpose. And this is where the hope comes. We offer what we have, and it matters not what that is. What matters is we use it. What matters is we shine our light, not solely on the garbage, but on the healing.

The incline increases and takes its toll. I’m tired. It’s as if someone grabs my rear wheel and pulls backward with all their might, but I dig in. I will get to the top. I resist the temptation to stop. I know what I have to do. I pump and turn over the pedals, right, left, right, left, I stand, I sit, I take it down a gear, right, left, stand, sit, shift. I repeat my mantra, I put my head down and even out my breath. I will not give in until I crest. There is no easy way to climb these hills, they just have to get climbed. The work we do, the tedious, exhausting work will reap rewards. We will find our stride in this new administration. We will recover our hope. We will find our resistance and in turn we will rekindle our joy-filled purpose.

My friends, thank you for accompanying me on this journey. Be the light your world needs. Build your community, contribute to justice, smile at strangers, flirt with old people, take a nap, vote, call, make a meal for your family, watch a funny movie, protest, sing, clean your house, read, have a beer with friends, knit. We are in this for the long haul, let’s settle in.

 

*We are all capable of activism, but some of us prefer to be quiet about it. This is a wonderful resource from the Craftivist Collective, entitled “Activism needs Introverts”. Have a watch.

Wait, Wait, What?

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Stillness is what creates love.

Movement is what creates life.

To be still

And still moving – 

That is everything.

Do Hyun Choe

The waiting. Oh the waiting. The waiting can make us crazy, can’t it? The waiting threatens to undo a careful and crafted life, a life of purpose and productivity. The waiting can make the most rested and renewed person resort to a level of doubt and restlessness unbeknownst to her in her lifetime.

The waiting for promised and good, the waiting for the revealed, the waiting for the anticipated feels useless and haunting sometimes. The revisitation of voices and questions and fear are unleashed on the most insecure of days. As the fierce wind rattles the windows, so the insecurity rattles the bones. Clink clink, bang bang – doubt flourishes and fear reigns. Questions abound and ungracious, assumed answers come with a vengeance, raging and fuming with condemnation and impossibility.

In these times of shift, the undercurrents of upheaval threaten the clarity of our call, and our peace. Faith feels feeble. Longing and desire stretch thin like a reed, waiting to snap. The only plausible answer: Wait.

Wait. 

There is no perfect and elegant way to wait. Waiting is strange and humiliating and messy and disjointed and odd. When I’m asked, “How are you?” my answer is often preceded by an eye roll, with a “Fine, I think,” while gazing at the ceiling, hoping the answer lies overhead. Waiting can be a dark land with alternating moments of hand-wringing and doubt, surrender and renewed trust.

While Eric and I have been fortunate in our life together, we have also known our fair share of upheaval. The past thirteen years have been spent growing a business and growing babies into responsible and generous pre-adults. The challenges ebb and flow, with years of rise and years of fall. We have, as a couple, learned to hold things with a tentative grip, relaxed with some and tight with others. We have discovered the value of asking discerning questions alongside the release of pride. None of us is immune to the humbling lessons learned from struggle. None of us is immune to vulnerability. None of us is immune to the work of waiting.

And now, in this new season, as I wait, I am reminded to go further. To do what may seem wasteful, ridiculous, impossible – to choose quiet, still, solitary.

You need not leave your room. Remain seated at your table and listen. You need not even listen; simply wait. You need not even wait, just be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked. It has no choice; it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.

Franz Kafka

To be enough in this world is a feat known to few. The clamor of comparison, the lure of lights, the draw of personal development never ends. The tentacles each beckon, motioning towards one more notion or opportunity for self-improvement – to become better, richer, fuller, more interesting. Even the church invites us to add more, do more, be more – all good things, of course. The temptation to find the next thing, that one thing that will be the answer, is constant, if we let it. The ego idols of prestige and recognition, praise and reverence rattle with the coursing wind.

Striving. Yearning. Adding.

Always more.

Are our houses built upon our proving, our fatigue and busy? When we crawl under the cool covers, heads on our pillows, do we believe, do we know we’ve done enough or must we recount all the undone, all the wasted? These days are heavy laden with need and the cry persists: Let’s go! Let’s do this! Keep moving, don’t slow down!

I eschew the silence, for the silence forces reckoning, forces my own contemplation and consideration, tapping into latent insecurity and unmet needs. But once I give up my own ideas of what I should want, what I should do, I discover rest. Silence and solitude uncover peace and love and I soak in the knowledge of how fiercely loved I am. Silence ushers in this truth. Stillness gives room. Solitude reminds me of the persistent grace of God. Waiting no longer remains an obligation, a pressure, but becomes a gift, a gift of presence. With eyes to see I know any other response beyond gratitude, any action out of turn, any premature step forward is half-baked and ill-prepared, capable of harm.

The fuel for the birth is in the wait. The pushing, the reaching, the pain never disappoint in due time. But isn’t it horrible? The worst you can imagine. But the beauty, and the pride at having done it, having made it is incomparable, beyond word and comprehension. New life, a fresh creation, built upon the unshakeable foundation of perfect, fulfilled, and unrelenting love.

It is good.

What are you waiting for?

New Year’s Revolutions

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For last year’s words belong to last year’s language 
And next year’s words await another voice.” 
― T.S. Eliot

My daughter’s first day back to school after Christmas vacation involved a discussion in her freshman World History class.

“We are going to discuss revolutions. What are some famous revolutions in history?” Asked her teacher.

A few answered, “French. Industrial. American.”

Claire raised her hand. Once called upon, she announced in all seriousness, “New Year’s!”

While I’m not certain I want to discuss my desires for a New Year’s Revolution, I think the word deserves consideration. Isn’t this what we want at the turn of a new year, the turn of a new page? A revolution?

In order to experience a personal revolution, we have to set some resolutions. After the holidays many of us focus upon our nutrition or we return to the gym after too many missed days spent with loved ones. Or we start to clean out closets and tidy up finances or we embark upon some better ways to talk to ourselves. We might pursue a new goal, like training for a race or taking a class, or trying a new hobby. Some of these stick and some of them don’t. Some of these offer us a fresh start and oftentimes we return to our old ways, within days.

In my personal life I have learned not to set firm and fast goals at the new year’s turn, instead I look at ways of being. I may want to lose weight, but instead I continue the exercise program I enjoy, one that feeds my soul and body. I may want to spend less, but instead I ask questions like: Is this something I really need or really want? What am I avoiding in this quest for a new fill-in-the-blank. I may want to enjoy better quality relationships, so I choose a greater level of vulnerability.

The five of us went to Kauai to spend the week after Christmas. We decided to enjoy an experience as a family rather than buy more stuff for the holiday. It was a bit of an experiment, a decision we made at the end of 2015. Our time together was wonderful, a much needed respite after a rocky 2016. The opportunity as a mother, to watch my children be themselves, together, is a priceless and fulfilling gift, better than anything that could’ve been under the tree. The first few days in a new place are always hard for me. Sliding into December 25 and then expecting to reach the epitome of full relaxation by the 26th was an expectation I thankfully didn’t hold for myself.

While letting the sand settle between my toes and the waves fill my thoughts I discovered the depths to which I dwell in scarcity. Kauai is abundance personified. Water oozes from the lush, verdant mountains to the tune of countless waterfalls. Rivers run wide and long, the ocean sends her relentless waves, rain pours in the night. I’m not sure what it is, but abundance is hard to accept. Maybe it has to do with the dry and drought-prone West I’ve been born and raised into, maybe it’s my own personal state, but I recognized and contended with my propensity toward scarce thinking. I tend towards wanting more, being more, giving more than I can. And while I know my offering is enough and I have enough, I don’t trust it. I feel the need to prove, to strive, to aim for that forever elusive yardstick of perfection, of enough.

I consider the Israelites subsisting on manna in the desert through the course of their forty-year journey. Once the manna came, it didn’t take long before they tried to hoard and store up beyond their daily allotment. Unfortunately for them, God knows our human condition and God demanded through this regular practice, their trust. Enough was provided. Enough given to go around. Enough would be there for tomorrow and the next day and the next.

It’s a temptation to try to hoard our happiness, or our rest and relaxation. I wanted my own slice of the island. I wanted to bottle up the experience, to save it for myself, because frankly I don’t know if I have what it takes to do what I want to do, to do what I need to do. But, this is not the design. We are made to fill up, to receive, to heal, rest and go. We were made to accomplish our work, tend to our wholeness and go. It is not our job to be always well-rested, to never be worn or overwhelmed. It is not our job to always operate within our personal limitations, to never be desperate, or aching. We must feel and experience the lack. We must suffer and ache so we may know the relief, hope and readiness that comes from recovery.

Are we given more than we can handle? Sure we are. And just as the Israelites were fed, so are we. Given precisely what we need in adequate measure.

Are my resolutions foolish? No, my resolutions are the tiny breadcrumbs that lead to a personal revolution, that result in change and relief in my body, in my world.

I do not choose to make peace and happiness my resolution, instead I choose to see the world with a more generous eye, relying upon grace and mercy toward myself and another through being slow to judge and quick to offer kindness, through being slow to make an assessment and quick to offer a compliment and a bridge toward understanding, through being slow to implicate myself and quick to ask new questions and seek wise counsel.

May your 2017 be filled with the smallest of revolutions through the keeping of the smallest of resolutions. And may you spend your days well, living according to the abundance of the earth and all of her goodness.